Year 9 Science: Brain and Body Project

Choose one of the following topics and produce a report, poster, slideshow or video that demonstrates your understanding of the subject. Include ten questions to quiz your audience at the end of your presentation.

  • Structure of the brain – what is the structure and function of the parts of this vital organ?
  • Structure of the nervous system – Read pages 38 and 39 and describe the functions of the different parts of the nervous system.
  • Neural disease – Research a brain disease or damage to the spinal cord that impacts on normal body functioning. For example, What are the causes and effects of Alzheimer’s disease, motor-neuron disease or quadriplegia?
  • Chemical warfare – Read questions 40 and 41 and answer the “Remember” and “Think and Discuss” questions on page 41.
  • How do drugs affect the brain? Choose one of amphetamines, alcohol, barbituates, caffeine, cocaine, heroin, GHB or marijuana. (Make sure you answer the questions – under “Investigate” question 12 – in the blue box on page 27)
  • Plant chemicals – research the different chemicals produced by plants and how they function.

Start by completing a “KWWHL chart”

  1. What do you KNOW about your topic?
  2. What do you WANT to know about your topic?
  3. WHERE will you find out what you want to know about the topic?
  4. HOW will you present your work to your peers?
  5. What did you LEARN about your topic (after you have completed your research)


NIDA for teens: Brain and addiction

The effect of drugs and alcohol on the adolescent brain

Effects of drugs on the brain and teen moods

Smoking marijuana as teen may have lasting brain effects, study suggests.

Alzheimer’s Disease


Year 9 Biology: Cycling of matter

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Learning Intention: Students will develop an understanding of the water, carbon and nitrogen cycles and their importance in ecosystems.

Success Criteria: Students will be able to discuss the different cycles and the processes that occur within each cycle, using the correct terminology.

You have been divided into three groups to learn more about the water, carbon and nitrogen cycles. Your task, as a group, is to produce a slideshow to teach the rest of the class about your cycle. Your slideshow should include at least eight slides, diagrams and an explanation of each of the processes involved (see below). You should also produce a quiz for the rest of the class with at least ten questions about the cycle. You can use Quizlet or Quiz Revolution or the Arcade Game generator on to create your quiz.

Water Cycle: evaporation, condensation, precipitation, transpiration, erosion and percolation. (Trevor, Jayden, Arron, Jim and Jake)

Carbon Cycle: photosynthesis, respiration, fossil-fuel formation, ocean acidification. (James, Aaron, Bradley, Nathan)

YouTube video by NASA – “Keeping up with carbon”

Nitrogen Cycle: nitrogen-fixing, denitrification, ammonification.(Sarah, Emma, Leah, Elly, Che, Porcha)

More resources: YouTube video about Biogeochemical cycling.

Year 9: Energy of Life


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Learning Intention: Students will understand that energy cannot be created or destroyed, only transformed from one form to another; that almost all the energy on earth comes from our sun and that this energy flows through food chains. Only about 10% of chemical energy is passed form one trophic level to the next, as energy is converted to sound and heat.

Success Criteria: Students will complete the following activities to demonstrate their understanding of the flow of energy through ecosystems.

First, go to the Gould League Food Webs Page and complete the Australian Grasslands Foodweb. Identify the producers, first-order consumers (herbivores) and second-order consumers (carnivores). Take a screenshot of the final food web when you have completed the activity.

Download the graphic organizer document from titled “Energy Transfer”. From the “Australian Grasslands Food Web”, complete the worksheet by identifying the producers, herbivores, carnivores and decomposers. Stick this firmly into your book.

Read through the Food Chains, Food Webs, Biomass Pyramids and Cycles page from the Queensland Science Teacher’s Association, then try their quiz. You could also try the McGraw-Hill “Life Science” Quiz.

Energy in = Energy out

Learning Intention: Students will understand how energy is measured and the energy content of some different foods. They will understand the process of respiration and how much energy is used during some common physical activities.

Success Criteria: You will calculate the amount of energy (in kilojoules) in 100g of some common packaged foods and compare those amounts with the energy use of daily activities. You will be able to describe the process of respiration and write the chemical equation that represents this reaction.


Year 9 Science: Energy of Life

Of all the sun’s energy that reaches the earth, less than 1% is utilised by plants for photosynthesis, which drives all the food chains and is the ultimate source of energy for almost all life on earth. Even fossil fuels are a form of energy that are created by sunlight converted to chemical energy by photosynthesis.

Learning Intention: Students will understand that ecosystems consist of communities of interdependent organisms and the abiotic components of the environment; matter and energy flow through these systems.

Success Criteria: You will be able to identify biotic and abiotic factors in a range of environments and describe the following cycles: water, carbon, phosphorus and nitrogen. You will be able to identify levels in food chains and draw food webs, showing how energy moves through these systems.

When you walk from a grassy paddock into the bush, what changes? When you walk from the edge of the ocean, up a rocky slope and into the sand dunes, what different micro-climates do you observe? On a smaller scale, your garden, a rock pool or a fish tank all have different factors that affect life. Draw up a table with two columns headed, abiotic (non-living) and biotic (living). Make a list under each heading with the factors that change in different environments.

