Monthly Archives: August 2014

Open House 2014!

Welcome parents!

I want to take this opportunity to introduce you to my MYP and DP science classes for the 2014-2015 school year. If you’re reading this, then you might have been in my classroom this afternoon. I’m posting the video below because I think it nicely summarizes what’s happening in the world of education today. Please watch it, then take a tour of my Google Classroom and Moodle sites with your child so that you have a complete picture of what’s happening at school. And of course, feel free to email me with any questions you have.

Happy learning!


Infographics: Information, Graphically!

Happy Monday morning! This morning I’ll share with you one of my favorite resources on the web: the GRID-Arendal Maps and Infographics Library from the United Nations. It sounds complicated, but it’s really pretty simple. And it’s simply pretty, too! The Infographics Library is essentially a repository of data the UN has collected from its various programs all around the world. Much of the data has been converted into easy-to-interpret infographics by skilled graphic design professionals.

Money Grows on Trees - just one example of the resources available at the GRID-Arendal Maps and Infographics Library.

Money Grows on Trees – just one example of the resources available at the GRID-Arendal Maps and Infographics Library. Image courtesy of Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal.

The good people at the UN encourage users to share the information they’ve collated, in an effort to educate the planet about the way we impact our world. You can search the data sets and graphics by keyword, tags, location, and/or UN agency.

I have found this site to be incredibly helpful as a teacher, and I believe that it can help students better understand the many issues they will face when they become professional members of our networked world. Bookmark it.

Also, watch this TED Talk by David McCandless about data visualization, in which he examines not only how we see information, but also when we see it and what that means for our perception.

For Your Periodic Viewing Pleasure…

More video resources today. I’ll keep this up until I have exhausted my subscription list on YouTube. For more science-related content, be sure to check my Twitter feed, which I’ve also embedded on the homepage.

Screen shot - Periodic Videos

Screen shot of the homepage.

Brady Haran is a supremely entertaining master of chemistry at the University of Nottingham, and he posts new videos every single week on his YouTube channel called Periodic Videos. (It’s a play on words! Get it?) Mr Haran claims that his channel is “Your ultimate channel for all things chemistry. [It includes] A video about each element on the periodic table.” He’s also got an excellent related website by the same name, which shows the most recently updated element videos. You can have lots of fun with this channel.

SciShow is another YouTube channel worth checking out. The host Hank Green “discusses science news, history, and concepts,” which means it’s more than just how-to science. SciShow includes analysis, interviews, and storytelling “with equal parts skepticism and enthusiasm.”

Last but definitely not least is one of my favorite online resources for exploring biology and life science. John Kyrk is a Harvard-trained biologist and artist living in California, USA. He specializes in making Flash animations for science, and they are incredible. Please check out his website, My personal favorite is his evolution animation, which shows the history of all the elements and living things since the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago! 

Screen Shot - Kyrk Evolution

Screenshot of John Kyrk’s evolution animation.

Pendulum Waves and Quantum Physics

Another colleague of mine in the battle against ignorance, Steve Loschi, shared the following video and blog post with me while we were planning our current grade 10 science unit. (That’s a real-world demonstration of collaboration, kids!)

The video is linked through a physics blog called Galileo’s Pendulum, written by Matthew Francis. It’s a great overview of concepts in physics broken into smaller, more digestible chunks, kind of like a written version of Minute Physics channel on YouTube. Both the blog and the YouTube channel are well worth bookmarking. [Note: Galileo’s Pendulum and Minute Physics are not associated with one another. I just think they share some similar characteristics.]

Happy exploring!

Why Should We Trust Scientists?

This TED Talk is appropriate for the start of a new school year. Naomi Oreskes breaks down the traditional concept of the scientific method and explains some of the realities of how scientific thinking has shaped our world in the past and present. It’s worth a watch, especially if you know climate-change deniers, creationists, or other people who don’t understand the many beautiful ways our Universe works because they don’t understand the scientific mindset. Here’s the video:



The Twitterverse is Not Perverse

I'm not sure where this was originally published, but here's where I found it:

I’m not sure where this was originally published, but here’s where I found it:

I’m relatively new to Twitter. I joined about a year and a half ago when I finally upgraded from my old-school Nokia to an iPhone 4. It seemed like an easy way to keep track of all the random topics I follow on various parts of the web, but I quit using Twitter pretty quickly because I found that there was a lot of useless junk coming my way, too. Essentially, the junk overwhelmed the worthwhile links.

