Archive for January, 2010

Bring a retired space shuttle to NYC!

I’ve posted several times on the Intrepid Museum in NYC. It’s pretty cool.

It could be way cooler! There’s a petition for one of the space shuttles about to be retired to be added to the already wonderful collection at the museum.

Head to the Intrepid’s website to sign the petition!!

Homeschooling Science

I read a post by a homeschooling mom/friend this morning and her struggles with teaching science since she does not feel confident in her own identity as a scientist (this is assuming the definition of scientist is one who does or learns science). Last year they had a great experience with a local science co-op, but had a scheduling conflict this year, so they are on their own for science curriculum.

Her decisions with for curriculum and activities were actually exactly what I would have recommended. She has a homeschooling science curriculum that covers a wide variety of elementary school science topics. She also encourages her girls to find books at the library related to the topic they are studying and is constantly giving them writing prompts related to the topic. Without even realizing it, she is training her girls to be scientifically literate.

Her next step is to incorporate activities and experiments. When studying wind and weather, they made pinwheels and even created their own clouds .

MAKE YOUR OWN CLOUDS: In order to make your own clouds, melt some ice cubes in a pan and watch the steam that is created. Once you’ve got plenty of steam, hold another pan above the first and watch as the steam condenses. This is a great at-home simulation of cloud formation!

I encouraged her to check out the following websites for more ideas:

The internet is a fantastic resource and has so many great ideas!


Sci Ed Innovations Conference

A friend and I were privileged to be in attendance at NYU’s inaugural Sci Ed Innovators Day. There were very interesting speakers as well as a poster presentation session by New York City middle and high schoolers. The entire day was in the honor of Jhumki Basu, an NYU professor who passed away a year ago and whose life mission was to improve science education in NYC.

Before I share some of what I learned, I just have to share two moments that were absolutely hysterical (or at least I thought so!):

NYU’s president kept mentioning the world-wide campus they are developing and kept mentioning Agra. My friend asked where Agra is and all I could guess is it must be near Agrabah, where Aladdin lives. Just then, the president said, “It’s hard to do Organic Chemistry in Agra.” Haha, I didn’t realize Aladdin was so into O. Chem!

Later in the day, a presenter from Cisco was commenting on how technology has transformed education: “…you had to be a monk or an Aristocat to have knowledge.” Yup, he said Aristocat. I didn’t realize Disney movies and science education had so much in common :)

Joking aside, it was a conference rich in information. Members of the Ashoka social entrepreneurs company presented their ChangeMakers website: a website full of social issues that can be solved by organization (sort of like a grant project for competitive people).

NYU’s Steinhart School of Education is revamping their program to focus on training teachers through “serious play” – using exploration to learn and not just traditional paper, pen, lecture, test, etc. Along with their partnership with the Jhumki Basu Foundation, Steinhart is developing Sci-Ed.net (still under construction) as a resource for science teachers in under-served areas.

Astronaut Lee Morin was the keynote speaker and I learned so much:

  • When in orbit, a shuttle moved at 5 mi/sec…yes, that’s 5 MILES PER SECOND!
  • The aurora borealis looks even more amazing from space.
  • NASA employs artists to render images of new technology and missions that are still being developed. Therefore, artists must be scientifically literate.
  • Lee Morin was part of the “grandfather’s walk” – the first ever space walk of only grandfathers :)
  • Lee Morin is funny: “Is a bulldozer on the moon still called an earth mover?”
  • NASA is developing technology to make regolith (the dust covering the moon) into a glass that could be used to build space colonies – this is extremely important because a major issue of space colonization is the fact that a shuttle needs an incredible amount of fuel to get to space and, therefore, can only carry a small mass in its payload bay.
  • NASA has TONS of resources for teachers.

friend, Lee Morin (astronaut), and myself

Other fun little bits from the day include an amazing video of the future of magazines:

I’ve never been a proponent of electronic textbooks, but if they are made to be interactive like this, I might be convinced to change my mind!

Lastly, we were introduced to the Apple Store Kid. I have no words, you’ve just got to watch for yourself:

Can you believe this kid just went into the Apple Store, recorded this, and posted it to YouTube? So cool :)

If you’re in the NYC area, keep your eyes open for future Sci Ed Innovators events!

Momentum: Crash Test Lesson Plan

New lesson plan on using students’ knowledge of kinematics, momentum, and impulse to evaluate crash tests.

