Thursday, December 17, 2009

Origins: How are scientists figuring out how the Earth formed, and how life began on it?

Some of the most cutting edge science of our time is attempting to uncover the origins of the Earth and life on it.

The PBS TV show NOVA did a 4 part series about this research.

In class we watched "The Earth is Born" and "How Life Began."

You can watch some clips on the NOVA/Origins website at

If you need to make up the assignment you can read the transcripts of the programs at .

What do you think about the ideas in these shows? Are there better explanations of how the Earth came to be? How do you think life began? What evidence do you base your beliefs on? Is evidence important when considering such questions?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Science Fair Winners

Here are the winners from my Biology classes. Congratulations!
Once all the projects from all the Biology and Chemistry classes are judged, perhaps one of our classmates will be going on to the Area science fair at IIT, the Illinois Institute of Technology and then on to the City science fair at the Museum of Science and Industry.

Per 4

Izamar Ramirez

Dennise Rendon

Evelyn Diaz

Per 5

Amelia Alvarez

Nancy Mendiola

Sigfredo Cortez

Per 8

Jocylen Baldarrama

Mario Fernandez

Alisia Lilliebridge

Raquel Guardiola

Monday, November 2, 2009

Science Fair !!!! Papers Due 11/20, Presentations Due 11/24

Use the link on the upper right of this page to get to "Cantor's Science Fair Page" for copies of the Science Fair Proposal Sheet, the Science Fair Paper Guide and Rubric, the Science Fair Paper Template, and the Science Fair Board Layout sheet. You can download these documents and print them out if you lost the one I passed out in class.

If you use these documents you will do great on your paper and presentation.

There are also links to science fair ideas for those of you who are having a hard time coming up with one.

Monday, October 26, 2009

How do Viruses work? - A video from National Public Radio

This video is from's health page. It is a good demonstration of how viruses work.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Science Fair !!!! Papers Due 11/20, Presentations Due 11/24

Homework for next class is to bring in 3 ideas you have for science fair projects. Remember, it should be something which interests YOU! If you are having trouble coming up with ideas click on the link at the upper right side of this blog to get to my Science Fair Page.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Test coming up - 10/30 (a-day) and 10/27 (b-day)

Study AGS Chapter 1 as well as all the notes and activities we've done in our Interactive Biology Notebooks (IBN's.)

Part of your studying involves reviewing Chapter 1 from AGS. You need to turn in the Chapter 1 Review (Pp. 27-29). Answer all 25 questions and be sure to write all questions and write out all answers. Answer the critical thinking questions in full sentences. Due Thurs. 10-22 (b-day) and 10-26 (a-day). If you don't know any answers FIND THEM IN THE BOOK - most are "right there" questions or "think and search" type questions.

Use the review sheet you received in class to make sure you are studying all the topics. This test will be CLOSED notes so you need to memorize important terms and be sure you UNDERSTAND the ideas we've discussed them so you can apply them.

In case you don't have your review sheet, here is the info from it.

Terms and topics to know – All were in our book or covered in class lecture or activities:


Quantitative, Qualitative, Subjective, Objective



Cycles of Life

Energy Cycles Growth Cycles

Conservation of energy Reproduction

Energy transformation & Heat DNA


Evolutionary Cycles Ecological Cycles

Evolution Ecology

Species and Speciation Ecosystem / Ecologist

Extinct Stimulus



Scientific Method –


Experiments –

Experimental Group, Control Group

Independent Variable, Dependent Variable



Materials and Procedures

Data and Data Analysis

Data Tables (reading them carefully)

Graphing (which graph to use and how to do it well)



Pie (Circle)

Writing Conclusions and Communicating Results

Measurement using the Metric System / SI

millimeters, centimeters, meters, kilometers

milligrams, grams, kilograms

milliliters, liters, deciliters

Calculating Velocity distance ÷ time = velocity d/t = v

Calculating Mean mean = sum of all values / number of values

Monday, October 5, 2009

Plant Growth Data - for those who didn't finish their graph in class

Here is the plant growth data we were graphing in class.

Plant-----Week one------ Week two------ Week three ------Week four

A ---------10.5 cm ---------10.3 cm ---------10.0 cm --------- 9.5 cm

B -------- 10.9 cm ----------11.5 cm ---------12.3 cm ---------12.5 cm

C -------- 11.0 cm ----------11.5 cm ---------12.5 cm ---------13.5 cm

When you do your graph be sure to label the X and Y axis with the variable and units. Also create a title which includes both variables in the experiment. For example, "How_____ affects _______."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Reading Assignment Chapter 1, Lessons 3 and 4

DUE 9/30/09 (a-day) and 10/01/09 (b-day)
(4th period students had time in class to do this when the sub was here on Monday 9/28, but it must be turned in on 9/30)

Reading assignment in Biology is from our AGS "Biology: Cycles of Life" book.

