Monday, May 31, 2010

Paperless Science Fairs: Other Options besides Google Docs

Kelly Bell is a science teacher with a Paperless Mission!   I sooooooooooo appreciate her.  I also did a quasi-paperless science fair this year with Google Docs (all of our 8th graders are 13 or older), but we have 450 students in the 8th grade and in order to have the projects presented all together at the same time, we had a traditional tri-fold-display fair night.  We simply do not yet have the technology to support a paperless "Exposition" event.

Some of her ideas are similar to mine, like setting up your website to serve as a sort of "database" for due dates and downloadable items (worksheets, templates, rubrics, etc.)...Here's an idea to add to that:  how about a timeline/checklist that combines all that? See here: My Project Checklist page

However, Ms. Bell has gone many, many steps further and put together her tech "tutorial" lessons into a Google Presentation that her kids can view online.  It's called "Need Help?" It is intended to be a resource for STUDENTS as a set of reminders on how to do some of the important technology-based steps of the project.  It includes instructions on how to use an online graphing tool (we use Google Spreadsheets--if they know how to use Excel, they're good to go!) from the NCES site, and a terrific Works Consulted tool called BibMe.

I love BibMe

"BibMe is a free automatic bibliography generator that supports MLA, APA, Chicago, and Turabian formatting. BibMe leverages databases provided by Amazon, FindArticles, Yahoo! News, and CiteULike to quickly and accurately AutoFill citation information for you. BibMe will then format the citation information according to the rules and guidelines of the style guides. If you prefer, you can enter your citation information manually. BibMe also contains a quick citation guide to show students the correct syntax for citing in various formats."

Here are links to my other posts on Science Projects:

Mar 25, 2010
I have several posts to offer on this topic, and will be deluging you with ideas and tips, but here's my very first one: Science Buddies. WOW! There are approximately 10 to the 5 billionth science project sites out there,
Mar 25, 2010
Rocket Aerodynamics is a sample project from Science Buddies. If you look in the right hand side of the page, it gives you time estimates and cost estimates. It also coaches on number of trials, averaging, controlling variables and a ...
Apr 12, 2010
I did promise to give you lots of ideas for science fair projects. My use of Google Docs for my students projects (along with ScienceBuddies) has REVOLUTIONIZED my grading* (posting on that at a later date) and made it much easier for ...


Friday, May 28, 2010

Which type of microscope should you buy for your child?

I had a parent ask me today "My 10 year old daughter asked me for a microscope for her birthday.  What type of microscope should I buy?".

First, you need to decide if you want a toy microscope (typically any microscope under $100) or a student scope.  If you buy a toy scope, you must keep your expectations in the "toy expectation" range.  For instance, buying a toy scope and expecting the performance that you experienced from the microscopes typically used in schools (usually at least $200 and up) is unreasonable. However, toy microscopes are excellent for engaging the new user and testing the waters for interest in microscope use.  Some toy microscopes are quite pricey!  For example, the Celestron "Research" Microscope sells for $134 on Amazon!

Also consider this:   if you buy a toy scope and your child becomes very interested in using it regularly, they will quickly outgrow the capabilities of the toy microscopes and then you'll need to buy the student versions.

Student scopes are designed to withstand years of use by many students and teachers and, with appropriate, periodic servicing by a professional, maintain performance.  Accuscope is an excellent example of some basic, student microscopes.

You also need to decide whether you want a compound microscope (shown above), or a stereoscope (shown below).

A simple way to decide which you'd like to use is this:
1. If you can see it with your naked eye, but want to see it in much more detail, you want a stereoscope.
2. If you can't see it with your naked eye, then you MUST buy a compound microscope.

To save money, buy a microscope with a mirror lighting system (uses reflected light to illuminate the speciment).  However, built-in lighting systems are worth the extra expense (exerpted from Optics Planet):  

"If budget is an issue, you can opt for a student model that uses a mirror, instead of a built-in light, but a built-in light is well worth the extra expense. For a student model with a mirror, try the Celestron 44102 or the Konus College (Note that the tiny LED lights found on some toy microscopes do NOT qualify as a useable lighting system and will have a predictably short lifespan.)"


