Nov 21, 2014


Jun 30, 2014

Peperiksaan Pusat Amali Sains untuk subjek Physics, Chemistry, Biology dan Additional Science SPM 2015

Biology Workshop Paper 2 and Paper 3 (SM Sains Kubang Pasu)

Jun 17, 2014

Jaundice among newborns

Jaundice refers to the yellow colour of the skin and whites of the eyes caused by excess bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is produced by the normal breakdown of red blood cells.

Normally, bilirubin passes through the liver and is excreted as bile through the intestines. Jaundice occurs when bilirubin builds up faster than a newborn's liver can break it down and pass it from the body. Reasons for this include:
  Newborns make more bilirubin than adults do since they have more turnover of red blood cells. 
  A newborn baby's still-developing liver may not yet be able to remove adequate bilirubin from the blood. 
  Too large an amount of bilirubin is reabsorbed from the intestines before the baby gets rid of it in the stool. 

High levels of bilirubin — usually above 25 mg — can cause deafness, cerebral palsy, or other forms of brain damage in some babies. In less common cases, jaundice may indicate the presence of another condition, such as an infection or a thyroid problem. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all infants should be examined for jaundice within a few days of birth.

Types of Jaundice
The most common types of jaundice are:
Physiological (normal) jaundice: occurring in most newborns, this mild jaundice is due to the immaturity of the baby's liver, which leads to a slow processing of bilirubin. It generally appears at 2 to 4 days of age and disappears by 1 to 2 weeks of age.
Jaundice of prematurity: occurs frequently in premature babies since they are even less ready to excrete bilirubin effectively. Jaundice in premature babies needs to be treated at a lower bilirubin level than in full term babies in order to avoid complications.
Breastfeeding jaundice: jaundice can occur when a breastfeeding baby is not getting enough breast milk because of difficulty with breastfeeding or because the mother's milk isn’t in yet. This is not caused by a problem with the breast milk itself, but by the baby not getting enough to drink.
Breast milk jaundice: in 1% to 2% of breastfed babies, jaundice may be caused by substances produced in their mother's breast milk that can cause the bilirubin level to rise. These can prevent the excretion of bilirubin through the intestines. It starts after the first 3 to 5 days and slowly improves over 3 to 12 weeks.

In mild or moderate levels of jaundice, by 1 to 2 weeks of age the baby will take care of the excess bilirubin on its own. For high levels of jaundice, phototherapy — treatment with a special light that helps rid the body of the bilirubin by altering it or making it easier for your baby's liver to get rid of it — may be used.

More frequent feedings of breast milk or supplementing with formula to help infants pass the bilirubin in their stools may also be recommended. In rare cases, a blood exchange may be required to give a baby fresh blood and remove the bilirubin.

If your baby develops jaundice that seems to be from breast milk, your doctor may ask you to temporarily stop breastfeeding. During this time, you can pump your breasts so you can keep producing breast milk and you can start nursing again once the condition has cleared.

If the amount of bilirubin is high, your baby may be readmitted to the hospital for treatment. Once the bilirubin level drops and the treatment is stopped, it is unlikely that treatment for jaundice will need to be restarted.

Blood group incompatibility (Rh or ABO problems): if a baby has a different blood type than the mother, the mother might produce antibodies that destroy the infant's red blood cells. This creates a sudden buildup of bilirubin in the baby's blood. Incompatibility jaundice can begin as early as the first day of life. Rh problems once caused the most severe form of jaundice, but now can be prevented with an injection of Rh immune globulin to the mother within 72 hours after delivery, which prevents her from forming antibodies that might endanger any subsequent babies.

Symptoms and Diagnosis
Jaundice usually appears around the second or third day of life. It begins at the head and progresses downward. A jaundiced baby's skin will usually appear yellow first on the face, followed by the chest and stomach, and finally, the legs. It can also cause the whites of an infant's eyes to appear yellow.

Since many babies are now released from the hospital at 1 or 2 days of life, it is best for the baby to be seen by a doctor within 1 to 2 days of leaving the hospital to check for jaundice. Parents should also keep an eye on their infants to detect jaundice.

If you notice your baby’s skin or eyes looking yellow you should contact your child's doctor to see if significant jaundice is present.

At the doctor's office, a small sample of your infant's blood can be tested to measure the bilirubin level. Some offices use a light meter to get an approximate measurement, and then if it is high, check a blood sample. The seriousness of the jaundice will vary based on how many hours old your child is and the presence of other medical conditions.

