Ruxz_M-rbu5hJUPoenSULdy6Wzk The Science of My Life: 2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Skywatch: Super Moon or Super Tiny Moon: Can You Tell the Difference?

Tis the season for many to remember that a star in the heavens announced a global event.  We still have lots of discoveries out there to make, and I am glad I have Chris Anderson to help me be more aware of the sky throughout the year!

Skywatch: Super Moon or Super Tiny Moon: Can You Tell the Difference?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Girls and Computer Science

This is a great article about the abilities and opportunities for all children, but it emphasizes once again the challenge we have getting girls engaged in STEM fields.  No pun intended.  I remember years ago I attended a challenging 2 week computer science camp while still in high school, and we were all exposed to a new world of languages and programming.  This was in the late 80's, so I came back to my school with skills that served me well, along with college credit in COMP 143.   I would sit in our basic computer class as a Senior and write code for all the other students...good ol' Pascal.

I love that this article mentions the CSI effect.  My school is famous!  :)  I met a girl today who has a double major from UI in fire ecology and forestry management, and is still taking classes for fun and further training.   In my visit with her, I was immediately impressed with her.  Probably because my friend Bill told me she is awesome so she must be!  Girls, get out there and find your passion!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Science Literacy article

Please, whoever is out there reading this blog that I never have time to write for anymore, take 10 minutes to read this great article.

A few years ago, I read "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks."  I really responded to the whole experience from the author's point of view.  It was very difficult to imagine what it would have been like for the Lacks's family, then and now.  I assigned the book to my college students who are on a path to biology majors, and I recommended it to my nonmajor students who are just as capable of understanding the relevance of this story.

I love teaching students of all ages.  But I am drawn to the adult population because the lessons I teach them can be immediately passed to other family members around the dinner table.  It can immediately impact their choices and knowledge base as they try to understand their medical histories and futures.  And I love it when a random comment or example in class turns on light bulbs in their heads.

Now, I recognized that this subject is important to me.  Others are just as passionate about history and politics, math literacy, economics, civil responsibilities and law, arts and philosophy, and all the wonderful areas of knowledge that exist.  Good for them.  May I be as willing to be literate in those subjects as I am asking my friends, family, and students to be in science.  It really does all matter.

Here are a few images from an activity I do in Biology class called Iron Scientist.  The groups are given a topic and a secret ingredient to use as they demonstrate and teach the rest of the class.  For instance, balloons become the frame of a Punnett Square and they teach us a genetics cross.  By far one of my favorite days in class.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Magic of the Nutcracker

Ballet Conservatory Performs the Nutcracker This Holiday Season

When the music begins, we imagine ourselves arriving at one of the most famous Christmas parties that has ever been held in the world.  The traditions that surround the Nutcracker Ballet, with music written by Russian composer Peter Tchaikovsky, developed soon after the Ballet was first performed in 1892.  It is the most widely performed Ballet in the world.  Dancers from the Ballet Conservatory Studio, directed by Katriina Beck of Burley, will again be performing in an all-children’s cast of the Nutcracker on November 22nd and 23rd at the King Fine Arts Center.
This famous story emphasizes the enchantment of the season found in our homes during Christmas.  For these local dancers, the magic occurs as they transform from party guests, to mice, to snow fairies.  The fun continues as siblings, cousins, and even a willing dad dance side by side while proud grandparents watch in the audience.  The fairy tale love story is evident between the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Cavalier, who in reality are engaged to be married in just a few weeks.   These are the magical elements that we enjoy when we support local productions and dedicated members of our community who work tirelessly to make the season memorable for all of us. 
Miss Katriina has been teaching ballet for 25 years, and she believes that all dancers should have the opportunity to feel and hear the magic of the Nutcracker Ballet.   “When they hear this special music throughout their lives, I want them to envision sugar plums dancing in their heads.”  She is grateful that she can continue the tradition that has existed in her family for 40 years.  This year, Katriina has her sister by her side.  Miss Sarah has been a wonderful assistant!
 This program is a holiday tradition for ballet schools throughout the world, but this special version was created by Katriina and Sarah’s mother years ago and it features youth in all of the roles.  Her studio currently has 60 students, with an additional cast of 20 young men sharing the stage with these beautiful young women.  Please join these special youth as they dance as mice, soldiers, flutes, flowers, buffoons, cookies, snowflakes, and more. 
General admission tickets are available from any of the dancers or by calling 430-3260.   Reserved seating is also available. Ticket prices include $10 for general,  $12 for reserved, and $14 for VIP Reserved.  Prices will increase at the door so get your tickets now.  The Friday night performance begins at 7:30 PM, with a Saturday matinee performance at 2:00 PM.   The performances will be at the King Fine Arts Center.  We invite you to begin your Holiday Season with us at the Ballet!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Harmony Boxes for Idaho Science