Thursday, May 13, 2010

You Tube 101: Private Sharing Tutorial by The NINJA

Okay, I'm sort of starting to have a Ninja theme to my posting.  This is my second ninja post in three weeks!

So the other day in class, some of my students produced a music video called "Down to the Sound":  it's all about the Geological History of Long Island Sound (glaciers, moraines, kettle lakes, etc.).  They choreographed, shot, edited, wrote the lyrics to and SANG to the tune of Jay Sean's Down.  These amazing students gave me a copy of their chef d'oeuvre  ('masterpiece' in french) and I wanted to share it with other teachers in my school, but it was too large to fit through the filters on my network email so I needed to upload it to the web.

However, for those of you who read my post on COPPA there are privacy issues--my students are young.  So, I shared the item privately.

Instead of putting together my own tutorial, watch this one: It's WAAAAAAAAAAY funnier than I could ever be and it stars a Ninja!  This tutorial is so funny, I laughed out loud:  belly laugh, head thrown back, losing-my-breath, laughing.

These are the lyrics to the song my students wrote, but I'm not going to post a link to the video because it's PRIVATE, duh!


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

SMART Notebook Lesson bank

Okay, so there are many of you out there with a SMART board who don't know that there are SMART-created lesson banks out there for any subject area (even foreign language)! GAsP!  Since this is a science-oriented blog, I will provide the links to the science lessons:


The link above will bring you to the lesson pages for lessons geared towards secondary students.  However, if you click on the "breadcrumbs" towards the top of the page, you can backtrack through my search to the motherlode of elementary science lessons, or those geared towards middle level students.

You'll notice at the middle of the list there is a recommended version of Notebook, and the newer lessons are more slick and polished, and generally (though not always) have more interactive features built in.  Once the lesson is downloaded (click on the link directly below the text that says Download this Lesson Activity).  Don't bother downloading or searching for the Senteo question sets unless you have the Senteo responders.

All of these lessons are RTU (ready to use), but are also FULLY EDITABLE!  Which means that you can make minor (or major) changes to many, if not all, parts of the lesson to customize it.  Have fun and good luck!

There is also a SMART-endorsed Lesson Exchange here, where you can sign up and trade lessons with other board users all over the world.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Playlist Middle Earth: Rock On With Your Bad Elf!

For those of you who haven't followed my blog, I am not only the Science and Technology Lady; I am also the co-advisor for the club Middle Earth at my school, which celebrates "all things Lord of the Rings".  This week, we listened to music inspired by the J.R.R. Tolkien trilogy that I compiled in a most-excellent YouTube playlist.  I found most of the titles in a Wikipedia entry that included the popular culture influences of the work.

There's something for most (not all) people here from Led Zeppelin's "Misty Mountain Hop" and Black Sabbath's "The Wizard" to the more tame Enya "May it Be" (in Elvish/English with subtitles) and operatic compositions from the Tolkein Ensemble.

Oh, there's also a little clip of Liv Tyler at a press conference, speaking Elvish.



Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Photosynthesis Rap by Rhythm Rhyme Results

CLICK HERE to download the lyrics.

Free Smartboard Lesson on Hypoxia--amazing video links for Discovery Education and the NOAA Visualization Laboratory!

This lesson covers hypoxia in LIS and the Gulf of Mexico.  Click here to download.  For those Chesapeake bay-ers, just add a few slides and you're good to go!  Last slide is a Sentence Order Sort for the sequence on how hypoxia occurs.

If you don't have a SMART Board, and you just want the video links, here they are:

NOAA Visualization Laboratory--Creation of the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico

Discovery Education--Hypoxia, the O2 Blues--about 20 minutes, covers LIS, Gulf and Chesapeake Bay

Video clip on Density Layering (30 seconds):   This video shows the use of the Density Flow can buy this from

Dead Zone Video clip from