Read Chapter 1, Lesson 3 on pp. 10-13
Answer questions 1-7 and question 9 and 10 on p. 14.

Read Chapter 1, Lesson 4 on pp. 17-21
Answer questions 1-10 p. 22.

Write out the questions and fill in the complete answer for the fill-in-the-blanks and multiple choice questions, and write the question and answer in complete sentences for the critical thinking questions.

You can click on the link to the audio version to this textbook on the upper right corner of this page. You will be able to listen to the book as you read along.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Reading Assignment Chapter 1, Lessons 1 and 2

DUE 9/28/09 (a-day) and 9/29/09 (b-day)

Your first reading assignment in Biology is from our AGS "Biology: Cycles of Life" book.

Read Chapter 1, Lesson 1 on pp. 1-3
Answer questions 1-7 and question 9 on p. 4.

Read Chapter 1, Lesson 2 on pp. 4-8
Answer questions 1-7 and question 10 on p. 9.

Write out the questions and fill in the complete answer for the fill-in-the-blanks and multiple choice questions, and write the question and answer in complete sentences for the critical thinking questions.

You can click on the link to the audio version to this textbook on the upper right corner of this page. You will be able to listen to the book as you read along.

Monday, September 21, 2009

How to send an e-mail to a teacher - REALLY!

In your high school career you are beginning to communicate via the internet with your teachers. It is crucial to follow some basic guidelines when you do this for a couple of reasons.

First, your teachers are busy people (as are most students) and e-mail should be a tool which makes everyone's lives easier rather than more difficult.

Second, and more important, your e-mails are a projection of your professionalism. Get used to writing professional e-mails so you are taken seriously by teachers, college professors, peers, employers, and others you think should take you seriously.

1. Write a subject line that tells the reader what the e-mail is about. For email about classes, include the class name and period in your subject line.

Don’t: SUBJECT: (don't leave it blank or put something like "hi")

Do: SUBJECT: Question about observation assignment Hon. Bio. Per. 5

2. Sign the e-mail with your full name and your class and period number. Many students have e-mail addresses which don’t include their name, and remember that teachers have about 150 students so be sure they know who you are!

Don’t: seeya J ;-)

Do: Sincerely, Juan Gonzalez, Hon. Bio. Per. 5

3. Write in a professional manner. Use standard academic capitalization and punctuation. Use your computer’s spell checker and proof-read your email before you send it. Remember, using ALL CAPITALS is like YELLING in an email.

Don’t: yo mr c wazup wat u giv 4 homwurk 2day

Do: Hi Mr. Cantor. I am absent today because I’m pretty sick. Can you please e-mail me any notes from class and our assignment? I’ll be sure to bring a note from my grandma so my absence is excused.

4. Only send appropriate emails. Please don’t forward chain letters or other Spam. Please don’t send joke or “inspirational” e-mails unless they relate to our class. Many chain letters are urban myths. Before you feel the need to forward the message about a new computer virus or free laptop giveaway, check to see if it is true or not. Also, I don’t “friend” current students on Facebook, so please don’t send a friend request until you graduate from NGHS.

i.e. I’d love to see a clean and school appropriate joke or cartoon about evolution that involves Charles Darwin and Sigmund Freud bungee jumping, but I don’t want to see any joke that might be mean, racist, sexist, obscene, rude, offensive, or otherwise irrelevant to our class.

5. If you send a paper or other assignment to a teacher learn how to send it as an Attachment. Name your file something that makes sense and is unique to your paper.

Don’t: biologypaper.doc (every student might name it this)

Do: JuanGonzalezWhatIsSciEssayPer05.doc

If you can’t attach your file as a .doc or .docx, you can copy and paste your document into the body of your e-mail, assuming it isn’t too long and full of graphs etc.

6. If you don’t have internet access at home there are other options:
- Use the library at school during lunch or after school.
- Use the Chicago Public Library – There are several branches near school.
- Use a computer at a friend or relative’s house.
- Arrange to stay after school in my room, or another teacher's room to use the computer.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Observation Homework - Due first class after assigned

On notebook paper to turn in
Title centered at top of paper: Observations
Full heading in upper right corner
Full name
Biology class period

Make and record 25 observations outside or at home.
5 with each sense
At least 10 must be quantitative – please label all the quantitative observations.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Welcome to Biology: bio = life, ology = the study of

Our first class of the year is a time to get to know each other and to learn what to expect during our year together. Students will fill out a "Biography Sheet" and hear a little about their teachers. Students will get a "Student Contract" which their parent or guardian will need to sign to show that they know what is expected in our class. We will also go over our syllabus and get started learning about life on earth. Our first science skill will be forming and testing hypotheses.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Awesome example of adaptation

Thanks to Ms. Heitzman we have can read a blog and see fantastic photos of an amazing fish with bifocal eye lenses. This fish has one eye with two lenses; one to see above water and one to see below water... at the SAME TIME.

