Blog Archives

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The Twitterverse is Not Perverse

I'm not sure where this was originally published, but here's where I found it: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BvVVZQlIMAAB5ZG.jpg

I’m not sure where this was originally published, but here’s where I found it: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BvVVZQlIMAAB5ZG.jpg

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!

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The Ivory Trade, Organized Crime, and Questions About the Effectiveness of CITES

I’ve posted this first article before – from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime – which outlines the links between ivory from east Africa and narcotics in Asia. The embedded version is the short one, and the full version is available to download here: Ivory and Organized Crime in East Africa.PDF

The following item is a dissertation research paper by Justine Braby, an Environmental Law Postgraduate candidate at the University of Cape Town. In it, she examines how effective the CITES ban on ivory has been since implemented. CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, a global framework for reducing and/or eliminating the trade in all endangered organisms for commercial gain. The CITES website has a lot of very specific information directly relating to the ESS Topic 4 – Conservation and Biodiversity, as well as the Grade 9 poaching project. I recommend you check out both the articles posted here, as well as the CITES page.

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Abiotic Factors at IST

IST science garden - south side

IST science garden – south side

We’ve spent the past few lessons working in the garden outside the science building, and you should have collected enough data at this point to reliably determine a correlation – or lack thereof – between 2 different abiotic factors in that space. Below you’ll find a PDF map I created of the garden space. Please note that this version is an unfinished draft. I will complete the final version while I’m in Jordan next week for the Model UN conference. You can download a PDF version of the garden map here. And of course, please make sure you’re following the instructions in the Google doc I shared with all of you!

Good luck, and remember that you must upload a PDF version of your full lab by midnight on Tuesday 29 October 2013! The class ID at Turnitin.com is 6700442, and the password is ‘science’.

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Creating Self-Fertilizing Crops to Feed Increasing Global Population

Image Credit: treehugger.com

Image Credit: treehugger.com

Here’s an intriguing article about research into a new method of fertilizing food crops. Nitrogen is one of the key elements required for plant growth, but because it’s not found everywhere on the planet, people use nitrogen fertilizers to boost yields in areas with low nitrogen levels. Unfortunately, the Haber process (the industrial process of producing nitrogen fertilizers) requires large inputs of energy, which then means large outputs of greenhouse gases. Commercial fertilizers are also expensive, especially for low-income and subsistence farmers, and they often leach into rivers and lakes, causing eutrophication.

This potential discovery from the world of biotechnology could change food production in several important ways. First, the plants themselves would be able to ‘fix’ nitrogen directly from the atmosphere, essentially supplying their own fertilizer. Second, small-holder farmers (like most of the farmers in Tanzania) wouldn’t have to buy fertilizer anymore, which means they’d have more money to spend on things such as education and health care for their families. Third, reducing the energy demand for the Haber process would lessen our carbon footprint and our contribution to climate change. And lastly, the problems of eutrophication – lifeless, oxygen-starved lakes and streams – may also diminish.

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Organizing Life

Now that we’ve spent some time getting to know our key vocabulary in the biology sequence, let’s start to delve a little deeper into the links and relationships among those words.

The Cell Theory is one of the foundational ideas behind all of biology, and it is something you must be familiar with before starting any future classes in bio. There are 3 main postulates to the Cell Theory, which I’ve listed below.

  1. All living things are made of cells.
  2. All cells come from pre-existing cells.
  3. The cell is the smallest unit of life.

Even though all living things are made of cells, not all cells are alike. Living organisms are classified into 5 kingdoms of life based on differences in their physiology and cell function. I think the link above and the image below nicely summarizes the way we classify living organisms.

In this unit we’ll look at one of the key distinctions among Earth organisms: the differences between plant and animal cells. The notes packet and diagrams you received in class contain the “official class notes” on this topic, so don’t lose them! You might also find the following items somewhat useful:

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Putting All The World’s Water Into One Big Box

I was researching something about evolution for one of my grade 9 classes the other day when I stumbled across this series of infographics about water resources. We’ve just begun our exploration of Topic 2 – Ecosystems, but these infographics do a really nice job of putting the amount of water on our planet into perspective. You can click on this link for the original post at waitbutwhy.com.

We will revisit these images when we dive into Topic 3, Subtopic 3.6 – Water Resources (‘dive in’ – get it? haha!), but they’re worth a read now. You’ll need to know some of these numbers for your IB Exam!

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Getting Time in Perspective

The other day during a biology lesson, some grade 9 students asked me how long ago people came to Australia, so I pulled up a map showing the migration of humans out of Africa. The dates and routes taken by different groups of people sparked quite a bit of interest and conversation with those students. And then, voila, I encountered the post below from waitbutwhy.com.

Follow this link for the full set of timelines, but be forewarned: not all of the language in the post is appropriate for school.