Friday, February 29, 2008

Abstinence-only Driver's Ed

Don't miss reading this link at McSweeny's. Hilarious.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

We Are What We Drink

Cerling and Ehleringer over at the University of Utah just published a paper in the online journal "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences" describing their new forensic technique, which uses Hydrogen and Oxygen isotope concentrations from local water tables in your hair to determine where you have spend your time.

The two maps here show predicted average hydrogen (top) and oxygen (bottom) isotope levels in human hair across the continental United States -- isotopes that vary with geography because of different isotope levels in local drinking water. The ratios of heavy, rare hydrogen-2 to lighter, common hydrogen -1 are highest in red and orange areas in the top map, and lowest in the blue and darker green areas. The ratios of heavy, rare oxygen-18 to lighter, common oxygen-16 are highest in red and orange areas of the bottom map, and lowest in the blue and darker green areas. Credit: University of Utah

“You can tell the difference between Utah and Texas,” Ehleringer says. But, Cerling adds, “You may not be able to distinguish between Chicago and Kansas City.”

So in case you're considering a life of crime, you might want to
  1. Consider a new bald or buzz-cut look so the encoded travel history you carry along with you is limited.

  2. Drink only bottled water

  3. Shelve any green tendencies and eat at only imported meat and produce.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lunar Eclipse Tonight

Don't miss tonight's Lunar Eclipse. Otherwise you'll have to wait at least three more years to see another one.

Eclipse Diagram

More details at NASA.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Aqua Forest Aquariums in SF

If you happen to live in the area, and have the slightest interest in fresh-water aquaria, don't miss this amazing store in San Francisco.

Read my whole review of the field and the store complete with more images at the WISE student blog where we're helping schools learn how to set up these incredible balanced micro-ecosystems.

New WISE Web Site Launched

Hi all,

We just launched the new web site for the Westminster Institute for Science Education [W.I.S.E.]. Click on the logo below to check it out, including the links to the student and teacher blogs. Comments and suggestions welcome!

Oh yes, and for any of you wealthy philanthropists or corporate titans with a hankering to invest in nationwide science, math, or technology education reform, donations are encouraged! Just email or message me, or post a comment here on "All the Best Bits."

How Grandma Sees the Remote


via Gizmodo.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

"Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire" Book Review

If any of you need just the littlest bit of inspiration in your roles as teachers, mentors, or students or perhaps if you are a parent looking for that perfect school for your kids, I can strongly recommend Rafe Esquith's book entitled "Teach Like Your Hair is On Fire."

Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire

Even halfway through the book, I found myself wishing I could get my daughters into a class like Room 56 at Hobart Elementary. Several chapters actually choked me up a little and seriously redoubled my motivations to make WISE a success. And the stories went on, and on, and on, and on to the point where it seemed almost impossible that so many incredibly cool things could be happening in one class under a single teacher. By the time I was finished with the quick read I realized that it is a passing rare teacher that can give so much of themselves to their students.

Esquith demonstrates an almost pathological level of commitment to his students. But a couple of other critical traits show through the anecdotes. Esquith has an innate sense of very high standards across a very broad range of disciplines, coupled with both humility and initiative that in combination are more rare than hen's teeth. His humility reveals itself with a wry self-awareness and a willingness to critically evaluate where his skills and efforts fall short of his exceptional standards. The initiative comes into play when he realizes his failings and takes steps to find true experts and recruit them to support his cause. All of that combined with a work ethic most Protestants would find over-the-top makes for a magical classroom experience and students who regularly return after decades.

After succumbing to my recommendation, me wannabe-teacher wife's major comment was, "I'm not sure I could give that much to my students. How would my own kids feel when so abandoned? That said, she read the book over a single night, and came away with the feeling "I would TOTALLY have LOVED that in 5th grade." An excellent read indeed. I wonder if there is any way to get seats for the play.

From the book's back cover:
“Rafe Esquith is my only hero.”
—Sir Ian McKellan

“Politicians, burbling over how to educate the underclass, would do well to stop by Rafe Esquith’s fifth grade class as it mounts its annual Shakespeare play. Sound like a grind? Listen to the peals of laughter bouncing off the classroom walls.”

“Esquith is a modern-day Thoreau, preaching the value of good work, honest self-reflection, and the courage to go one’s own way.”

Get it here on Amazon.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Dean Kamen's Prosthetic "Luke" Arm

What a technical home run. If you need any more motivation to engage in cool robotics projects, just check out the reaction when the test subject figures out he can feed himself for the first time in 26 years. That's social impact. From the IEEE Spectrum site.

Do Your Civic Duty

Decisions are made by those who show up. So go and cast your vote without delay. Our country's future depends on you.


And as long as you are planning to vote, I'd like to put in a plug for the candidates who support those areas of science, technology, and education that will form the foundation of our future economy.

If you are in any doubt as to which candidates are looking towards the future, just visit these links that the American Association for the Advancement of Science has established to review the science and technology policies of each of the leading candidates.
Without making any specific plugs, let's just say that the Republican party has not been kind to science in the last eight years, and it would be good for this country to realize significant revitalization in those areas. Vote for science and our future!