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Remote Ready Biology Learning Activities

Remote Ready Biology Learning Activities has 50 remote-ready activities, which work for either your classroom or remote teaching.

Science and a Sense of Place Forum

Welcome to the forum for the 2006 Summer Institute on "Science and a Sense of Place." Like other on-line forums on Serendip, this is not a place for formal writing, but a space for sharing our ideas, our stories, our thoughts in progress. Think of it as "spelling-free, punctuation-free, grammar-free, structure-free"--and as a place where you can come back and revise your thinking in public. The idea here is not to worry too much about how we're expressing our thoughts--just to get 'em out here for us all to enjoy and learn from. So relax, say what you're thinking, read what others are thinking...and let's see where we go.

Comments are posted in the order in which they are received, with earlier postings appearing first below on this page. To see the latest postings, click on "Go to last comment" below.

Go to last comment

learning to be where we are
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: 2006-07-12 08:32:47
Link to this Comment: 19775

Hello, friends.

Let's get going on our exploration of "Science and a Sense of Place." Introduce yourself first, by describing "the place" you're from and "the place" where you teach. Then post your thoughts about the potentials and perils of “placing” science in a particular location. What questions do you have, about instituting a place-based curriculum in your own school? (For a prod--and inspiration--check out the "welcome" packet you received in the mail, including Gregory Smith's 2002 essay, "Place-Based Education: Learning To Be Where We Are.")

I like where I live and I like where I teach
Name: Jack Marin
Date: 2006-07-17 16:02:10
Link to this Comment: 19888

My name is Jack Marine. I have been in the education field since 1998. I am currently teaching Environmental Science and General Science at the Raising Horizons Quest Charter School in Philadelphia. I teach grades K-6 at the moment. I live in Bala Cynwyd, PA with my wife and two children. I have a 400 square foot organic garden in my backyard, and my pet gecko and two American toads are here at home with me this summer. My school has two sites, one in West Philadelphia and the other in Northeast Philadelphia. I haven't yet chosen which site would be better for a site based education plan, but I think both sites are suitable. I think the site in the Northeast would be more difficult to investigate culturally, because many of our students come to school by buses from other parts of the city. I just completed a week-long workshop with The Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, and I found out a lot about my watershed. Everyone lives in a watershed and that gives students a valid site-based investigation to explore. I have been a Nature counselor at two camps for the previous ten summers before 2006, so I am wholeheartedly in favor of children connecting to their environment through nature (I have six compost piles of my own as well as having a reputation as a "recycle-holic"). I think Real-World Problem Solving is very similar to Service Learning, where students determine a need in their community and go through an extensive process to aid that need. I have always been a supporter of hands-on learning. Learning by doing extends into the part of the brain most receptive to momorable learning, so I am very excited about this institute at Bryn Mawr College.

introduction of place
Name: mingh
Date: 2006-07-20 21:11:25
Link to this Comment: 19939

Hi! I'm Mingh Whitfield and I teach at Lansdowne Friends School. Although I have lived in Philadelphia for over ten years, I consider myself to be "from" central New Jersey. My fondest childhood memories involve the exploits of my backyard. Whether it was climbing trees, picking blueberries for pies, swinging in a swing I helped my grandfather make, planting and caring for a vegetable garden-or one full of perennials,admiring sap-pinecones-needles-and shade! from a huge pine, running, or just relaxing in a hammock,I feel so lucky to have had such an incredible laboratory at my disposal. As a teacher, I appreciate the value (scientifically and otherwise)in offering similar experiences to my students.

I'm so excited at the prospect of "placing" science among the newly landscaped grounds (it even has blueberry bushes). I hadn't really thought about going much beyond the school grounds because I work with Pre-K and Kindregarten. However, I'm not fully opposed to the notion. Mostly, I'm anxious for ideas and feedback about ones I have already.

Here I am.
Name: Marita Wag
Date: 2006-07-21 17:03:07
Link to this Comment: 19962

