Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My Research

G'Day Mate,

When I'm not traveling around the country on the weekends I'm in the science lab working with cells. The cells I've been working with are called dinoflagellates, which means whirling tails in greek. They are tiny living organisms that live on seaweed. I shake the water off of the seaweed and place it in a tube and place that tube into a centrifuge. A centrifuge is a machine that spins the tubes really fast so that the densest material sinks to the bottom. This machine forces all of the cells to go down to the bottom of the tube. Next, I take that part and place it on a microscope slide. I spend the next hour counting the different types of dinoflagellates. Here are some of the dinoflagellates that I've been studying.

The picture above is Gambierdiscus toxicus. I found a lot of these attached to seaweed. This cell creates a toxin that is very harmful to humans. Humans eat the fish that eat these cells. I can cause extreme pain in humans. This illness that humans can get is called ciguatera and it is very common to get in Australia. I've stayed away from certain types of fish because I don't want to get the effects of ciguatera.

The above picture is a cell named Ostreopsis. It is the most common dinoflagellate in this area. They have really cool armors that protect them. You can see the different plates that make up their outer shell or armor.
This final dinoflagellate is called Pyrocistis lunula. We had to be in complete darkness when observing this cell because we were measuring the light that it gave off. That's right these cells glow! Remember when living things glow its called bioluminescence. Also, Most dinoflagellates can make their own food from sunlight. What is the process called where a living organism can make food from the sunlight? First person/class to get it right will win a prize.

Mr. Misner

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Aborigines and Uluru!

G'Day Mates,

Aborigines are the original occupants of Australia. Their culture can be found all over. Their art, music, and religion are easily recognized throughout the country. They are the oldest living culture in the world. Unfortunately the aborigine culture is quickly dissapearing and much of their land has been taken from them.

Many of the Aborigines who still practice their rituals live in tribes throughout the desert. A famous rock in the desert is considered a place of worship for many aboringinal tribes. This rock is one of the largest rocks in the world and can be found towards the center of Australia. Its aboriginal name is Uluru.

I flew to Uluru this past weekend and was in awe of its beauty. It glowed different shades of red, orange, brown, and purple at sunrise and sunset. Our tourguide gave us a detailed lesson about the aborignal cluture. He mentioned that the aborigines believed that rock was sacred and that visitors should not climb it. Some people climbed to the top but most visitors, including myself, opted to hike around it and show some "cultural sensitivity."

I saw many aboriginal petroglyphs throughout my hike. They represented numerous things they saw in their daily lives. Below is one of the most modern petroglyphs that they drew. It was drawn in 1959. What do you think this is a picture of? It's a tricky one. Think transportation. First person/class to get it correct will win a prize. Make sure to leave your name:)

Mr. Misner:)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Paluma Rain Forest!

G'Day Mates,
A professor at James Cook University was bringing his class to the Paluma Rainforest and was nice enough to allow me to tag along. We started our journey at the very top of the rain forest and eventually worked our way down to the bottom analyzing plants, animals, and water systems at each level. At the very top of the rainforest was a man built dam. This dam supplied Townsville Australia with a lot of their water.
Next, we headed down Paluma to the next level of streams. I found out that a lot of nutrients from the water can be found at the top of a waterfall. All of the water flows to this area so living organisms tend to hang around the area and grab the nutrients from the water. There is a blackish material all over the rocks near at the top of the waterfall. I rubbed my finger on it and guess what I saw!!!!! Check out the video below!!

Black Fly larvae!!! The larvae use tiny hooks at the end of their abdomens to attach to the rocks. Once the larvae catch enough nutrients they change into the pupa stage and remain under water until they emerge as an adult in a bubble that floats to the top! Cool!!!

We headed down to another stream and lifted rocks to find a variety of organisms that lived underneath them. Below are pictures of a crayfish and a spider. Both live in the stream and feed on other microorganisms. Don't worry we released the crayfish from the tube once everyone had a look:)
Overall it was an excellent day! Now for the question! Remember to leave your name in the response. This is an easy one. What stage of metamorphosis was not mentioned in the paragraph about the black flies? 1st one to get the answer right gets a prize when I get back!! Also, I'll have another post up by Wednesday so check back!!!!!

Mr. Misner

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Updated Winners!