Feb 25, 2014

Biological Terms

One of the keys to being successful in biology is being able to understand the terminology. Difficult biology words and terms can be made easy to understand by becoming familiar with common prefixes and suffixes used in biology. These affixes, derived from Latin and Greek roots, form the basis for many difficult biology words.
Below is a list of a few biology words and terms that many biology students find difficult to understand. By breaking these words down into discrete units, even the most complex terms can be understood. 
1. Autotroph
This word can be separated as follows: Auto - troph.
Auto - means self, troph - means nourish. Autotrophs are organisms capable of self nourishment.
2. Cytokinesis
This word can be separated as follows: Cyto - kinesis.
Cyto - means cell, kinesis - means movement. Cytokinesis refers to the movement of the cytoplasm that produces distinct daughter cells during cell division.
3. Eukaryote
This word can be separated as follows: Eu - karyo - te.
Eu - means true, karyo - means nucleus. A eukaryote is an organism whose cells contain a "true" membrane bound nucleus.
4. Heterozygous
This word can be separated as follows: Hetero - zyg - ous.
Hetero - means different, zyg - means yolk or union, ous - means characterized by or full of. Heterozygous refers to a union characterized by the joining of two different alleles for a given trait.
5. Hydrophilic
This word can be separated as follows: Hydro - philic.
Hydro - refers to water, philic - means love. Hydrophilic means water-loving.
6. Oligosaccharide
This word can be separated as follows: Oligo - saccharide.
Oligo - means few or little, saccharide - means sugar. An oligosaccharide is a carbohydrate that contains a small number of component sugars.
7. Osteoblast
This word can be separated as follows: Osteo - blast.
Osteo - means bone, blast - means bud or germ (early form of an organism). An osteoblast is a cell from which bone is derived.
8. Tegmentum
This word can be separated as follows: Teg - ment - um.
Teg - means cover, ment - refers to mind or brain. The tegmentum is the bundle of fibers that cover the brain.
Yes, this is an actual word. What does it mean? Biology can be filled with words that sometimes seem incomprehensible. By "dissecting" these words into discrete units, even the most complex terms can be understood. To demonstrate this concept, let's begin by performing biology word dissections on the word above.
To perform our biology word dissection, we'll need to proceed carefully. First, we come to the prefix (pneu-), or (pneumo-) which means lung. Next, is ultra, meaning extreme, and microscopic, meaning small. Now we come to (silico-), which refers to silicon, and (volcano-) which refers to the mineral particles that make up a volcano. Then we have (coni-), a derivative of the Greek word konis meaning dust. Finally, we have the suffix (-osis) which means affected with. Now lets rebuild what we have dissected:
Considering the prefix (pneumo-) and the suffix (-osis), we can determine that the lungs are affected with something. But what? Breaking down the rest of the terms we get extremely small (ultramicroscopic) silicon (silico-) and volcanic (volcano-) dust (coni-) particles. Thus, pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is a disease of the lungs resulting from the inhalation of very fine silicate or quartz dust. That wasn't so difficult, now was it?
Now that we've honed our dissection skills, let's try some frequently used biology terms. For instance:
(Arth-) refers to joints and (-itis) means inflammation. Arthritis is the inflammation of a joint(s).
(Erythro-) means red and (-cyte) means cell. Erythrocytes are red blood cells.
Okay, let's move on to more difficult words. For instance:
Dissecting, we have (electro-), pertaining to electricity, (encephal-) meaning brain, and (-gram) meaning record. Together we have an electric brain record or EEG. Thus, we have a record of brain wave activity using electrical contacts.
Individuals with this disorder suffer from delusions and hallucinations. (Schis-) means split and (phren-) means mind.
These are ancient bacteria that live in extremely hot and acidic environments. (Therm-) means heat, next you have (-acid), and finally (phil-) means love. Together we have heat and acid lovers.
Once you understand the commonly used prefixes and suffixes, obtuse words are a piece of cake! Now that you know how to apply the word dissection technique, I'm sure you'll be able to determine the meaning of the word thigmotropism (thigmo - tropism).