I am a speech therapist in a Philadelphia (K-8) school in the lower northeast section of the city. I was brought up in a fairly rural section of Bucks county where I had opportunities to experience nature growing up. As an elementary-aged student I attended parochial school where I received a good education in English grammar and basic liberal arts subjects but met with little formal science education until the high school level. I attended two different all-girl private secondary schools where I studied some low level biology and later chemistry at a level which my father (a scientist himself) said he was not taught until college. I remember that chemistry textbook well and still joke about how opening it nearly caused me concussion as it put me so readily to sleep. As a first semester freshman in college I signed up for an intro biology course but was switched into a VERY comprehensive zoology course which was like attending med school. Talk about being dropped into the swimmng pool and learning how to swim! In college I did take a year of physics which I guess I must have liked since I signed up for the second semester. That's it for the so-called "hard science" (no pun intended) however my undergraduate major was experimental psychology so I guess technically I was a science major (I'm just realizing that!). In fact the kinds of things we did are exactly like what the "place-based education" proponents would laud. For instance I taught a pigeon to "read" (peck/ turn/ bell) using operant conditioning. (Now I have students who require a similar level and type of training.)
On considering the questions raised in the article it does seem that school has distanced itself from children's everyday lives. However if teachers are permitted to stray from proscribed curricula it would be easy to relate science and math to everyday experiences. We use chemistry, physics and math just to bake or do our laundry, to keep our heat bill down or check our health. The list is endless and most apply to everyone.

Date: 2006-07-23 12:58:29
Link to this Comment: 19971


I am Deb and teach 5th and 6th grades at Lansdowne Friends School. I currently live in Malvern, but grew up on the move---living in Bloomsburg, State College, just outside Pittsburgh, and in the Pocono Mountains. Regardless of where I was living at the time, extended family was in the Pocono region and we often spent weekends and summers there. This perhaps explains why I relax and breathe a little deeper the minute I can see mountains...though my husband and I have lived in the Philadelphia area for the past 18 years, I am resigned to the flat terrain but I don't embrace it!

I am posting this introduction a bit later than expected because I've been on a wild tour this past week. Our daughter is a rising senior with college application decisions looming, prompting us to visit 8 colleges in 6 days: Vassar, Amherst, Mount Holyoke, Bates, Bowdoin, Middlebury, St. Lawrence, and Colgate. It is official, after this experience I am either an expert on New England liberal arts colleges or ready to pursue a new career as a long-haul trucker!

Initial reactions to the place based education article:
First, the idea of place based education resonates.
Second, the examples cited seem to come from communities in which school students shared common family history and/or location. This is not the case in the school where I teach. Our diversity, as a private Quaker school, rather than a neighborhood school, may work against studies that focus on a particular common experience of culture or place, or perhaps it means that we need to redefine what is common to our experience. This is one issue that prompted my desire to participate in this institute.

Looking forward to seeing you all tomorrow!


Name: carol
Date: 2006-07-23 22:49:38
Link to this Comment: 19974

I am Carol. I have been an educator for seventeen years,almost all of which have been at Turner school in Philly.I have been a sixth grade self -contained teacher of all subjects; seventh grade Science,Math ;eigth grade Math ,and sixth and seventh grade Coordinator.I am scheduled to teach seventh grade Math and Science next year. I have applied for several other positions within the district which would enable me to use my administrative certificate but have not been notified one way or another thus far.
During my tenure at Turner I have along with several other staff members attempted to institute place based education in several forms .Among our efforts were; eigth grade service learning History of Cobbs Creek, Phlly Watershed,TURNER FITNESS Center, U. of P.Urban Nutrition Project,U.of P. Farmers Market Trust,and a number of others.
I believe that place based education is most practical in the form of service learning where the students can identify an area of need and design a plan to improve or correct the problem . Children show a great deal of enthusiasm and retain extreremly well. The down side (in my experience), is continuing a theme from year to year ,and most importantly working within the limitations of a standardized curriculum, which insists upon measuring achievment through meaningless tests.
It would be lovely to once again involve the students in an urban gardening project( begun many times in the past ,and allowed to wither),and pass it on so that every class has a sense of ownership in their school.We'll see!

Please excuse errors.It's getting late!

Name: Dalia Gorh
Date: 2006-07-23 23:53:33
Link to this Comment: 19977

Hi! My name is Dalia Gorham. I live in Northeast Philadelphia. Currently, I teach 3rd grade at S.B.Huey school in Philadelphia. I have been teaching for 6 years, I have taught L.A. prep as well as 2nd and 3rd grades.

I became inspired after reading this article. I feel that placed-based education is a wonderful way to get students excited about learning and also taking pride in their community. I think that with placed-based education all learning styles are being addressed at various pionts therefore, reaching more students. I would like to learn effective ways to incorporate this approach in my school across all grade levels.

Date: 2006-07-24 09:08:06
Link to this Comment: 19978

My name is Deidre Bennett. I currently teach at Huey school. I live in the Northeast section of Philadelphia. I believe that placing text book science alone in a particular place may not always be beneficial to students. Students often learn best when they can relate to the subject matter and build on prior and background knowledge. Granted, some aspects of science need to be taught "as is", not all things can be pulled from your surroundings and background.

