Animoto.com and Biology

My first ‘animoto’ video. Its on the ‘World of plants’ topic. See if the images remind you of all the stuff we covered in this topic. I’m not sure how to embed this video into our blog so excuse this link. us follow the link and click on the play button. You can maximise the screen. I will start to build up a collection on our GLOW page
Make your own video on www.animoto.com

If I can do it, anyone can !

 For Miss Bloomer’s S3 Biology Class:
Read the article below (from BBC News website) and leave a comment explaining your thoughts – do you agree or disagree with this article?
Grey squirrel cull bounties urged

Grey squirrel

The MSP said bounties would offer an incentive to cut numbers

Bounties should be paid for the shooting or trapping of grey squirrels, according to a Conservative MSP.Murdo Fraser said consideration must be given to such measures to preserve numbers of native red squirrels.

The party’s deputy leader said that only suitably qualified people with shotgun licences, like gamekeepers, would get the money.

However, an animal protection group said the proposal would lead to “carnage in the countryside”.

Scotland is reported to be home to more than 75% of the UK’s red squirrel population. However, they have been under threat of being displaced by the non-native grey.

Grey squirrels compete for food with the red squirrels and can carry a virus which kills them.

Should grey squirrels be culled to preserve red numbers?
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

Scottish Natural Heritage has announced plans for a cull in areas including the north east, Argyll, Loch Lomond and the Highlands, where reds are most under threat; and grey squirrels are being shot on sight by patrols in the Borders.

Bounties have previously been paid in the UK but the system was abandoned in the 1950s because of abuse.

Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Mr Fraser said the smaller population could be wiped out unless action is taken and a bounty of a few pounds per grey should be on offer.

He has lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament seeking the backing of fellow MSPs for his proposal.

He said: “Scotland’s red squirrel is now under serious threat from a foreign invader.

“Areas such as Perthshire and Angus are now the frontline for the red squirrel and we are seeing their numbers under threat in these areas.”

This is an absolutely ridiculous idea and it would lead to carnage in the countryside
Ross Minett
Advocates for Animals

On the proposal for bounties, he said: “It may seem like a drastic step, but the seriousness of the current situation cannot be underestimated.

“Paying bounties to gamekeepers and others to eradicate the grey squirrel in areas where they threaten red squirrels would be a positive and imaginative step to try and tackle this serious issue.”

Ross Minett, director of Advocates for Animals, said: “This is an absolutely ridiculous idea and it would lead to carnage in the countryside with every man and his dog out to raise cash from the killing of squirrels.

“Mr Fraser obviously hasn’t studied ecology because if he had he would realise that the grey squirrel is here to stay and killing them in vast numbers is not going to remove them.

“It would be a complete waste of time and taxpayers’ money.”

For Miss Bloomer’s S3 Biology class:
Read the passage below (from BBC News website) and leave a comment explaining your thoughts on why the birth rate in Scotland is falling so dramatically.
Scots birth rate hits all-time low
baby - generic

Birth rates are falling in Scotland

The birth rate in Scotland has fallen to the lowest level since records began almost 150 years ago.Women north of the border are having fewer children and having them later in life, according to the annual report by Registrar General John Randall.

He identified the falling birth rate as a major factor in the decline of the Scottish population.

Deaths now exceed births and this is a major factor in explaining why Scotland’s population has declined

John Randall
Registrar General

Last month figures from the 2001 census showed that Scotland’s population had fallen by 2% in the last 20 years.

Mr Randall’s report said that the Scottish population stood at 5,064,011 last year.

He said this made it the only part of the UK with a declining population – a trend which is expected to continue.

“There are indications that factors which have affected demographic change in Scotland for many decades may now be changing,” said Mr Randall.

“For example, net emigration from Scotland in recent years has been much lower than in the 1960s or even the 1980s.

Births registered

“And a declining birth rate means that deaths now exceed births and this is a major factor in explaining why Scotland’s population has declined or increased less strongly than in other countries.”

He added that the Scottish population was getting older.

The report also revealed that the number of children north of the border has reached a new low.

John Randall

John Randall: Changes in demographics

Last year 52,527 births were registered – the lowest number since civil registration began in 1855.

The number of women over the age of 30 giving birth rose from 23% in 1981 to 48% in 2001.

More than 43% of children were born outside marriage.

