In the Fellow Spotlight

I recently won an award for my school, because of this I was featured in the Fellow Spotlight section of the FellowBlast newsletter. Here is the article:

NYC Teaching Fellow Michael Doig wins a $54,000 technology grant

Michael Doig, a Cohort 12 NYC Teaching Fellow, has won a $54,000 grant from the City Council of New York for computer lab and classroom technology at Bedford-Stuyvesant Preparatory High School in Brooklyn. By providing students the ability to learn computer skills in high school or sooner, they can be better prepared for the future.
Michael intends to use the funds toward computer literacy education. He also intends to engage his students in several long-term science projects, including weather tracking, seismology, videos, podcasts, and more.

To secure the grant, Michael located his Council Member and submitted a proposal for the grant. If you’re interested in securing a grant, you may start by using the DOE’s Financial Accounting Management Systems (FAMIS) to create a list of supplies that you would like to obtain through capital funding. You should also include a detailed explanation of how your school intends to use the new equipment. To be successfully funded, all proposals need to be as specific as possible.

Please join the NYC Teaching Fellows as we congratulate Michael on narrowing the achievement gap through this remarkable opportunity!

Thank you Alissa.

The Brooklyn Ink also featured an article on this award.

Stick Insects in New Jersey?

I recently went for a hike at the Lusscroft Farm trail in Sussex New Jersey. As I was ambling down the path, I stumbled upon this stick bug. I have seen stick insects many times, but I always thought they were limited to tropical habitats. Apparently they have evolved in the temperate regions of Earth as well.

This is not the first time I have found a species I thought was tropical living in and around New York. I spotted Parrots nesting in Brooklyn back in March.

Check out the cool “pincher” on the back of it. Defense, mating, or for grasping while climbing?

Stick Insect in New Jersey

Stick Insect in New Jersey

Stick Insect in New Jersey

I was so excited to have found a stick bug that I forgot to switch my camera into macro mode, so the video is a little out-of-focus.

Imagine Science Film Festival, NYC – October 16-25

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Imagine Science Films has gathered an eclectic selection of films to present at the Imagine Science Film Festival

The Imagine Science Film Festival (ISFF) is full-fledge New York Science Film Festival. ISFF 2008 is in mid-October from 16-25 and will include screenings in Manhattan and Brooklyn. The objective of the festival is to showcase films, especially fiction films, that effectively incorporate science into a compelling narrative while maintaining credible scientific groundings.

ISFF is the first science film festival in New York. It an environment where filmmakers, artists, scientists and the public can meet. It will be a place where science is exciting and accessible to everyone, regardless of their background. At ISFF, the public will join scientists in learning and imagining science through visual storytelling.

From ImagineScienceFilms.com

Opening Night

Thursday October 16th, 7-9pm
New York Academy of Sciences
7 World Trade Center, 250 Greenwich St.
40th Floor, New York

This event will take place on October 16, 2008 beginning at 7pm.
Tickets for the kick- off event are $25 for non NYAS members and $15
for members.

Register TODAY to reserve your spot at http://www.nyas.org/filmfest.

Ira Flatow from NPR’s Science Friday is moderating the Festival opening celebration, ‘Science in Fiction’, a discussion on the relationship between science and fiction in cinema. This will be held at the impressive headquarters of the New York Academy of Sciences at 7 World Trade Center, 40th Floor and is a catered event.

Panelists include:
Ari Handel, neuroscientist, screenwriter of The Fountain, and president, Protozoa Pictures
Darcy Kelley, neuroscience professor, Columbia University, and scientific advisor, Tribeca Film Festival
Sidney Perkowitz, physics professor, Emory University, and author of Hollywood Science
Billy Shebar, screenwriter, Dark Matter


ISFF 2008 Trailer (Films Montage) from Imagine Science Films on Vimeo.

ScienceBoom Job Board Launched

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ScienceBoom is pleased to announce the launch of our Job Board. We are excited to link employers and science educators. ScienceBoom Jobs is a targeted destination for standards-aware teachers and educators and the organizations seeking to hire them.

