Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Yale Fellowship Day #1: Earth Science Animation Resources and Using Science Notebooks Resources

So, kids, here I am at Yale University with the Planetarium Director and Education and Astronomy people.
I am going to post for you some (or as many as I can) of the resources we are using:


  1. Okay, on this one, scroll down.  
  2. If you click on "Coordinates and Motions", and (let it load). 
  3. On the Splash Page, click on "Animations" at the bottom of the page.
  4. It gives you TONS of astronomy animations that address the question, "What are the reasons for the seasons".

This is a BETA site...I don't think you can Google it.  So this one's probably new for all of you!
Try clicking "Visualizations" under #3.

Lecture: Christopher Stone    "A Science Notebook Primer"

--a tool in your toolbelt for improving student accountablility and achievement
--using them to inform your instruction (formative assessment)
--engaging students in meaningful "conversation" about science topics (Fulton/Campbell are researchers on how this works to improved learning)

Click this link for a file of articles (ideas, rubrics, worksheets, etc.) from science education publications on the topic.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Teaching Debate with Hydraulic Fracturing or Fracking

I recently received a comment (that I did not post on my blog) about my recent post that was entitled "Teaching Earth Science and Hydraulic Fracturing". The comment read "Do you teach your students to look at both sides of an issue?" and provided a link to a rebuttal "movie" to the Gasland film. I didn't watch the rebuttal.

I never click on links that I'm not sure of, and I sure as heck don't post comments from anonymous people on my blog. If you have a comment worthwhile to post, you have an identity, or at the very least a profile that would allow contacting you for intelligent dialogue.  I love debates!

If you'd like to have a debate in your class on hydraulic fracturing, try this fantastic point/counterpoint article "Should Fracking Stop?:   Extracting gas from shale increases the availability of this resource, but the health and environmental risks may be too high.   It was published in the peer-reviewed journal "Nature".  It is a good guideline for concepts, ideas, good science and a bibliography of resources for older students.

I'll answer that question anyway. "Do I teach my students to look at both sides of an issue?". Yes, I do. Teaching students to absorb facts without encouraging and nurturing their critical thinking skills is useless and can be downright harmful--especially in the age of the Internet, the tabloid press and political ads.

I do not teach "anti-natural gas harvest" rhetoric. Educational studies have shown that when a teacher uses the kind of teaching techniques that would allow heavy inserting of his/her own ideals into discussion that it inhibits critical thinking (Kimbrough, 2007; Oliver and Lalik, 2004).  This is not good teaching.

Harvesting our country's natural resources and being ecologically responsible are not mutually exclusive activities

It is exactly that mindset that has politicized environmental care and stewardship from the start. There is nothing political about it. Humans will not survive if we carpet-bomb the atmosphere and poison our water sources.  So I encourage my students, their parents, my friends and family and my readers (that's you) to contact their congresspeople and tell them what they think of it all.

I am a scientist and a teacher.  I teach my students to look at all available (reliable) data and then to come up with solutions, ideas, causes and relationships and then to test again.  I also teach them that ANYTHING is possible.  Even hydraulic fracturing without chemicals that destroy aquifers and make residential and farmlands uninhabitable.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Teaching Earth Science and Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking) Awareness

Today, I was writing curriculum for my Earth Science class.  I wanted to include some current news and issue to study about how humans are living with and/or affecting geologic events.  My focus was primarily on the earthquakes that can be associated with hydraulic fracturing techniques used to recover natural gas from shale deposits.  What the frack?  I was very disturbed by the reading and research that I did.  I guess I am wondering why it is totally necessary for the drilling companies to use hundreds of thousands of gallons of poison mixed with water for the drilling?

Most disturbing finding:  that in 2005, Congress passed legislation making hydraulic fracturing companies exempt from many key regulations in the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act?  I immediately made some calls to all of my congressmen about regulating the pollution created.

