Ruxz_M-rbu5hJUPoenSULdy6Wzk The Science of My Life: March 2012

Friday, March 30, 2012

Mini-Cassia Science Fair Updates

Well, we are in the home stretch of science fair projects.  Next week, Rupert Elementary is sponsoring a Family Science Night and Fair on the 5th.  The Declo elementary projects are due on Monday, April 9th.  As I sit here with my son, I am reminded that projects are not to be hurried.  My advice is to do a few tasks at a time.  Develop the pictures, decide on how the display board will look, and help your student write out a few sections.  Remember all the steps are clearly explained in the packet that all the students received.  The projects at Declo will also be a grade, so don't wait until next weekend to start!!  You and your child will not be loving the experience!  Good luck!

Monday, March 26, 2012

2012 CSI Science Camp Dates and Theme

I am so excited for Science Camp this summer in the Magic Valley!  If you are like me, you will appreciate knowing the dates for both the teacher workshop portion of camp and the actual dates of camp in Burley and Twin Falls.  So I thought I would post this teaser and get all of you excited as well!

The theme this year is S.T.E.M. in Space.  STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, so one major difference at camp this year will be an emphasis on more than science.  Kids and teachers will be building projects and measuring distances as well as learning about geology, astronomy, and biology.  Another minor change will be the ages of campers.  We are inviting 2-7 graders this year so that we can provide an opportunity for older kids to participate.

Teachers are a critical piece of our successful camp.  K12 teachers will attend a 2 day workshop before camp to review content and practice activities that will be done at camp, and they recieve a free credit from CSI, as well as some other great perks.

The Burley dates are in June.  The teacher workshop will be June 13 and 14.  The Camp will be June 18-21.

The Twin Falls dates are in July this year!  Teacher training will be July 11-12, and camp is July 16-20.

There is lots more to announce, but I will wait for another post to give more details.  Plan on a great experience for your kids this year!

Dr. Shropshire is scheduled to return for another great show!!  Lasers and lights and flaming tubes, oh my!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Microscope Day at Declo Elementary

Yesterday I taught all the 3rd and 4th grade students at Declo Elementary about microscopes.  Thanks to grant money from INBRE to CSI, we were able to purchase scopes, cases, and slides for science outreach, and this is how we use them!  The kids kept saying, "Cool" and "This is awesome!" and "Can we come back at lunch?"  Thanks to a supportive principal, teachers, and a good friend who helped to refocus 7 microscopes for 4 hours!  I am grateful that I am able to bring something different to schools when I visit.  The time I spend with my kids and their friends is always worth it!

Ellie kept sneaking out of class to check out what Mom was up to...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Animal Migrations on Idaho PTV D4K

It is time again for Joan's Discovery 4 Kids, and tomorrow's episode is about animal migrations.  This topic has interested me lately, especially since learning about a great website called Journey North.  There are awesome resources for classes to use on this site, and they follow a variety of plants and animals in some fun ways.  Students can see how far whales and butterflies travel,but they can also submit data about tulips, for instance,  to see how different regions of the country prepare for Spring.  Enjoy the show tomorrow on Idaho PTV, and check out Journey North.  I can't wait to play Mystery Class with students next year!

DHS Web Media Class a finalist in a State Competiton

I thought this qualified as some "T" in my STEM goals for this blog, so I am sharing it here.  Our local Web Media class at Declo High School is a finalist for a contest sponsored by Zions Bank.  People can vote on Facebook for our school, and we get money if we win.  So go vote for them!  Thanks!  Social Media is a great way to get the STEM message out to students and families...but I don't think I will start tweeting anytime soon.

The DHS Web Media class created a video for the Zion's Bank Magic of Savings contest. Our video was selected as a finalist out of 120 videos! There will be three prizes given. The prize will be $1,000 for 1st place, $500 for 2nd place, and $250 for third place. The students in our class will share the prize and our school will get a matching amount. Please help us win by going to the Zion's Bank Idaho Magic of Saving Facebook page and giving our "Kingdom for Sale" video five stars. To vote, you have to "like" the page and then "allow the page to access basic information". You will then be taken to our video where you can give us five stars. Points are awarded based on the number of stars given to each video. You will have to do this from home, since we can't use Facebook at school and you can vote every 24 hours.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Update: Frozen Planet on Discovery Channel Tonight

(Well...I obviously don't read TV Guide.  When the Discovery Channel bought the series for American television, they replaced Sir David with Alec Baldwin.  Hmmm.  I am disappointed that they think we need a celebrity to tell us about the environment, but the footage is still amazing.  I will be buying the BBC version.) 