Posting a job is as easy as 1-2-3…

Step 1 – Visit ScienceBoom Jobs.
Step 2 – Click on the Post a Job link in the upper right corner.
Step 3 – Fill out the Job listing form and submit it. Done!

Post your opening today, it is only $45 for 30 days.

Use the following coupon code and save 25% from now until October 31, 2008.

Enter the code sblaunch when you checkout.

Detect Earthquakes Using Your Laptop

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If you drop your laptop computer, a chip built into it will sense the acceleration and protect the delicate moving parts of its hard disk before it hits the ground. A group of researchers led by Jesse Lawrence of Stanford University are putting the same accelerometer chip to an intriguing new use: detecting earthquakes. They plan to create a network of volunteer laptops that can map out future quakes in far greater detail than traditional seismometers manage.

Seismometers are large, expensive beasts, costing $10,000 or more apiece. They are designed to be exquisitely sensitive to the sort of vibrations an earthquake produces, which means they can pick up tremors that began halfway around the world. By contrast, the accelerometer chips in laptops, which have evolved from those used to detect when a car is in a collision and thus trigger the release of the airbags, are rather crude devices. They are, however, ubiquitous. Almost all modern laptops have them and they are even finding their way into mobile phones. The iPhone, for example, uses such a chip to detect its orientation so that it can rotate its display and thus make it easily readable.

On its own, an accelerometer chip in a laptop is not very useful for earthquake-detection, as it cannot distinguish between a quake and all sorts of other vibrations—the user tapping away at the keyboard, for example. But if lots of these chips are connected to a central server via the internet, their responses can be compared. And if a large number in a particular place register a vibration at almost the same time, it is more likely to be an earthquake than a bunch of users all hitting their space bars. To exploit this group effect, Dr Lawrence’s Quake-Catcher Network (QCN) employs the same software that is used by the SETI@home project, which aggregates computing power from hundreds of thousands of volunteer computers around the world to analyse radio-telescope signals for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence…

From the Economist.com

Join the Quake-Catcher network to participate in the future of science.

Have You Ever Dreamt of Going Into Space?

Since the beginning of the Space Age, 50 years ago, students have been told that if they studied math and science, they could grow up to become astronauts and go into space.

Unfortunately, that was a false promise. Even at the height of the Shuttle program, a student had a better chance of becoming an NBA basketball player than a NASA astronaut. No wonder today’s students show more interest in athletics than math and science.

What if we could turn that around and show students that they have a real chance for a future in space?

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The Space Frontier Foundation wants to show students that they have a chance of going to space. And the best way to show students is to send astronaut teachers into American schools to share their spaceflight experience.

Every journey begins with a single step. The Pathfinder program is the first step in the journey toward the goal of putting a thousand astronaut teachers into American classrooms.

Pathfinders will be the first astronaut teachers to fly in space and return to the classroom. These Pathfinders will not only fly in space, they will also help design the three-week training course for the large number of teachers who follow. Pathfinders will also be invited to return each summer to help teach the course.

The project, which has a budget of $20 million, will eventually enable the Space Frontier Foundation to send 200 teachers a year — four from every U.S. state — into space.

Due to the high degree of interest, the deadline for applications is extended to December 4, 2008, but please don’t wait until the last minute. If two candidates whose applications are given identical weighting by the selection committee, preference may be given to the application received first, so do not delay.

You can download an application at the Teachers in Space site.

See you in orbit!

ScienceBoom Episode #4 – Chemical Weathering

In this episode we go to Central Park and take a look at the chemical weathering of Cleopatra’s Needle. Then we go back to lab and I show you how to model chemical weathering with your students.