Check it out here or on the lesson plans page.

Over The Top Award

Ms Frizzle recently received an Over The Top Award from Cheese Grits! I was honored to be recognized by her for my determination to better at teaching science.

The idea of the award is to pass it along to three bloggers you admire and whose work is truly over the top! For me, there were only three contenders, so it made the picking easy!

And the winners are…Scott, Rachel Anne, and Joe!

Since I was given this award as Ms Frizzle, I’d better start with Scott at Physics & Physical Science Demos, Labs, & Projects for High School Teachers, who is definitely over the top! He’s a Physics and Physical Science teacher in Philly who writes on a variety of topics related to teaching, science, and teaching science! I love that he doesn’t take anything too seriously, but also has extremely valuable resources. I’ve gleaned so much from Scott’s writing and am always excited to see what he has to write next! I tried to find a single post to link to, but everything’s so good that you’re just going to have to do the exploring yourself!

Next is Home Sanctuary; one of those fantastic home and crafty blogs that I love to read. What makes Rachel Anne over the top is her Small Things post. Nearly every day she posts a “small thing” to do:  sort through a pile, pick up shoes, clean up crumbs, etc. You get points for completing the task – such a fun way to keep up on all those little tasks! The other thing that’s so neat is her creation of Company Girls – a way small blogging community. A really neat way to be in touch with other bloggers. Way to go Rachel Anne!

Last, but certainly not the least is I Agree With Joe. I promise that the fact that Joe’s a cousin has absolutely no effect on his receiving the award – although I’ve got to admit I’m really glad we’re related! Joe’s always got something to say that makes me laugh for days. He works mostly with teens and young adults and relates to them really well, especially with his awesome music videos and photo shop adventures! I definitely agree with Joe!

Please take some time to visit these three over the top blogs, leave them some comments, and subscribe to their posts. I know they would appreciate it!

Pictures in Posts?

I’ve been wondering about putting pictures of students and their work on the blog. What’s the right way to go about this, if any? What do you think about putting that kind of information/media online?

Student Teaching Week 1

I apologize for the lack of blogging. That’s all about to change since I’ve started student teaching and my last semester of graduate school!

For my first week of high school student teaching (actually, only two days), I observed the Physics students’ midterm presentations. They were given the assignment to pick a topic related to what they studied first semester and create a presentation in small groups that covered conceptual questions, mathematical questions, historical and content background, and real world applications relating to their topic. The presentations I sat in on covered the following topics:

  • Hang Gliding (including lift and drag)
  • Momentum (with a video of a Rube Goldberg contraption)
  • Mechanical Energy & Windmills
  • Physics of Baseball
  • Physics of Volleyball
  • Physics of Football and the Work Involved
  • Physics of Soccer
  • Newton’s Laws & Roller Coasters
  • Energy & Momentum of Ninjas (they discussed impulse and how more or less force and time change the effectiveness of martial arts and the elastic potential energy in the Yumi – a ninja’s crossbow-like weapon)
  • Physics of Falling People (including scenes from Get Smart to show the effect of changing surface areas)
  • Catapults (a look at midievil and modern catapults)
  • Physics of Superheros (this was great! They associated the coefficient of friction with Spiderman’s spiderhairs for climbing and discussed tension on a string with Batman’s Bat-A-Rang)

It was really fun to get to know students through their presentations and has provided a natural way for me to start asking them questions and assume a role within the classroom. They gave me lots of ideas for new lesson plans, which is handy since I’m required to write one a week for my student teaching seminar.

There was one really funny moment when I asked one of the roller coaster presentations a question at the end. I asked them if they thought it was possible to construct a roller coaster in an infinite loop where the coaster could go around an infinite number of times, providing it started at a place where the potential energy was greatest. I quickly realized my cooperating teacher had forgotten to introduce me when a student (not even one presenting) starting to explain Physics to me – he told me what potential and kinetic energies was and illustrated it with a bouncing ball, describing each successive bounce of the ball as “losing” potential energy. Therefore, he reasoned, the roller coaster couldn’t go infinitely because energy cannot be created. I tried so hard not to giggle and just smiled and nodded. I’m still laughing since he was so excited to teach that random lady in the corner Physics. I’ll be interested in seeing all their faces when the new semester starts and they realized I’m their student teacher :)

I’m wondering how many of you have had students who were convinced they have more content knowledge than you. How do you handle it?