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....

read more

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...

read more

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...

read more

Video Story Problems Go Hollywood

Mar 6, 2014 by

There’s been a lot of traffic on Twitter and a few blogs (some of them quite prominent in the education world) about the Video Story Problem concept that I’ve been toying with the last few years. It helps that I’ve had plenty of educators and students helping me with it, and as of today we’ve collectively produced almost 200 videos that help capture math (and a little bit of science) in the real world to be brought back into the classroom. So it’s with no small measure of humble gratitude to many educators out there sharing my ideas that I have an opportunity to present the concept in Los Angeles this weekend. I’m headed out to the Milken Community High School in Los Angeles to lead a couple of Video Story Problem workshops at the Playful Learning Summit being held there. I’m a little nervous, but hopeful for a good day...

read more

Using Harlem Shake to Teach Physics

Feb 19, 2013 by

I’m not going to pretend that I remember enough about my high school physics to speak intelligently about the difference between  centrifugal and centripetal forces, but I do know a good piece of teachable media when I see it. When you introduce a brick to a front-loading washing machine spinning at several hundred RPMs, you get something both destructive and magical. If your mind works in similar ways to my own, you most likely giggled a bit, guffawed a lot, and then started thinking about what a great visual piece this is for students! They get to see a little destruction (popularized by shows like Mythbusters), laugh at the absurdity of it, and then have this wonderfully discrepant moment of a washing machine thrashing about on the ground because someone tossed a single brick into the rotating drum. I can’t even begin to fathom the great leading questions that students could generate from watching this in a physics...

read more
Page 1 of 212