The number of deaths in Scotland last year was also at the lowest level since 1855, falling from 57,797 in 2000 to 57,382 in 2001.

Cancer and heart disease were the two most common causes of death, although the number of fatalities from heart disease has fallen by almost 30% over the last decade.

Despite the falling death rate in Scotland, it is still among the highest in both Britain and the European Union.

Divorce rate

The birth rate is close to the European average, but lower than any other part of the UK.

It is predicted that the average life expectancy of boys born in 2001 will be 73.4, while girls can expect to live until they are 78.8.

Mr Randall’s report also showed that the number of divorces fell to 10,631 in 2001 – the lowest number since 1982.

However, the number of marriages also fell, from 30,367 in 2000 to 30,058 last year.

The average age of people getting wed for the first time was 31 for men and 29 for women – both showing an increase of about four years in since 1991.

The General Register Office for Scotland is the Scottish Executive department responsible for the registration of births, marriages, deaths, divorces and adoptions.

Click on this link and follow the site all the way through. Its a great revision resource for this topic…


You are about to start work on the genetics topic. Have a look at the following web-link. Read the information, and leave your comments below.



As the header above says, the S4 Biology prelims are fast approaching…..
Don’t leave all your revision until the last minute, start putting in the effort now. you should all be trying to stick to a revision timetable and doing a little everyday. these prelims are important as we have to estimate your grades for the summer using the prelim papers you complete. Should we need to appeal your summer results ( in the case of illness, for example) the prelim result forms the basis of this appeal. So get it right first time.

The biology study night is on November 19th at the Burnside hotel. Last years students found this a great revision aid, particularly with problem-solving activities. We hope to see as many of you as possible there on the night.

The biology homework club runs on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at lunchtime. Ask your Biology teacher for details of times and rooms, or come along to the science base and ask. Check that you can dial in to the school system and access all the biology resources that are stored in the Biology folders. There are revision powerpoints and summary notes for each topic, as well as podcasts, all of which can be downloaded and used for revision. we also have a limited supply of MP3 players loaded with the podcasts which you can sign out.

Time is fleeting and the clock is running. Don’t run out of time to ask for help. Thats what we’re here for….

Kiwi fruit DNA

Class 1a1 did an experiment last week as part of their reproduction topic. Their task was to extract some DNA from Kiwi fruits. Read all about their experiences and thoughts on this experiment by clicking here…

Podcasting and revision…

Do you think that listening to podcasts could help your revision?

Have a read through this and tell us what you think. Do you have any ideas for Biology Podcasts?

“UWE students get podcasts on the brain
Issue date: 06/02/2007UWE students get podcasts on the brain.

Students studying Applied Biology and Psychology at the University of the West of England are reaping the benefits of their lecturer’s innovative approach to teaching by downloading a series of lectures on the brain to their phones and iPods which they can then listen to whenever they choose.Dr Stephen Gomez, a lecturer in neurophysiology and neuroanatonomy has recorded many of his lectures and handouts onto a series of podcasts which students can download onto their phones, iPods, PDAs, laptops or computers. The podcasts, which are intended to reinforce rather than replace lectures, have won praise from students who appreciate the increased flexibility and new learning opportunities they offer. Many students say they listen to the podcasts at home, or when they are travelling to University on the bus.Podcasts are audio or video files which are published to the internet and allow users to subscribe to a feed and receive new files automatically. They are used by a wide cross section of people to share information, music and for example to download radio programmes.Dr Gomez explains, “Initially I produced audio files to accompany my printed handouts and students said they found these very useful. I have now developed video-podcasts which include diagrams and video clips so students can watch and listen to the material on their mobile phones. “The feedback so far has been excellent and students welcome the flexibility of being able to listen to the material when they choose. The audio format also helps people to reinforce and retain their learning – as well as being a very useful revision tool.” “Many universities are beginning to appreciate the value of podcasts in teaching and learning, though some people still see them as a gimmick. Some lecturers are simply recording their whole lectures as podcasts, but in my view this has limited value for students. “I believe I have found a way of making this new technology really benefit students.My podcasts are short (2-3 minutes) and can be strung together as a series to cover a whole subject area or rearranged for another context. I also discovered early on that by scripting my audio files before recording them this produces a better result for students. Students subscribe to my podcasts and whenever I produce a new one it becomes automatically available to the student. It goes without saying that students of the future will increasingly come to expect the flexibility which this technology offers.”Student Christopher Cross says, “I have found these podcasts very useful and a good learning tool. It was good to sit and listen to them while going through my notes from the lecture reinforcing my knowledge and adding things I missed.”Mikal Wade, a second year student, said, “I have been able to listen to some of the audio files and think they are amazing. It is such a brilliant idea and I hope that other lecturers follow your example at some point in the future.”Chloe Everall said “I just listened to the first 6 podcasts and I think they’re really good. It’s easier to remember stuff when its being read out and they work as quite a neat little summary, and its more entertaining than just reading so I’m more likely to go over the lecture material than I would have done with just a printed handout.”Dr Gomez says though he had technical help developing the project, there was very little cost involved and he used free software to produce the podcasts. He now wants to carry on with using the technology and will be talking to colleagues across the University to encourage other lecturers to follow his lead”.

