Friday, July 29, 2011

Repost: Amazing Cell Biology Animations: From Mitosis and Meiosis to Photosynthesis

The last time I posted this link was FOREVER AGO!  However, it demands reposting, because John Kyrk is a genius. He has created so many beautiful animations--every animation you'd need to teach any biology class from Middle School Right up through High School (perhaps even AP) Biology.

Click here for his home page and a list of all of the animations he offers on his site.
This site has excellent animations that are especially well-suited for use on an interactive whiteboard. My personal favorites on this site are the mitosis/meiosis animations, which happen to be the first ones that he published. They are beautifully designed, uncluttered, elegant animations that can be translated into 6 languages (just click the "lips" icon on the upper right-hand side of the page).


The Connecticut Science Center--Teachers Go Free All Summer!!!

This summer, teachers can attend for FREE!  This is an amazing savings of $17 per day!  Click here to print the coupon.

For those of you who haven't yet heard, a world-class hands-on science museum opened in Hartford, CT in 2009 and it is amazing! They have four full floors (8 gigantic exhibits) of extraordinary, imaginative, engaging and high quality activities for all ages--I am a grownup and I love it there!  You don't have to be a science teacher to love it, though.  There are high and low-tech interactive exhibits covering every square inch of the place.  They even have a 3-D IMAX theater.

I encourage all teachers to plan a field trip here.  The Center was designed not only to entertain and teach, but to include highlights of all major science concepts in the state science curriculum:  Sound and Light, Electricity and Magnetism, Physical Science, Astronomy and Space Science, Simple Machines, Earth Science, Energy, and Human Anatomy and Physiology.  There is something there for each of my middle school students and I teach all three grades!  Click here to download the educator guide.

Remember, teachers go free all summer, so check it out with some teacher friends and have a lovely lunch at their cafe, which carries excellent local and organic salads and sandwiches in addition to the ubiquitous pizza and hotdogs for the kids. Check out the menu by clicking this link.

The Connecticut Science Center has the most excellent Lego table in the Invention Dimension Room.  My son and I made this cool drawbridge which drew appreciative commentary from a fellow (9 year old) builder. 

In addition this, they have large Rube Goldberg devices that use golf balls in place of marbles:

There is also a Robot Challenge where you can race a commercial production robot to complete a puzzle.  The robot gloats (Can a robot do this?  Yes, most definitely, it can!) if it wins and scolds you if you cheat.  If you beat him at his own game, he shows you up by completing two puzzles at once.

Keep in mind, this post describes only ONE ROOM of the Science Center!  I highly recommend this trip...we purchased a membership last year and it takes us an hour to drive there.  It is so worth it!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Daria Musk--the Second G+ "Hangout" Concert Ever Tonight at 7pm!

Daria Musk sent me this email today:

Hey Everyone!

I have some really insanely HUGE news to share with you!
Have you heard of Google+? It's Google's new social networking site (which is still in it's beta invite-only form).
Before last week I hadn't even heard of Google+, now because of it I've kinda gone viral on the internet and I've gained thousands of fans from all over the world!

Google+ changed my life last Saturday night. They have a cool "Hangout" feature where you can live video chat with up to 10 people at once... On July 16th I held what has now been officially called "The First Google+ Hangout Concert" for people from all over the world who were able to interact with me live!
There were so many hundreds of people trying to get into the concert that Google's top engineer and others were adjusting the tech on the fly by daisy-chaining the hangouts on their computers to work around the 10 person limit and get more people in! "Audience" members were kind enough to rotate out after a while to let other people "lined up around the block" into the 9 "front row seats" where I could talk to them, sing for them, see their world through the screen... and because I wanted to stay as long as there was an audience waiting I ended up playing for 6.5 hours straight!!!
Everything exploded after that... My email crashed three times... My phone has been ringing off the hook... 
My heart is bursting with joy and I'm forever changed. I can't tell you what it felt like playing for little girls in Australia, guys in Argentina, Sweden and Germany, Spain, India, Vietnam, ladies in the UK and Texas and more and more all at once. I could see their faces, talk with them. They clapped, gave standing O's and held up lighters during the ballads. :-)
I wasn't just recording a youtube video to send out into the void... Here were real people and I got to feel them reacting to the moment with me, I sang looking into their eyes like a friend even though I was miles and miles away. 
Even though I was in a little recording studio the woods in CT outside of NYC, as I played I got to see the sunrise in Norway (love to them today) through someone's screen (while I was singing my song "Foreign Cities"!), and see Sunday morning in Australia when it was nighttime here... Now I've got thousands of fans internationally, I got signed by Shakira's PR Firm, I'm on a first name basis with top engineers and execs at Google and I'm playing the 2nd Hangout Concert Saturday night (TONIGHT)!

