Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Student Blog Post Assignment #5: Anthers and Stigmas and Styles, Oh My!

How do flowering plants (angiosperms) like our Brassica oleracea plants reproduce? That is the basic question we will address with this post.

Begin by reading section 24-1 in your text (Reproduction with Cones and Flowers) to get a basic idea of how flowering plants reproduce. Pay particular attention to Figure 24-7.

When you have finished your reading, get permission to visit the garden and harvest two or three flowers from one of the rose bushes in the main garden or another flowering plant somewhere on campus. Bring them back to the classroom and, with a partner, get a dissecting microscope. If you have never used a dissecting microscope before, read this brief tutorial on dissecting microscopes first.

Study Figure 24-5 on page 612. Now, follow the procedure below to complete the flower dissection.
  1. Lay your flowers on the table and take a closeup picture of one of them. In the next step, looking through the dissecting microscope, you will examine all of the flower's parts that are directly involved in reproduction.
  2. Now, using the forceps and/or your fingers, very carefully remove the sepals and petals of one of the flowers. Do you see the anthers?
  3. This step can be tricky: take a picture of the image of the anthers coming out of the eyepiece of the microscope.
  4. Now pull back the filaments and anthers to reveal the carpel (the entire female reproductive structure). Take a photograph of the carpel, focusing on the stigma.
  5. Take the ovary and use very sharp scissors or your fingernails to cut the ovary open lengthwise. Do you see the ovules inside? They look a bit like shiny green jelly beans attached to a central stem. Take a picture of the ovules inside the ovary.
  6. For extra points, take one of the anthers and tap some of its pollen onto a glass slide to prepare a wet mount slide of pollen. Ask the teacher for a compound light microscope and set it up on the lab station at which you are working. Get the pollen grains in focus at high power and try to capture a photo from the eyepiece of the microscope with your camera.
Using the photos you took to illustrate, write a paragraph explaining how fertilization occurs in flowering plant species like Brassica oleracea. Each picture you post should also include a detailed caption explaining what is shown in the photograph and how it functions in angiosperm reproduction.

Take a look at the example images below to get an idea of what you should capture in your photographs.

This image shows anthers surrounding a stigma. They are all part of the same flower. When both male and female parts appear in the same flower, the flower is said to be perfect. In some species of flowering plant, the male and female parts are located in separate flowers (some flowers are male, some are female), and yet another situation is when the male and female flowers are on entirely separate individuals (some plants are male, some are female).

Here is a view (40x) of the male reproductive anatomy of a flower, known as the stamen. It has a stalk called the filament coming up from the base of the flower and at the end of this stalk is a part called the anther. This portion of the stamen produces and releases pollen grains, which contain the plant's male gametes (sperm cells).

This is a view (40x) of the female anatomy of a flower called the carpel. The carpel consists of a stalk called a style with a sticky tip called a stigma. It is this sticky tip to which pollen grains adhere (get stuck).

This is a picture of a flower that has had all of the parts stripped away (sepals, petals, stamens, and the top of the carpel) EXCEPT the ovary (the large green tube on the right), which has been sliced open and has tiny ovules (immature, unfertilized seeds) spilling out--one of these ovules can be seen to the left of the ovary.


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Student Blog Post Assignment #4: One of a Kind: The Wonders of Biodiversity

Compose and publish a post in which you answer the following questions in detail using terminology and ideas we have studied so far in the Genetics Unit.

The websites below may be of some help to you as you search for information on Brassica oleracea and concepts in genetics.