Regardless of my own personal convictions, as a science teacher, I believe it is my responsibility to present a current scientific controversy and teach students to think critically about it.  This means thinking about it from both sides and coming to a conclusion on your own.  This fantastic article called "Should Fracking Stop?" that was published in the peer reviewed journal Nature provides source-cited point and counterpoint.

"Extracting gas from shale increases 
the availability of this resource,
but the health and environmental risks may be too high."


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Spectacular Sunset Effects in Manhattan on July 11 & 12, 2012

Sunset in New York City on July 11 & 12, 2012 will be spectacular!  The sunset on these days are aligned perfectly with the grid of streets and buildings in Manhattan giving photo-opportunities that are worthy of museum walls!

This is a photo that Neil deGrasse Tyson (the planetarium director at the Hayden Planetarium) took in 2001: 

Tyson has dubbed the effect: "Manhattanhenge", likening it to the solar observatory effects (lining up on the solstices) of the ancient stone circle Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain in England.  For more details, click here.
On the 12th of July you will see a half-sun: half above the horizon and half below at 8:25 PM.  On the 11th of July you can see the full disk of the sun at 8:24 PM.  However, you should definitely find your viewing spot a little earlier. so you can watch it come into view.

There is a special presentation on July 11 at the planetarium that will be followed by a live viewing of Manhattanhenge outside the museum.

Viewing suggestions from the AMNH website:
 "For best effect, position yourself as far east in Manhattan as possible. But ensure that when you look west across the avenues you can still see New Jersey. Clear cross streets include 14th, 23rd, 34th. 42nd, 57th, and several streets adjacent to them. The Empire State building and the Chrysler building render 34th street and 42nd streets especially striking vistas."


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

What a great way to celebrate my 30,000th hit!

That was just so supremely cool! After one day, and just a couple of handfuls of ad clicks, we just raised enough to send $35.12 to Heifer Project International. It's enough to donate TWO flocks of chicks to families with children-- This will change their lives for generations and change the lives of the people in their community! Read how it works: "In Tanzania, Omari and Kulwa were struggling to raise a family on just 50 cents a day. With the training and chicks they received from Heifer, egg sales have boosted their daily income to $2, so they can now buy food and still pay school fees. Now, through passing on the gift, all of the children in their village are going to school." Thank you so much for making this happen! I'll post an update when I get the donation confirmation

Monday, July 2, 2012

2 more clicks=4 more dollars!

We're at 9 dollars and counting!  Keep clicking on those ads!

Three hours, 20 pageviews and 2 ad clicks=$4.27

If we can keep this up, in less than a WEEK we'll have more than $500 which is enough to donate an entire heifer to a family.  AMAZING!  Let's go team!  Keep clicking on those ads!  I know the ad clicks generate way more revenue than the pageviews so don't forget to do that if you really want to make the most of your time.

Experiment: let's see how much money we can get from clicking ads on my blog and send it to Heifer International

Click Away on those ads, People!  Let's click our way to a whole cow!

So, on the eve of my 30,000th lifetime blog hit, I wanted to do something special.  Let's donate to charity!  Here's how we're going to do it:  I sent out links on my Google+ feed and my LinkedIn feed (I don't have a Twitter feed, but feel free to tweet this) about getting the 128 more pageviews it will take to get me over 30,000.  I get nothing from the transaction but satisfaction of hitting a numerical milestone.

So, I checked my AdSense account.  I was going to remove the ads, because let's face it, I thought.  I'll probably never get a check from them.  THEN IT HIT ME:  Leave the ads.  In fact, let's put MORE of them in there.  Then, send a message to the universe that any AdSense check I get (I've never gotten one--I don't even really know how it works) will go straight to my favorite charity:  Heifer Project International.  

My goal is to be able to donate a Heifer, but maybe that is too modest a goal for such an amazing community.  I'll post on my AdSense account progress as you guys click like crazy on the ads...you just never know...