Ruxz_M-rbu5hJUPoenSULdy6Wzk The Science of My Life: January 2012

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Birding Lecture at CSI Thursday night

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012
7:00 pm
Shields 201, College of Southern Idaho
Join Prairie Falcon Audubon for another fabulous presentation by Chuck Trost, retired professor of ornithology at ISU. Last February Dr. Trost undertook what he describes "as a pilgrimage to chase one of my heros, Alfred Russell Wallace. Wallace was the father of biogeography, and in 1858, while suffering from malaria fever, he penned a letter to Darwin describing natural selection as the mechanism for evolution of new species. It must have blown Charlie's mind, as he got off his rear and published Origin of Species the next year." Dr. Trost is a world-class birder, educator, and adventurer and I guarantee that you will enjoy your evening with him!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Vote TODAY for Declo Robotics on the Idaho Powering Tomorrow Grant Page!

My friends have really done a great job for the lucky and hardworking students of Declo HS that are on the FRC Team!  Please vote for their grant submission this week on the Idaho Power Facebook page.  They deserve it and they are doing great things!!!!

Members of the Declo Team teleconferencing with the Pocatello Livewired Team.  Cool!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Science of Shaun White

As I wait to watch the ABC/Hallmark movie tonight (see previous post), I am required to watch the Winter X Games with my teenage skiiers, because the recording of this 4-day event is protected by several treaties I had to sign earlier this week just in case I tried to change the channel.  But of course I can find science in anything!  So enjoy this clip from ESPN, that discusses the "Science of Shaun White."  It's a fun way to discuss physics and amazing snowboarding at the same time!  Science Rules!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Updated: ABC/Hallmark Movie Sunday night about an inspiring teacher and Space Camp!

I still dream of going to Space Camp.  This movie is tomorrow night, Sunday the 29th, on ABC, and I am so glad I found out about it; A Smile as Big as the Moon.  And I noticed last night that the moon is actually a crescent shape right now...interesting!  As part of the show, there is a sweepstakes and the grand prize is a family trip to Space Camp.  So please don't enter...I want to go!  But enjoy the show!

{My satellite feed was spotty last night, so I am looking forward to watching it again on the Hallmark Channel starting next week.  I did enjoy the program, and it only made me want to go to Space Camp even more.  It was also fun to see this true story occurred during my Senior another movie that is coming out this week...I will blog about that in a few days!}

Friday, January 27, 2012

PLT Workshop in TF

Next weekend, Feb 3-4, Idaho PLT is having a workshop for early childhood educators.  This is a really fun way to get science and nature activities into your preschool curriculum, just in time for Spring!

We still have room for you in next week's "PLT Focus on Early Childhood" workshop in Twin Falls, Feb. 3-4. Sign up at

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Discover Engineering Day at BSU

This looks like an awesome day for the "E" in STEM!  I am hoping the weather is good enough for a road trip to Boise, because this free family event will be totally worth it!

Here is the flyer...

Way to go Idaho Power for sponsoring these events, then posting about them on FB.  Way to get the message out!  Go STEM!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Science Fair article, new Science Kids website, and Fellowship opportunity

I love finding new websites, and this one does not disappoint.  Science News for Kids is geared to students and teachers, with current articles like this one about science fair projects.  Teachers, follow the link to learn about a great fellowship opportunity.  The deadline to apply is in February.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Idaho Power sponsors Free Family Day at Birds of Prey

I saw this on FB yesterday, and the rain will keep me away today, but there is another date, February 18,  that I can finally travel to the Birds of Prey Center.  I have never been there with my family!

From Idaho Power
"We’re sponsoring Family Field Trip Saturday again this year at the World Center for Birds of Prey. The picture below has all the details, but here’s all you need to know: it’s tomorrow, it’s fun, it’s educational and it’s free!"

Remember that Idaho Power is also sponsoring Powering Tomorrow Grants and the deadline to apply and vote is Jan 31.   Vote for your favorite projects on Facebook.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Free Booklets and Posters for Secondary Science Teachers

I have used this site for great free publications for several years.  My favorites are Inside the Cell, The New Genetics, and The Structures of Life.  The pictures are great, and the examples are current.  I order a class set of these once a year, and give them to my students as a resource.  If they turn them back to me at the end of the semester, then I give them a little extra credit.  The booklets last longer that way, but the students can keep them if they want.  Another good point is that the text and images are not copyrighted, so I can search their image gallery for amazing pictures like the one below, and use them in note sets or powerpoints.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

New Semester is HERE!

As I start classes today, I am ready for a fresh start.  I am slowly trying to incorporate new technology into my classroom.  I am using iClickers this semester, and I might even change my online interface to chapter modules instead of categories, so that all my links and materials are in one place for each chapter. 

Every teacher has favorite resources and activities, and my list gets longer every semester.  But I am ready to share a great  This great teacher, Paul Andersen, teaches science in Montana, and was recognized as Teacher of the Year from that state.  His science podcasts are succinct and easy to follow for the students.  But I am enjoying his video logs that he posts directed at teachers and others.  This particular vlog is a summary of his year as Teacher of the Year;  what he learned and enjoyed and realized about the experience.  I think it is a great message for teachers of all subjects, and he is a great resource for science teachers and students throughout the world.  Enjoy!  If only my blog had 12,000 hits a week!  WOW!!!

