Archive for the 'The Laboratory' Category Page 2 of 2



Charting Baby Teeth

 Nettie counting teeth

In the same week that Peabody got his first loose tooth, Nettie lost two of her few remaining baby teeth. Wondering how many more she had left, Nettie copied the page on teeth out of one of her human biology books and tried to make an assessment. Even with the guide, it was difficult to know how many more visits the tooth fairy would be making. Nettie made an extra copy of the chart for Peabody so that he could start tracking his teeth from the moment he loses his first.

Owl Pellets

The inside of an owl pellet.

Today Nettie and Peabody broke open a couple owl pellets. A pellet is a regurgitated hairball full of the undigested bits of a bird’s meal. Carefully opening the ball usually reveals a selection of mouse bones. Identifying the bones is a lot of fun. They found intact skulls, mandibles, ribs and a variety of smaller bones. Both are taking their finds to school to share with their classes. We bought our pellets at a park nature center, but they’re available online for under $3 a piece.

Christmas Glyptodon

Glyptodont in the park

The glyptodon has been Nettie’s favorite prehistoric creature since writing an Ice Age report last year. They’re giant cousins of armadillos. that just have the sweetest look about them. Nettie was lucky enough to find a nice plastic model of one at the Natural History Museum in Vienna this summer. In celebration of the identification of the remains of a new species of glyptodont in Chile, Nettie’s toy version joined the merriment at the Playmobil advent calendar park. The Weiner dog doesn’t look surprised.

Baking Soda Volcano

Baking soda volcano erupts.

Peabody brought home a clay volcano from school today. It remained dormant for only a couple hours. After assembling his ingredients, he mixed 10 teaspoons of vinegar with a drop of yellow food coloring. Peabody placed one teaspoon of baking soda in the volcano. Then he slowly poured in the yellow vinegar. Soon foamy lava was flowing onto the the pipe cleaner trees below.

Cell-ebrate the Holidays

Cell tags ready for baking.

Inspired by Nettie’s recent biology project and The Cell Project’s clay cell models, we spent the afternoon molding organelles and cytoplasm. The Cell Project uses Crayola’s Model Magic to make round 3-D cells that when dry, are sliced into cross-sections for examination. We made ours from Sculpey so that we could use them as Christmas ornaments. But Annabel thinks they’d make great gift tags with “Cell-ebrate the Holidays” written across in black Sharpie. For some great examples of clay cell models, check out this pool on flickr.

How to Make a Cell

My gelatin cell.

For a biology project at school, we were supposed to make a model of a cell. I used gelatin as the cytoplasm which worked pretty well to hold the other cell parts (organelles). I used jelly beans beans as mitochondria; pepper corns as ribosomes; lasagna noodles as endoplasmic reticulum; Altoids as lysosomes; and a knot of rubber bands as the golgi apparatus. A gallon freezer bag was the plasma membrane. For the nuclear membrane I used a snack-sized plastic baggy with a piece of clay as the nucleolus. And lastly, I wrapped another plastic baggy around some crocheted string and taped it onto the cell as the flagellum. The only problem was that the gelatin absorbed a couple of the peroxisomes. An annotated picture is on Flickr here.