Biology teacher sends home labs


Courtesy of Luke Peterson

Science teacher Mark Peterson personally created and sent a box of plants to each one of his biology students.

Joey Trella, Staff Writer

We all miss the feeling of being in class, having hands-on teaching which a lot of students benefit from. One class differs from all of the classes held at Benilde-St. Margaret’s during EOS: Mr. Mark Peterson’s Biology class. He personally created and sent a box of plants to each one of his students to learn and think about how genes are controlling what is happening in each phenomenon they observe.

Peterson asked himself a very important question: How do you teach biology without students doing biology? “In class, students do biology and in an online environment, they can simulate or read about biology, but really very little doing. I just wanted students to still have some ‘wonder’ going on in their lives,” Peterson said.

He created this project to have their students witness real-life biology in the comfort of their own homes. This project will at least take 43 days, broken up in 3 different labs, for most of his students to witness the growth of their plants. “I’ve used all these labs before, but not necessarily related to what we were doing right now in class. I asked the students to think about how genes are controlling what is going on with the phenomenon they are observing. Each lab is different. They have to overlap because of the way I designed the labs; they have to use pieces of the equipment to run all of them. Lab 1 takes about 5-6 days, Lab 2 about 3-4, Lab 3 actually will run for about 35-40 days because it runs through the life cycle of a plant, seed to seed. To set up each of the labs took a few minutes, but once they are running, very little upkeep for any of them,” Peterson said. 

Many teachers realize a lot of their students rely on hands-on teaching which makes it a hard time for a lot of students but Peterson made sure his students feel like they’re at school. “Obviously, being outside of the classroom puts a strain on learning, so if I’m really trying to grasp a concept, a hands-on experience like the Bio box is really beneficial for connecting concepts to real life,” sophomore Ellie Basil said. 

Students are also having a hard time keeping themselves immersed with their online assignments. That’s why having a project to do at home and keep track of will benefit these sophomores. “It’s nice to get away from all the school work through a screen and do some active hands-on school work for a change,” sophomore Dascia Ferris said.

The project is almost over but the outcomes from each of his students’ plants has been Peterson’s favorite part so far. For the sophomores, they got to have an experience from the comfort of their homes that the next year sophomores won’t have. “The outcome all depends on how much attention and care you give it. My plant started growing roots into the paper and sprouted nicely.  My favorite part is watching it grow from nothing- I think seeing it progress every day is the best part,” Basil said. 

Peterson created a twitter account for his sophomores, BSM students and teachers to follow and keep track of the project. Be sure to follow it @bioboxproject.