Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ask a Scientist

Well, there isn't much to tell for this blog entry. I posted the following question on the website Ask a Scientist: how are signals produced and formulated for specific proteins to control how certain organelles in a cell function?  However, I never received an answer. I will continue to wait or do my own research if an answer still is not provided for my inquiry.  Based on my experience, I am not sure I would rely mainly on these sites. I prefer to find actualy professionals in the area of study my students are working and have them either come to he classroom or communicate via e-mail.  Although if my only source was such a site, I would have my students experience it for themselves and then reflect on their experience as well as think of other ways to find out what they want to know.

Ask a Scientist

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Teacher Web Tool Reviews

In today’s teaching field technology is a necessary tool to engage this generation of student.  There are many applications available on-line to produce interactive and engaging presentations of materials to get the students attention before, during, or after a lesson.  I am going to write a review for three of these presentation tools.
First, I tested the Animoto presentation maker.  This tool was fairly easy to use. They have a short tutorial, but that would not run when I tried to open the link, therefore I had to rely on the pop-up instructions to make my video, which made the process a tad bit cumbersome. The special features are free 30 second videos, free video (if you have the latest Flash Video) and free images.  When I was done with my video, I was e-mailed the finished product.  The website provides links to share one’s video on Facebook, Youtube, twitter, and e-mail.  As I mentioned earlier the 30 second video is free, but one must pay five dollars a month to create a full length video and thirty dollars a month to gain access to specific images, videos and interactive screens.  This website is accessible from anywhere, and works best with high-speed internet.  The multi-media capabilities are video, pictures, music, and anything you can either link or upload onto the project.  The types of slides you have access are what make this tool engaging and that the speed of the pictures and video are determined by the music uploaded or chosen.  Overall, a relevant tool, but I was a little disappointed that only thirty second videos are free and that an educator would have to pay for a two to five minute video. 
Second, I tested the Glogster which was pretty easy to manipulate. The neat feature that Glogster has is the presenter’s ability to upload their own video, picture, or recorded voice-over for the presentation.  Glogster does not have a data bank of videos or pictures, but it does have a data bank of various backgrounds.  This program is free and one can make a presentation over five minutes or more in length. There are guided notes as you work on your Glogster presentation. The technical requirements are just fast internet and video applications.  This tool is accessible from home, school, and the classroom. However, there were a few glitches when I tried to upload pictures onto the presentation. The loading was a bit slow. The motivational factor for this tool is that anyone can use it and can make their presentations more personal to connect with the audience; one just has to be willing to take the time to work through some of the glitches to get it done.
Last, I tested the Prezi tool. This tool was easy to access and provides a decent number of GB to create a basic Prezi presentation for free.  The site has various tutorials and cheats sheet used to quickly develop a presentation. Adding text, images, and video is simple. However, Prezi does not provide a bank of images or videos that one can copy and paste. One must search on-line or upload these things from their computers to be used in the presentation.  This tool was easy to manipulate and the presentation was ready to play in a matter of seconds. The presentation can be shared on-line.  One does have to pay thirty dollars or more a month for more Prezi applications and an increase in the number of presentations that can be saved.  This tool is accessible from home, but due to security measures at my school I would not be able to access the Youtube videos that this tool asks you download in your presentation. Therefore, I may not be able to include videos in these presentations. I did not see a feature for sound included in this Prezi presentation, but there is video and images. The manner in which the Prezi showcases the pieces of a presentation is intriguing however I will need more training to get the full benefits of this tool.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Physical and Chemical Properties of Matter

On Fire:

Virtural Kitchen Chemistry (studying acids and bases):

Strange Matter:

Mystery Mud:

Anatomy of a Firework:

The Chemistry of Make-up:

Virtual Boiling Water:

The tools above are helpful in preparing students to be 21st-century scientifically literate citizens because they are watching or performing scientific experiments on-line, just as we are doing in our on-line courses. These tools also provide diverse applications and exploration of the topics related to physical and chemical properties of matter.
One activity I would use in class is the Virtural Kitchen, testing acids and bases, as well as their reactivity with baking soda.  While interactive activities are great, I would also set up a couple of stations in the classroom where my students test the pH of some of the same substances used in the virtual lab, however my students would use pH indicator paper and litmus paper.  I would have my student create their own tables on paper and/or later have them fill in their data into excel to later graph the pH of different household liquids.  In addition, I would split up the students into smaller groups that would rotate to different stations in the room: one station is the virtual lab, another station is the real deal. At the end students will share what they learned about the various substances used and how acids and bases react chemically with baking soda, as well as why they think acids react with baking soda, while bases do not react.  
The challenges that teachers may face when integrating these tools is having enough computers for their students to work on, when they need them. I am experiencing a similar situation because I want to have a group of my students work on laptops to learn about a topic on astronomy, however our school is in the process of MAP testing so the laptops are not available until Thursday. Another challenge is that teachers must make sure Adobe Shockwave (or an updated version) is downloaded onto their computer for some of these tools or they will not work. The Boiling Water interactive lab is a good example of this possible dilemma.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Experimenting With Heat