What kind of plant are you experimenting with? Describe it and include at least one recent photo of actual brassica plants from the main garden. What (if anything) can you tell about the organisms (parent plants) from which these plants are descended? How could you predict what kinds of traits the offspring (baby plants grown from seeds) of these plant(s) will have? How would they acquire (get) these traits (talk about meiosis/gamete formation)? How will these Brassica oleracea plants pass their genetic information on to the next generation? Will their offspring look just like them? Why or why not? If all of the varieties of Brassica oleracea being grown by you and your classmates are so closely related, why do they look so different from each other in some ways? Find a picture of the wild-type (land race) Brassica oleracea (the ancestral plant for your green baby). How did so many different forms (polymorphisms) come to be from just this one ancestral species?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Student Blog Post Assignment #3: The Mystery of the Disappearing Brassicas: Applying the Scientific Method to Determine Why a Crop Failed

By now you probably know that most of your recently transplanted Brassica oleracea plants have died. Yeah, that stinks, but this is not the end of The Story of the Seed--not by a long shot.

Crop failure is a fairly regular occurrence in agricultural systems around the world, and the consequences can be quite serious: farmers and gardeners lose money and / or go bankrupt, and in the most severe circumstances, people starve.

What can we do to minimize the number of crop failures?

While it's true that many factors affecting the success of crops are beyond our control (inclement weather, new diseases, migration of pest organisms to our fields, etc), we can still use scientific study to learn about the biology of the organisms we raise for food and the ecology of agricultural systems in which they are raised. The knowledge gained from such studies can be used to plan our food production operations so as to improve our chances of getting a crop to harvest.

We have a mystery to solve, and like any good detective and the crime lab that backs him or her up, we are going to use evidence, sound reasoning, and the scientific method to find answers.

For the first part of the TSOTS Student Blog Post Assignment #3, you will gather evidence from the scene of the incident and formulate a hypothesis as to what likely happened to your plants.

This first section should be titled "Evidence" and should include several close-up photos of the site where your plant was. Each photo should have a caption describing in detail what is shown in the photo. Underneath the photo, write a sentence or two about what you believe the evidence in that photo suggests or indicates.

In the second section you will clearly state your hypothesis regarding what you think finally killed off your plant. Be sure to relate the causative agent or factor (your independent variable) and the resulting condition (dependent variable). Title this section "Hypothesis".

For the second part of TSOTS Student Blog Post Assignment #3, you will devise and outline an experiment to test the hypothesis you have developed to explain the disappearance of or damage to your plants. Follow the guidelines provided in the Crop Failure Investigation Lab Guide.

All of the above parts and sections of this post should be published in a single post by one member of your TSOTS team. That does not mean this person is responsible for doing all of the work! This is a group assignment and every team member must assume a role and fulfill his or her delineated responsibilities. You will have until November 6th to complete this post, at which time it will be scored by your teacher. You should, however, begin work on your experiments as soon as possible.

Yes, this is probably the most involved and difficult task you have faced so far in this course, but you can do it, and I will do whatever I can to support you.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Student Blog Post Assignment #2: Project Description

TSOTS Instructions for 9/17 - 9/18

- Check and (if necessary) correct the main title of your blog. It should say "The Story of the Seed," EXACTLY!

- Add a clever subtitle (description). See the examples below:
  > The Kale Kings
  > The Cabbage Patch Crew
  > Broccoli Bad Boys
  > Cool Collards

- Make sure settings are set to show a date stamp for all posts

- Create an "About" page.
  > Click on the "Pages" link in your "The Story of the Seed" blog control panel
  > Click "New page" and select "Blank page"
  > Title this new page "About Our Project"
  > Compose a four to five-sentence paragraph explaining the purpose of this project and describing your Brassica oleracea cultivar (kale, for example)
  > click "Publish" when you are done

If you are having trouble coming up with a description of this project, see my "About" page.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Student Blog Post Assignment #1: Brief Bio

Before you do anything else with your team’s blog (website) today, make sure you verify that your group’s blog was set up correctly. If there are any issues (e.g., someone in your group has not yet received or accepted an invitation to join the blog) you must resolve those FIRST.

Once you have have verified that your site was set up correctly, check once more to make sure that all of the members of the group have been added to the blog as authors (contributors). If they have not been, the blog owner MUST invite these members by email (see instructions under Blog Setup Instructions: Next, the invitees must open their emails from the blog owner and accept the invitation by clicking on the link provided in the email. After you have confirmed that these members have been added as authors, go on to the step below.

