One of the most effective ways to teach pupils about science is go beyond simply reading about science and have learners actually do the work of scientists by immersing them in citizen science. January is a great month to help students take on the role of citizen scientists. How? Simply point pupils to the Journey North site (a free, web-based program sponsored by Annenberg Learner). Journey North participants do what scientists do. They do science. Learners make field observations, collect data, and contribute valuable information to ongoing, worldwide studies.
Another great citizen science project to involve students in is the Great Backyard Bird Count. The GBBC gets underway beginning February (15th to 18th, to be exact).
If the GBBC is of interest to you, be sure to visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and sign up for a bird-watching calendar that was created for the 2012-13 season of Project FeederWatch, a winter-long survey of birds at feeders across the U.S. and Canada. Be sure to drop by the NestCams portion of the site, too.
Consider visiting the Citizen Science Alliance site. The CSA, describes itself as “a collaboration of scientists, software developers and educators who collectively develop, manage and utilise internet-based citizen science projects in order to further science itself, and the public understanding of both science and of the scientific process.”
I am going to try to return to blogging on a regular basis.
In many ways, I feel like an alcoholic climbing back on the wagon. I’ve been away from this blog since April of this year. Why?
With the economy being what it is and needing to keep my bills paid, I’ve been holding down three jobs (one full-time, the other two, part-time). I all but gave up on sleeping this year. People I know who I run into want to know where I’ve been and why I haven’t been posting anything. I wince when they ask and tell them the truth: I have been too damned tired. I seem to have lost myself in any number of one of jobs. On one had, I am grateful I am able to provide for my family. On the other hand, I hate that my work has whittled away what little time I had for blogging. I also know that complaining will do little to alleviate the problem.
So, I am going to try to do this yet again. I recently began working my way through P2PU. I am so glad that I did! The experience required me to create a blog where I can document my progress. I’m doing it in fits and starts. Creating and posting to that new blog stirred up a desire to come back here and bring Preclectic back to life. I know that consistent blogging will keep my mind and skills sharp so I’m going to try.
Apps for Autism (originally broadcast in October 2011 on CBS’s 60 Minutes) explored how tablet computers and special applications allow those challenged by ASD to communicate more efficiently and effectively.
Picture AAC app (from Hearty SPIN) is an iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch app that helps nonverbal individuals with autism and other special needs to communicate effectively using pictures.
I’m back. I took a break from blogging last week to celebrate my birthday. An occasional guilt-free period of goofing off does the mind and body good. Rest is also wonderful tonic for a worn out brain. Want to maximize your shut-eye? If so, visit Sleepyti.me Bedtime Calculator.
I’ve just finished reading Alex Goldmark‘s uplifting article for GOOD, The Next Time You Cut Your Finger, Save a Life. Go read Alex’s work! What makes this story so compelling is how wonderfully simple and powerful an idea be. You’ll also get to know Graham Douglas. Graham has a brother who, despite daunting odds, was fortunate to find a donor match for bone marrow. The treatment helped Graham’s brother survive leukemia. The experience inspired Graham. He focused on how to find even more potential donors. His approach was both unorthodox and brilliant.
Want to participate in an international citizen-science campaign designed to raise public awareness of the impact of light pollution? Check out the GLOBE at Night program. The program encourages interested individuals to measure their night sky brightness and submit their observations. Contributors may share their findings to via a computer or smart phone. Why is this citizen-science campaign important? Light pollution affects energy consumption, wildlife, health, and our ability to appreciate the heavens.
Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab is developing a number of impressive virtual reality environments. From the looks of the lab’s work, some pretty realistic experiences are being created. I wish this kind of technology could be used to develop immersive learning experiences for students outside of the university setting. Imagine elementary, middle, and high school age learners experiencing a virtual visit to ancient Çatalhöyük, Egypt, Greece, and Rome or making a microscopic journey through the circulatory system.
A side note: As host Sumi Das toured the lab in the SmartPlanet video shown below, I noticed that an Xbox 360 Kinect sensor was part of the equipment that Prof. Bailenson and his crew are using. This makes wonder of if, after a number of iterations, this kind of technology can be made more accessible to others by way of off-the-shelf components.
The KeckCAVES at UC Davis is working on software designed to interact with three-dimensional data in real-time.
The Virtual Reality Education Pathfinder (VREP) is an educational initiative and partnership between government, education, and industry that is committed to bringing a new kind of learning and teaching to schools across the country.
Symcat is not a doctor. It is, however, quite an impressive “disease calculator” that uses information from patient records to estimate what might be afflicting you. Now, if Symcat’s makers can just give their creation a holographic interface like Star Trek Voyager‘s photonic physician, The Doctor…
While others may be trying to get rid of any number of six-legged critters, artist Mike Libby is busily constructing them. His site, Insect Lab Studio, hosts images of mechanical creations that fascinate and evoke thoughts of science-fiction steeped in steampunk fauna. The cog and mainspring creepy-crawlies Libby assembles are beautiful and and instructive. His quasi-robotic works make viewers want to know more about their real-world counterparts. Fly over to Insect Lab Studio and see what the buzz is all about.
Morphology is the study of an organism’s unique form. In the case of paleontology, morphology focuses on bone anatomy and function as well as muscle reconstruction. How do scientists go about reconstructing where muscles were, what they might have looked like, and what they were capable of doing? Scientists look for and at evidence of muscle attachments on bone. Bones, especially old bones, tell an engaging–if not, cryptic–story. The trick (especially for paleontologists) is to pay careful attention to the story. As with most tales, there are explicit details (i.e., the bones are composed of known substances) and implicit details (i.e., the bones seem to be structured for a particular purpose, one researchers may be able to hypothesize).
How does technology help paleontologists make sense of stories that have been untold for thousands or millions of years? Among some of the most fascinating tools that help scientists demystify the stories locked with bones are tools that provide three-dimensional imaging and CAT scans.
Idaho Virtualization Laboratory generates incredible images using surface scanners (3 laser surface scanners). The lab archives museum collections, materials from archaeological and paleontological excavations, and faunal remains. This work allows scientists to review important details without causing damage to ancient bones through repeated handling.
Scott Hartman’s Skeletal Drawing blog is a feast for eyes that hunger for ancient denizens of prehistoric earth.
Palaeontologia Electronica, is a must-see site for those interested in paleontologic pursuits. This rich resource comes to the web by way of the kind work of Coquina Press, a California non-profit organization whose sole purpose is “to provide instant, free, and global access to the latest developments in paleontology and related scientific fields to the paleontologic research community and the general public through the production and publication of its electronic journal.”
Ever wonder how museums keep up with all of the items in their collections? Many use CollectiveAccess because it is FREE.