Be warned, the blog it is on is called "Ugly Overload."

Have a great summer.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Final Class Review

Biology Finals:
Friday 6-6-09 for B day
Monday 6-9-09 for A day

Most of the 60 question multiple choice exam will focus on macromolecules, cells, DNA, and evolution. There will be also be some questions about the scientific method, variables and reading charts and graphs. Anything we’ve covered in class may be on the final.

Review chapters 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, and 13 in our AGS biology book. If you took notes on the chapters, as assigned, you will have a much easier time.

Review your notes on the readings and notes from class. QUIZ YOURSELF or work with a partner to quiz each other to see if you know what the terms mean in your own words.

I may make the final open notes so bring your complete notes just incase.

Topics you must make sure you can demonstrate your knowledge about:

Experiments: for example, independent and dependent variables

Macromoleules: for example, lipids, proteins, carbohydrates, nucleic acids

Atomic structure: for example, electrons, protons, neutrons

Homeostasis: for example, osmosis, hypertonic and hypotonic solutions

Cells: for example, organelles such as nucleus, mitochondria, membranes and chloroplasts, as well as photosynthesis and ATP,

DNA: for example, cytosine, guanine, thiamine, adenine, deoxyribose backbone, codons, mutations, replication, base pairing, double helix

Genes: for example, genetic engineering, genotype, transgenic species, mutations

Human Genome: for example, percent of shared DNA with other species

Mitosis: for example, interphase, prophase, metaphase, anaphase, telophase, cytokinesis cell division, cancer

Meiosis: for example, production of gametes

Evolution: for example, natural selection, common descent, common ancestors, Origin of Species, Charles Darwin, Lamarck, evidence, homologous structures, biogeography

HOMEWORK: Write at least 15 test questions with an answers including at least one Q and A for each of the above topics. This is due the day of the final as a review.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Reading assignment - Chapter 13, Lessons 1 and 2 NOTES and Questions

Due Thursday, May 28 (a day) and Friday May 29 (b day)

Read and take Cornell notes on Ch. 13 Lessons 1 and 2. Pp. 387-395

Answer questions 1-10 at the end of Lesson 1 (p.391)
Answer questions 1-10 at the end of Lesson 2 (p. 396)

Write out all questions and write out your answers even for the multiple choice questions.

For the "thinking critically" questions.... THINK CRITICALLY and write out complete answers to each of them using evidence to back up what you say.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Happy Birthday Charles Darwin - February 12th

Happy 200th birthday to one of the great geniuses of the Western world. Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is the unifying theory of modern biology.

Watch a fantastic video that shows how Darwin started finding evidence that organisms change over time.... that the species alive today came from earlier species which are now extinct.

Continuing CELLS

Finish reading and taking Cornell notes on Chapter 4 in the AGS Biology Book.

Lessons 3 and 4 of Chapter 4 begin on page 116.
Take careful Cornell style notes on the reading in your biology notebook.
Complete the review questions 1-10 on both Lesson 3 and 4 to turn in on a separate sheet.

This assignment is due Tues 2-17 (b) and Wed 2-18 (a)

If you have trouble with the critical thinking questions go back through the reading and do SOME CRITICAL THINKING! You need to use some creativity and imagination and put some effort in. If you are still stuck e-mail me at and I'll try to steer you in the right direction.

- mr. C

Monday, February 2, 2009

CELLS - Beginning the second semester

Cells are the basic unit of life.

Make sure you get all assignments turned in. If you don't turn them in on time you can turn them in late for reduced credit.

Assignment 1 - Due Jan 27 (a) Jan 28 (b)
Read and take Cornell notes on AGS Biology Book Chapter 4, Lesson 1
Answer Questions 1-10 review on P. 108

Assignment 2- Due Jan 29 (a) Jan 30 (b)
Read and take Cornell notes on AGS Biology Book Chapter 4, Lesson 2
Answer Questions 1-5 review on P. 115

Assignment 3- Due Feb 2 (a) Feb 3 (b)
Review and "fix up" your notes on the first two lessons from chapter 4
Write a short summary of each lesson in your notebook.

Lab 1 - Visualizing Cells Microscopy Activity - Week of Feb 2
Draw detailed diagrams of 10 biological specimens at low and medium power.
Finish lab questions about unusual and common structures.

Lab 2 - Osmosis in Giant Animal Cells (chicken eggs) - Begin Week of Feb 2
Measure the effect of hypotonic and hypertonic solutions on the homeostasis of animal cells