Well anyone who guessed bats on my last blog entry was correct!! Although the first person is the one who is supposed to get a prize, I'll give something small to everyone who guessed correctly. Just see me in classroom as soon as school starts.

This includes:

1) Mr. Fullerton's Class
2) Joseph Jones
3) Rosa Gonzalez
4) Luis Gonzalez

5) Mr. Dower's Summer School Group
6) Ms. Denninger's and Ms. Generoso's group
7) Mr. Beck's Class
8) Oscar Perez
9) and Ms. Buran's Class

Some people left the correct answer but forgot to leave their name.

These bats are also known as fruit bats or Flying Foxes check out these close up pictures of them. Its scary to see them during the daylight.

Ms. Denninger's and Ms. Generosa's class wanted to know if it was ants or spiders that created the silk to close the leaves up. It was the Green Tree Ants. My lab partner found out that the ants are edible so he actually ate one!!! He said it tasted like lime. Watch the video, although it's a little hard to see the ant!!!

Well I'm headed to Paluma Rain Forest early tomorrow morning then flying directly to Ayers Rock for the weekend. I'll probably write about about both trips as soon as I get back from Ayers Rock on Monday. Don't Forget to check back and answer the questions for a chance to win a prize!!!

Mr. Misner:)

Monday, July 13, 2009

University Wildlife!!!

G'Day Mates,

I could not believe the amount of animals that I observed as soon as I arrived at James Cook University. The first animal I saw was a huge bird running around. It was a turkey!! There are wild turkeys all over campus! Check out the video below!

Just the other day I saw these cool compartments made out of leaves on the trees outside my dorm room. It turns out that green tree ants larvae secret a silk that the ants use to seal 4 or 5 leaves together. This compartment acts as a nest. The green tree ants live inside the nests and lay their eggs. See if you can see the green tree ants in the picture below. Can you see the eggs? Can you see the silk seal?

There are also kangaroos and wallabys on campus. I haven't seen any kangaroos yet, but here is a picture of a wallaby that I saw after lunch today.

I haven't seen these last animals on campus. However, they were all over a tree I saw in a city named Cairns. Cairns is about a four hour drive north of Townsville. Click on the video and see if you can guess the what animals are in the tree. First to guess correctly will get a prize when I return!


Mr. Misner:)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Magnetic Island!

G'Day Mates,

There's an island off the coast of Australia named Magnetic Island. I went there yesterday to collect some samples of seaweed (macroalgae). I collected 5 different samples of seaweed, with the help of my snorkeling skills, and brought them back to the lab.

At the lab I shook the samples of seaweed in water and placed that water in a filter. The material left over are thousands and thousands of little cells that live on the seaweed. We analyze these cells (microorganisms) to see if any of them can be harmful to certain fish. Some of these cells release deadly toxins into fish.

After we collected the cells off of the seaweed we placed the seaweed on a piece of paper and created a herbarium (see picture).

Next we used a key to identify the species of seaweed that we collected. Pretty cool stuff.
Ok now for the question. Remember first to answer this question wins a prize. Who named the island "Magnetic Island?"

Friday, July 3, 2009


G-Day Mate!!! I've been in Australia for a little under a week and I'm having an awesome time! There is way too much to write about. This morning I visited the Billabong Wild Reserve. It was really cool!!! I was able to hold just about every animal. Below are some pictures and facts about the animals plus my next question. Remember the first student to answer the question correctly will get a prize. Leave your name in your response:)
Here is a picture of a koala with its Joey. The grossest fact I've heard all day is that a Joey will eat the mothers bowels so it can build up a tolerance for the eucalyptus leaves that it eats. How could something so cute do something so gross! Yuck!

Here's a picture of a wombat. This creature is similar to a koala however it uses its claws to burrow a hole in the ground and live there.

This live snake, the Inland Taipan, is considered the most dangerous snake in the world!! It has enough venom in one bite to kill 100 humans. It's one of the few animals I was not allowed to touch.

This animal looks and hops like a kangaroo, but it is smaller and has a different color. What is the name of this animal?

Ok, there is the question. I have so many more pictures of native wildlife that I can show when school starts. Remember, I'll put up between 1-3 posts a week, so keep checking back.

Mr. Misner