This has been an exciting year for seven and eighth grade science classes. The science class schedule was planned to provide an hour and 15 minutes per week for experiments. This extended time slot as well as ample supplies has provided the perfect opportunity for “hands on” scientific learning. We have had fun experimenting with density, magnets, and Slinkys to illustrate scientific principles and affects.
At the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, seventh grade Life Science students collected wild local plants from the Eagle Butte community. These plants were then dried in plant presses and mounted on plant catalog paper for preservation and storage, or displayed in the classroom in Reyker boxes. Each plant was identified by its common, scientific, and Lakota names. Traditional food preparation and medicinal uses were recorded. We discovered that some plants were introduced species and/or agricultural pests. Hopefully our collection will increase each year until eventually we will have enough examples to display on the E.A.G.L.E. Center web site.
To cover the electromagnetic spectrum, students had fun dismantling a microwave oven, experimenting with prisms to explore visible light, and researching other wave lengths such as infrared, ultraviolet, x-rays and gamma rays. These explorations lead to interest in electricity, then on to magnetism.
Have you ever wondered what DNA looks like? Not just models or illustrations, but the real thing isolated from cells? The students first learned about DNA in traditional ways from books, models and PowerPoints. When students could pass a proficiency test showing mastery of the subject, they then took samples of their cheek cells and isolated their own DNA. The DNA was placed into a small tube which was suspended by colored string and made into a wearable necklace.
Currently we are learning about human anatomy. An ox eye was examined after studying about the parts and functions of the sensory system. A pig heart was dissected in conjunction with instruction on the respiratory and circulatory systems. To learn about blood and heredity, students typed their own blood. When students have finished covering the nervous, digestive and excretory systems, they will dissect a fetal pig, which is similar in anatomy to humans. To compare mammalian and other animal structures, a frog and grasshopper dissection will also be performed.
Hopefully, insects will be coming out in May so we can collect specimens before the end of the year. We started a small insect collection in previous years, but the “bugs” tend to fall apart when they are displayed. Students participate in identifying, preserving, and mounting these diverse and interesting life forms.