OK, now it’s time for your first official post--yes, that means this one is for points! By Friday each of your team members must post a simple bio about themselves. In your post, please include responses to the following questions:

- What is your name? In what places have you lived (city and state is enough)?
- Have you ever gardened or grown food before? What did you grow and what do you remember about the experience?
- Talk about a person or people in your life who you think know a lot about gardening, farming, horticulture, plants, and/or making food from scratch. Who is this person? What is their relationship to you?


My name is Joe Green. I am originally from Waukesha, Wisconsin. I moved here in 2002 with my mom and older sister. My Grandparents still live in Wisconsin and sometimes we get to go back and visit them in the summer.

I haven't really gardened that much, but sometimes I help my mom with her rose plants. I don't really cook that much, but I like to watch my sister cook and ask her about the ingredients she puts in the food she is making. She's a pretty good cook, but not as good as my grandma. My grandma and grandpa have a huge garden back in Wisconsin and my grandma makes pickles from the cucumbers she grows in the summer. They're tasty, but my favorite thing is pickled watermelon. I know it sounds gross, but it is so good! Whenever we go back I always spend some time helping my grandpa out in the garden. I don't really know what all of the plants are or how he gets them to grow so big, but it's cool to learn about them. Maybe after this project is over I will know a little more about some of these plants like kohlrabi.

I'm Marisol Martinez and I am from Salinas, CA. My grandmother, my dad, and his brother moved to San Jose in 2007. I have family in Salinas, Watsonville, Hollister and Mexico.

I cook many of the meals at home so I know how to cook. I learned most of what I know from my grandmother. She grew up in Tamaulipas, Mexico. My favorite thing to make that I learned from her is mole de olla con lentejas. I don't know exactly how to say it in English, but one of the ingredients is little seeds that kind of look like tiny beans. My grandmother probably knows the most about food and cooking of all of my closest relatives. I like coliflor, but my group is growing brussel sprouts. I like gardening. In my third grade class we had a garden and I planted carrots and we got to eat them at the end of the year. They were really sweet and very orange in the middle.

Blog Setup Instructions


STEP 1 : Go to (every person can go to the Blogger site if they wish, but only one person will actually create the blog)
STEP 2: Log in to Blogger using your Gmail username and password
STEP 3: Find the button on the left that says "New Blog" and click on it
STEP 4: You must give your blog the same title as the project: "The Story of the Seed"
STEP 5: Set the address to "storyoftheseed2015-P-T" where "P" is the period you are in and "T" is the team number you are on. EXAMPLE: If you are in period 3 and on team 2, the address for your team would be "storyoftheseed2015-3-2"
STEP 6: Choose a template for your site (just pick anything for the time being--you can easily change this later)
STEP 7: Click the "Create Blog" button


Description: Should be original, clever, and descriptive (be concise)--this is like the subtitle of your blog and should give readers some idea of what the blog is about
Add your blog to our listings: No
Let search engines find your blog: No
Blog Authors: Click on "Add Authors" and enter the gmail addresses of the other members of your group and of Mr. Bursch (, then click "Invite Authors". Once the other team members have accepted your invitation and joined the blog, convert everyone's permission setting to "Admin" so that everyone can make changes to the blog settings.
Leave all other "BASIC" settings as they are.

Show at most 7 posts on the main page 
Archive Frequency  Monthly
Comment Location  Embedded
Who can comment User with Google Accounts

Leave all other settings in default mode.
Now go to the "Layout" tool to start customizing the look of your blog. Further customizations can be made by using the "Blogger Template Designer."

If you use pictures from the Internet they MUST have a copyright that allows for free use.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

It All Started Here (A View from the Nursery)

So it begins. A small paper envelope that sounds like a baby's rattle enfolds tiny vaults of genetic treasure. What could they become? Only time will tell.

As you handle these tiny capsules, contemplate their contents and how they are like you and vice versa.