Free Energy

From a young age we are taught that nothing in this word is free. This week Mr. Dunn told us otherwise. This week we learned about free energy and its purpose. What free energy is exactly is still a little fuzzy in my brain. The three main things we get from free energy are organization, growth, and reproduction. All energy comes from the sun (or environment). Without this available free energy from the sun our lives would probably not exist today. We utilize this free energy through metabolism (sum of all the chemical reactions in our body). Glycolysis is a series of reactions that happens in our bodies and its cool because we can jump into it at any point in the process depending on the nutrients or energy we are given (its the breakdown of glucose into pyruvate). How energy get to us from the sun is because plants take it in and create sugars and oxygen through photosynthesis. The energy is pasted on through consumption; we eat plants or other things eat plats and then we eat them. Excess free energy goes into storage. Disruptions in free energy can lead to death in an individual and can change a population or ecosystem. To maintain life we need order which requires a constant supply of energy. We also learned about the two laws of thermodynamics. The first one states that energy can never be created or destroyed just changed. The second law is that every time we convert energy, there is more entropy in the universe, or more disorder. This only applies to a closed system. When we create more order, it makes the universe more DISordered. This works because it is an open system not a closed system. This week connected to Big Idea 2.a. Big Idea 2.a talk about free energy and how every living thing needs it and utilizes it to live.

The lab that went along with this week confused me. We made little yeast balls and then put them in hydrogen peroxide and timed how long it took them to go from the bottom of the beaker to the top. Then we tested the yeast balls in different temps. of hydrogen peroxide. We went to 55˚ C and 10˚ C. When it was hotter it went faster and when it was colder it went slower. Full discloser I’m not completely sure why we did this lab or what it taught us. I don’t know how it connected to free energy or metabolism. If someone can explain, please do.

I don’t know how to get rid of this:

All in all I found this week to be a 7 on the toughness scale (1-10, 1 being the easiest). Maybe something that made the week hard was that I don’t quite understand what free energy mean. I sorta understood the idea but I don’t feel strong enough on the unit to take the test. This has been a very hard and confusing unit for me. I don’t understand a lot of chemical reactions or bonds and things like that. It’s hard for me to understand when I can’t physically see it. That’s what made this week so hard. I can’t visualize whats happening in glycolysis and within the body. I also don’t fully understand what’s happening when the universe is becoming disordered. I understand that order in our body is the cells becoming more defined and things like that and evolution is ordered but then what is disorder? We don’t un-evolve. That’s my main questions from the week. The main take away from the week, however, is that yeast balls are super cute.

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Enzymes

This week we expanded on enzymes. We were introduced to them last week but didn’t go in to detail about how they functioned. To start this unite, we watched the Bozeman video about active sites and substrates. It was very helpful. Sadly I couldn’t find a Big Idea that fit.

The activity of the week involved the students being the enzymes and breaking the substrates (toothpicks). We put 100 toothpicks in a bowl and would time for 10 seconds and see how many toothpicks one person could blindly break. After 10 seconds we would leave the broken ones in the bowl and do it again until we reached a minute. Then we did a second test with two people breaking toothpicks in the same bowl. We learned from this that the more enzymes there are, the more substrates can be broken. It’s like if there where a bunch of people (substrates) trying to go through doors (enzymes), the more doors you have the more people can go through them at a faster rate but if you have a lot of people and not many doors there are build ups and its slower or people get stuck. So when there are more substrates the enzymes are overwhelmed and less productive but when its flipped around they are faster because they don’t have as many substrates to worry about.

This week felt better than most weeks. I feel like I understood more than last week and hopefully I can continue to understand and grasp ideas the first time around. I think what helped me this week more than anything was the Bozeman video. When we watch the videos and do the worksheets with them I feel like I have a better understanding then when we read chapters in the book. It’s always a nice way to start the week. The only thing I still don’t super understand is how temperature affects proteins and enzymes. I understand that heat makes them denature because they loose their structure but I don’t understand why that happens. If you understand better than I do please let me know.

Organic Molecules

This week we talked about different types of organic molecules. This was defiantly the hardest week so far. We learned how to identify different types of organic molecules, identify distinguishing features of each class of molecules and when given a molecule we learned to assign  class. The different classes we learned about where amino acids, steroids (type of lipid), fatty acids (another type of lipid), sugars (building blocks of carbohydrates), and nucleic acids. We also learned about amino acids and how they are the building blocks of proteins – molecules that play an important role in the body.  Something important we learned is organic molecule are carbon based and inorganic molecule are not.

The only Big Idea this topic connects to is Big Idea 4 A.1: “The subcomponents of biological molecules and their sequence determine the properties of that molecule.” We see this with CHNOPS (carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulfur). Depending on the elements making up the molecules its completely different. Different elements put molecules in different classes and give them different purposes and characteristics.

I had a hard time grasping the ideas of this week. It was reflected in my quiz. I’m not sure exactly what to do to better understand. Like last week, I don’t know what my questions are because I don’t understand enough. I don’t understand how you know what goes where and the different bonds between different atoms and molecules when drawing the different models. I also don’t understand what Vander Waals bonds are. The highlight of the week was the “Fun with Milk and Eggs” lab. It was a fun way to end the week and connect to lesson. It made everything feel less stressful and easier to understand.