The Mystery of Prince Rupert’s Drop

May 12, 2015 by

If you’re a science teacher that values inquiry, harbors feelings of nostalgia for Mr. Wizard, or just likes to provide your students with curiosity-filled discrepant events like the one below, then you owe it to yourself to subscribe to the Smarter Everyday channel on Youtube. I love the way that Destin, the channel’s creator, walks viewers through the explanation of scientific phenomena with energy and passion. His ability to describe how the Prince Rupert’s Drop, a glass sculpture created by dropping molten glass into cold water, doesn’t actual shatter from the force of a hammer blow, but the subsequent vibration in the tip of the tail is fascinating! At first glance, the glass appears to explode when stricken with a hammer, but the slow motion video reveals that it survives the blow easily; it’s the vibration in the tip of the drop milliseconds later that causes the glass to shatter....

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10 Simple Ideas for Minecraft in the Classroom @ #EdCampDetroit

May 9, 2015 by

If you’re a parent with children of gaming age, or a teacher that hasn’t been hiding in a bubble of luddite ideals, Minecraft is huge! So much so that LEGO has gone on record as wishing they had built it and Microsoft bought it for a cool 2.5 billion dollars late last year; yes, that’s billion. It’s a juggernaut, and while I’ve played with it off and on for a few years alongside my daughter and DS106 folks, I haven’t really dipped into the Minecraft EDU waters; a special version of Minecraft made just for classrooms. For those that have explored Minecraft in the classroom already, these ideas may not be terribly new, innovative, or informative; it’s just a place for me to gather some good starting points as I begin to explore the world of Minecraft beyond  the playful building I’ve experienced. If you want a quick idea of what Minecraft EDU...

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Do Snakes Poop?

Apr 1, 2015 by

Conversation around my dinner table isn’t always what most families would consider to be normal…or polite for that matter. My wife and I are both educators, and we encourage our children to be curious. So much so we will wind up following lengthy tangents of “why” questions far beyond what “normal” parents might endure. Which is how a simple question about what snakes eat eventually led to whether they actually poop or not (we were done with dinner at this point). My past life working in a children’s book store quickly reminded me that Everyone Poops, but my children and I were curious as to “how” it actually happened. My wife was thoroughly put off by the conversation at that point, so we headed over to the computer and did a search on Youtube without her. Yes, snakes do poop. For those of you still reading this post, the point...

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The iPad’s Killer App

Nov 5, 2014 by

It’s no secret that I’m not the biggest fan of chasing after the perfect app. Even when I was in the classroom, I would often give my students a few websites that I felt were appropriate, and then have them curate and identify the games, activities, and resources they found to be the most valuable. Sure, I have some favorite apps, but since I haven’t been in the classroom for 4 and a half years now, I realize that what I find valuable is likely quite different than what classroom teachers currently find valuable (and more importantly, practical). Which is why when I work with teachers looking for ideas for their iPads, or any tablet for that matter, I tend to focus on applications of one of the most powerful apps built into most mobile devices these days; the camera app! I know what some of you are thinking…”oh please,...

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Tree Boogers! A Video Story Problem.

Jul 8, 2014 by

When your community endures a summer storm with winds that top 80mph and a maple tree falls on your parent’s home, what would your normal reaction be? Call a tree trimming crew, call your insurance adjuster, and oil up the chainsaw? That’s exactly what my parents did, and thankfully I was there to do the oddball thing; capturing a moment of curiosity for another “video story problem“. I’m aware that the “tree boogers” line is a bit puerile, which is one of the many reasons that I really enjoyed making this video. To be clear, using a chainsaw was easily my most favorite part, but sadly I cut that from the final video as the audio was terrible; I’ll save that clip for my “America’s Funniest Videos” entry. I’ve always been fascinated with biological processes and the structure of plants. Despite the drastic difference in plant and animal physiology, the...

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Video Story Problem – Foucault’s Pendulum

Apr 18, 2014 by

I hesitated to share this video story problem that I created at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Although poking fun at myself, it does concern me that I ask the right questions to at least get learners headed in a direction with vocabulary and a frame of reference that will actually lead them to success. I haven’t been in the classroom for a few years now (teaching full time that is; I still visit and work with students on a weekly basis), so I had to ask some of my well respected friends in the world of science education if my video story problem about Foucault’s Pendulum even made sense. I’ve never been great at higher math and mathematics-based physics (I earned a solid C in my advanced calculus-based physics course in college). So I was nervous to ask what seemed to be far too simple a...

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