In my experiment I used Styrofoam, a Ziploc bag (plastic), paper towel, and paper bag to test their effectiveness of insulating heat given off by hot water.   I hypothesized that the Styrofoam would be the best insulator because of how solid it was a material.  Hence, its molecules would be closer and based on my own experience with Styrofoam it does a good job of keeping hot food and liquids warm for a longer period of time than other materials. I chose the other materials because they were conveniently in my house and seem to have varying qualities, for the most part that I believed would give a range of temperatures.  The results of my experiment were as follows: water covered with Styrofoam was 45.6 degrees Celsius, water covered with Ziploc bag was 44 degrees Celsius, water covered with a paper tower was 41 degrees Celsius, and the water covered with a piece of paper bag was 44 degrees Celsius.  Overall, the Styrofoam was the best insulator out of the other materials, but the Ziploc bag and the paper bag maintained the same temperatures which was only 1.6 degree less than the Styrofoam.

I would make this experiment for engaging and fun by first presenting to them my data and having them make hypotheses as to which material matches with each temperature and why.  After they made their hypotheses then I would give them the materials and have them perform their own test to see which results are consistent with what I presented to them.  After which I would have my students choose two other materials like, cotton balls, wood, bubble wrap, foil, cardboard, or copper.  I would then relate the lesson to real-life ideas by either showing students objects, such as a pot, water, or pictures of objects similar to meteors falling from space or earth and having students brainstorm how each picture or object is related to heat transfer, as well as how they are related to our lives each day.  Students would then receives cards with different scenarios related to the picture or objects shown in class and students much match the appropriate card with the correct picture or object. This activity leads to discussion about how our very existence is related to how heat is transferred and natural insulators, as well as conductors that exist on earth. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011


The experiment I chose was to test if a pendulum with a lighter washer would come to rest sooner than a pendulum with a heaver washer.  I found that the pendulum with the lighter washer did return to a rest position quicker than a pendulum with a heavier washer.  These results were consistent with my hypothesis, because I thought that the lighter washer would stop faster due to it being lighter in mass and therefore having less momentum when it was swinging.  What I thought went well with this experiment was that it made me think critically about pendulum and how such a devise is related to force and motion.  What did not work so well was truly getting the pendulum to go back to rest. In fact it returned to rest when I tested the pendulum with a shorter string list; I found the longer the string, the longer it took for the pendulum to stop moving.

My experience with scientific inquiry has shown that in order for it to go smoothly my classroom must be structured and some classes even need handouts to guide their thinking throughout the process.  I have also found out that everyone's results may be a bit different due to how they conduct the experiment, therefore, unless a students results are way off I mainly look for their results being consisten overall. We then talk about what variables may have resulted in them not getting specific results. The modifications I would make with this experiment is to not have the students hold the string, but to set up an apparatus that the pendulum could be tied to and swung on. 

I might set up this experiment as an extension piece to my lesson on inertia.  I would make this experiment more interesting and relevant to their lives by having students explore the website I found entitled  This website gives the history behind the pendulum and how it was used to show that the earth rotates. 

I mainly would want students to learn more about Newton's first law of inertia and that there is a way to see that the world rotates event though we do not notice.  I think this will be the desired effect and am interested to see how my students will engage in this activity or one like it.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Structured Inquiry

This past week was interesting. I implemented a structured inquiry on-line interactive lesson that had students research Gregor Mendel and his findings of why offspring may show traits different from their parents. I provided students with a questions in which they had to do the research and a virtual pea plant experiment to answer. Students also had to reflect on what they learned from their investigation.

My students learning was positively impacted by this investigation because they learned some history behind genetics and practiced working as team to research information as well as simulate breeding pea plants with different traits. Based on what they learned from their research students predicted what the genotype and phenotype of the next generation would be. Students then bred the parents of their choosing to observe if they saw what they thought they would see.

Learning was demonstrated by the students in the work posted by how well they answered the questions provided for them and based on what they wrote down in their final reflection.  I was able to tell how well students understood the concept of inheriting traits based on what they wrote down, therefore I could respond to any misconceptions I observed.