Sunday, January 28, 2018

The First Semester Winds Down. Units Completed and Finals are Here!

     Biotechnology students in biology and genetics have recently completed some extensive unit work.  In biology, students completed the conservation/consumption unit where they learned about their own impact on the planet.  They collected their garbage and weighed and sorted it daily by material type.  They then kept a daily log which they will analyze in their math classes next semester.  They also read and responded to the book, Stuff: The Secret Lives of Everyday Things, by Alan Durning.
     In genetics, students completed their two month experiment on Mendelian genetics using the model organism Drosophila melanogaster to conduct crosses to determine the mode of inheritance of certain traits.  Thousands of flies participated in the crosses and students used statistical analysis to learn about "goodness of fit" of their observed outcomes compared to expected outcomes.
Example of fly cross.

Delicately removing flies for examination.

Counting and sexing flies for data collection.

The fly whisperer and champion breeder.

Happy to weigh their garbage.

Waiting for weighing.

Sorting and weighing.

Lunging for compost bin-sorting waste.

Keeping that aluminum out of the landfill.

So much garbage!

Typical happy consumers.

Recyclables after four days of collection!

Happy recyclers!


Saturday, December 30, 2017

Learning by Doing! Biotech Students are Actively Engaged in Science Inquiry.

Winter is here!  Biotech students have been busily researching the way cells work, how DNA can be manipulated, and conducting research of their own as they delve into project based learning.  Biology students are beginning their work on the Imagine Tomorrow competition.  To learn more about the competition check out the WSU site at
In Genetics, students are in the middle of their research projects about a genetic disorder of their choosing.  Students will begin formal presentations on January 4th.  In the interim, all students have been working through laboratory activities to help them understand molecular biology.
Making samples for gel loading.
Making cell splats of HeLa cells.

Calculating surface area to volume ratio.  Oh my!

Playing with agar while waiting for diffusion experiment.

Go Team!  Way to share gel loading!

Right tip, correct volume-load!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Fall Whidbey Island Fieldtrip was Cold but Successful!

On November 3-4, 26 students participated in our long-term monitoring survey at the DeBell Tree Farm on Whidbey Island.  The weather did not dissuade the students from the task at hand and we had a productive sampling experience in the forest and on the pond.  I am always amazed at what the students are able to accomplish and learn on this fieldtrip.  We had a great group of students who bonded well, freshmen, sophomores, juniors and our senior leader-who was a crew boss mentor for the new crew bosses.
On the ferry ride over to Whidbey.

Getting to know you activities.

Getting to know you-screaming toes!

Getting to know you activities.

Team building-getting to know you.

The cows-always a big draw!

Doing a hike to the sampling sites.  Rain and snow this day!

Shaking the trees for insects and other invertebrates at a sample site.

Measuring DBH for our forest studies.

Tree huggers at the grandmother tree. Red Western Cedar.

Plankton tow at the pond!

Sharing out of data.

Sharing out of data from the ecological studies.

Ferry ride back home and group shot and BT signs.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Fall is Here and Biotechnology Academy Students are Learning Science Habits of Mind.

Biotechnology Students are engaging in hands on science as they learn and re-learn the metric system and science habits of mind.  Biology students are learning about atomic theory, compounds, and biomolecules.  Chemistry students are getting a crash course in the metric system and scientific notation.  Genetic students are doing a deep dive into protein chemistry and learning about the workhorse molecules of biology.  Welcome Back to Science!

Learning about protein folding in genetics class.

Learning about the chemical properties of amino acid side chains in genetics.

Spooling DNA in genetics!

Team work and a successful DNA extraction!

Biology students investigating biomolecules.

Biology students performing tests on unknown biomolecules-teamwork pays off in testing!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Biotech Biology Students Win Big at Imagine Tomorrow!

This last weekend, eight teams from the Biotechnology Academy attended the Imagine Tomorrow problem solving competition in Pullman, Washington at the WSU campus.  Ballard dominated the competition with multiple awards.  It was a dizzy night of parading up to the podium to receive awards. Here is how our Beaverific students performed:

  •     Sam Gunsolus, Maddie Joseph, Jackson Lancaster, Ainsley Perkins, and Yeana Song received honorable mention in biofuels design with their project That’s A Watt of Compost.

  •     Jack Berard, Olivia Bernard,  Abigail Frankel, and Caleb Watson received honorable mention in biofuels technology with their project Light From Life
  •        Harrison Kaufman, Daniel Rowell, Jonas Sorensen, and John Wielbruda received first place in aerospace technology and the Overall innovation award with their project Graphene: The Future is Now. Those are two separate awards!

  •     Kylie Baker, Jessica Coacher, and Madeline Foti received honorable mention in aerospace design with their project Always in Stalk.
  •        Paris Hodgson, Rachel Howell, Emily Kessler, Rose Stacey, and Amy Zinsmeyer received second place in food, energy, and water technology with their project Droplets

  •   Josh Barton, Zev Carlyle, Kincaid Feldman, Finnesey Sabol, and Rhys Williams won second place in built environment behavior with their project Road to the Future.

This was a tremendous showing for Ballard and we are proud of all the participants who attended Imagine Tomorrow this year!
Group shot of eight teams at WSU

Always in Stalk!  Using corn stalks as packing material.

Light from Life.  A natural light source from dinoflagellates.

Road to the Future! Or is it another new boy band?

Droplets!  How to monitor your own water consumption.

Graphene. Nanotechnology.

Victorious!  Road to the Future!

Showing the goods.

That's a Watt of Compost!

Looking good waiting for the judges.

Poised and purposeful.