I saw a version of these boxes a few years ago when I traveled to UI for a FIRST robotics competition.  We took the kids from Declo to Ed's lab and it was a great opportunity to be at ground zero for future projects.  I know my friend Angela from BHS is using this tool to teach ecology.  We have such cool connections in Idaho!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Home Schoolers Visit CSI for Science

Yesterday I had fun with a great group of students of all ages.  I was asked to present to some home-schooled kids, and I was so glad they asked me to visit with them for awhile.  Secretly, I wish I could do what some families have made the decision to do...educate their children in a way that best fits their children's needs.  The friends that have sacrificed and fought for their children in this way are such heroes to me.  Anyway, I did my Fun with Fluids show, and made a mess.

We covered cohesion, air pressure, buoyancy, mixtures, density, and change.  My favorites still have to be the bouncing egg, the poppers, the lava lamp, and of course, Oobleck.  I emphasize with each activity that science is not magic, and there are reasons why water especially is the coolest molecule out there.   As kids get older, they are taught higher level concepts, but my goal is explain the foundational science to the youngest among us so they can understand the tougher concepts later. 

I look forward to meeting with them again.  So much to cover!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Declo STEM Day

I am finally ready to post pictures and thoughts from our STEM Day for 5th graders.  A few weeks ago, we gathered an army of parents to host a day full of great classes.  I am so grateful for the presenters and chaperones and a supportive staff that made the day so worthwhile.   Power dads Joey and Jon presented for Idaho Power, we made bridges with an engineer, and glow in the dark slime was our chemistry class.  I brought microscopes for the kids to see their cheek cells, and an audiologist talked about hearing science.  The kids loved the robotics demonstration from the Declo FLL team members.  This day was supported by the Idaho Farm Bureau Womens' Committee and materials were sent from  Thanks to all!!!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

ISTA State Convention

In my heart, I am a science teacher.  I love to extract DNA, make squishy circuits, dissect owl pellets, type blood, separate pigments in plants, and do anything else that explores the world through the scientific process.   But I am not a traditional teacher.  So why did I go to the State conference?  When I realized how productive the day was, I just had to share my experience with the ISTA Committee. Professionally, I wanted to support and connect with my colleagues from ISU, ISGC, ISTA, and PLT.  I have had the privilege of teaching a Science Methods class this semester for ISU, and it has been a great experience to work with Dr. Wendy Ruchti.  We had a few minutes to catch up after her session.  I connected with Michele Youngquist from PLT, and we made a plan for the ISU students I teach to go through a workshop.  They LOVED the activities and resources that we covered the next week in class.  I attended a Rock session with Judy Walling, got a great set of rocks, and sent her cocqina rock the next week because she mentioned in class that she would love that particular sample of sedimentary rock to show others.  Well, I had some so now she does too!  I attended the session about NASA, and even though Tony and other federal representatives had to miss the Conference, the other presenters didn’t skip a beat.  I came back with calendars for my teaching friends so they also know how cool the ISGC Program is.  I met Chris from Boise, since I like to read his articles, and we decided to swap stories about Science Methods since he teaches the same class for BSU.  I also came right home and made the wood blocks for students and teachers and passed those out like candy!  I got to see Erin Johnson from Aberdeen, and she said she wants to teach at my CSI Science Camp next summer.  We met several years ago at iSTEM when she was in my strand.  She also told me about RAFT kits, and those have been cool to explore.  Jo Dodds found me and asked about replacement parts for the "black boxes" I build for iSTEM.  Well, those are still on the way to her but she will get them!   At lunch, I sat with a table of teachers and we exchanged favorite websites.   I grabbed a Geological map for my friend’s Earth Science classroom.  I shared information about the CSI Girls and STEM Day with teachers from my area.   I came back very excited about the people we have in place throughout the state as we move forward.  I don’t have a K12 classroom, but I advocate for science education on a daily basis.  I am so grateful for the State Conference and the people that volunteer to make it successful.  Thanks for a great day!!!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Star Parties coming up this weekend at City of Rocks!

