Howell High Science Newsletter

Semester 1

Course Highlights

Environmental Studies

Environmental Studies participated in the 10th Missouri River Clean up with Missouri River Relief. Students hauled 35 trash bags full of water bottles, basketballs, gas grill tanks and more. Their mascot, a frog statute, won the prize for the most unusual animal and their Sponge Bob discovery (who lacked his pants) earned them a prize for the most unusual trash object found. The prize items are on display in Mr. Berendzen's room.

Clockwise from the top left Megan Swoboda, Jeremiah Wall, Peter O’Brien, Emma O’Brien, and Mr. Berendzen.
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PLTW Biomedical Science

The PLTW Biomedical Sciences classes had a great start to the year! We jumped right into the mysterious death of Anna Garcia. During the forensics unit, students worked hard to process the crime scene and collect multiple forms of evidence. Students performed DNA analysis to narrow down a list of potential suspects. Anna was sent to the morgue and students learned how medical examiners process the deceased. After thorough analysis and debate, students came to the conclusion that Anna’s death was from a natural cause. First quarter ended with students analyzing Anna’s past medical documents and determining, through glucose tolerance and insulin testing, that she was a diabetic. During quarter two, students continued to analyze Anna’s past lifestyle while learning about the disease of diabetes. They will ultimately debate if diabetes could have been a contributing factor to Anna’s death.

The PLTW Biomedical program expanded this year with the addition of the second year of the program, Human Body Systems. Students started the year by identifying characteristics within the human body that make individuals unique. They used these characteristics to perform a skeletal analysis of bones to determine the age, race, sex, and height of an unknown individual. Students were able to take this information a step further by analyzing missing persons reports that matched their determined characteristics and performing DNA analysis through a gel electrophoresis to solve a cold case. Unit two allowed students to identify the multiple ways the body communicates with itself and the outside world. Students worked together to build neuron models and to demonstrate the pathway of electrical signals. In addition, throughout the year students work with a partner to build anatomical features on to a manikin. They will continue to learn about ways the body communicates throughout second quarter as well as start their next unit on power. Pictured below are Kyle Grantham and Breanna Holland.

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Earth Science

Earth Science students visited Thomas Howell Cemetery in order to gain practice in recognizing different rock types, observe weathering processes and patterns, and determine which rock types are more prone to weathering. It was a little chilly but we enjoyed the outdoors.


The AP Physics 1 classes were encouraged to get their creative juices flowing by making a video based on the question ‘How can physics save my life while I am driving my car’? The classes brainstormed different scenarios they might be interested in and the different groups were allowed to pick a topic from this list and create a two minute video. The video must include the physics principle behind the issue, and the mathematical equations worked out to prove the safety or folly of their actions. No cars or people were injured in this process. The videos turned out really well and were very creative. It was a fun way to end the year.


Genetics students extracted their DNA and made DNA necklaces with it. They also analyzed their own DNA for an Alu insert and determined if they were carrying two genes or just one gene for the the insert using gel electrophoresis. They also extracted proteins from various beans and used an acrylamide gel to visual the proteins that they each contained. We also had some help this year from the Washington University Zebrafish Laboratory. They provided Zebrafish for mating, eggs that were already fertilized, breeding tanks, and live food for our developing Zebrafish. One group was given Zebrafish with scoliosis to determine if they could breed as well as the normal fish.

Pre-AP Biology and Biology

All Biology classes were implementing a new curriculum this past semester. We began the year learning about ecology and then worked through cells, energy transfer, and cell division. Students were expected to complete activities that were higher in rigor and as a result we have had a record breaking amount of success on our final exams. We are looking forward to a great spring semester as we prepare for our End of Course exam.


Pre-AP Chemistry field trip to Busch to gather picture and research active chemical ingredients was awesome! Kids engaged and excited about chemistry!

Pre- AP Chemistry students are rocking the Blog-a-sphere! Students are creating an on line portfolio full of reflections about their growth in chemistry. They are also going out and posting comments on each other’s blogs as another form of reflection. We are also completing a Star Gazing Project identifying the elements in stars and how we can look at the classification to help determine temperature and age. We are also logging emission spectra for the most abundant elements present in the star!

We also celebrated Mole day!


ZoBot students have completed their study of Plants and have begun their voyage into the world of Animals! Students have learned the language of Plants and have worked hard to learn so many new terms and structures. We have germinated corn in order to observe the influence of hormones on plant growth, and completed a cooperative group project on Plant Reproduction. We have been in the Lab … a lot!

In Zoology, students will use their well-practiced microscope skills to investigate animal tissues and structures. Zoology will also include many labs and dissections, and will introduce students to the basic information that they will need to discuss and compare the many animal Phyla we will study throughout the rest of the course. Stay tuned! More fun times are ahead! What a great group of kids!

Human Anatomy and Physiology

Anatomy sudents made some digestive system shirts that were pretty cool to reinforce their learning. And on January 19th students will be headed to the SLU AIMS Lab to observe a dissection and complete a Hands-on Human Cadaver Experience.

Physical Science

In physical science we finished first semester and our discussion of chemistry. Student’s studied the structure of the atom by creating models to represent protons, neutrons, and electrons. Students studied types of reactions and how atoms combine to make more complex chemical structures. Students finished the semester by studying heat and thermodynamics. This semester in physical science students are studying physics. To begin the semester students are using the scientific method and a bubble tube to measure the speed of a bubble as it moves through different liquids. We will continue the semester by conducting more labs to discover the world of physics using constant velocity cars, ramps, pull back cars, bowling balls, and much more!

Chemistry Club

Chemistry Club started the year by turning a penny into solid gold! Not really, but we did use the wonders of redox chemistry to change the copper in the penny to brass! We looked the effect of a catalyst on the rates of reactions by making elephant toothpaste and created a supersaturated solution to make a snow globe. At Christmas we made a pure silver ornament with a custom Chemistry Club ribbon!

With over 20 active members, we are a force to be reckoned with! In the upcoming months we are making biodiesel and using the fuel for boat races, making ice cream and tie dying our club shirts!


HOSA started the year making a spirit board for homecoming and hosted a balloon pop to raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Members are now busy preparing for the state HOSA competition that will take place in March. It has been a great semester and an overwhelming amount of participation.
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