Yes, the U.S. Government Shutdown is Affecting Classrooms

Oct 2, 2013 by

Yes, the image is me, and one of my favorite apps on my iOS devices; the NASA app provided by the U.S. government’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration. And yes, that’s a lovely  “Network Error” you see in the middle of the app. It’s been that way since yesterday. Many of NASA’s other media outlets, including their main website, are also down or severely hampered during the federal government shutdown. How am I supposed to get my daily fix of gorgeous space imagery? How can I get my geek on by watching NASA TV? Alright, so there are other ways, but come on Congress, think of the kids! I wonder how much learning is being disrupted in science classrooms across the globe because teachers suddenly found themselves without their resources this week. As someone who advocates using free and open resources, such as those supported by the U.S. government,...

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Is Direct Instruction Better Bite-Sized?

Feb 23, 2011 by

I’m not sure why I can’t stop watching this video, because it’s “delivering” scientific content in probably one of the most ineffectual teaching modalities in today’s classroom, direct instruction. Besides just being a euphemism for “lecturing”, direct instruction has been on the decline in several classrooms due to the always-connected, media rich learning environments that students today have become accustomed to. I can recall endless hours listening to the drone of the instructor, and dutifully taking notes during my World History course in high school, or my Modern East Asia course as an undergrad, and while I passed the tests and quizzes in those classes with ease, I really can’t recall any specific piece of knowledge or information that I can attribute having learned in either of those courses. However, watching this video, which really doesn’t do a whole lot to change the model of lecture besides adding some...

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Rock Your Science Lessons with TMBG

Nov 10, 2010 by

It’s an unseasonably warm day here in lower Michigan (68 degrees Fahrenheit!), and that got me thinking about weather, climate, the sun, and ultimately this clever, cute rock and roll lesson on the sun, as performed by They Might Be Giants: It’s not exactly the most authoritative resource for learning about the sun, and some of the concepts are flawed, but I’ve always been a sucker for findings creative ways to present concepts that fall outside of students’ tangible grasp. As far as I’m concerned, the sun is about as intangible as it gets when you’re talking science; something so far away, so old, and so unbelievably hot that it’s almost easier to just say it’s a giant ball of fire far away in space. Which of course, gets scientists, and science teachers riled up as being ridiculously inaccurate, so They Might Be Giants wrote, produced, and performed a...

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