A post for S3 students …

Have a look at this experiment carried out as part of a science project by a boy in the USA. How does this link in with what you are learning about Osmosis?

In which straw will the level of fluid have risen up the most ?

Student wins science fair by osmosis
By Carol La Valley, Roundup staff reporter
Tuesday, February 6, 2007
Half of the students at Pine Strawberry Elementary School participated in the school’s science fair in hopes of taking home the grand prize — a telescope.

Carol La Valley/RoundupCaleb Paine won the Grand Prize telescope in Pine-Strawberry Elementary School’s science fair.
First-grade student, Caleb Paine, beat out 64 other budding scientists, with his project on osmosis.
The hypothesis: An egg membrane will soak up whatever liquid it is sitting in.
Paine got the idea from a book.
He needed three raw eggs with the outer shell removed from one end and the membrane left intact.
“My mom got pretty good at peeling the eggs,” Paine said.
But peeling eggs was the only thing she helped him do.
Paine inserted straws in the end of the egg then sealed the ends with clay.
Next he placed one egg in a jar filled with water, one in salt water and one in Coke.
He checked the level of fluid in the straws every waking hour over the next two days and charted the fluid’s gradual rise.
“The science fair was fun and I learned that an egg membrane is semi-permeable,” he said.

Have a look at this news item. It’s all about gene mutations like those you have been looking at in the ‘Genetics and Society’ section of the Inheritance topic in the standard grade course….

Your class teacher may ask you to look at this and leave your comments.

Gene Therapy Breakthrough For Autism Condition
Campaigners are celebrating after a gene therapy breakthrough offered hope of treatment for a disabling autistic-type condition. The British study of laboratory mice suggests a gene treatment can reverse the symptoms of Rett Syndrome, regarded as the most physically disabling of the autistic diseases. The condition strikes mainly girls and leaves many in wheelchairs, suffering from tremors and breathing disorders. The study, reported on-line by Science Express today, suggests that the mutant gene, MECP2, can successfully be replaced. Healthy genes were administered to mice bred to be born with the Rett syndrome gene. Researcher Professor Adrian Bird, of Edinburgh University, Scotland, said: “Like many other people, we expected that giving MeCP2 to mice that were already sick would not work. “The idea that you could put back an essential component after the damage to the brain is done and recover an apparently normal mouse seemed farfetched, as nerve cells that developed in the absence of a key component were assumed to be irrevocably damaged. “The results are gratifyingly clear, though, and must give hope to those who are affected by this distressing disorder.” The four week treatment eradicated tremors, restored breathing to normal and restored mobility and steady gait to the animals. Monica Coenraads, a founder of the Rett Syndrome Research Foundation, said: “Dr. Bird’s astonishing results usher in a new era for Rett Syndrome and other autism spectrum disorders. The reversal experiments provide justification for aggressive exploration of next steps on all fronts, from drug discovery to gene correction.” And Professor Huda Zoghbi, who discovered the Rett syndrome gene, described the results as “extraordinary”. Professor Zoghbi, of Baylor College of Medicine, Texas, USA, said: “They are of relevance not only to Rett Syndrome but to a much broader class of disorders, including autism and schizophrenia. “The successful restoration of normal function demonstrated in the mouse models suggests that if we can develop therapies to address the loss of MECP2 we may be able to reverse neurological damage in children and adults with Rett, autism and related neuropsychiatric disorders.”

Date: February 9th 2007