Sixth annual City of Rocks Star Party - solar viewingSmoky Mtn. Campground, Castle Rocks State Park, Almo, IdahoFriday, August 9th & Saturday, August 10th, 20132:00 to 6:00 PMFREE (park day use fees apply)
Sixth annual City of Rocks Star Party - nighttime telescope viewingLodge Site, Castle Rocks State Park, Almo, IdahoFriday, August 9th & Saturday, August 10th, 20139:00 PM to midnightFREE (park day use fees apply)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Another chance for Lego Robotics Camp in TF

Herrett Center


Lego Robotics August Camp

In case you missed our first camp, come and join the Award Winning Robotics Team Tesla for summer fun! Learn and play.  Campers will design, build and program Lego NXT 2.0 Mindstorms robots . Boy Scout Merit Badge requirements available.  Enrollment is limited to ensure a quality experience.  For grades 3-8; August 6-8: 12:30-4:30PM (Tuesday to Thursday)  Registration forms available on the Herrett home page   (and attached).  Registration deadline is July 31st. For more information call the Herrett Center at 732-6655.

Friday, July 19, 2013

My Idaho Adventures!

I have been spoiled and overwhelmed with my recent adventures in our great State of Idaho.  In July alone, my family and I have played in Island Park, (rafted in Jackson Hole - which is not Idaho but we were on the Snake River so that still kind of counts!!), hiked in the Sawtooth Wilderness outside of Stanley, and explored City of Rocks National Reserve and Castle Rocks State Park!  Seriously, it just doesn't get much better than summer in Idaho.  And the rasberries are on in the backyard!  Awesome!  Enjoy a few of our recent pictures.  I will add more because it is only the middle of July!

City of Rocks and Castle Rocks State Park

Galena Summit

Fishing in Stanley

Pomerelle, Howells Canyon


Mesa Falls near Ashton

Big Springs, Island Park

Jackson Hole, WY

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Science Camp on KMVT Rise and Shine

I have so much to blog about during my recent adventures around Idaho, but today I will just post my visit to Rise and Shine on KMVT.  I am so grateful we can talk about Science Camp and the opportunity kids have to play with science.  The camps in Gooding and Twin Falls are coming up the week of July 29.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Summer is a great time for Energy Activities

Solar ovens are always a big hit at Science Camp, so here is a link to a family-friendly site with more activities like that.   The first day of summer was on Friday, so celebrate with some hands-on activities that let kids play with science!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Teaching kids to code...interesting article

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Super Moon on display this weekend!

Check out the cool full moon on display this weekend...combine a super Moon with summer solstice and it is  an awesome weekend for Astronomy!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Robotics Camp sponsored by the CRTC Electronics Class

I am proud of all the kids that work so hard learning to program robots in the Mini-Cassia area.  The kids sponsoring this camp are involved in the Electronics Program at Cassia Regional Technical Center.  The price is very reasonable and scouts who participate can earn the Robotics merit badge.   Check out the link and get your kids signed up! There are several 2 day workshops still available.  Their website is

Thursday, June 20, 2013

CSI Science Camp in Burley went out with a bang!

What a great week with the teachers and kids in Mini-Cassia!  Today we had kites flying, boats floating, catapults flinging, telescope viewing, solar ovens cooking, and the candy cannon shooting!  Phew!  The purpose of this camp is to give kids a chance to play with science and teachers a chance to practice these activities without the pressures found in the traditional classroom.    I hear it all the time...if we had more time and more supplies and less attention to tests, we could do these kinds of experiments more often.  I am grateful to be involved in this program because I get to play too!


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Firemen Come to Science Camp

What a great day for Science!!

The kids were able to design and build containers to hold raw eggs.  What we didn't tell them is that their eggs would be dropped from a ladder truck provided by the great guys at City of Burley Fire Department! 

It was awesome!  Yes, the storm clouds rolled in and the pictures look ominous, but the kids were undeterred.  Their eggs flew and floated and crashed, but most of them made it safely to the ground unbroken.  Great job to everyone!  Thanks Captain Ryan Taylor and crew!!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

CSI Summer Science Camp This week~!

We are having a great time in Burley!  The "Young Inventors" are designing and building all kinds of great things this week.  We loved the team from ISU that came and shared cool physics with us, and our great friend, Cindy Singleton, came and took pictures of the kids.  Click on the above link to see her images.