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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

This week is going by swimmingly.

In PE, Girls and Boys classes practiced circuit training. The circuit included wall sits, jumping up on the curb and then off again, arms straight out in a "T" making small forward or backward circles (depending on the station), jumping rope, jumping jacks, jogging in place with high knees, lunge steps, and holding a plank (top of a push-up) position. Oh yes, and there was one station for rest. Students spent one minute at each station and then had about 10 seconds to move to the next station. Good work everybody! This was challenging, and you did not give up!
...I am wondering if anyone will be sore tomorrow...

Reminder: Girls have yoga on Thursday.

In 6th grade science, we are studying heat and temperature. In class on Monday and Tuesday, we read chapter 6 section 2. In class today, we completed a lab activity about how molecules behave when they are heated or cooled. We  put one drop of food coloring in very cold ice water, room temperature water, and very hot water just off a boil. In the very cold water, the food coloring sunk straight to the bottom and remained in a puddle at the bottom of the jar. Isa pointed out that it looked like a jelly-fish. The food coloring did not turn all of the water pink. In the room-temperature jar, the food coloring spread out slowly, and over time, all of the water eventually turned pink. In the very hot water, the food coloring spread out super fast and all the water was pink within a blink of the eye! This experiment showed us that warmer molecules move faster or have more kinetic energy and colder molecules move slower and have less kinetic energy. We also measured the circumference of 3 balloons. One balloon was then kept at room temperature, one was put in a cooler full of ice, and one was blasted with a hair dryer. The circumference of the balloon in the cooler decreased by about 1cm, the circumference of the balloon blasted with heat increased by about 1cm, and the circumference of the balloon left at room temperature stayed the same. This experiment showed us that as you warm molecules they move further apart and when you cool molecules they move closer together! Cool!

Please remember to do a really amazing, awesome job answering the questions!

Tomorrow we are outside for another lab activity studying radiation (the transfer of heat through waves, in this case light waves from the sun).

8th Graders (and 7th graders) studied some relevant current events on Monday. Rio Rancho is facing the possibility of not having enough water to support its population in the future. To counteract this, the city is considering a "toilet to tap" program that will inject treated waste water back into the aquifer. Students wrote a one page response to a newspaper article chronicling these events using the article itself and the information they gained from the guest speaker from the water authority, their trip to Albuquerque's water reclamation plant, and information they have picked up from me or the documentary we watched last Friday. On Tuesday, we finished our lecture on fish and drew diagrams of cartilaginous fish (chondrichthyes) that illustrated all their differences from bony fish (osteichthyes). Some of these included denticles instead of ctenoid scales, a ventral mouth, a heterocercal tail, internal fertilization and live birth, a large fatty liver instead of a swim-bladder, and many more. On Wednesday, we took our chairs and books outside for a vocabulary quiz in the sun and a reading circle.

In 7th grade, we spent Tuesday doing one last fun invertebrates project. Students cut out names of phyla and a bunch of different characteristics describing organisms in the phyla. After grouping the characteristics into the proper phyla, everything was glued to construction paper and is now proudly displayed in the cafeteria! On Wednesday, we started talking about mitosis, which is the division of the eukaryotic cell nucleus.

P.S. Gnash says hi!

6th Grade HW page

For any parents or students that may need to see the homework page and don't have the hard-copy handy.

6th Grade HW Feb27-March2

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

7th grade Lecture Notes

7th graders,
I am giving you a link to a google document that is the powerpoint presentation on Mitosis and Cell Division. You can print this presentation and take notes on the printed slides, or you can take notes in your notebook and then look at the slides when you study your notes. It is up to you!

Powerpoint Presentation on Mitosis and Cell Division

Videos for 6th and 7th graders

Hey 7th graders!
Watch these two videos about mitosis and cell division. This is what will be studying next and lecture on the topic will start on Thursday. Watching these videos will give you a head start and help you understand lecture!