Dec 25, 2013

Much ado over rankings

The nation’s low rankings in a world educational assessment has caused an outcry, yet our schools have nurtured many young Malaysians who have at the global level, excelled academically. 
I REFER to recent comments made on the poor performance of Malaysian students in the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa).
Many seem to agree with the declining standards of the Malaysian education system.
If the “leaning indicator of Pisa” is to be accepted as the true picture, Malaysian education seems to be heading towards a calamity.
There was also talk that since Malaysians were not up to the mark, there were none who earned a spot in Harvard University in the United States.
Is failure to gain entry into Harvard the measurement of failure of education in a country? However, let us give credit where credit is due.
Malaysia has done relatively well in using her natural wealth to build her economy.
We managed to transform from a country that relied on the export of natural resources to one that exports manufactured goods.
The success of our transition can be credited to our heavy investment in education.
Education gives birth to human capital. The 25% allocation for education in the budget simply means the importance stressed by the Government on human capital.
Economists have come to believe that the central determinant of a nation’s economic growth is the skill and entrepreneurial courage of the population.
Just look at countries like Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Singa-pore. They are successful for the simple reason that they have put so much emphasis on the quality of their schools.
Comments and actions taken by the pessimists have been shocking. We see parents sending their children to international and private schools.
Well, it is their right. They have the means. Most of them flock to schools that use English as the medium of instruction.
So where does that put Malaysian schools as a start to creating human capital?
If one reads and scrutinises the criticisms on the Malaysian school education system, one will think it produces dullards of the worst kind.
The criticisms seem to show that our school system is a national disgrace.
The strings of As every year in the SPM have been branded as over inflated and not reflective of the actual academic standards of students.
If that is the case, then how is it that local students can achieve excellent results when they sit for pre-university exams conducted by foreign agencies, prior to pursuing studies at high-ranking institutions abroad?
How can this paradox be explained?
Their performance shows that the education system here is a lot better than what the critics say.
So, there must be something right in our school system that contributes significantly to human capital later on.
Simply put, the education system is not as bad as it is painted out to be.
We are a pessimistic lot. We are ever so willing to criticise despite the dynamism and sustained growth performance in many sectors shown over the years.
Compared to many countries, those in our cohort could envy us. Had our education been poor, we would not have been where we are today.
Some may say that the good performances by several sectors may be due to them being highly populated by officers who graduated from overseas’ universities.
If that is so, how did they gain entry into these universities?
The A-Levels, Edexcel, International Baccalaureate and other matriculation exams sat by governing bodies abroad are tough.
So how did our students manage to get the high grades needed in these exams to gain entry into many good universities in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and the United States?
Nobody questions over inflated grades simply because they are conducted by foreign agencies.
Didn’t the formative years in the primary and the secondary schools here contribute to their good performance in those exams?
If so, it shows that our education has helped the students have what it takes to gain entry to reputable colleges and universities.
Many may argue that the excellent performance of the students at the pre-university exams may be because of the good colleges they attended.
My answer is simple, those entrusted to teach at these colleges were no wizards. They could not do wonders within one or two years.
The argument could then go on to the high standards that the foreign universities they attended had maintained.
While we accept that not many were able to make it to the Ivy League, our students and many from around the world have made it to other established varsities.
What does this all mean? If our students are bad, they would not have gained entry into these institutions.
Yes, there is a decline in the standard of English among our students and graduates.
There is much to be desired in communication and social skills. Their general knowledge is very embarrassing.
These are also the type of comments made by other countries on their present generation of graduates.
Malaysia is not alone in facing the drop in the standard of education. Yes, even the British and the Americans are complaining that their students’ command of grammar of their own mother tongue is shameful. Their general knowledge is abysmal.
All these should heighten concerns about the quality of the teaching of language and subjects like history and geography, as well as the syllabuses in those subjects in their schools as well as ours and in stressing a two-way communication in classes and improvement in soft skills.
Those skills that are lacking can also be acquired as the graduates move along in organisations they work in.
The problem with organisations is that they expect graduates to be perfect from the first day that they step in as employees.
Organisations expect all shortcomings of the graduates to be overcome at the universities they attend but do not realise that universities too have their limits.
The rest is up to the graduates and the organisations to turn potentials into real human capital.
We can never be complacent about our duty to education.
All must take responsibility to ensure that what is best is passed to the next generation. Every generation is a product of its environment.
My parting shot. On several occasions (not only based on Pisa), the Americans and Western Europeans have lagged behind East Asians in academic performance in elementary education.
Somehow, several Nobel Prize winners consistently every year are Americans and Europeans.
Where are the scientists and thinkers from East Asia? The test scores such as in Pisa may not display the shape of people to come.

Dr. Azmi Yaakob

Dec 12, 2013

Sample STPM Semester I Question

ATP and NADPH are two main molecules which are required for the production of carbohydrate in plants. Describe how these molecules are generated during photosynthesis.

[9 marks]

P680/Photosystem II absorb light energy/photon.
Energy is passed from one pigment molecule to another pigment molecule until reach the reaction centre.
The electron is excited and captured by primary electron acceptor.
Created electron hole in P680/photosystem II.
Which filled up by electron from photolysis of water
Primary electron acceptor passes the electron to a series of electron carriers/plastoquinone, cytochrome complex and plastocyanine
Energy released in the form of ATP through chemiosmosis
P700/photosystem I absorbs light energy/photon
The electron excited and captured by primary electron acceptor
Electron is passed to ferredoxin
NADP+ is reduced to NADPH.