Monday, January 16, 2012

212 Movie...The Power of One Degree

I do like a good analogy, especially when it makes a connection between a scientific principle and a life lesson.  This youtube clip was shared with me at a recent PTO meeting at my kids' school.  The idea is that there is just one degree that separates hot water from boiling/steaming powerful water.  Since I just did an outreach lesson about how cool water is, I thought it was time to share this Monday morning motivational message.  Have a great week!  Make the effort to go the extra "degree!"

Sunday, January 15, 2012

New Idaho PTV D4K Episode this week! Geology Rocks!

It is time again for another great show from D4K.  The topic this month is Geology, and it airs on Tuesday.  I passed out more D4K calendars to the teachers at Dworshak, so I hope they send some questions in to Joan and get prizes!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Outreach at Dworshak Elementary

I had a good time with 2nd Graders today.  We started with water experiments, and moved on to other fun liquids like vinegar, oil, and corn syrup.  Of course I showed my lava lamp, and I wanted to show my readers how easy it is to make your own.  Thanks to Mrs. Troxel for the invitation, and I hope the teachers check my blog for fun ideas and teacher resources.

Science Mom Lava Lamp
clear 2 liter bottle, cleaned
vegetable oil
colored water
alka-selzer tablets

Fill the bottle one-third full of the water, then the rest with oil.  The oil is lighter (less dense) so it will float on top of the water...even if you put the oil in first.
Put an alka selzer tablet in the bottle, and keep the lid off.  The bubbles will carry the colored water to the top of the oil, pop, then the water drops back down. 
That's it!  It is a great way to discuss density, chemical reactions, gases, and how to change a demonstration into a science fair project.  Test different types of liquids or oils to see if the bubbles change!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Nicolas Steno...Father of Geology...honored on Google!

Take the Quiz embedded in this article to see if you are Science Literate!  Thanks, Cheryl, for the link to this fun article!

How Nicolas Steno changed the way we see the world, literally

Nicolas Steno, father of geology, received a Google doodle Wednesday in honor of his 374th birthday.

By Chris Gaylord / January 11, 2012
Dig this: In 1669, Nicolas Steno rewrote the way people thought about the earth. Today, Google excavated his story for a special Google doodle tribute to the late geologist.
In 1669, Nicolas Steno rewrote the way people thought about the earth. And today, more than 300 years later, Google excavated his name from the history books for a special Google doodle tribute to the late (and perhaps first) geologist.
This illustration from Steno's 1667 paper compares the teeth of a shark head with a fossil tooth.
Public domain image, via Wikipedia
Steno was a true Renaissance man. He lived back when scientists didn't stick to a single discipline. He dabbled in medicine, shark dentistry, ancient beasts, and ultimately kick-started the study of geology. Steno simply followed his curiosity, no matter where it led.
Our story starts in Florence, Italy, where Steno, then a budding physician, settled down after years of studying throughout western Europe. He had already challenged several long-held scientific assumptions, researched the changing shapes of muscles, and discovered an unknown body part in the heads of mammals. (He named it after himself, the "ductus stenonianus.")
He moved to Florence in 1665 to join the court of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, and collect for him a "cabinet of curiosity" – basically a room filled with natural wonders. Such collections fell somewhere between a carnival freak show and the basement of a university science department. Men such as Steno gathered, labeled, and displayed animals, vegetables, and minerals of all kinds.
So, when fishermen caught a massive great white shark in 1666, guess who got to dissect its head?
"While examining the teeth of the shark, Steno was struck by their resemblance to certain stony objects, called glossopetrae – literally 'tongue stones' – that were found in certain rocks," writes the University of California Museum of Paleontology in its biography of Steno. (See image above.) "Ancient authorities, such as the Roman author Pliny the Elder, had suggested that these stones fell from the sky or from the moon. Others were of the opinion, also going back to ancient times, that fossils naturally grew in the rocks."
These theories didn't make much sense to Steno. What if fossils came from ancient animals, he wondered. What if glossopetrae looked like shark teeth because they were shark teeth, deposited there when the rocks were covered with oceans?
This sounds pretty obvious to people today. But at the time, some scientists pooh-poohed the idea. If fossils were once bones, then how could they possibly have wound up lodged in rock? How could a solid, like stone, wrap around a solid, like teeth? Those are good questions, ones that bothered Steno as well. He decided that this required further research.
Three years after they caught the shark, Steno concluded that all rocks must have once been fluid and then solidified around and on top of fossils, veins of metal – or even older layers of rock. Since new rock keeps burying and sealing off old rock, then there must be horizontal layers, or strata, throughout the earth.
This idea helped explain a fundamental part of geology: the deeper you dig, the older the stone. "This was the first use of geology to try to distinguish different time periods in the Earth's history – an approach that would develop spectacularly in the work of later scientists," writes the UC museum. This allows modern geologist to make conclusions about the past, based on the depth of the rocks they study. The breakthrough is essential to the study of ancient human societies, dinosaurs, and historical climate change.
It also explains Wednesday's Google doodle. The colorful layers in each letter signify Steno's strata.
But there's another lesson in Steno's work: Never feel constrained by your current job or previous accomplishments. Who would have thought that the son of a Danish goldsmith could make major contributions to multiple, diverse fields? Curiosity has an interesting way of leading people to great, unexpected things.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

