Archive for February, 2009

Physics Games: Bubble Quod

I was browsing some internet games this evening and found this game. Great for discussions on momentum, center of mass, and basic mechanics!! The object of the game is to move your bubble up and over obstacles, ramps, and levers to the rusty nail in order to pop the balloon!

Multicultural Science: Bodies Exhibit

I am currently enrolled in an Urban Multicultural Science Education course. The gist of the course is to encourage teachers to include multicultural aspects of each lesson in order to be sensitive that all students in your science class do not have the same cultural background as yourself.

The following article is the perfect example. People in America have embraced the Bodies Exhibit, so it never occurred to me that some countries would question it like Poland has. That is, until I got half way through this article and remembered Poland sees this exhibit from the culture of the Holocaust. Teaching multiculturally just means being sensitive to other cultures…if I were teaching in Poland I would be must more discreet and think twice about bringing my students to this exhibit.
“Bodies” exhibition probed in Poland

By Gabriela Baczynska


WARSAW (Reuters) – Polish prosecutors are investigating whether a controversial exhibition displaying human cadavers amounts to desecration of the human body, a spokesman said Friday.


“Bodies… the exhibition,” which has toured a number of countries, consists of 13 corpses and around 250 body parts which have undergone a process known as “plastination” which preserves human tissue permanently using liquid silicone rubber.


“We are investigating this case to check whether the corpses were not desecrated and whether all procedures needed to mount such an exhibition in Poland were carried out,” a spokesman for the Warsaw prosecutors’ office, Mateusz Martyniuk, told Reuters.


The exhibition, which has also drawn criticism from some Polish politicians, is housed in a Warsaw shopping mall and is scheduled to run until mid-July. The organizers said they had met all legal requirements to bring it to Poland.


“The exhibition entered the European Union a few months ago and in line with all sanitary procedures, customs regulations and others,” said Agnieszka Rojewska from Media Metropolis, the public relations agency promoting the display in Poland.


She said more than 10,000 people had visited the exhibition since it opened a week ago. Its chief medical adviser is Roy Glover, professor emeritus of anatomy and cell biology at the University of Michigan.


Sanitary officials expressed concern. “Thirteen dead people appear out of the blue in the center of Warsaw. It provokes the deepest astonishment, amazement and suspicion,” said Deputy General Sanitary Inspector for Poland, Jan Orgelbrand.


He invoked the specter of the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz, located in southern Poland, where the remains of murdered Jews were used in the manufacture of various products.


“The human being is sacred… A ‘beautiful’ lamp made of human skin in Auschwitz is the riposte to the question of where the human being ends and where art begins,” he said.


Poland was home to one of the world’s largest Jewish communities before the Nazis slaughtered most of them during World War Two in camps such as Auschwitz, where some 1.5 million Jews from all over Europe were killed.


Comment among people viewing the exhibition was mixed.


“There are some critical opinions about this, but I don’t agree with them. That’s what we are like,” visitor Anna Jurek told Reuters.


Last year, the “Bodies” exhibition also stirred controversy in the United States. The promoter agreed to stop using remains of undocumented origin in the New York display after a probe by the state attorney general.


(Editing by Gareth Jones and Mark Trevelyan)

Reasonably Priced Laser Pointers

I was browsing the internet dreaming of getting a shiny laser pointer :o)

What I stumbled upon made me think about getting one now!!!’s listing of laser pointers is incredible (can be found HERE). I was most impressed that the green lasers, which are usually priced in the hundreds of dollars range due to the expense of manufacturing them, were between $30 and $50!!!
If you’re in the market for a laser pointer, check out!!
**Lesson ideas for laser pointers coming soon!

Young Scientist Competition

Middle School Science Challenge

Do you have what it takes to be America’s Top Young Scientist? Discovery Education and 3M are looking for a few great students to inspire us with their enthusiasm for science, so show us what you’ve got! Create a short (1-2 min.) video about one of this year’s scientific topics and YOU could win a trip to New York City to compete in the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge finals.

Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge is the premier national science competition for students in grades 5 through 8. The Young Scientist Challenge is designed to encourage the exploration of science and innovation among America’s youth and to promote the importance of science communication. In 1999, Discovery Communications launched the competition to nurture the next generation of American scientists at a critical age when interest in science begins to decline.

In 2008 3M joined forces with Discovery Education in a quest to nurture the next generation of American scientists with an innovative and interactive science program open to every middle school student in America. Over the last ten years, more than 600,000 middle school students have been nominated to participate in the competition, and winners have gone on to speak in front of members of Congress, work with the nation’s top scientists, and pursue academic careers in the sciences.
Now is your chance to participate! Visit
Young Scientist Challenge for details.

Semifinalists (up to 51 – one from each State and the District of Columbia)
$250 Cash
Plaque for Middle School
Plaque for Student’s Teacher

Finalists (10 – chosen from the Semifinalists)
An all expenses paid 2-night, 3-day trip, in late Sept., early Oct. for the student and ONE parent/guardian to New York, NY.
A YSC Medal
Special YSC finalist apparel
A chance to win various prize trips (in the past we’ve sent students to Space Camp, on a trip with Rangers at a National Park , etc).

First Place
All of the above (except for the $1,000) PLUS
$50,000 in U.S. Savings Bonds (Cash value $25K)
A trophy
The title of “America’s Top Young Scientist”

Comet viewing TONIGHT!

Tonight (2/23/09) is the best chance to view comet Lulin.

Get more information HERE.

New Nano Technology

Scientists make advances on “nano” electronics.

By Julie Steenhuysen

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Two U.S. teams have developed new materials that may pave the way for ever smaller, faster and more powerful electronics as current semiconductor technology begins to reach the limits of miniaturization.

One team has made tiny transistors — the building block of computer processors — a fraction of the size of those used on advanced silicon chips.