Watch on: YouTube | Revver | Download

Host: Michael Doig
Duration: 4:19

Materials

  • Chalk
  • Paper Clip
  • Vinegar
  • Eye Dropper
  • 250ml Beaker

Weathering Fast Facts

  • Weathering is the mechanical and chemical breakdown of rocks and minerals, eventually creating soils.
  • Chemical weathering reactions include carbonation, hydrolysis, oxidation, solution and hydration reactions.
  • Biologically produced chemicals, such as those produced by lichens and mosses, can also break down rocks.

New York High School Regents Scope and Sequence Updated

New York state has updated the Scope and Sequence for high school science classes. The updated document is still labeled as a draft, but there are lots of improvements over the older version.

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Most noticeably, they went with a spiffy blue color scheme. The year is now broken up into two terms, with each term shown on separate sheets. The right hand column in each unit represents the Major Understandings taken from the New York State Core Curriculum, Standard 4. This addition finally bridges the gap between the Scope and Sequence and the State Standards. It has made aligning objectives with the State Standards a lot more straight forward.

Do yourself a favor and download a copy if you haven’t already. Look at the Scope and Sequence and the State Standards side-by-side and you will see what an improvement this is over the previous version.

Video Tutorial – An Introduction to Gradekeeper

Having an organized and easy place to keep all of your grades and attendance has never been easier. Gradekeeper is a easy and inexpensive way to keep your class information digitally. No more papers to lose or grades to calculate.

In the following tutorial I will show you how to set up and use Gradekeeper. If you have any problems or questions please leave a comment below or check the Gradekeeper thread in the forum.

If the tutorial seems too small, use the full screen icon in the player or the download link for a larger view.

Watch on: Revver | Download

Host: Michael Doig
Duration: 16:21

5 Ideas for First Day Ice Breakers

Meeting a new class can be both intimidating and exciting. Icebreakers are a good way to get students active and participating early. Here are 5 ways you can start your classes off on the right foot.

Two Truths and a Lie

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For this icebreaker you will pass out 3×5 cards to everyone and ask them to write down 2 true statements about themselves and 1 lie. Then each person reads their own card aloud and the class guesses which statement is the lie. It is best if the teacher goes first to illustrate how it should be done before participants write down their statements.

For example – I went to school in Hawaii, I met President Bush when I visited Washington D.C. and I once got 12 people to go skydiving. The lie is President Bush. Notice how I didn’t put the lie last and the skydiving example could be a lie.

First Impressions

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For this icebreaker you tape a piece of paper to each participants back. Students stand up and mingle for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes each student writes one or two words describing the first impressions they got about the person they just met. Students shuffle and do this process again. After meeting 5-10 people, participants remove the sheets from their backs. Students pair off and introduce each other to the class using the word on the sheets. This is a feel good activity, so when you introduce this make sure students write appropriate words on the sheets.

Human Bingo

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For this activity you give each student a copy of a bingo sheet. During a set amount of time, students go around and find classmates who match the statements on the sheet. Participants can’t sign the same sheet twice. At the end of the time, students tally up points and whoever has the highest total wins a prize (extra credit, candy). This is very fun and engaging. The link above is just an example you can make your own at Print-Bingo.com or Bingo Card Printer.

Candy Toss

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Be sure and introduce this activity as the Candy Toss. You need a large bag of candy for this activity. Students assemble in a circle and then the teacher passes the bag around and tells students they can take as many pieces of candy as they would like (go crazy), but they can’t eat it. Once the bag has made it around, you tell the students that for each piece of candy they took from the bag, they have to say one statement about themselves. Thus the more candy they took, the more they will have to say. After completing this, they can eat the candy.

Commonality

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In advance prepare 3-4 sets of 3×5 cards that have names on them that are related. Then pass them out randomly and have students find their matches. For example you would prepare 4 cards each one with a different name such as Homer, Marge, Bart and Lisa once those 4 students find each other they should realize they are the Simpsons. You can use band members, movie characters, presidential candidates, etc. Be creative, but use something students will know. Once they have found each other, have them sit together and introduce the group to the class. This is a great activity to get students into random groups.

Good luck tomorrow and have a great year.