I have loved the beautiful cinematography and compelling stories in the recent documentaries like Planet Earth, Life, and now Frozen Planet.  I have listened to David Attenborough throughout my life, who did an amazing job on "The Private Life of Plants," among many other favorite shows of mine.

"You knew what to expect before you switched on the telly. Extraordinary footage of natural wonders overlaid with swelling strings and that marvellous knowledgeable whisper. At first glance, Frozen Planet, the latest epic David Attenborough documentary series on BBC One, is nothing new: what it is, however, is brilliant."

So tune in tonight and every Sunday night for the next 6 weeks to see and hear another great nature documentary by BBC, narrated by the one and only David Attenborough.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

FRC Competition in Utah today...Go Declo Robotics!! Here is the live stream!

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If the link doesn't work, go to, then type in Utah in the search box.  The FRC Comp should be first choice.  The Declo team is Botwired, but all of these teams are amazing!  I will ask my friend to share pix when they get back so you can see their robots.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Earthquake Structures and Squishy Circuits

I have spent the week at my favorite junior high in Idaho.  :)   Teachers and students are busy with labs and projects and yearbooks and lessons and reports.  I had the opportunity to make squishy circuit play dough with one class, and then build the circuits with another class.  In yet another class, we built structures with clay and straws and tested them on homemade earthquake shaking platforms.  On Friday, I will return and add a strength test to their structures using a lesson plan I picked up from my friends at iSTEM.  It has been a great week, and I wanted to share some pictures.  One girl said, "This is SO awesome!"  when she was building her squishy circuits!  So that makes me happy!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Teachers...Great Interactive STEM Activity for your class!

STEM Opportunity:  Have your Students Travel Across the Pacific Without Leaving the Classroom!

On March 21, 2012 – a team of University of Idaho university researchers and graduate students will sail out of Cabo San Lucus, Baja headed for Nuku Hiva in French Polynesia where they’ll be making landfall on about April 12th. Through a satellite connection to Education Basecamp based in Moscow, ID, there will be daily uplinks to the expedition website for science classes regarding the natural and cultural history of the Pacific via an Iridium SAT phone and BGAN.  Classes that follow the trip across the Pacific will find value in tracking a variety of physical and biological ocean and atmospheric conditions: wildlife sightings of all types, air temperature, water and air clarity, particulates, wind speeds and directions, ocean currents, sea state (swell and wind waves), clarity, color, plankton counts and variety (day/night variations, plus latitudinal/location changes) etc.

This journey will kick off a series of expeditions focused on climate change across the world, directly looking at climate data from Northern Hemisphere latitudes and connecting with classrooms investigating the same ideas.  This will provide invaluable cause and content for teachers to follow an expedition, take measurements in their classrooms, and start their own Adventure Learning journey connected to the MATRIX of climate science principles. It will also inspire students to engage in science and to ask the question, “Where will you AL@?”

The development site for this project can be found here:  and the full site launch will be March 1, 2012.  An example of a completed expedition can be found here-  and includes many examples of the excitement that this approach elicits from students, teachers, and community members.

For more information please contact:
Dr. Crystal A. Kolden
Assistant Professor of Geography
University of Idaho

Monday, March 12, 2012

Venus and Jupiter have aligned!

Have you been watching this??  This month, we can see 5 planets in the night sky, but tonight and tomorrow, those two headlights in the Western sky are Venus and Jupiter! 

Venus and Jupiter will be at their closest in mid-March 2012. By March 12 and 13, Venus and Jupiter will lie only three degrees apart. Then they’ll be like twin headlight beams shining down on us from the west after sunset. You’ll be able to hide both mighty worlds together behind two outstretched fingertips.
Here are Venus and Jupiter on March 14, 2012. They'll be at their closest and most spectacular in mid-March.
Don’t miss the moon near Venus and Jupiter in late March, 2012. But the show won’t be over yet. Around March 23, 2012 the young moon will once again return to the evening sky. Especially in the Northern Hemisphere, March is a great month to catch sight of an extremely slender crescent in the day or so after new moon. Start looking for the moon around March 23. Then on March 24 and 25, watch the moon move past Venus and Jupiter again.

Bottom line: Do you see two bright objects in the west after sunset? They are the sky’s two brightest planets – Venus and Jupiter – and you can see them simply by stepping outside and gazing toward the west in the hour after sunset. Venus and Jupiter are fantastic to see in late February 2012 and will be at their peak in mid-March 2012.

