Learn All About HIV!

Want to learn more about HIV? Scroll down and take a look at Helen’s and my infographic!



“The Basics of HIV Prevention | Understanding HIV/AIDS | AIDSinfo.” National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web. 8 Feb. 2017. <https://aidsinfo.nih.gov/education-materials/fact-sheets/20/48/the-basics-of-hiv-prevention&gt;.

Gallucci, Maria. “NYC Was the ‘hub’ of U.S. AIDS Epidemic in 1970s, Study Says.”Mashable. Mashable, 26 Oct. 2016. Web. 8 Feb. 2017. <http://mashable.com/2016/10/26/aids-epidemic-study/#4AUciArQfiqL&gt;.

“HIV/AIDS Symptoms.” Mayo Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Feb. 2017. <http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hiv-aids/basics/symptoms/con-20013732&gt;.

“HIV Lifecycle.” Welcome to AIDS.gov. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Feb. 2017. <https://www.aids.gov/hiv-aids-basics/just-diagnosed-with-hiv-aids/hiv-in-your-body/hiv-lifecycle/&gt;.

“Origin of HIV & AIDS.” AVERT. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Feb. 2017. <http://www.avert.org/professionals/history-hiv-aids/origin&gt;.

“8 Things You Didn’t Know about Truvada.” PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 8 Feb. 2017. <http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/8-things-didnt-know-truvadaprep/&gt;.


“HIV Infection: The Basics.” Jama 288.2 (2002): 268. Web. <https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/aids/general/resources/child/docs/chapter_1.pdf&gt;.

“Origin of HIV & AIDS.” N.p., n.d. Web. <http://images.medicaldaily.com/sites/medicaldaily.com/files/2015/05/27/hiv-virus.jpg&gt;.


DNA Technology in Forensic Evidence

Michelle Leung and I just conducted a research presentation based on DNA technology applied in forensic evidence. Feel free to scroll through our Google Slides and refer to our presentation notes for further information on this breakthrough topic!

Slide 1 – Introduce your topic

Define what it means

  • Evidence obtained via scientific methods such as DNA technology, ballistics, blood testing for the purpose of establishing justice in the court of law
    • Should we make the definition simpler for everyone to understand? Something like “evidence obtained from scientific methods that is used in crime detection and justice in court”? Idk something similar
  • Can prove both guilt or innocence of suspects

Slide 2 – Give examples of uses

  • Comparing DNA of an identified suspect to that of DNA found on a crime scene
  • Comparing DNA found on a crime scene to that of past (and now public) offender’s DNA through a database
    • CODIS → Combined DNA Index System – a system that holds all DNA profiles across the nation
  • Comparing DNA found at different crime scene based upon DNA database information
  • Paternity tests

Slide 3 – Focus on one example & explain how DNA technology is specifically used

    • Testing the saliva of the identified person suspected for murder
    • Comparing that to evidence left behind on the murder scene that could be a direct link to the suspect’s DNA (ie: weapon, blood, fingerprints)
    • DNA Technology Used
      • DNA Extraction
      • PCR – Polymerase Chain Reaction
      • STR (short tandem repeats): two to five nucleotide-long sequences that repeat; different lengths/number of repeats sets people apart
        • PCR is used to amplify the DNA
        • Use electrophoresis to see how long or short the STRs are
        • Need very little of the sample, usually take 12 STR markers
        • Highly accurate because it’s very unlikely that two people would have the same set of STR markers/genetic profile
      • RFLP – Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism
  • I found a specific case of the first DNA test that resulted in criminal charges that we could use an example:

Slide 4 – Find something extremely recent

A breakthrough in the use of technology that is related to your topic

  • Forensic Breakthrough: Unique Hair Proteins are Better than DNA in Human Identification
    • Article from Sep 2016 that talks about the idea that genetic information taken from hair proteins could provide better information & does not require DNA extraction
    • Although it is in the early stages of research it is believed to have great potential
    • Frequency of changes in amino acids is like the nucleotides for DNA – all about exploring proteomics, which is a newer field of study that goes beyond just genomics
    • A decent amount of hair is found at crime scenes  – could be very useful when there is no DNA to extract

