Category Archives: Grade 9 Science

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Tanzania’s Poaching Out of Control

There’s a serious problem with elephant poaching in Tanzania, and it seems to be getting worse by the day. The series of articles below outline some of what’s happening in this beautiful country and just how devastating the Asian demand for ivory is to Tanzania’s natural resources.

Confiscated ivory. Screen capture from photogtraphy4life.com.

Confiscated ivory. Image source: Screen capture from photogtraphy4life.org.

We can consider elephants as natural capital, a resource base which may be replenished given enough time for growth. However, it would appear that current rates of destruction from ivory poaching far outstrip elephants’ natural replacement rate, meaning that overall populations in Tanzania will continue to decline.

Have a read through the following articles, all of which were sent to me by my fellow science teacher, Matt Erdosy, while we wee in classes today. The first one describes the armed robbery of a tourist bus in the Ngorogoro Conservation Area (NCA) in northern Tanzania – a bold move on the poachers’ part, showing that they’re not too concerned about police enforcement here.

The second article details the other end of the ivory trade – the retailers in New York and other large cities who pass along ivory to the final consumers. This article in particular discusses the regulatory shortcomings of laws in the consumer countries.

The final few articles delve into some of the internal politics influencing the failure to effectively police ivory and rhino poaching in Tanzania, including a petition to return a government minister to his role combatting poaching.

At the current rate of killing, there may be no more elephants in Tanzania within a decade. That means no elephants on safari anywhere – not in Serengeti, not in Mikumi, or Selous, Ruaha, Katavi, or Tarangire. Nowhere!

Welcome back! Happy 2014! The Octet Rule!

Welcome back to IST and our soon-to-be fun-filled chemistry unit! In this post, I’ve linked to several helpful tools for understanding the way electrons are arranged around the nuclei of atoms, and how those arrangements impact ionic charges as well as bonding patterns among elements.

This PDF presentation from DentonISD.org explains the use of Lewis-dot diagrams to show valence electrons. It’s simple, clear, and easy to follow.

The video tutorial below clearly explains how valence electrons determine ionic charges and, therefore, bonding patterns. It’s based on the Octet rule, which is one of the most important concepts you’ll need to know from this unit.

This interactive animation from Oklahoma State University builds on the previous video to show the relative energies of electron shells around atomic nuclei. If you play around with it for a little while, you should start to see some pretty clear patterns emerge.

The Crash Course Science video below explains a lot about the movement and arrangement of electrons in atoms. Most of the video is relevant to our unit, but some of it won’t be covered until next year’s chemistry sequence. Nevertheless, it’s worth a watch and quite entertaining.

One last video. This one’s mostly for entertainment value, but it is in fact scientifically accurate.

One last revision note before the test…

Here’s the last part of revision for the test coming up at the end of this week. I’ve saved the Keynote from class as a PDF, which you can view and download below.

Grade 9 Biology Test Update

Here’s a little more information about the upcoming unit test.

Topics:

  • Cell structure and function
  • Cell Theory
  • Biological molecules
  • Energy flow through ecosystems
  • Nutrient cycles within ecosystems
  • Photosynthesis and respiration
  • Levels of organization
  • Food webs
  • Trophic levels

Assessment Criteria (max 6 marks each):

  • B1 – Science Vocabulary
  • B2 – Communicating Effectively
  • C1 – Recalling and Explaining Concepts
  • C3 – Evaluating Information
  • E3 – Describing Trends
  • E4 – Concluding

What’s on the 9th-Grade Biology Test?

We are 1 week from the summative unit test in grade 9 science, which means it’s time to start revising. Here’s a list of the major topics you’re likely to find on the test.

  • Cell structure and function
  • Plant vs animal
  • Biological molecules
  • Energy flow through ecosystems
  • Nutrient cycles within ecosystems
  • Photosynthesis and respiration
  • Food webs
  • Levels of organization
  • Trophic levels

There will be several skills assessed on the test: recalling scientific facts (vocabulary and definitions, labeling diagrams), explaining scientific concepts, analyzing results, and evaluating trends in experimental data. Make sure you know this stuff well!

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The Ivory Trade, Organized Crime, and Questions About the Effectiveness of CITES

I’ve posted this first article before – from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime – which outlines the links between ivory from east Africa and narcotics in Asia. The embedded version is the short one, and the full version is available to download here: Ivory and Organized Crime in East Africa.PDF

The following item is a dissertation research paper by Justine Braby, an Environmental Law Postgraduate candidate at the University of Cape Town. In it, she examines how effective the CITES ban on ivory has been since implemented. CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, a global framework for reducing and/or eliminating the trade in all endangered organisms for commercial gain. The CITES website has a lot of very specific information directly relating to the ESS Topic 4 – Conservation and Biodiversity, as well as the Grade 9 poaching project. I recommend you check out both the articles posted here, as well as the CITES page.

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More Information on East African Poaching

Here are a few more links relating to this topic, which seems to be all over the news lately.

This first item, from the Wildlife Conservation Society and the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the same organization which just declared the Western Black Rhino officially extinct) is a publication called Pachyderm. In it, there are several case studies about both rhinos and elephants, including some information on using micro-chemical evidence to trace the origin of poached ivory. Here’s the link to the complete PDF.

Edge of Existence is a website I recently stumbled across, and I think it has a lot of well-researched information about a lot of issues in wildlife conservation. EDGE stands for “Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered” species – unique creatures threatened by human activities around the world. Their page for elephants, linked here, has some really useful information on elephants’ role in maintaining the savanna ecosystem, conservation initiatives currently in use, links to organizations involved in elephant conservation, and references to more scientific information about Loxodonta africana.

The International.org posted a brief article in June 2012 about the impact of poaching on ecosystems, which is a nice model for the 9th grade poaching project currently underway.

A younger-looking Sir David Attenborough with lemurs from Madagascar. (Screen capture image from www.bbc.co.uk)

A younger-looking Sir David Attenborough with lemurs from Madagascar. (Screen capture image from www.bbc.co.uk)

And finally, no wildlife conservation unit would be complete without at least one video from Sir David Attenborough (probably my favorite scientist of all time). The short video clip linked here is from Sir David’s earlier work in Madagascar, so he looks a bit different than most of you are used to seeing him. It was originally released in 1961 – 52 years ago!