I am currently too busy with other projects to write posts, but I will consider writing them in the future if there is interest. Let me know if you'd like to see more blog posts in the future.
I found a very inspiring video on Mashable.com. It's about a fifteen year old boy from Sierra Leone who is a self-taught engineer. He does things like creating a battery to power his home since the power only comes on once in a week. Of course, given the lack of supplies there, Kelvin makes a battery out of baking soda, acid and scrap metal. Think about that next time your favourite TV show is cancelled and you are tempted to complain. You get the idea. He has also created a radio transmitter and is the DJ for his own radio station. He broadcasts news and music to his community.
Here is a link to the page on Mashable about Kelvin.
Although Felix made an earlier appearance on the Try This At Home Page, I thought I'd introduce her (yes, her) on my science blog. So I'd like to introduce Felix the Reluctant Lab Cat. She is generally terrified of my science experiments. But she is also terrified of my snowboard, me peeling oranges, every sound my cell phone makes and bananas.
Here Felix is helping me test the strength of my new plexiglass covers for my interactive light panels. If it seems helpful, it is really only because she was starved for attention (a permanent condition, I fear). She also has a tendency to sit on whatever I am working on.
Now and then Felix will make an appearance on the blog, especially if people are interested. So leave comments and let me know if you want Felix to reappear. And no dissections, so don't even suggest it!
As a primary teacher, I can't help but notice it is almost always the boys constructing things with blocks. But I am also very aware of marketing and how these toys are presented to children. I have also heard parents disparaging their daughters if they played with something that was deemed a boy's toy and vice versa. I despise the companies that insist on labelling toys and books for girls or boys. Why don't we just make toys and write books for CHILDREN?
So along comes GoldieBlox, a fantastic kickstarter project. I suppose you could say that this too is designed for girls, but I see GoldieBlox as a stepping stone to the day when we no longer feel the need to limit children to the stereotypes that we are stuck with right now. I could say much more about this project, but the video at the aforementioned link does a far better job than I could.
Researchers in China have created music by translating the brain's electrical fluctuations to pitch and blood flow to intensity. The result is quite surprising. The writer at Wired describes it as sounding like free-form jazz piano. You can judge for yourself by going to Wired and listening to the music. There are samples of the brain music of a 14 year old girl and a 31 year old woman.
I'd like to hear what you think about this video. Email me to explain what you think is going on. If you solved it, what were the clues? Email is better than comments so no one gives away any spoilers. I am hoping to hear from you. Please use the contact form below to email me.
I just heard on Twitter that it would have been Carl Sagan's 78th birthday today. He is a major inspiration for me and he's also the namesake of my blog. He was an astronomy professor and science popularizer. He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles. Carl Sagan was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books.
"Somewhere, SOMETHING INCREDIBLE is waiting to be known." - Carl Sagan
Watch the tribute video below. You will probably not get those 5 minutes back, but you will be inspired and likely spend the day thinking about our place in the universe.
(If you are watching this with young children, the video has a short, but potentially disturbing series of clips featuring war.)
These three girls should get a Nobel Prize. They have developed a device that can provide 6 hours of electricity from 1 litre of urine. This device combined with beer seems like it would be an unlimited source of electricity.
Here is their summary of how it works.
Here is a link to io9, the website where I found the info.
Most people spend their Sundays reading the paper, watching football and making sacrifices to Cthulhu*, but I am spending my Sunday cleaning up my science workshop gear. Specifically, I am washing plastic cups that were used to make silly putty. I can't quite bring myself to throw out plastic cups after one use given that plastic waste sticks around for (almost) forever and was made from oil that took millions of years to form. That seems to be a long time. Interested in knowing more about plastic? If yes, here is an interesting article with a video. It is (probably) more than you ever knew about plastic. It was in my case.
*I'm not sure about that last one.
I find this TED talk to be very inspiring. I taught grade one last year and empowering kids is what teaching is all about. The fact that this dad worked together with his daughter to create a videogame is awesome. From the sounds of it, it ended up being an engaging game. But what really impacted me was the way Ryan talks about kids as consumers. In his words, "Our goal is to help kids become creators, not consumers." His reflections on the state of technology in the classroom are also bang on. Watch and enjoy. Leave a comment with your thoughts afterwards. I would love