Slide 5 – Pose an ethical issue or question raised by this technology for us to discuss

  • Should every human being’s DNA be put into the CODIS system (rather than just suspects or victims of forensic investigations) in order to speed up the process of DNA technology in forensic evidence? Or is that an invasion of privacy for the government to have all of our genetic information?
  • Think back to Cracking the Code of Life movie – Iceland debates whether or not they should have everyone’s DNA code.

Slide 6 – MLA Works Cited


Meiosis in Action

Meiosis is a type of cell division that results in the formation of 4 new daughter cells, that are not genetically identical to the parent cells. However, they still carry genetic material from the parents, half from each parent. Meiosis is split into 2 phases, Meiosis I and Meiosis II. Meiosis I results in two haploid cells being formed from a diploid cell, and during Meiosis II, the sister chromatids formed in Meiosis I are split and formed into these 4 new haploid daughter cells.

Alexa Branzuela and I partnered together to complete this Meiosis in Motion project! I was very pleasantly surprised with what we produced. Stop motions, although they are very fun and visually appealing to watch, take a lot of patience and time to complete at a mastery level. This project was a learning experience in that I wish that there were some things we completed different, such as the materials we used. The paper had a tendency to move around and cause troubles in keeping the filming consistent. However, the end product was very worth the time we took on it, and I am very happy with our hard work!

Works Cited:

DRIVE by Nicolai Heidlas Music https://soundcloud.com/nicolai-heidlas

Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported— CC BY 3.0


Music provided by Audio Library https://youtu.be/llkcBbc3gLU

Observing Mitosis Lab

Observing Mitosis Through Onion Root Tips

In class, we recently conducted this lab to take what we have been learning about the cell life cycle, Mitosis, and study it even further and deepen our level of understanding of this topic! This lab required the class to break out the microscopes, work individually, and observe mitosis at work in the root slides of an everyday vegetable, an onion.


  • To determine cells at different stages of the Cell Cycle (Mitosis)
  • To compare cross sections of onion root cells to determine phase percentages
  • To study the stages of cell division in a real plant cell


In the Cell Cycle, cells divide to allow growth of new cells (in this case the growth of an onion root). The onion root tip contains these cells at different phases of the cell cycle (which can be seen at a microscopic level). These phases are Interphase, Prophase, Metaphase, Anaphase, and Telophase. First, Interphase can be seen as a dark mass with a nucleus as the main component. Prophase can be seen as visible chromosomes that are beginning to separate, but are yet to become organized in the cell. Metaphase can be seen as chromosomes that have lined up along the center of the cell. Anaphase can be seen as the pulling apart of chromosomes to opposite sides of the cell. Lastly, Telophase can be seen as two nuclei that have formed in the cell.


  1. Place onion root tip slide under microscope stage
  2. Observe the box-like plant cells and how they are organized in rows
  3. Determine each phase of the Cell Cycle in the cells
  4. In a data table, record the approximate number of cells seen in each stage (Interphase, Prophase, Metaphase, Anaphase, & Telophase)
  5. Repeat data for each cross section
  6. Average data and write percentages to show time spent by each phase during the Cell Cycle


Stage of Cell Cycle Percentage of Cells in Stage (%)
Taylor #APBio3
Interphase 85.19 81
Prophase 10.38 12.46
Metaphase 2.1 1.65
Anaphase 0 1.37
Telophase 2.33 2.03



What stages were the majority of the cells in?


What percentage of the cells were in each stage?

Interphase – 81%

Prophase – 12.46%

Metaphase – 1.65%

Anaphase – 1.37%

Telophase – 2.03%

What evidence shows that mitosis is a continuous process not a series of separate events?