And this time because of the demand for seats - in addition to the 9 "front row seats" where you can interact with me (Go to my G+ profile page: to get in)

- there will be UNLIMITED viewing for anyone and everyone at !

Here's a post I put up on G+ that explains everything about TONIGHT'S G+ HANGOUT CONCERT 2 and how to attend:

Here's a picture posted by an "audience" member from my first Hangout Concert in Norway (my heart goes out to him today - Thankfully he and his family and friends were unharmed in the senseless and terrifying attacks in Oslo. I will be singing for them all at my tonight's concert) who stayed up all night with us and set his laptop down in front of a window to get a picture of me playing with the Norwegian sunrise behind me.
The Press Picked Up The Story Too...!
Here's some of the coolest articles from the last couple days where I get mentioned as a top internet celeb to follow on G+ and I get mentioned as a young musician who's following perfectly what Richard Branson says young musician's should do, and I called as interesting as Wililam Shatner and Dane Cook! Lol! , , , 
Here's a post from a G+ fan (I call them G+niuses) who recorded the very last song after 6.5 HOURS:
Watch for lighters and cell phones waving from G+niuses in the little windows below! :-)

(Click the links they lead to the story on sites around the world)

China : zhangshuo (@zhangshuo)

音乐人 Daria Musk 利用 Google+ Hangouts 直播演出视频: 

独立流行音乐人Daria Musk最近潮流了一把,她和自己的乐队利用Google+的Hangouts
aliadodigital (@aliadodigital)
Daria Musk hace un webcast en vivo con Google+: Confirmando lo que habíamos 
anticipado sobre el potencia… #musica

kerascenemusic (@kerascenemusic)
Daria Musk uses Google+ for a live webcast: We’ve written about Google+ in recent weeks wondering 
how it might b…
NeoSting (@NeoSting)
Un premier concert live sur Google+ via Hangouts par Daria Musk

movadaltd (@movadaltd)
Hangouts can turn broadcasts into a two-way medium: Indie pop singer Daria Musk spent more than 
six hours in a G…

Paris, France:
lesindigenes (@lesindigenes)
Hangouts can turn broadcasts into a two-way medium: Indie pop singer Daria Musk spent more 
than six … @gigaom

pgsimoes (@pgsimoes)

via my #googleplus Hangout concert by +Daria Musk . What a great idea. ;) 
Daria Musk originall


shashank_singh (@shashank_singh)

Message at End of Daria Musk’s G+ Concert “OUR 6.5 HOUR G+ HANGOUT CONCERT HAS ENDED…”

SO COME VISIT ME ON G+ at:, if you need an invite to sign up replay to this 
email and I'll hit you back with one!
If you sign up today you'll have a chance of getting into tonight's Hangout Concert front row with me! 
And even if you do or don't sign up there will be UNLIMITED viewing for anyone and everyone at 

I start at 7PM Eastern US Time... But I plan on playing ALL night to meet as many of you as possible!
What a wild beautiful world. 
I truly want to thank all of YOU for supporting, loving and believing in me first.
We're on our way now to exciting new adventures and I can't wait to take you with me!
With gratitude and love,


Front Row Seats for All: The First-known Pro-level Google+ Hangout Virtual Concert Circles the Globe

From PRNewsWire:

A young musician with a big dream of reaching a global audience achieved it through Google's new Google+ Hangout technology

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn., July 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Pushing the limits of Google's new technology, singer/songwriter Daria Musk performed a 6.5 hour Google+ Hangout concert that became a worldwide phenomenon, ultimately reaching thousands of viewers around the globe, from Norway to Australia to Argentina. With the support of Google, whose Director of Engineering, Chee Chew, attended the Hangout and provided technical assistance throughout the concert, Daria performed all night for fans who created an etiquette of staying for a few songs before leaving the Hangout so that fans-in-waiting could jump in.

