Biology Labs– Module 2 {HomeSchool High Link-Up!}

Last week's Biology labs at co-op stunk. Literally.



We made cultures from pond water. It was really smelly!

We are working through Apologia Biology together. This week we spent the entire class time on Experiment 2.2. We had prepped the jars together last week, and then filled the jars with pond water on our way home that afternoon. Then we put them in a warmish place and hoped that bacteria would grow before our next lab time.



The book warns you that this will be a stinky experiment. Another of the co-op moms did these labs with a group two years ago, and she warned us that stinky doesn't really describe it. She suggested bringing swimming nose clips if we had them!

Our problem was that the classroom for our labs is next to the kitchen where ladies are prepping and setting out our pitch-in lunch. Then we open the doors and everyone files through our classroom to get their drinks. Nothing says "I've lost my appetite" quite like the stench in that classroom would have! So we planned ahead and moved our lab to the entry way of the church. We opened all the doors and windows to get lots of ventilation. No one keeled over, and there was only a minimal amount of stench.

My recommendation: do Experiments 2.2 and 3.1 in a well ventilated room. And by well-ventilated, I mean open lots windows and doors! Trust me, you do not want to try this without lots of airflow.


"This smells like rice casserole. Hey, this smells like your mom's cooking!" Yep, he really said that.


We had lots of mixed results with our cultures. Some students were finding bacteria in their cultures and others were not. I don't think anyone had a culture that was simply teeming with bacteria.

We had put our jars in the basement for their growing time. It had gotten cooler than it normally is this time of year, but Hubby and I thought it would stay warm enough down there, especially since they were also inside an open box. When we only found bacteria in one of our cultures (the one with hay), I suspected that it had been too cool.

Since our co-op only meets for 20 sessions during the year, we won't be able to fit in every lab for the 36-week course. Some of the labs can be done at home, but since not everyone has a microscope, those labs will be done at co-op. Because of that, we will not be doing Experiment 3.1 in our class.



In order to try to compensate for not letting the cultures grow a few more days and view them again, the last several minutes of our lab time was spent in a microscope show-and-tell. Each set of microscope partners picked their best slide, got it set up and focused, and then we rotated around the room. This was great because those that had no bacteria in their cultures got to see some in their classmates' cultures.

Our family opted not to dump our pond water cultures after class. Since we have the microscopes at home, we took our jars home. We would do Experiment 3.1 on our own. This time we left the jars in the kitchen, hoping that it would be warm enough to help some more bacteria grow.

Several days later we got brave enough to open those jars again– in our dining room. It only took about 15 seconds for me to decide the cold air in the house would be far better than the smell that was coming from that one opened jar!


Too smelly for Zarah...


This time we found a few bacteria in two or three of our cultures, but it took a long time to find them.

The LED microscope with the mechanical stage was definitely preferred for the bacteria search. It was so much easier than trying to manually move the slide on the stage to scan the sample. It think it has become the favorite microscope in the house! [Thank you Nature's Workshop Plus!]



We made a unanimous decision to start the experiment over again with pond water from a different pond. We will keep the jars in a warmer spot from the outset, and we may even poke a hole in the top to give the little critters a bit more oxygen.

I was so proud of my young scientists!

{Looking at these pictures and writing about the experiment makes me feel like I still smell that pond water. Ew.}




HomeSchool High is sponsored by Apologia.

I hope you'll tell them a big "thank you"!


Now it's your turn. What have you been doing this week with your high school teens?

Check out the Link-Up Guidelines, grab a button or banner for your post, and link up your post– old or new.

Be sure to visit some of the other ladies who have linked up! Leave them an encouraging word. Let's link arms, ladies! Spur one another on to the finish!

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