Another has made a film material capable of storing data from 250 DVDs onto a surface the size of a coin.

Both advances, published on Thursday in the journal Science, use nanotechnology — the design and manipulation of materials thousands of times smaller than the width of a human hair. Nanotechnology has been hailed as a way to make strong, lightweight materials, better cosmetics and even tastier food.

“We have demonstrated that we can make important technologies that are significantly smaller than existing devices,” Jeremy Levy of the University of Pittsburgh said in a statement.

Levy’s team created its nanotech transistors using two ceramic crystal materials known as lanthanum aluminate and strontium titanate. When sandwiched together, these natural insulators conduct electricity as a positive charge is passed across them.

Using the tip of an atomic force microscope, Levy’s team applied voltage to etch a tiny conducting wire between the two materials, which can later be erased by reversing the charge, much like a child’s Etch A Sketch drawing toy.

“The transistor we made is arguably the smallest one that has ever been produced in a deterministic and reliable fashion. And we did it using an instrument that can be miniaturized down to the size of a wristwatch,” Levy said in an e-mail.

He said the same materials can be used to make atom-sized transistors for computers, memory devices and sensors.

“In terms of simplicity, it’s striking,” Alexander Bratkovsky, a scientist for Hewlett-Packard Co who is familiar with the work, said in a statement.


Meanwhile, a team from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the University of California Berkeley said they had found a faster, more efficient way of making a thin semiconductor film that they think could dramatically improve data storage.

Many teams have tried to use polymers to create sheets of semiconductor films but the material often lost its structure when spread over large surfaces.

To overcome this, the team lead by Thomas Russell of the University of Massachusetts heated sapphire crystals to create a specific pattern of ridges on the surface. This served as a guide for the semiconductor film.

“We applied a simple concept to solve several problems at once, and it really worked out,” Russell said in a statement.

He said the technology could make nearly perfect arrays of semiconductor material that are about 15 times denser than anything achieved previously.

“With the densities we describe you could store 250 DVDs on a surface the size of a quarter,” Russell said in an e-mail.

(Editing by John O’Callaghan)

Original Article HERE


Middle School Engineering Contest

  WASHINGTON — Iceland’s economy may be on the ropes, but a group of middle-school students still envisions an eco-inspired day when the nation has housing units with reusable water systems and rooftop fields for farming or recreation.

With their scale model of this futuristic vision for Iceland, the team of eighth-graders from Bexley Middle School in Bexley, Ohio, won the 17th Annual National Engineers Week Future City Competition. The event challenges schools around the country to apply engineering solutions to modern problems.

A panel of judges grilled 38 teams of middle-school engineers at the final judging Wednesday. Each group was assigned to use recycled materials and a budget of $100 to build a model city that conserves, recycles and reuses water sources.

Abby Sharp, 14, part of the winning team, maintained a quiet demeanor even after winning.

“It’s shock. And a little bit of sleep deprivation,” Abby says.

Abby was joined by team members Tom Krajnak, 14, and Wyatt Peery, 13.

The team spent hours researching existing technologies — their least-favorite part of the competition, they said — before inventing realistic new technologies for their future city.

“Engineering is a terrific career choice for them, and we’ve helped them understand that,” says Greg Bentley, CEO of Bentley Systems, an engineering software firm that sponsored the event.

The second place team was from St. Thomas More School in Baton Rouge. Placing third: St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic School, South Miami.

The winning team receives a trip to U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala. The second- and third-place teams receive $5,000 and $2,000 scholarships, respectively, for their school’s technology programs.

“We focused a lot on not only the research, but how they worked together as a team,” says judge Allison Whatley, a nuclear surface warfare officer with the U.S. Navy. “This is, you can see, a massive task, to build a city from nothing.”


Original Article Found HERE


You Decide About the Hubble Space Telescope!

In the 400th year anniversary of Galileo’s observations, the HubbleSite is allowing everyone the opportunity to have input on the Hubble Space Telescope’s next misson.

National Science Teachers Association

Here’s the link for the National Science Teachers Association.

This website is great for resources. They have up to date articles on science and education in the U.S. as well as a comprehensive bookstore which includes some free resources!

Final Stimulus Plan

The following article is from the National Science Teachers Association:

NSTA Legislative Update 
February 13, 2009

Congress Approves Economic Stimulus Bill

One day after the U.S. Senate approved their version of the massive economic stimulus bill, Congressional leaders quickly reached agreement on a compromise version of the two chambers’ versions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. On Friday, February 13, the House approved the final stimulus bill by a margin of 246-183. No Republicans voted for the bill. The Senate followed suit and approved the bill by a vote of 60 to 38.

The final version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, estimated to cost $790 billion, contains significant funding increases for science and technology and for many education initiatives, including $53.6 billion for a fiscal stabilization fund which will allow states to maintain support for education at the same level as in previous years. Funding under the State Fiscal Stabilization fund includes $39.5 billion to local school districts via existing funding formulas which can be used for preventing cutbacks in school initiatives, preventing layoffs, and for school modernization and repairs; $5 billion that states can use as bonus grants for meeting key performance measures; and $8.8 billion for high priority needs, which can include modernization, renovation and repairs of school facilities.

The bill also provides $100 million for teacher quality grants under the Higher Education Act; $ 12.2 billion for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA); $13 billion for Title 1, and $650 million for educational technology state grants.

The final agreement also includes $3 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF) which includes $100 million for programs under the Education and Human Resources Directorate.

As reported in earlier issues of the NSTA Legislative Update, the $820 billion House bill passed on January 28 on a party line vote of 244 to 188 without a single Republican vote. The $838 billion Senate bill approved on February 10 by a 61 to 39 vote had the backing of three Republicans.

Article found HERE