Bio students write stories to demonstrate knowledge

Ana Crangle, Editor-In-Chief

On any given day in teacher Laura Benedict’s science classroom, students are working to improve their scientific knowledge via notes, labs and other hands-on projects. More recently, the students of her fourth block Biology 2 class wrote a story on the journey of a pathogen navigating around the immune system. But why a story in science class?
“Your brain naturally encodes memories as stories. You naturally learn better that way,” Benedict said.
With such complex subjects, making students write such stories in such fashion only seems fitting. Benedict has continued this tradition for a little over a decade with hopes to temporarily switch up her students’ way of thinking.
“I don’t grade on grammar, spelling or punctuation. I am more interested in the science side of things, but it’s incredible to see some of the kids go all out for this assignment. I have not only great future scientists but creative writers, too,” Benedict said.
That statement is quite true for one of Benedict’s senior students, Georgia Voss. Voss spent quite a bit of time crafting their immune system story. It may have taken them three or four times to complete the complex storyline involving characters named Karl, Carley and Barley, but both the Devil’s Tale staff and Benedict were thoroughly impressed.
Benedict said, “Georgia’s story managed to be both creative and in-depth. It truly is hard to combine the two when you are talking about a pathogen traveling around the body.”

Q&A with Georgia Voss, 12

Do you think writing the story gave you more insight to the material?
Of course, I used my story to reference some of the actual content instead of going back to my notes. It made learning it so much easier.

Why did you choose the narrative you did?
I was really bored when I started writing it. I decided to write something that would entertain me and eventually Mrs. Benedict when she read it.

Do you enjoy incorporating other subjects like writing into your science classes?
I think it’s nice because an activity like this helps display what you know. I mean, so people are better at the writing side of things and some people are better at the science. So it gives the people that are better at writing a moment to shine.

Best Entry

written by Georgia Voss, 12

A pack of bacteria traverse the hand of an unsuspecting host. An innocent chef who was just trying to cut up some vegetables for the meal they were about to prepare. The knife slips as it tends to do so from time to time, an accident in the making. Red blooms from a fresh incision made on the finger of the chef. It was finally time for the bacteria to go. Karl the bacteria and his friends infiltrate the scene with rapidity. They only had so much time to complete this heist, they had to get in before the phagocytes found them. These phagocytes were ruthless, swallowing up the bacteria whole. Karl had heard stories passed on and around, but didn’t fully grasp the danger of those cells. White blood cells that could go through walls in order to capture their prey, eating it in one bite. Sometimes, they even ate their injured brethren. They were carnivorous fiends, the ancestors were right.
The histamine was already releasing, like tear gas to the battle ground. Blood flowed more fervently, indicating the arrival of those phagocytes: the neutrophils that lived in the blood and the macrophages that could be hiding anywhere. Things were heating up, literally. The temperature increased, just a bit to make things uncomfortable. Karl looked around, and surely enough the neutrophils were already here. Karl saw an old friend get eaten. His name was Snarl, but Karl wouldn’t miss him much. Snarl was kinda problematic. It was a witch hunt, those who remained of pack had to get on the move. But, there was an unexpected enemy. Natural cell killers. They carried out their atrocities by puncturing cells. They, too, would kill anything that crossed their path, they had an apparent itch for murder. Before Karl and the gang could go through the blood vessels up the arm, Barley got bushwhacked by one of these killer cells. Not this, this was a travesty. Barley had so much to offer, and to see him go like this? Bummer. Anyway, Karl had to keep going. Karl’s dead friends weren’t really his problem. They were on a mission, to get to the stomach and cause this person to have a really bad day.
Karl and the squad had to remain wary of the lymphatic system. They could potentially send more threats their way through the lymphatic vessels, even if they left the scene. Those lymph nodes would surely be like jails for Karl, so it was better to avoid them. Some of their ranks died along the way, but Karl remained going strong. Carly fell victim to a macrophage, the one enemy the bacteria hoped to avoid. Now all other security had their names and faces, since the group all looked pretty much the same. The macrophage displayed her antigen, serving as a wanted sign. Helper T cells rushed to the scene, trying to find a match. But Karl had to keep going. Once that helper T cell made a match to the antigen, that would trigger the dreaded cell mediated response! That means interleukin would be released and T cells would begin to divide, adding Killer T Cells to their ranks! These Killer T cells would puncture the bacteria much like the Natural Cell Killers did. The interleukin would also call for the humoral response, B cells dividing into Plasma B cells! These Plasma B cells would start to make antibodies to hold down Karl and his buddies until a macrophage or Killer T cell arrived! Both were very scary and needed to be avoided.
Things weren’t looking great for Karl and friends.
Surely enough, the Killer T cells got to even more of Karl’s friends, puncturing them. Some even got placed into antibody handcuffs made by the Plasma B cells! Luckily, Karl and a good amount of others made it to the stomach. The T cells started to suppress the immune response, while others remained on guard for those that looked like Karl and his kin. The B cells, too, remained on watch with their handcuffs at the ready.
Now, it was time for Karl and the rest to give the good ol’ chef a tummy ache and make him throw up. Karl would get his revenge on these white blood cells.
It’s been a good amount of time, and Karl remained with a portion of his friends. The chef had thrown up a whole lot. This wouldn’t be the last of the Karl Revolution Squad.
It’s been about two weeks. The chef has since recovered from his illness and was doing good now. There wasn’t a trace of Karl’s army. Karl had since been eradicated (rip Karl) however his kin had heard of what happened, and wanted revenge. They stormed in by chance, the wife of the chef sneezing and somehow not realizing she should cover her mouth and the pack of Karl’s kin were all in the air. The chef took a big sniff of the air because he was making some bread, and that stuff smells delicious. How could he not? Either way, the bacteria infiltrated his respiratory system in a flash. Already, there appeared to be phagocytes on the scene, a macrophage swallowing Gnarly whole. The macrophage displayed the wanted sign antigen, and soon all the rest of the immune system defense task force security team were there and ready to go. They had remembered those of Gnarly and the rests’ gang and decimated them one by one, the memory T-cells attacking and the memory B-cells using their antibodies. The elders sure did know what they were doing. All the wiser.
And that’s it for our heroes. Snarl, Carly and Gnarly all got eaten… Barley got shanked by a Killer cell… and Karl died in some vomit. Such is the life of a simple bacteria.