Jupiter, above, and Venus, as seen over Highland, California in mid-February 2012. They can be seen from around the world - from cities, suburbs and rural locations. Just look west after sunset! Image via EarthSky Facebook friend Lyle Evans
Moon, Venus, Jupiter Feb. 2012, from Brazil via Miquel Berredo

Fun Steve Spangler Visit to Ellen Show

This aired on Leap Day, but that was such a busy week for me that I am just posting the link.  This week I am trying out several new experiments with school kids.  I will let you know how those go!

Steve&#8217;s 13th Appearance on the Ellen Show &#8211; In Case You Missed It

Friday, March 9, 2012

Update: Paul Elementary School Science Fair

Here is the link to the newspaper article about the event...I loved how the Superintendent and School board members came to judge.  That has given me an idea!!

What a fun day in Paul!  I judged at least 100 great projects, and I saw some great ideas.  The kids did a good job of including all the important parts of a project, but most importantly, they were creative and excited to tell me about their experience.  Hard to pick a favorite, but there were some original projects about magnets, seeds, and even ammunition.  I liked how one student took the basic Diet Coke and Mentos experiment and decided to test the temperature of the soda to see which bottle shoots higher.  Warm, by the way, which disproved his hypothesis.  One girl wanted to know what liquids rust a penny, and learned the difference between rusting and corrosion.  So good job to all the 4th and 5th graders at Paul Elementary.  Now go submit your project THIS WEEKEND to the virtual science fair at  Deadline is March 11, and the grand prize is $5000~Good luck!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Craters of the Moon Lecture March 13

I have loved my visits to Craters.  What a great place to learn about Geology and Anthropology.  This lecture is being hosted in Gooding at the CSI Outreach Center there.  It should be very interesting!

Monday, March 5, 2012

BSU hosts Nobel Laureate to present Climate Science Lecture

Since I am just home from Boise, I will try to include more events and resources from the Treasure Valley in my posts.  This lecture is tomorrow night, and I am sure it will be very interesting.  Also on that BSU event page are a few more lectures and events.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

More from IdEEA and Discovery Center

I had a great time with a few old friends, and many new friends at the Conference.  We are so lucky to live in this beautiful state full of natural resources and dedicated and passionate teachers.  I have new favorite websites, like Journey North and  I have new friends at MOSS and Timberline HS...Hi Dick!  I appreciated the theme of Green STEM: Natural Partners.  And after the conference ended, I visited the Discovery Center of Idaho.  So fun!  I am very excited that thanks to the Target grant, our 4th graders get to visit there in May as part of their Boise trip.

Friday, March 2, 2012

IdEEA Field Trip to Birds of Prey

What a great day in Boise!  I have really enjoyed the Idaho Environmental Education Association Conference.  This afternoon I finally made it to the World Center for Birds of Prey, and I am really impressed with their facility.  I asked about their Family Day a few weeks ago, and they said it was crazy!  Like 1200 people visited!  How cool is that!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dr. Seuss Day tomorrow, March 2

This has been a fun week to celebrate science in my life!  Tomorrow, many schools will recognize the impact of Dr. Seuss on children's literacy through a variety of activities.  After school, you can take your kids to see The Lorax, a classic tale with environmental lessons.  (see PSA post)

For me, it is the perfect excuse to make oobleck with my kids and anyone else who brings me a box of cornstarch.  We have a school-wide reading night, and last year we made a big mess at my station, because kids love oobleck!  (Of course, you have to read Bartholomew and the Oobleck first...a book about weather.)  After that activity, we talk about microorgansims, and I use the book, Horton Hears a Who, to teach them that we haven't always known about things too small to see.

Oobleck is not an exact recipe, but all you need is cornstarch and water.  I have attached a link that discusses the chemistry of this non-newtonian liquid.  I always add green food coloring to simulate the gloppy oobleck that falls from the sky in Dr. Seuss' book.  The best part is that it cleans up with water, or dries out and turns back into powder cornstarch. 

The Lorax - Discover the Forest PSA

Virtual Science Fair Contest...Magic Valley Parents Read this!!

OK...this is great! Since many families are already working on science fair projects at local schools, you can easily submit your child's project to this contest at by March 11, 2012. I know that is a little fast, but sometimes I don't find out about stuff as soon as I want! I am judging a fair on March 9 in Minidoka County, so those families could enter. And several TF schools are already done, so they could enter also. The prize is $5000, so let's get some of our great projects entered!!

Enter Parenting Magazine&#8217;s Virtual Science Fair and Win $5,000