Website Reviews

1. Adult Review – Brian Schmidt

I’m not much of a bio nerd, but I found this blog site curiously appealing. I was just skimming along, but I ended up diving into several of the various articles, intrigued by the content and description. Feels more like a budding science writer than a high school project. The only odd thing was the juxtaposition of ads from Bizarre Town, ranging from beer to candy to LeBron James.

2. Peer Review – Rees Parker

Dear Madison R. Schmidt,

My name is Rees Shephard Parker and after an extensive sojourn of your WordPress AP Biology blog, I have come to the conclusion that the work you have at is both phenomenal and well informing. I must commend you on your excellent and inspirational work!

  1. Your quick and ample citations and sources provide credibility and a professional atmosphere to every one of your posts.
  2. Your titles are to the point and informing so that the reader can understand what each post will be about and better seek out the information he or she wants.
  3. Your overall layout and design create a professional and inviting atmosphere that allows the reader to trust your blog and and the information within.

All in all, your site has an excellent atmosphere and excellent information. I hope you have found this review to your liking.

Rees Shephard Parker
(Excellent) Amateur Blog Critic

3. Peer Review – Kasara Schmidt

I really like how the blog has a nice design and color scheme to it. The opening page is very fun and engaging. I looked at some of your posts and they seem very well thought out and informational. I like the use of photos in the blog posts as well, and it makes the words more appealing for the reader. My favorite post was the one about your cats, Lucy and Emma, because they’re really cute even though they’re adult cats now. Great work!

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AP Bio Reflection

This class has been both challenging and rewarding. It took a while for me to get into the swing of things at the beginning of the year, but I got the hang of it fairly quickly. Because I want to major in the biological sciences in college, this class has been similar to what my future education might be. I liked how small this class size was, because it made collaboration much easier. It also made it such that we could grow closer to one another in the class.

I’ve loved the use of technology throughout this course as well. Although the number of new accounts I had to make grew overwhelming at times, I liked being able to use various different mediums to create projects and presentations. WordPress and Powtoon (which I only just recently started to use) are two of my favorites!

Outside of class, I’ve also had a lot of cool biology-related adventures this school year. I had the chance to meet Dr. Jane Goodall in October, and I will be traveling to visit a wildlife sanctuary in South Africa this coming June. It’s exciting to be participating in so much cool stuff this year!

I would have so say that one of my favorite things that we did this year was the fetal pig dissection. On every other dissection in my academic career, I was always either sick or on a field trip, and so had to miss it. This was the first dissection I ever performed, and while it was challenging (and made me a bit squeamish), I thought that it was really interesting.

I really enjoyed this class as a whole, and I encourage anyone interested in biology to take it!

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Website Reflection

I’ve always been inclined to use technology, and this blog for my AP Bio class was the perfect opportunity for me. I learned a lot about myself and others through the maintenance of this blog. First, I learned that I’m actually fairly proficient in coding and web design, and in creating a visually appealing blog. I tend to be way more motivated to do certain things when they’re visually appealing, like color-coding a to do list, for example!

Second, I learned that if you put in the time and effort to create something noteworthy, people will notice. My blog has gotten a good deal of traffic over this school year, to my great surprise. When looking at the statistics (which I only just recently discovered), I noticed that my blog post about an onion root tip lab we did in class had gotten a considerable amount of traffic. I realized too that the incoming traffic was from students performing searches for lab question answers!

Third, I learned that creating a digital portfolio of your efforts in a class is both manageable (a website is considerably lighter than several binders and textbooks) and rewarding. All of your hard work is available in one place, never water-stained, ripped, crumpled, or lost in the move. It’s been so rewarding to be able to look back at the effort I put into creating this blog, and knowing it is just the beginning.

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My Kitties

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These are some pictures of my two cats, Emma and Lucy, when they were kittens in August of 2011. They’ve grown a bit since then, but Emma has grown less, since she’s the runt of their litter. Emma is the dark grey one, and Lucy is the white (now brown) one. Lucy has a spot of black on her cheek that looks remarkably like a Marilyn Monroe mole, but we unfortunately didn’t decide to call her Marilyn.

Fetal Pig Dissection Lab

*Warning: This blog post contains content and images not suitable for all viewers. Image content includes pictures of a pig dissection. Please continue at your own discretion*

IMG_3485In class last Thursday and Friday, we got the opportunity to dissect a fetal pig. My lab partners were Mana and Grace, and I was the primary person in charge of the actual dissection process. At first, I’ll be honest, I was unnerved and even a bit disgusted at the idea of dissecting anything, much less a cute baby pig. I had managed to accidentally (yes, accidentally, not just “conveniently”) miss every single animal dissection in my entire academic career up until this point, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, after the first few steps of the process, I began to get the hang of the dissection process. I’m a big animal rights activist so it was a bit tough for me, but knowing that the pigs died in the name of science, research, and discovery put my mind at ease!

I found the pig dissection to be very interesting. I know that the anatomy of a pig is very similar to human anatomy, and it was really cool to see exactly what body systems and processes happen inside of us as well. I learned some things that I never knew before – like the fact that the diaphragm entirely separates the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity, and the fact that the trachea is lined with cartilage rings to maintain its shape and keep the windpipe open! After the initially dissection stage, our group determined that the gender of our pig was male. The dissection went smoothly (despite the less-than-appetizing smell that came along with it), and we all learned a great deal from it!

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How Much is Behavior Based on Nature Versus Nurture?

Nature versus nurture: the great debate. What is truly to blame for all of the criminals out there, or how about the geniuses? Were all the Hitlers, Einsteins, and Beyonces of the world born into their fate, or was it the environment in which they grew up that made them who they are? The honest truth is, no one really knows.

There have been countless studies supporting both sides of the issue. Many of these such studies are performed on twins, who are genetically identical.  If the twins were to have relatively similar personalities, this would support the theory that a person’s traits are based upon his genetics, or nature. Evidence of genetically linked emotional and mental traits has already been found in many forms. For an example, some studies show that a naturally higher level of testosterone in males can lead to more aggressive behavior, and increase the likelihood that he may commit a violent crime. The countless evidence to support this theory makes it a very plausible and viable one.

On the other hand, any of you that know a pair of identical twins know that genetically identical people can be very different from one another. While they may definitely share many of the same qualities, their interests or attitudes may vary greatly from each other. This is evidence that supports the “nature” argument. The argument is especially supported in identical twins that were raised in different households or environments. If the twins are different in any way, then this must be accounted for by their upbringing, not by their genetics. However, this viewpoint as well as the “nature” viewpoint are both on complete opposite ends of the spectrum. There is still another perspective on the nature versus nurture debate.

I would like to present a middle-ground approach to this thoroughly debated issue. Consider this proposal: “Nature loads the gun, but nurture pulls the trigger.” In this scenario, a person’s nature or genetics would perhaps predispose him to a specific trait, but this would not necessarily be expressed unless exposed to the “right” environment. For example, if alcoholism were to run in a person’s family both maternally and paternally, he might be naturally predisposed to an addictive personality. However, this does not necessarily determine that he will become an alcoholic later in life. If raised in a stable environment and without any societal or familial pressures to trigger the predisposition, the person may very well be entirely capable of never being dependent upon alcohol. However, if raised in an emotionally unstable environment or in an environment in which friends/family abused alcohol, the person may be more inclined to act upon his predisposition, or “nature.” This viewpoint is the one that I personally hold, because I feel that both a person’s nature and a person’s nurture contribute to who he is.


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