29 February 2012

Can you turn that down please?

OK, so Sunday night was when I realized that I am "old."  Let me explain -- I went with a friend to a concert in a small venue, and it was great, a band that I had never seen before.  But my ears hurt so badly when we left.  In fact, they didn't stop ringing until the middle of the day today.  This realization got me thinking about what I tell my students all of the time -- "turn down the volume."  I have lost track of how many times I have asked this of students, because I should not be able to hear your music when you have ear buds in your ears.

The reason that I am bringing this up is that exposure to noise over an extended period of time can damage your hearing.  Below is a chart of typical sound levels.  Now, keep in mind that so far I have not done a lot myself to protect my hearing (other than making sure that the volume on my iPad and in my car is not too loud), but it is something to think about.  So next time, I just might be the cool kid in the back of the concert with ear plugs, but hopefully when I much older, I will still be able to enjoy the music.

22 February 2012

Google honors Hertz

And I don't mean the rental car company, but the other Hertz you hear about (as in Hz).  Check out today's Google homepage in honor of Hertz's 155th birthday.

Hertz was the first person to prove the existence of electromagnetic waves.  In 1930 the unit of frequency was named after him.

21 February 2012

Online genetics labs

Biology students often complain about genetics.  They find it difficult to understand, and are often presented with examples that don't relate to real life (who cares if the pea plant is tall or short, or if the seed coat is smooth or wrinkled, they're still peas).

Since many students are currently learning genetics at this time of the year, I thought that it would be helpful to provide a link to some online labs that can help with this sometimes challenging topic.  They are also kind of fun to do if you have a good grasp of what's going on.

Mendel's Peas
Parts 1 and 2 are reviews of meiosis and fertilization.  Part three is a challenge involving the use of genetics to create the right types of pea plants (using the story of the Princess and the Pea).

Dragon Genetics
This lab lets you test your understanding of genotype and phenotype by having you manipulate the genotypes of the dragons.


20 February 2012

Happy anniversary John Glenn, now let's go chase our dreams

50 years ago today John Glenn made history.  He was not the first person in space, he was not even the second.  He was not the first astronaut in the Mercury program, nor was he the second.  But, he was the first American in outer space.  In a flight that was just shy of five hours, he orbited the Earth three times, and became an instant hero.

Let us think back to what it means to have a hero that inspires us to reach all the way, to go into outer space. Especially now, in a day when the space shuttle program is over, and many people couldn't care less if we went back into space or not.  I remember watching shuttle launches on the television, but I know that many of my peers didn't.  I grew up in a house where flight and space were these magical, mythical things.  Yes, we went to the moon, but where else could we go?  How would we get there?  How could we handle the impossible distances and time involved in making these trips?

On September 12, 1962 President Kennedy outlined his dream for us to go to the moon, by the end of the decade:
We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.
 Let us live our lives inspired by the bravery of all of our astronauts, and make sure that we continue to do things that challenge us.  Let's push the boundaries of what we know.

You never know, something incredible might just happen.

Who am I?

I thought that I would take a moment to share a little bit of information about myself.

I am a science teacher.  I have taught many different subjects, from Earth Science, to Biology, and Environmental Science.

I absolutely love science.  With a passion.  I think that science gives us the tools we need in order to unlock the world around us:  Why is the sky blue?  How does a ship float?  How come, if I drop a bowling ball and an apple from the same height at the same time will they both hit the ground at the exact same moment?

I think that everyone can understand and get science.  You don't have to become a quantum physicist or the next Dr. Barnard.  No one is asking you to do that.  But you can tell me why the tides go in and out.

As a follow up to the previous statement, I think that science should be available to everyone.  You can't understand or get something if you can't find it.

I don't think that asking for help is a sign of weakness.  All it is is a sign that you need help, that you don't quite understand something.

I think that humor is good.  There is no need for a further explanation, other than the fact that I will try to include a "Friday funny" science joke once a week.  I can't promise that they will all be good.

I am a bit of a procrastinator.  For that, I do apologize.  If I disappear from time to time, it is not that I have forgotten about you, it may just be that I found a new exciting book that I got hooked on, or a project, or someone's tumblr, or a shiny object... However, I can promise you that I will try my best to keep this to a minimum.

This seems to me to be a pretty good list, so I will end it here.  Except for one last thing:  if you think that there is something that you would like me to discuss, or help you to better understand, please, let me know.

Thanks everyone!!!

10 February 2012

Science is Funny

Since today is Friday, and the beginning of a weekend, I thought that I would post a little science humor here.  To be fair, I have borrowed this from one of my friend's posts on Facebook, so I can't take credit for its humor, but it is enjoyable nonetheless.

Now, I will not be the awful person who decides to explain the joke to you if you didn't understand it, because I believe that that will ruin it for those who do, so instead, I will provide you with a link so that you can learn about Schrodinger's Cat yourself.



06 February 2012


Why do we study science?  This is a question that is asked every day by countless people.  Many people view science as “that scary subject,” but it doesn’t have to be that.  Science is more than just a bunch of facts and stuff to memorize, science is a way of thinking, a way of looking at the world in which we live.  My goal is to provide a resource that makes science more accessible to everyone.

Follow me here or on twitter @MsGoldsteinSci