Sheep’s Eye Dissection

Last week we dissected a sheep’s eyeball to learn about the structure and function of the eye.  Some of you have been working on a slideshow that demonstrates what you have learned about the eye. If you haven’t started on your slideshow you can follow this link to a Voicethread and comment on the photographs, “Sheep’s Eye Dissection”.

There was an interesting article this week about an African fruit that has ‘structural color’, instead of pigments, that give it the ‘brightest color in nature’. The Pollia condensata, or marble fruit, has no nutritional value, but is full of seeds and keeps it’s color for decades.

Hearing and Sound Waves

Photograph taken by Josh Gow at the Macarthur Wind Farm

Last week we learnt how the human eye can only detect a narrow band within the electromagnetic spectrum – what we know as visible light. Higher frequency waves are known as ultraviolet waves, X-rays and gamma rays, while lower frequency wavelengths are known as infrared waves, micro-waves and radio waves.

In a similar way, our ears can only detect part of the sound spectrum. Sound is composed of frequency expressed as hertz (Hz) and pressure expressed as  decibels (dB). This site has a simple description of what sound waves look like. Why is understanding about how sound works important? A local example is the controversy surrounding the potential health impacts of the Macarthur Wind Farm.

Since the introduction of the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act in 2000 and the Renewable Energy Target Scheme in 2009, wind farms have become more prominent in Victoria. However, this has not been without controversy as some people claim that wind turbines can adversely impact the health of individuals living in close proximity. Concerns focus on infrasound noise, electromagnetic interference, shadow flicker and blade glint produced by wind turbines. “Infrasound noise” or “low frequency noise” refers to sound waves inaudible to the human ear (although this varies between individuals). ‘Low frequency noise’ is the term used to describe sound energy in the region below about 200Hz. The rumble of thunder and the throb of a diesel engine are both examples of sounds with most of their energy in this low frequency range.

‘Infrasound’ is also often used to describe sound energy in the region below 20Hz. Almost all noise in the environment has components in this region although they are of such a low level that they are not significant. Noise which has most of its energy in the ‘infrasound’ range is only significant if it is at a very high level, far above normal environmental levels.

Wind Turbine Syndrome(“WTS”) is an alleged condition proposed by pediatrician Dr Nina Pierpoint. She cites a range of physical sensations and effects (including sleep disturbance, headache, tinnitus, ear pressure, vertigo, nausea, visual blurring, tachycardia, irritability, loss of concentration, lack of memory, panic attacks, internal pulsation, and quivering) reported by people living close to wind turbines. Dr Pierpont’s assertions are yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, and have been heavily criticised by acoustic specialists. This article by the Drum on ABC claims that “this phenomenon has disturbing hallmarks of mass hysteria or psychogenic illness being whipped up by interests groups connected with climate change denial interests, some of whom have personal financial interests in fossil fuels.”

From the Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council report – “Wind Turbines and Health” (July, 2012)

  • ‘There is no reliable evidence that infrasounds below the hearing threshold produce physiological or psychological effects’ (Berglund & Lindvall 1995).
  • Infrasound associated with modern wind turbines is not a source which will result in noise levels which may be injurious to the health of a wind farm neighbour (DTI, 2006).
  • Findings clearly show that there is no peer-reviewed scientific evidence indicating that wind turbines have an adverse impact on human health (CanWEA, 2009).
  • Sound from wind turbines does not pose a risk of hearing loss or any other adverse health effects in humans. Subaudible, low frequency sounds and infrasound from wind turbines do not present a risk to human health (Colby, et al 2009).
  • The Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit (Ontario, Canada) reviewed the current literature regarding the known health impacts of wind turbines in order to make an evidence-based decision. Their report concluded that current evidence failed to demonstrate a health concern associated with wind turbines. ‘In summary, as long as the Ministry of Environment Guidelines for location criteria of wind farms are followed … there will be negligible adverse health impacts on Chatham-Kent citizens. Although opposition to wind farms on aesthetic grounds is a legitimate point of view, opposition to wind farms on the basis of potential adverse health consequences is not justified by the evidence’ (Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit, 2008).
  • Wind energy is associated with fewer health effects than other forms of traditional energy generation and in fact will have positive health benefits (WHO, 2004).
  • ‘There are, at present, very few published and scientifically-validated cases of an SACs of wind farm noise emission being problematic … the extent of reliable published material does not, at this stage, warrant inclusion of SACs … into the noise impact assessment planning stage (EPHC, 2009).
  • While a great deal of discussion about infrasound in connection with wind turbine generators exists in the media there is no verifiable evidence for infrasound and production by modern turbines (HGC Engineering, 2007).
  • There are no direct pathological effects from wind farms and that any potential impact on humans can be minimised by following existing planning guidelines. (NHMRC, 2010)

National Health and Medical Research Council Public Statement

“Infrasound from Wind Turbines: Fact, Fiction or Deception?” Geoff Leventhall

What do you think the scientific evidence shows? What are the ‘placebo’ and ‘nocebo’ effects?

