Several months ago I showed my 9th grade students October Sky. As a quick end-of-class assignment, I had them write Homer Hickam letters expressing their personal reaction to his story.
I expected a few fluffy sentences finished with, “thanks for making your movie” type statement.
I received well-crafted, insightful letters expressing their gratitude for knowing Mr Hickam’s story. They could relate to Hickam’s rocky relationship with his father and feeling trapped by a blue-collar community that tends to discourage higher education.
A few weeks ago I finally mailed them and today I received a reply! The letter was from Mr Hickam’s wife, but it included his photograph signed just for us! I cannot wait to get to school tomorrow and share it with my students – now I need to find a special frame to treasure it always :)
Homer Hickam himself!
Today I had my first guest speaker (the cheaper alternative to a field trip!). Officer Michael Lemley of the Las Vegas Police Department came to speak to my physics students about accident reconstruction today. It was great for someone else to be in charge of the class and it was so fun to hear my students asking questions and thinking through this particular application of physics!
Officer Lemley was wonderful. He kept the kids laughing and made clear connections between the content and the real-world. One of my favorite parts of the day was Lemley’s insistence that he wishes he had paid more attention to his classes in high school because he had to relearn it all 20 years later. He told my students he never thought he would use his high school knowledge, but it always comes back.
He closed by talking about the cause of most fatal accidents he works on: distracted drivers. He illustrated several instances of people dying because they were texting or on the phone. He asked students why the United States is not willing to show gruesome commercials about drunk and distracted driving; the kids got into quite a debate over offending people v. being honest about consequences.
Since he was in the building for the whole day, he addressed my 9th grade general science classes for the last 20 minutes – I think it was the first time they had heard about applications of science in the “real world”. In my 5th period, I have a specific young gentleman who has the potential to be a lovely person, but has chosen bad friends and a worse attitude instead. When Officer Lemley began addressing the class, he asked the young man what career he would like to pursue. When my student answered the Army, Lemley told him that his attitude would not allow him to be successful. As the boy began to answer, “What attitude??!”, Lemley made him aware of the fact that he had been observing the class during our lecture time. The kid came up to me after class and whispered very softly, “Miss, I’ll never give you a hard time in class again!”. I then discovered that the kids thought Lemley was my personal friend and I had asked him to come in on account of their behavior – ha!
I am so glad I had Officer Lemley come to class – I am really looking forward to inviting more guest speakers soon!
Location: New England Forestry Foundation, Massachusetts
Job Description: The New England Forestry Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the conservation and sustainable management of the forest lands of New England. Work extends from Maine to Connecticut, with diverse forest types from northern hardwoods to pines and wetlands in rollings hills and mountains, with numerous streams and ponds. This position is designed to mentor future natural resource professionals focusing on forest conservation and management. It is structured to give exposure to a wide array of experiences in resource management.
Position Description: Interns gather data using GPS; monitor conservation easements, use GPS to map boundary line locations and use photo documentation of protected properties and compile basic maps of the properties (GIS, tax maps, topographic maps, etc.); conduct forest inventory, boundary maintenance, maintain trails and perform public outreach
Note: A close friend of mine recently worked with NEFF for three months. She attended college for Environmental Science and is planning to go to graduate school for Biology Conservation.
This weekend my husband and I went to Thomas Edison’s estate Glenmont in West Orange, NJ. This was not his home when he invented electricity, but a massive laboratory sits at the bottom of the hill. The laboratory will reopen from renovations fall 2009. Here are some highlights of the afternoon, as well as a slide show of all our pictures at the end of the post.
Our picture just before the tour started.
The back of the house with the beautiful lawn.
The large porch lined with lights.
Edison’s Laboratory. We couldn’t go inside because of renovations, but it opens again in the Fall 2009.
Thomas Edison and his wife are both buried on the property.
To see other interesting parts of our visit (including a portrait of the Lord Kelvin), check out this slide show.
While I was watching last night’s episode of The Colbert Report, I was pleased to see that Steven Colbert’s guest was Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, an Astrophysicist associated with the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
Dr. Tyson hosts the PBS show NOVA scienceNOW. He described the show as an opportunity to share all parts of science with the public in a way that is easy to understand and interesting. The show’s website has episodes and information listed by scientific category: Health & Biosciences; Natural & Human Worlds; Physics & Space Science; Scientist Profiles; and Technology & Math.
I clicked on the link to Physics and found a great page all about CERN, the particle physics laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland. Websites like this are so important in expanding science literacy. Even now as I am reading Dan Brown’s book Angel & Demons, I am frustrated that his depiction of physics and of CERN are inaccurate, fully knowing most readers won’t do any research to find what information is correct and what is not. I hope that programs such as NOVA scienceNOW will aid in correcting myths about science.
For more information on Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, visit his official website.