Beach cleanup daily — without leaving your home

photo of trash in garden

Map showing CA waterway cleanup locationsEach third Saturday in September in California, the California Coastal Cleanup Day gathers thousands of people to help clean tons of trash from our beaches and waterways. The 2017 event occurred on September 16th.

If you missed September 16th, and can’t wait until next year, you can start today in without leaving your own property. Continue reading “Beach cleanup daily — without leaving your home”

Back to School Night – Menlo-Atherton HS, 2017

image of back to school night home pageOK, maybe I’m in the minority, but I really like Back to School Nights. I appreciate the parents taking time out of their busy lives to come in and get a sense of who is teaching their students.

Tonight was no different. Great parents, lots of appreciation expressed, and a few good questions thrown in (not much time in ten minutes to ask questions).

Unfortunately, as usual, the higher academic classes have higher turnout of parents. Why? I can speculate about amount of free time, ability to get off work early, etc. But in the end, I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault (I suspect that all parents want their kids to be successful in school), it’s just a reality.

Thanks to all the parents who did make it out (and thanks to all those who didn’t for trusting your students in my care).

Here are handouts of the slides I used:

 

How I generate science tutorial videos

image of an old film camera

image of listing of some of the videos I have on YouTubeI have been making many video tutorials for my science classes in the last few years, and some folks have asked how I  create them. I have gone through a process of  changes, so I thought I’d present the options I have used to create them.

After you read this, please leave any comments or questions in the Comment section at the bottom of the page. Continue reading “How I generate science tutorial videos”

Videos of building molecules, and showing chemical reactions, with candy and toothpicks

Image of Ethyl acetate glowing for cover

Following are a couple of videos to provide students with examples of how to solve a couple of tasks in chemistry.

Building chloromethane

Using Lewis dot structures to determine how a molecule will bond.

Ester synthesis from acetic acid and ethanol

The exact mechanism is more complicated than shown here, but the basic atom movement between reactants and products is accurate.

Modeling Instruction and NGSS: Energy as a Crosscutting Concept

NGSS 3D learning logo

At the January 2017 Lasallian Symposium at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, CA, I presented a short talk describing how Modeling Instruction uses energy as a Crosscutting Concept for implementing the Next Generation Science Standards. You can download a copy of the slides from my talk here.

Video (without narration)

Extra time on quizzes: Why you need individual work

photo of students being loud

Today was a great day.

My students had a short quiz, and I wanted to make sure they all had plenty of time to complete it. I thought it would take them about 20 minutes to finish it (most finished in 15-20 minutes), but wanted to allow plenty of time for students who require ‘extra time’ (whether LD diagnosed and on an IEP or not diagnosed). I set the timer for 30 minutes, and, since my school is a BYOD school (every student has a computer of some kind), I created an assignment on our learning management system (Schoology, see screenshot below).

Before the quiz, I spoke with my students about what I was doing, sharing my concern with being able to provide in-class time for students who need extra time, but not having those who finish quickly sit around waiting for others to finish. Most of them understood and thought this was a good idea.

And, when the moment of truth arrived, when most were done with the quiz, the class was still pretty quiet. No students whispering to each other (well, only occasionally), and most working on their chemistry.

Of course, I should do this all the time, but sometimes I forget. Today was an example of the importance of a complete lesson plan.

Screenshot  of my Schoology assignment

Image of Schoology page with assignment

Classroom photo image source.

The periodic spiral of the elements

traditional periodic table

In working with my students’ perceptions of the periodic table, I wrapped a periodic table around a roll of paper towels. My attempt was to get them to realize that the Alkali metals are actually right next to the Noble gasses. I wasn’t sure if it was working, but in our review leading up to the finals one girl mentioned that it was a spiral–so I guess it’s helping some students.

Others have done this in a flat design (e.g. see P. Fraundorf’s page showing many great designs), but I wanted to show the idea in 3D.

Below is a video showing a periodic table spinning around on a turntable. I recommend downloading the video and using VLC Media Player, Quicktime, or some other viewer that allows you to scroll the video back and forth.

The table I used comes from ptable.com, a great resource for online and printable periodic tables.

Here are a couple other 3D ‘tables’ that email list folks have let me know about:

Excel spreadsheet for calculating molar masses and percent composition

screenshot of spreadsheet

Over a decade ago I made a Quatro-Pro  spreadsheet to make quick calculations from masses on the periodic table. Well, now Excel rules the roost, so I created a similar version  using Excel. The fundamental element of the spreadsheet is that the cell with each mass is given a name that is the symbol for the element. So, for example, instead of having to remember which cell the mass of oxygen is in (C9, in this case), you only need to type in O.

The only element that doesn’t work with its symbol is carbon. Excel will not allow a cell to be named just “C”, so I had to use “CC” instead.

Examples

  • To calculate the mass of water, just type if =h*2+o (letters can be UPPER or lower case)
  • For hydrochloric acid, type =h+cl
  • Copper nitrate: =Cu+N*2+O*6
  • Carbon dioxide =CC+O*2 (this is an example of the carbon exception from above).

Screenshot

screenshot of spreadsheet
Screenshot showing the main “working portion” of the spreadsheet.

The spreadsheet

Video overview

Before we were scared…

The Scream by Edvard Munch

I wrote this poem in 1998. I think it still applies 18 years later.

Image of "The Scream" by Edvard Munch
The Scream by Edvard Munch
Before we were scared
the streets were our own
we'd wonder the town
and call it our home;

anyone we would see
we could ask for the time
and sometimes we'd even
give us a dime.

Before we were scared
our doors might be locked
but bars didn't exist
our windows to block;

porch lights were turned on
when we were expected,
a motion detector
didn't make us protected.

Before we were scared
we didn't need a phone
inside of our car
only in our home;

our numbers were listed
our names we could find
if we wanted to call us
we really didn't mind.

Before we were scared
our streets all had shops
and sanitized malls
weren't one of our stops;

and guards weren't in stores
only in the banks
the merchants they knew us
they'd give us their thanks.

But when weren't we scared
was it ever that way
is it just what we think
looking back from today;

was life really better
is that just in our heads
to justify our fears
as we lay in our beds.

And if we were scared
and nostalgia's a screen
then we're left in a world
that's not so serene;

and to banish our fears
to some far away ground
we must start making friends
with all us around.

Physics/Chemistry of Espresso Machines: Part 1

Diagram showing how steam and water escape the water tank at two different locations.

Here’s an activity based on observing espresso machines in action. Watch the following video showing the milk steaming container (with a short sidetrack to the espresso pot).

What do you notice about the milk as it steams? Can you explain what is happening?

Diagram showing how steam and water escape the water tank at two different locations.Here are some details of how this espresso machine works:

  • The water boiling tank is filled about ¾ of the way up with water.
  • From the bottom of the water tank, a tube runs upward to the coffee holder, where the water is forced through the coffee grounds and drips down into the espresso pot.
  • At the top of the water tank, a tube leads outside to the steamer jet, which is placed in the milk steaming container.

The answers aren’t here, you need to develop them yourselves 🙂

Hints below ↓

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Notice that for the first 20-30 seconds, there are bubbles forming, but after that there are no more bubble forming.

More hints below ↓

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What is in the space above the water when the machine first starts? What is in that space after 20-30 seconds?