So glad to have you here! If you would like to sign up for text updates for information about upcoming assessment or class news, just send the text message “@lemay8s” for 8th grade science or “@lemayphsci” to 81010. The 8th grade team Remind is “@dsa8.”

…or just click the link below.

Text Sign Up for 8th      Text Sign Up for Physical Science   Text Sign Up for 8th Team

Want to donate to the class? Yay! Here’s a handy list. (No need to buy it on Amazon – it’s just a convenient list making tool.) Class Wishlist for Awesome People Who Like to Donate.


Here’s your blog link!

Here are the questions:

1) Prep for the ride home with mom or dad – what did you do today? What did you learn?

2) What did you find the most interesting or fun today?

3) We have seen that your reality is a combination of data received by your senses and your brain’s interpretation of that data. So….what is real? How do you know what is real? If you think you see a ghost, is that real? If you see talking cats, I mean it’s really there talking to you and a nice man in a white coat tells you that you are hallucinating, how do know which is the hallucination – the cat or the man?

Now go to the google drive folder link below, click create, click document, and answer the questions. Prepare to share. 🙂

(Also, be thinking what our truths are and what yours will be!)

Click here –> Google Drive Folder<—– to get to the folder.

Deeper into the Mystery of Matter – Electrons! (And more weirdness…)

Bohr Model Image w:errors
The totally wrong atom image everyone has seen so they think it is true.

This week we study all about electrons. They matter because they are the parts that make reactions happens and are behind the beauty of the periodic table, aka next week’s adventure.


<— The lie we teach because it’s easier to understand.  (This is a bad Bohr model with the wrong number of electrons in each orbit. Furthermore, this atom says it’s actually an ion because it is missing an electron. Is it sure? It’s positive. Get it?! Ha ha ha.) 



Bohr and quantum model of oxygen
Accurate Bohr Model and Quantum Configuration.

Better,  shows the right number of electrons and the quantum configuration, but there’s more. –>






Below, and even more true image. These are the different probability clouds  where electrons are most likely to buzzing around. These clouds layer on top of each other to make a very complex, lovely atom.

The actual shapes of the clouds where electrons are most likely to be found.
The actual shapes of the clouds where electrons are most likely to be found.

Antimony on silicon STM




Finally, the most true is below. This is an actual image of an antimony atom on the surface of a crystal of silicon, taken with a Scanning Tunneling Microscope, or STM.

Basically, the tip of the microscope gets so close to the material, electrons from the material tunnel up the vacuum to the tip. The amount of electric charge is recorded. The tip slides a step over and another electron tunnels up, and the amount of charge is recorded. Different distances have different charges. A computer takes the differences, and creates an image from them,much like a ship makes a sea floor image from sonar."...a probability distribution for the electrons, and a probability distribution for the quarks and gluons that make up the nucleus."A STM tip probing the surface of silicon looking for antimony.

So what is the whole smash? The Standard Model.

All the pieces that make up the universe!  Except...well...
All the pieces that make up the universe! Except…well…









Except…look, do you see a particle for gravity? What about dark matter and dark energy? (aka 96% of the universe) Yeah, there’s always more to the story….

Welcome to Chemistry!

YES! We get to start chemistry this week.

A rather athletic looking Ernest Rutherford discovering to atom nucleus.

We will start with a really useful lab that pretty much previews the entire 8 week unit and will save you lots of chore time at home.

Then we get to perform a hilarious play (you have to laugh – I wrote it) in which all the dead scientists argue about why their contribution to understanding the atom was the most important.


(If you ever need to write a biography – pick a scientist – more egos and wacky backstories than you can shake a stick at. )

During the play we will be taking infomercial breaks to learn chemistry laws , parts of the atom,  see pictures and be amazed at awesome beardage.


SIlver Tarnish LabCheck out all that amazingly clean silver! It was all cleaned in seconds in our intro to chemistry lab. We labbed! We learned! I got my silver cleaned! We call it a win.

In the process, we learned what chemistry is, what a chemical reaction is, and how to read that big ole’ scary equation on the board. Go, us!

All of this helps us to see that to understand chemistry and reactions, we need to understand atoms. Off we go!!!

It a brand new year…and a brand new critter!

Awww…it’s a kittybearraccoonmonkey.

Welcome! So glad to have you and newly identified mammalian carnivore with us! The olinguito pictured above has been in museums for decades, but misidentified as its older cousin, the Olingo. Both are shy, arboreal creatures of the South American cloud forest, and darn cute.

That and so much more coolness of science is coming your way this week in our prep week unit on science safety and methods, with a nod to the upcoming unit on the properties of matter. We will come to understand the beauty of the scientific method and how you have been lied to about what it is up to this point, and practice it by trying to make sense of strange phenomena. We will also tour the possible dangers in a lab and how to avoid them.

Everything will be served with a side order of, “whoa…that’s weird.”  Ask your kids about neutrinos….

A Vaccine for Zits! Practical Microbiology.

Within a few years, you should be able get a treatment to prevent acne. Seriously.

If he only knew as a kid where he woudl be as an adult...
Yes, this is Cristiano Ronaldo as a teenager. Acne doesn’t care.

What causes zits?
1. Excess production of normal skin oils.  Because you are a teenager or stressed adult.
2. Clogging of hair follicles caused by accumulation of dead cells. Face washing can help with this….
3. Bacterial buildup: Too much oil and plug creates pressure, which can rupture the cellular walls of the pores make a great breeding ground for that bacteria, propionibacterium acnes, shown below.
4. White blood cells rush in to kill the bacteria. That would be the pus. Mmmmmm.

Propionibacterium Acnes
The rod shaped bacteria P. acnes in strings just waiting to build up before that important day.

Most of the treatments, like benzoyl perioxide,  are designed to kill the bacteria. But bacteria get resistant to antibiotics and the antibiotics kill the helpful bacteria you need. Sneaky researchers at USC San Diego figured out that there is a protein they call CAMP, that P. acnes uses to kill cells and create all the drama. Expose the body to CAMP, the body makes antibodies, then the bacteria can’t do their part so no acne develops.  Awesome.

Poor Ronaldo had to wait to grow out of it. Of course, he’s now a major soccer superstar and Armani underwear model so apparently, life improves after middle school.

Ronaldo living the good life.
No, I am not posting the rest of the picture.


Alien invasion!!
He’s good looking and he has more genes than you do, so stop being a hater.

Ah, the microbiology unit. It’s a free pass to post things that make Zoe squirm. 🙂 Mr. Water Flea is amazing, and you can find out more at http://ksj.mit.edu/tracker/2011/02/updated-lots-wondering-ink-behold-marvel . This week we get to take a test on cells and learn more about wacky Perry Paramecium. Look up the details of paramecium conjugation. I dare you.

Yeah, we’re looking at your fatty acid….

Sounds like I said...heh heh.
Fatty acids are a critical component of your phospholipid bilayers – your cell membranes.

Pretty cool. The inside of the cell membrane is made of lipids – greasy little fatty acid strings attached to glycerol, a phosphate group, and topped with a polar group. Why is that cool? Because if it wasn’t made of non-polar greasy stuff, your cell membranes would dissolve in water – and thus, so would you!

Look at those fatty acid tails!
Look at those fatty acid tails!

We will be studying cell innards and what they do this week. I generally talk at you and tell you great stories, but this week I’m giving you computers and microscopes and a bunch of learn at your own pace, whoa look at this activities for you to learn by.

Our next test is Monday, 3/4. Progress reports go out Wednesday, 3/6.