Overcome by the response from fans around the world and the media (the story has been picked up by CNN, Reuters and other international information outlets), Daria now prepares for round two, scheduling a second performance that she has described to her fans as a "Gl+bal G+thering of G+niuses" for this Saturday, July 23, at 7 p.m. ET, under the direction of Google's top engineers. Her innovative idea to give live concerts to online viewers has Google updating their newly launched Google+ Hangout technology, so that the young artist's performances circle the globe many times over.

"Google's new Hangout technology is a real game-changer for the music industry," said Sean Wolfington, owner of Tier 10 Marketing, which pioneered the digital marketing strategy for Grammy Award-winning musician Shakira. Since the concert, Wolfington's marketing and public relations agency now also represents Musk ( "Traditionally the record labels dictated which artists get exposure; however, this cutting edge technology introduces a whole new platform that talented artists like Daria can leverage to take control of their exposure."

As a result of her virtual concert, +DariaMusk has landed on the list of "Interesting People to Circle on Google+" on, which writes: "Musk is growing a grassroots following on Google+, and gives free concerts via Hangouts (Google+'s cool mass video chat feature). Add her if you like music."

From a technology perspective, Daria's concert changed how Google+ Hangouts are used and perceived. Post concert, Chew posted, "just had the privilege of attending the first known pro level Hangout jam session."

"We, at Google+, are passionate about bringing people together," said Chew to his Google+ network earlier this month. "For us on hangouts it's about really connecting small groups together face to face (to face to face), bringing people together from around the world in a new way. We all have a human need to connect and communicate."

To accommodate Daria's ever-increasing global audience, members of the Google+ fan community created, which will stream Saturday's concert to an unlimited number of fans around the globe. As a result, Daria's performance and interaction with those in the "Hangout" will remain as intimate as ever, while thousands in the overflow crowd watch the broadcast live.

About Daria Musk

With a set list of powerfully catchy songs, crafted with artistry, spunk and modern flair, soulful indie pop/rock artist Daria Musk is quickly becoming a fan favorite online and in person, receiving rave reviews for her recordings and live shows. Raised in a musical family, with a rebellious heart, an honest innocence, and a passion for playing, Daria developed a distinctive guitar and songwriting style that catches fire on stage and in the studio. Together with producer/composer/bass player R.A.M., Daria has gone from playing cafes to showcasing at festivals and major music industry events like SXSW, CMJ and Gathering of the Vibes. Daria has played to sold-out crowds at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston, New York City's Mercury Lounge, and Connecticut's beautiful Stage One. In just a few years, Daria's songwriting and talent have been recognized and awarded by the We Are Listening Singer/Songwriter Awards, the Starbucks Emerging Artist Competition, the International Songwriting Competition, the Gap's Born-To-Play Competition (voted #9 over-all out of 800+ artists), the Musician's Atlas Spotlight Artist, and she has been sponsored by the Taylor Guitars at SXSW 2009.

About Chee Chew
Chee Chew is Director of Engineering for Google, Inc., overseeing applications and client efforts at the company's Seattle and Kirkland offices. Prior to Google, Chee spent 14 years at Microsoft Corporation where he started as a code engineer on Windows 95 and Internet Explorer 3, 4 and 5, before transitioning to engineering leadership and filling the position of General Manager for Windows Mobile. Most recently, Chew has taken the lead on Google's new Google+ platform, which has generated 18 million followers since it was launched earlier this month.

About Tier 10 Marketing
Tier 10 delivers a holistic marketing system that integrates all 10 tiers of marketing under one roof, a system that is the antithesis of the traditional ad agency. Tier 10 specializes in helping media companies, global brands, automotive groups, films and international musicians implement results-oriented marketing strategies to increase their market share and profitability by building the brand, attracting more hi-quality opportunities, improving revenues and loyalty while reducing advertising costs. The company has successfully marketed feature films Bella, Blind Side, The Mighty Macs, and architected the entire digital marketing strategy for Grammy Award-winning musician Shakira, the most successful mainstream Latino artist in the world, and the producer of one of the most viewed YouTube videos in history with 365 million views. For more information, please visit


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

3-D Printer by MakerBot + = Instant Invention Entrepreneurs

The other day I logged in on Facebook to see that an old high school engineering-genius friend of mine, Geoff Wardman, had posted a link about an invention on  I was so impressed with his invention.  He has created these ingenious modular mounting systems that can be used anywhere and on anything and they are reusable and superstrong!  I was also taken with the technology that he used to create the prototypes, a 3-D printer called MakerBot.

