Archive | September 2013

Guest Speaker Reflection

One of the misconceptions that surprised me was in the video Dr. Edmondson showed. It was where the student had trouble understanding that gases have weight. I think the hands on activity of showing the student dry ice was a good idea but it didn’t click. I think maybe our experiment we do in front of the students will better show how carbon dioxide has weight, even as a gas.

I think students who don’t get the correct answers at a young age create their own, and those are hard to break them from. Nobody tells you when you’re young that the air weighs something. Or when teachers use metaphors like the plant breathes in CO2, those are hard to change. They are effective, because students really remember them. But then that train of thought is really hard to change later.  Sorry there’s a watermark on this picture, but I thought it fit what I’m talking about here. Wouldn’t it be easier if we taught kids the real reason for things at the start?

I think I will try to demand classroom attention by asking people questions. I don’t want to put people on the spot, but it might force them to be thinking about what I’m talking about. I may resort to asking people directly if I don’t get any volunteers, or if I get the same volunteers over and over again.

Also, in the lesson Dr. Edmondson talked about preparing a cheat sheet, which I think I am going to use. It seems like a good idea for me, so I am not looking at the screen the whole time. I have had to present Pecha Kucha style before (Where 20 slides cycle at 20 seconds each) so I feel pretty comfortable speaking without looking at the slides, but I had flashcards organized for each slide. Also, I am trying not to put too much on the screen, but it is hard, because there is so much information! I watch a lot of TedTalks so hopefully some of that will sink in, but I also found this website that outlines different styles of presentation, and video clips of people presenting (who are really good at it) Watching some of these different videos will hopefully help me understand how to limit what I put on the slide, and how my ideas should flow when I’m talking in front of everyone.

Ernst Haeckel’s Scientific Illustrations


I posted a few days ago about Christian Gottfried Ehrnber’s scientific drawings, and received a link to these:



They’re Ernst Haeckel‘s illustrations for an 1862 book on amoebas. Aren’t they pretty?

Thanks to La Encíclica.

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Dig It! The Secrets of Soil

Dig It! The Secrets of Soil

Forces_logoThis site is aimed at kids, but it is super cool. I especially like the “Greenhouse Gas Calculator” game that is on it, where kids can pick a crop, to till their fields or not, and whether or not to add pesticides. CO2 molecules rise (or don’t rise) out of the soil as you play the game until your emissions are calculated at the end. The current conditions tab lets you see sea surface temperatures, rainfall, and oceanic chlorophyll and vegetation. You can read about Virginia’s state soil, Pamunkey, and check out the tab for educators.

Also you can check out their main page, Forces of Change.

What If the World’s Soil Runs Out?


This is a “what if” interview from the World Economic Forum’s Risk Response Network. To view the rest of the series, click here.

It’s a strange notion, but some experts fear the world, at its current pace of consumption, is running out of useable topsoil. The World Economic Forum, in collaboration with TIME, talked to University of Sydney professor John Crawford on the seismic implications soil erosion and degradation may have in the decades to come.

Is soil really in danger of running out?

A rough calculation of current rates of soil degradation suggests we have about 60 years of topsoil left. Some 40% of soil used for agriculture around the world is classed as either degraded or seriously degraded – the latter means that 70% of the topsoil, the layer allowing plants to grow, is gone. Because of various farming methods that strip the soil of carbon and…

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A New XPRIZE: Tracking the Acidification of the Oceans

Science & Space

The idea that human activity could fundamentally change the chemistry of the oceans can seem preposterous. The oceans have a volume of around 1.5 billion cu km, and people have only visited a fraction of that space. No less an environmentalist than Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, thought the oceans so vast that human beings could never really change them.

If only that were true. Human beings have overfished the oceans, and pollution has ruined some of the great coral reefs that belt the tropics. Even more astounding is the fact that—through the burning of billions and billions of tons of carbon—humans have actually altered the chemistry of the oceans. The water has absorbed about 23% of all man-made carbon dioxide emissions, and much of that gas ends up as excess carbonic acid in seawater. As a result, the oceans are about 30% more acidic than they were…

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