More science games & videos on Cell Division at  

Cell division on contrast microscope
More science games & videos on Cell Division at  

Hey 6th graders!!
Check out this video that describes the difference between temperature and heat! It is a cute cartoon, like the ones about energy, that uses some great examples to make the difference between temperature and heat very easy to understand!

Temperature vs. Heat
More science videos on Heat & Temperature at  


Friday, February 24, 2012


In Friday combined class today, we watched the documentary "Tapped." This documentary describes how bottled water is pumped, bottled, distributed, and where the billions of plastic bottles actually end up. The main points illustrate that tap water is much better regulated than bottled water and that the production and disposal of billions of plastic bottles is having a huge environmental impact. Take home points: tap water is healthier and safer, bottled water is destroying the environment.

For more information visit the official website: Tapped the Movie

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thursday PE & Science Adventures

What a day!

My day started out with girls PE and I gave the girls the chance to tackle the Marshmallow River. The girls came up with a great strategy quickly, but had trouble making it work. The last two girls across the river ended up having to scoot across on a single marshmallow, rather than stepping on marshmallow "Stepping stones." The girls were super supportive of each other and really helped each other and cheered for one another. I look forward to continue to challenge them with increasingly difficult initiatives.

In 8th grade, we we dissected Perch. There was a bit of a fishy smell to be overcome, but it was great to observe all the things that we have been talking about in lecture. Kiran and Payam's fish had a nice full swim bladder, which made the idea of the fish having an actual air sac inside them to help them move up and down in the water column a little more tangible. It was also really great to look at the lateral line, the fish's extra sensory organ that allows them to sense changes in water pressure around them and to know if there is a fish or a boat or a rock nearby. Junte's fish was FULL of eggs. The ovary was so large that it filled the entire abdomen of the fish and pushed all the other organs up towards the head.
Check it out:
Yes, those are really all fish eggs!!

Kiran and Payam's fish was much daintier and was most likely a male. If a fish does not have a giant egg filled ovary like the one in the picture, it does not necessary mean it is a male. A females gonads are generally larger than the males, but they are not always filled with eggs.

Overall it was a successful dissection. We had fun and learned at the same time.

8th graders, please do not forget to answer all the questions, draw all the pictures, and do all the calculations asked for in the lab hand out. This assignment it due Monday and I am expecting quality work that is nicely presented. Type the questions. Use colored pencils on the diagrams. Proof read your work!!!

In 7th grade we listened to Fatimah and Nimras presentation on the lovely Pin Cushion Star Fish. This is one of my favorite animals that I saw often while diving in The Bahamas this past summer. The girls may have suffered a bit, by researching something that I know a lot about, but they answered questions to the best of their ability and did a really great job presenting! Their diorama was amazing creative and so, so pretty!!

After the presentation, we played a memory type game that required us to use our vast knowledge of invertebrate phyla. It got pretty competitive!

See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Look how cool these little critters are!

The first person to watch this video and comment with how cuttlefish change color and what phylum cuttlefish are in will win one of my favorite organic Trader Joe's lolly-pops!

How much do you trust Physics?

Would you try this?

Comment and let everyone know whether you would be willing to try this experiment and why or why not??

Bowling Ball- Conservation of Energy

Wednesday Science and PE

The boys had the privilege of playing two of my favorite games in PE today: Screaming toes and Ships and Sailors. In screaming toes, the players stand in a circle and look at someone in the circles toes. When I say "screaming toes," everyone looks up at the person whose toes they were gazing at. If you are looking at someone who is also looking at you, there is a duel. At the count of 3, the duelers scream. Whoever stops screaming 1st is the winner and stays in the circle. I partly love this game so much because I am so good at it. I out-screamed all of the Salam Academy boys! Next, we played ships and Sailors. This game involves me calling out different orders, and the players following the orders. The orders include, salute the captain, hit the deck, to the ship, to the shore, walk the plank, man over board, and others. Abdullah M. won today's game.