He posted his project on Kickstarter to get funding for the first production run and he's 1/3 of the way there!  I support you, and Good Luck!

Kickstarter just reached a milestone of 10,000 projects that were successfully funded and launched!  What a place for entrepreneurs to find some venture capital on the web!

The MakerBots were equally impressive--if you have no idea what a 3-D printer can do or what a MakerBot is, please check this out:


Monday, July 11, 2011

Yes, I am a Science Teacher, but everyone needs a little MAGIC sometimes.

This Saturday, in between Rocketry Camp and visiting the amazing Connecticut Science Center, my children and I spent a magical afternoon at the Fairy Wings and Shiny Things Scavenger Hunt at The Sanctuary in Ridgefield, CT.  This event was created and hosted by Wendy McLean and Ellie Kirk, founders of Conscious Parenting Seminars.

My two young boys (4 and7) aren't into fairies in general, but they have a respect and appreciation for nature and, of course, Harry Potter-style wizardry.  So we got into the magical mood by watching Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone on Amazon Instant Video, donned wizarding robes and hats and created wands especially for the occasion.

What an amazing afternoon!  They had two scavenger hunts, for older and younger kids, a lovely garden-party snack time, crafts and time to meet and talk to the Fairy Queen.

For grownups, just sitting down and absorbing the beauty of the Sanctuary was worth the participation fee!  Hidden behind the big green gates on North Salem Road is this extraordinary Garden:

Wendy and Ellie have promised to make the Scavenger Hunt an annual or biannual event.  Yay!  See you at the next one next year!

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Last Space Shuttle Launch. July 8, 2011, STS-135 Atlantis. Why does the countdown take so long?

Watching a space shuttle launch with small children can be really frustrating!
The countdown clock has all of these built-in holds that seem to last FOREVER.
For instance, Rex was so excited this morning about the launch.  There is an astronaut aboard named Rex Walheim today, too (from left to right in the photo: Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim).

So when the countdown clock...the big one...the one they show on TV, got to 20 minutes, my son freaked out!  I tried to explain that when the clock got to T-minus 9 minutes they were going to stop the clock for 41 minutes, but that explanation fell on deaf ears.  Besides, I couldn't answer the question, "Well, why would they do that?".  So, I looked it up.

First of all, there are two countdown clocks (from

Why Are There Two Different Countdown Clocks?
Time Until Launch:
simple countdown clock This clock is a simple, real-time countdown to the scheduled launch time. It will be reset as soon as possible in the event of a delay. After launch, the clock will run forward, recording mission elapsed time (MET).

Official Countdown Clock:
official countdown clock This is a virtual replica of the official countdown clock at the launch site at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. It begins T-43 hours and counting mark before launch and mirrors the real clock by pausing during the various built-in holds during the countdown. For an explanation of the built-in holds, read "Countdown 101".

On the page called "Countdown 101", it explains all the built-in holds.  Right now, as I write this, we are at "T-minus 9 minutes and holding".  It is July 8, 2011 and the time is 10:49 a.m. EST.  So, this is the final sequence of events that is going on:

T-9 minutes and holding
This is the final built-in hold, and varies in length depending on the mission.
  • Final launch window determination
  • Activate flight recorders
  • Final "go/no-go" launch polls conducted by NASA Test Director, Mission Management Team and launch director
T-9 minutes and counting
  • Start automatic ground launch sequencer
  • Retract orbiter access arm (T-7 minutes, 30 seconds)
  • Start auxiliary power units (T-5 minutes, 0 seconds)
  • Arm solid rocket booster range safety safe and arm devices (T-5 minutes, 0 seconds)
  • Start orbiter aerosurface profile test, followed by main engine gimbal profile test (T-3 minutes, 55 seconds)
  • Retract gaseous oxygen vent arm, or "beanie cap" (T-2 minutes, 55 seconds)
  • Crew members close and lock their visors (T-2 minutes, 0 seconds)
  • Orbiter transfers from ground to internal power (T-50 seconds)
  • Ground launch sequencer is go for auto sequence start (T-31 seconds)
  • Activate launch pad sound suppression system (T-16 seconds)
  • Activate main engine hydrogen burnoff system (T-10 seconds)
  • Main engine start (T-6.6 seconds)
  • Solid rocket booster ignition and liftoff!