Science Week – Energy Revolution 11th-19th August

Australian Science Teacher’s Association Science Week Booklet

Next week is Science Week across Australia and ASTA have produced an excellent, free resource with information and activities on the theme “Energy Revolution”. It includes sections on types of renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable homes, schools, transport and buildings. There are plenty of links to resources and practical activities for your classroom.

We have a few things happening at Hawkesdale to celebrate Science Week:

Monday 13th August (11.30am – 12.30pm): Games and Game Design: Skills needed for a career in games Quantum Victoria present “The Young Scientist and Engineer series” with Paul Taylor, a game designer, educator and software engineer. Click on this link for the Blackboard Collaborate session.

Tuesday 14th August (9.00 – 10.00am) Mags Lum (@ScientistMags on Twitter) is a chemist, metallurgist, photographer and writer. She writes a blog, “Philosophically Disturbed” and will be Skyping into our classroom to talk about “Science is a journey” with our year 9 class.

Wednesday 15th August (11.15am to 12.05pm) Catherine Anderson (@genegeek) is a molecular genetics specialist who writes at “Musings of a gene geek”  about science, DNA, genetics and more. She will be Skyping in to our Year 7 class with “Genetics 101, Why I love it and science career paths”. Catherine has written a great post about DNA on her blog, “What is DNA?”. Please leave a comment on her blog about what you found interesting about today’s session, if you might be considering science as a career and thanking her for her time today.

After our Skype sessions, please follow the links to Mags’ and Catherine’s blogs and add a comment – What did you find interesting, amusing, difficult to understand or strange? Did their talk make you think about a career in science?

On Monday 27th August (11.30am to 12.30pm): Quantum Victoria present “The Young Scientist and Engineer series” with Matt Bliss, a geologist studying the chemistry of volcanoes, who will be speaking about “The Earth as a Dynamic System”.


Year 9 Science: Electrical Circuits

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Learning Intention: Students will be able to distinguish between current and voltage and know how they are both measured. They will be able to describe the components of an electrical circuit (switches, loads, resistors, capacitors, cells, insulators and conducting wires) and how they work. Students will be able to construct simple series and parallel circuits and add ammeters and voltmeters to measure current and potential difference. They will understand the relationships between power, energy and time and describe in quantitative terms the relationship between current, resistance and voltage in a variety of electric circuits.

Success Criteria: Students will build a variety of series and parallel circuits and draw their corresponding circuit diagrams. They will perform a variety of practical experiments to measure voltage and current and calculate resistance. They will be able to describe circuits and how they operate using the correct terminology.

This online game, ElectroCity, is a great way to learn about energy, sustainability and environmental management. As the city mayor, you make decisions about the construction of electricity generation plants (coal, gas, solar, nuclear, wind or ocean?)  and where residential and industrial development occurs. If you play the game, add the code BG28135 so I can track your progress.

Dynamic Earth

Learning Intention: Students will understand that the theory of plate tectonics explains global patterns of geological activity and continental movement. They will recognise the major plates on a world map, model sea-floor spreading and relate fold mountains, volcanic and earthquake activity to plate boundaries. They will relate the extreme age and stability of a large part of the Australian continent to it’s plate tectonic history.

Success Criteria: Students will produce a poster, slideshow, video or other digital product that explains the evidence that supports the theory of plate tectonics. Their work will include annotated world maps, diagrams of the structure of the earth and use scientific terminology (synclines, anticlines, tectonics, continental drift, convergent, divergent, subduction etc).

Today we watched a Clickview video “Global Tectonics: Competing Theories” that discussed the work of Copernicus, Galileo, Ortelius, Wegener and Hess and how their discoveries have changed human understanding of the way the earth works.

  • Copernicus believed that the earth was at the centre, with the other stars and planets orbiting around it.
  • Galileo’s theory, supported by many nights with a telescope,  was that the sun was in the centre, with the earth orbiting around it. He also discovered mountains in the moon, the moons of Venus and that the milky way was made up of starts.
  • The Dutch mapmaker, Abraham Ortelius, noticed that the shapes of Africa and South America fitted together like a jigsaw.
  • Alfred Wegener, a German meteorologist, was the first to suggest that continents were once joined together. Evidence for this is in the form of similar plants, animals and fossils that exist on once-joined land masses (eg. South America, Australia and Antarctica once formed Gondwana.)
  • Hess’s underwater exploration in the deep ocean led to the discovery of sea-floor spreading.
  • Some scientists believe in the ‘global expansion theory’ that states the earth was once 60% of it’s present size.

Check out this You Tube video from National Geographic, “The Early Earth and Plate Tectonics”. If the continents are still moving, where will they be in 250 million years?  The New York Times reported on some recent research that changes our understanding of heat conduction in the “Earth’s Core – the enigma 1,800 miles below“.