DuPont Challenge Science Essay Contest

Submissions for this Essay Contest are due Jan 31.  This is for students in 7-12 grades.  I found this by reading through the NSTA Calendar from a Sept blog post.  I am still amazed at the countless grants, contests, and opportunities available to STEM teachers.  I strongly encourage all of us to take advantage of the money available to help our students, build up our classrooms, and get involved in national activities.  You miss 100% of the shots you don't take!

Monday, January 9, 2012

CSI Herrett Center Star Party

On Tuesday, January 10th, the Centennial Observatory will be open for another “Telescope Tuesday” from 6:30 to 9:00 PM. It’s a great opportunity to see planets, star clusters, colorful double stars, and more. Admission is $1.50 per person (free for kids 6 and under), or free with paid admission to the 7:00 PM showing of “How to Build a Planet” in the Faulkner Planetarium.

The observatory will also be open Saturday, from 6:30 PM to midnight, for our monthly free star party. Prime targets will include Venus, Jupiter, and the moon. Come when you like, and stay as long as you want.

All observatory events are weather permitting, and the observatory is not heated to provide the best views, so please dress warmly. For more info on observatory events and what’s happening in the sky, dial 732-MOON.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Today in Science History

As we start the new year, I think it is always fun to remember the great men and women who came before us to question, discover, and inspire the scientists and science educators of today.  We know their names from the textbooks, but we can learn so much from these great people by knowing their stories.  I came across this website today, and I wanted to share.

The opening picture reminds me of a photo making the rounds on Facebook.  It shows a collage of scientists and great thinkers on the left of the image, and a reality star on the right.  The caption reads something like, "If you can't name the people on the left, but you know who this is...Congratulations, you are what is wrong with this country."  Thankfully, I could name almost all of the scientists, and I have never seen the reality show that the person on the right is known for.  But we can all do better to celebrate the people whom we owe so much.

Today is Stephen Hawking's birthday, and also Alfred Russel Wallace.  Have fun exploring the site!

Friday, January 6, 2012

UPDATED: FRC KickOff! The Game is Rebound Rumble!!

Tomorrow marks the official start of FRC 2012!  Teams in Idaho are meeting in Idaho Falls to pick up their kits and learn about the new challenge from FIRST headquarters.  I am so excited to follow our Declo FRC Team!  This is a huge commitment for the families, and it is a great opportunity for the high school students who have chosen to participate.  Have fun tomorrow and keep us posted.  The teams have about 2 months to design and build their robots, and the competitions start in March.  Good luck in 2012!

Rebound Rumble is played by two competing alliances on a flat, 27 x 54 ft field. Each alliance consists of three robots. They compete to score as many basketballs into their hoops as they can during a 2 minute and 15 second match. The higher the hoop in which the basketball is scored, the more points the alliance receives.

The match begins with a 15-second Hybrid Period in which robots operate independently of driver inputs. During this Hybrid Period, one robot on each alliance may be controlled using a Microsoft Kinect. 

How cool is that!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Admiral Fitzroy Storm Glass

I received the coolest Christmas present from my in-laws.  I am now the proud owner of a Fitzroy Storm Glass.  It took me a minute to realize how cool this weather gadget was, because I had never heard of it...but Admiral Fitzroy's name was very familiar.  Well, of course he was the captain of the HMS Beagle, the ship that carried Charles Darwin around the world on his famous adventure.  While on this 5 year journey, the captain made detailed observations of this weather glass, which had been used since the 1700s, and refined the design and materials used.  I am thrilled to have a piece of Beagle history in my house!  But what is so much cooler , is that you can make your own...with a little help from friends with chemicals... (Megan, that's you!)  So here are your very own instructions to make a storm glass.  Happy Winter!!

and here is a link to some good questions that came up from this article...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Boise State University Science Competition Day - Feb 4th

This looks awesome!  I am going to find out more about this event, and try to get some Mini-Cassia teachers and students on board!  HS Teachers, please check this out for you and your students!!  See you in Boise on February 4th!!  The deadline to register as a team or as individuals is Jan 27.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Idaho Powering Tomorrow Grants

From Idaho Power on Facebook...
Where’s Larry? He’s talking with us tomorrow re: our Powering Tomorrow Grants. You’ve got until Jan. 31 to tell us how your unique, educational program could use a $1,500 grant. Learn more here or tune in to KTVB at 5am tomorrow!

Teachers and others with nonprofit groups can apply for these grants.  Clubs, robotic teams, community centers, and schools have already shared their stories on Facebook, so get going!