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Rocket Camp!

I decided to run a Rocketry Camp this summer for the first time in TWELVE YEARS!  It was a lot of work, but lots of fun.  A special thanks to my volunteer middle-school helpers, Zach and Adam, and a big hug to my assistant, Dana. I couldn't have done it without you!

All reviews from parents and campers were AWESOME!  Would you like to run a rocketry camp?  If you have some experience with rocket building and launch, give it a try!   This is the agenda I put together for my camp along with many links to resources that I used.

Rocketry Camp Agenda  June 27-July 1  Blast Off!  click here to view in google docs

Monday, June 27
  • Aero Rocket construction—rocket kits, tacky glue, sandpaper, scissors, pencils, white pencils, xacto knives.  Then, leave to dry.
  • Alka Seltzer Rocket construction and launch (inside)—film canisters, paper, notecards, tape, scissors, Alka Seltzer tablets, copies of the 1-2-3 Pop! worksheet from the Educator’s Guide
Tuesday, June 28
  • Photos of campers with Rockets--camera
  • Aero Rocket Loading and Launch—engines, charge batteries, recovery wadding, igniters, launch pads, heat glue guns for emergency repairs
  • 9:30 Snack
  • Begin Alpha construction—rocket kits, tacky glue/containers, sandpaper, pencils, scissors, rulers, exacto knife (teacher/assistant only)
11:30-1:00 Lunch and Outside Playtime—print out photos from AM
  • 30 minutes of I Love Rockets movie
  • Astronaut/Egg Drop construction—recyclables, masking tape, rubber bands, aluminum foil, eggs, scissors, string, bubble wrap, cereal boxes, etc.  Each person can “shop” for 5 items ONLY (it’s like having a budget--NASA has one, too!)
  • Astronaut Egg Drop—bring a trash bag to pick up the stuff.
  Wednesday, June 29
  • Straw Rocket Construction and Target Practice
  • Snack and outside playtime
  • Continue Alpha Construction
11:30-1:00 Lunch and Outside Playtime
Thursday, June 30  
  • Finish Bottle rockets-launch
  • Snack
  • Painting Alpha Rockets—first coat--safety goggles and masks; spray paint and sheets of newspaper.  The newspaper is rolled up into a long narrow cone to insert into the engine mount of the rocket--a handle for spraypainting!
  • Astronaut craft--on large paper, trace each student in whatever position, then use craft materials to decorate a flight suit or space suit.  Glue, tissue paper, markers, scissors, and craft materials like paint, ribbons, foil, etc.
11:30-1:00 Lunch and Outside Playtime
  • Astronaut/Egg Drop II—The Rematch!!!!--in teams this time, and they can use 7 items instead of 5 items.
  • snack
  • Painting Alphas—masking and second coat of spray paint--masking tape
Friday, July 1
  • Photos of campers with their rockets--camera
  • Alpha Loading and Launch
  • Outdoor Playtime (we’re already outside)
  • Build a Launch Tower Activity--photos of launch towers that use triangles to support, 1 bag of mini marshmallows per team, large paper (for workspace) and at least one box of toothpicks per team (older kids will work faster and therefore need more)
11:30-1:00 Lunch and Outside Playtime
  • Alpha Reloading and Relaunch
  • Group Photos
  • Balloon cars--see the NASA Educator’s Guide
Other activities in case you have more time:
These have a Buzz Lightyear theme, but you can find them without the Buzz pictures if you like.
1. Load the Shuttle Activity
  1. Toys in Space Activity
  1. Putting it all together
Favorite Movies to show while we are constructing anything (depending on the age group):
Muppets in Space
Space Jam
Bugs Bunny/Marvin Martian episodes
Star Wars
Apollo 13 (older kids--some language)
October Sky (older kids--some language)