Mitosis is a continuous process, not a series of separate events because this cycle is a cell life cycle that is always at work. Each phase is dependent upon the completion of the previous phase.

The onion plant began as a single cell. That cell had X number of chromosomes. (The exact number does not matter, we will just call that number “X”.) How many chromosomes are in each of the cells that you observed? (Give the answer in terms of X.) How do you know?

4X chromosomes are in each of the cells that were observed because cells have to double themselves so that they can split later on (DNA is double).

If this onion would reproduce sexually, it would need to produce sperm and/or eggs by the process of meiosis. After meiosis, how many chromosomes would be in each sex cell (in terms of X)?

  1. (4X → 2X + 2X → X + X + X + X)

If this onion would complete the process of sexual reproduction (fertilizing and egg cell), how many chromosomes would be in the zygotes that are produced (in terms of X)?

Sperm + Egg = X + X = 2X.


Observing Mitosis Through Onion Root Tips was a rather challenging lab, but the knowledge gained from it was extensive. Some of the challenges faced during this lab were one’s inability to determine the different phases given the microscope equipment and their failure to zoom past a certain point, as well as counting error shown in the percentages. For example, in my lab when I was counting the phases, I did not account for the presence of Anaphase in my data, which offset the normal balance of each percentage that is usually present in the data. However, as a class average, we were able to combine our percentages to become very close to accurately representing the length of each stage at work in the cell cycle. Interphase takes up about 81% , with Prophase at 12.46%, and the rest of the phases (Metaphase at 1.65%, Anaphase at 1.37%, and 2.03%) fulfilling the small remainder of the cell cycle. It was obvious that cell division had taken place in these root tips, emphasizing that the cell cycle is constantly at work in everyday living things.



Breakthrough Junior Challenge

Why Sleep is a Teen’s Best Friend

Public Service Announcement

I created my Breakthrough Junior Challenge video about sleep because I know how important sleep is to every human being and I think more people should be made aware of the effects of sleep deprivation in teens, therefore developing this video into a Public Service Announcement. Also brought up in my video, teenagers should not be waking up as early as they do for school, and if schools were to truly recognize how beneficial a later school start time would be, so many positive things would come of this long-awaited change. I found this concept interesting because I know how relatable of a topic it is, especially to high schoolers who struggle with a busy schedule and long days. 

Give Life to Your Leftovers

OpenIDEO Challenge

Life2Leftovers is a blog that provides new recipes to old leftovers.

    We have created a blog for average people to create easy and manageable recipes. Many tend to throw away old leftovers or fresh food that eventually go bad because they are ignored. Our website gives recipes and ideas for people to use their leftover food to create new meals preventing food waste! In our blog we have recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, snacks, and vegetarian options. If we don’t come up with the recipes ourselves, then we give credit to those who do. Our blog allows our followers to add their own recipes. We have shared this project with our school’s health and wellness board so they can publicize and add to our website. The success of our project is dependent on the willingness of others to participate in the fight to end food waste!

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

We can gather a group of girls and their families to try out our blog and see if they used more of their leftovers then they previously had. The idea is that they will be able to lessen food waste in their homes by making sure no leftover goes unfinished.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

The most helpful asset to our blog from the OpenIDEO community that would aid in building and refining our idea would be spreading the link to our blog, in efforts to receive feedback and recipes from our followers! We would love to expand this into a community that can send in and share their ideas to bring leftover food back to life, and ultimately decreasing the amount of food waste in people’s homes. We are also aiming towards setting up social media accounts to further spread our idea.

Tell us about your work experience:

As a group, we are simply high school seniors trying to make a change. We have little experience, only resulting from our social media usage. We plan to gain tons of knowledge along the journey.

This idea emerged from

  • A group brainstorm

How far along is your idea?

  • It’s just been created! It’s existed for 1 day – 1 month