In 6th grade science, we went outside to perform a lab that explored some aspects of kinetic energy. Different sized balls (tennis, golf, ping-pong, and baseball) were dropped from varying heights into Play-Doh. The indent was measured and used to discern how mass and height dropped from affects the balls kinetic and potential energy. Here are some highlights:

In 7th grade, the students (except Fatimah and Nimra due to time) presented their wonderfully creative projects on Invertebrates. Up first was Taha and Odey. Their presentation on the deadly box jelly was extremely informative and comedic. The boys kept us giggling while discussing a serious topic. Next up was Sara and Marwa's hysterical puppet show! We learned a ton while laughing our faces off! Last up was Rinad, Amina, Alexis, and Gada. Their presentation on ctenophores and Portuguese Man-O-War's was very informative and their posters were gorgeous!

I am looking forward to seeing Fatimah and Nimra's project tomorrow and for FISH DISSECTIONS with the 8th graders!!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Boys PE today (Tues. 2/21)

The boys conquered Marshmallow River, but it wasn't easy!

In PE today, the boys tackled the classic initiative "Marshmallow River." In this initiative, the whole team must make it across the river without stepping in and sinking. In order to accomplish this feat, the team gets a limited number of marshmallows. Marshmallows can be stepped, but must be in contact with a student at all times or else they sink (i.e. I steal them). The hardest parts of this initiative are communication and teamwork. I made it even harder for them by "silencing" the group's natural leader Junte. The team had to work out the problem in a whole new way without Junte making and implementing a plan and Junte was challenged in a new way by experiencing what it is like to watch and try to communicate non-verbally. There was a lot of frustration and many different techniques tried out. After many tries and almost 30 minutes, the whole team made it across the river! The group expressed that this challenge was much more difficult than previous initiatives, but they felt more successful when they finished it.

Good Job Boys!

Tomorrow in PE we will be playing games in honor of Caleb's Birthday.

Tornado on the SUN!

NASA's solar dynamic observatory has captured footage of a tornado on the sun. This extreme solar weather has effects all the way to Earth. Airplanes have even been rerouted because of the solar tornado!

Read the full story at NPR

Science Classes Feb 20-24

6th Grade:
The 6th graders are studying forms of energy. We are currently reading about Kinetic and Potential Energy. On Monday we took our chairs and books outside to take advantage of the mild Albuquerque weather and held class on the patio. It was a little chilly in the shade, but it was a nice change in scenery. We will finish reading and discussing section one on Tuesday and will be doing experiments in class on Wednesday and Thursday.
**Important for 6th graders**
I handed out a packet on Monday that has your participation points page, a homework page describing your assignments in detail, and the handouts for homework and classwork. If you lose this packet, you will not be able to participate in the lab activities. Parents, please ask to look at this, so you can be sure homework is being completed. The participation points page needs to be handed back in on Monday with your signature.

7th Grade
The 7th graders are working on a unit project to wrap up our unit on invertebrates. In groups, the students are researching an invertebrate that they think is especially cool and are working on expressing that information in creative ways. Sara and Marwa are producing a puppet show about the vampire squid. Fatimah and Nimra are constructing a diorama exhibiting the pin-cushion starfish. Odey and Taha have crafted a model of the box jellyfish. Rinad, Amina, Gada, and Alexis are making informative and decorative posters about the Portuguese Man-O-War and Ctenophores. They will be presenting on Wednesday. The grades will count either as a project or a test based on what the students feel will help their grade most.

8th Grade
The 8th graders are now studying vertebrates and have been learning about bony and cartilaginous fish. In class on Monday, students looked at a shark jaw, shark teeth, and otoliths (fish ear bones) during lecture. On Thursday, we will be dissecting perch in class. I have sent an email with information about perch and how to dissect them. Please make sure you look at this material before Thursday so we can have a successful dissection.

Monday, February 20, 2012


Hello Everyone!
This blog will include important information about class. You will be able to see what we cover in class for the week, homework assignments, and upcoming events. I will also be posting interesting science articles I stumble upon, cool pictures, and interesting videos! This will be a place for you to learn more about what we are studying in class and find information. Please subscribe and visit often. I am doing this you for you :)
Mrs. Brisbin