But then I enrolled in an Educational Technology Leadership course over the summer holiday, and I ‘found the happy’ with Twitter. Actually, I more than found the happy. I learned a whole new way of interacting with Twitter so that I get exactly what I need from what I now think is a great form of social media.

The trick was to stop following so many others and start using TweetDeck to create lists that filter tweets by their #hashtags. I carefully chose hashtags which routinely appear in Tweets about subjects I follow. I don’t control what shows up, so my news isn’t as biased as it would be if I only read the New York Times or only consulted the Wall Street Journal. The Twitter algorithms create a steady stream of information from a wide variety of sources and sorted by topic, which means I can now keep up with those subjects I’m most interested in: science news, education news, updates on technology in education, world news, and music. Here’s a screenshot of my information intake for a typical morning:

My TweetDeck homepage on Mozilla Firefox.

My TweetDeck homepage on Mozilla Firefox.

If you’d like to learn how to do this to enhance your learning at school, just stop by during one of my science help sessions, and I’ll help you get set up!

More Cool Science Resources

It’s Monday morning, which generally means I’m still waiting for that second cup of coffee to kick in, but today I have reason to be a little more awake than usual.

My colleague and partner in the battle against ignorance, Matt Erdosy, passed along the following website at the end of last school year, and I’ve only just begun to explore it. “The Big History Project” may not sound like a science resource, but the site labels itself as “A journey through 13.8 billion years of history,” and it includes all the major events in the history of the Universe. So it’s not like a History Channel history or a Mr Price’s European history class kind of history. It’s literally a history of everything. I’ve just started to scratch the surface of what’s in this site, but as I learn more about it, we will explore more of it in class, particularly in my 8th grade astronomy lessons.

I’ve also included a couple more science-y YouTube channels to today’s post, since students seem to respond so well to them. First up today is the very well-regarded Minute Physics. Minute Physics, as you might guess, includes a lot of physical science lessons broken into one-minute videos. It’s like Short-Attention-Span Theatre for science class! According to the channel creators, “Simply put: cool physics and other sweet science.”

The next channel I’ll share is Crash Course. Many of my students are already familiar with the Green borthers’ great series on YouTube. Crash Course doesn’t cover only science. There are 8 separate courses available on the channel, but of course in my classes we focus on the science end of things. Quick-hitting, entertaining, and loaded with resources such as external links, additional footage and explanations, as well as quizzes corresponding to the videos, this channel is well worth bookmarking.

Happy exploring!

YouTube Science Channels of the Day

I subscribe to a number of cool science channels on YouTube. If you’re a fan of science, you’ve probably already discovered these on your own, but if you’re just beginning your scientific journey of discovery, then you should check out some of the following channels. They are all entertaining, educational, scientifically accurate, and generally fun. I use them in my class routinely because the curators of these channels are soooooo much more talented at inventing and creating engaging content to explain science.

I’ll post a few of these recommendations here from time to time as I work through my own subscriptions and as I unearth channels that are new to me. But enough of my rambling. Here are my recommended YouTube Science Channels of the Day:

Smarter Every Day: Destin is a science guy who simply tries to get smarter every day, which I think is a pretty laudable goal. He’s also got a presence on Tumblr, and of course he’s on Twitter as well. If you want to get smarter every day – even just a little bit – you should check it out.

Veritasium: Derek Muller is the master behind this great channel, and to quote the information straight from the homepage, “Veritasium is a science video blog featuring experiments, expert interviews, cool demos, and discussions with the public about everything science.” He’s also quite active on Twitter. Follow Derek to discover more of the truth in science!

Welcome to the new school year!

It’s time to get started on what should be an exciting, innovative, engaging year for myself and all the students in my classes. We’ve got a brand new MYP model to unpack, new course content, and – the thing I’m personally most excited about this school year – figuring out how to take full advantage of the latest invention from the good people at the GooglePlex in Mountain View, California: Google Classroom.

Before we can dig into our new 8th grade class, we need to establish a road map of where we are, where we’re going, and how we’re going to get there. The syllabus below is the first step on that journey. Please download and save it to your computer, read it thoroughly, and get in touch with me with any questions you have about it.

Want to be a Google Ninja? Then Read This…

Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 11.08.30 AMMrs Courtney Park, IST Librarian and Media Specialist extraordinaire, shared this document with me yesterday, and I’ve already put it on the bulletin boards in my classrooms. If you are a student (or anyone doing online research for that matter), this is a great resource. Check it out, download it, study it, and use it. If you’re one of my students, know that this will make navigating our Google Classroom experience much, much easier, more efficient, and hopefully highly effective for learning. In other words, you can become a Google Ninja!

Click here for the full infographic.