Placed Based Educatio
Name: Judith Odo
Date: 2006-07-24 09:08:10
Link to this Comment: 19979

Hi! My name is Judith Odom, I teach science, physical scince and chemistry at Chester High School in Chester Pa. I have four children and currently three of them are attending college. I have completed a place based educational program when I taught Environmental Science in Philadelphia in 1995. It is a very good idea but unfortunately because of the importance of testing it is not encouraged. The entire program takes a lot of cooperation from not only students and their parents but also your building administration. Working in an environment were test scores are more important than children experiencing real life situations, until senior experience, will not take place until we stop judging people by how well they perform on a test verse how well they perform in life.

Sense of placeI
Date: 2006-07-24 14:33:16
Link to this Comment: 19984


Sense of placeI
Date: 2006-07-24 14:33:16
Link to this Comment: 19985


Sense of placeI
Date: 2006-07-24 14:33:17
Link to this Comment: 19986


Date: 2006-07-24 14:38:52
Link to this Comment: 19987

I am technologically challenged,however I enjoy teaching first grade at the Shawmont School.

Name: Anne Dalke
Date: 2006-07-24 14:43:41
Link to this Comment: 19988

As the last step in our introductory sessions for "Science and a Sense of Place": please describe here what you found useful in today's activities: what can you apply to your own classroom? HOW could you apply it in your classroom? what questions about application do you have, that you'd like us to address as the week goes on ?

Urban Outward Bound website
Name: Deb Hazen
Date: 2006-07-24 15:46:49
Link to this Comment: 19991

Day 1 Review
Date: 2006-07-24 15:54:02
Link to this Comment: 19992

Today's session was very interesting. We worked from the time we arrive until it was time to leave. But to my surprise the work was highly enjoyable. We participated in several hands on activities. This is a wonderful way to learn and I encourage all teachers to incorporate it into their teaching and children's way of learning. Also, of note we were introduced to Google Earth. I found this site to be very fun. I think students would find it fun too and a useful learning tool.
Last, we participated in a activity that would be great as an introductory activity to a unit on Sense of Place. We had to draw a map to show our place in the world.Their was a variety of maps drawn. It would be interesting to see where our students see themselves in the world.

Day 1
Name: Cynthian
Date: 2006-07-24 15:54:55
Link to this Comment: 19993

It was helpful to me to get a sense of "where" I was in reference to others with the map activity.It made me consider other teaching techniques to better meet my students' needs.

Name: carol
Date: 2006-07-24 15:57:32
Link to this Comment: 19994

Thetreasure hunt can inspire students to create their story as well as a desire to move into a new direction with the discoveries. I was not quite taken with the map activity because more input would need to be presented to ensure that everyone began from the same vantage point.However, with a bit of tweaking it could be a great geography tool.Certainly our discussion led me to examine more place based lessons etc. I look forward to future learning experiences

Relection after first day...
Name: Jack Marin
Date: 2006-07-24 15:58:27
Link to this Comment: 19995

A Sense of PLace....After the first day of instruction I've learned that you can find your sense of place in any environment. A sense of place doesn't belong to just humans, either. Plants have their own sense of place where they best thrive- and people may coexist successfully in those same places. I liked the introduction about Celtic cairns, that they designate somewhere or something and I think we all have our olwn cairns too. We are the beacons on our own sense of place: As we
explore and navigate life, we put out into the public an "invisible cairn" that people notice, and this
leads them to discover who we are. Does this make any sense?!

I am unclear if we are going to create a single Lesson Plan that may serve as a curriculum base, or are we going to write a curriculum? I won't need help with the former, but I will need help with the latter. I did not understand how Wil navigated the two websites about populations...I enjoyed watching HIM do it, but when we were set free tgo investigate, I felt lost and powerless. Maybe
Anne and Wil could print olut the steps needed to navigate these sites (each one) successfully.

I think it would be neat if we had a 4th grader (for example) here, or in a five minute video, that showed one of us or another educator demonstrating the ujse of maps as a classroom tool-with the students actually following those steps..

One more thing- I could really juse that afternoon caffeinated coffee!

Name: Charles F
Date: 2006-07-24 16:01:42
Link to this Comment: 19996

My name is Charles Foster and I am a science prep teacher (grades 3-5) at the Webster Elementary school in the school district of Phila. I attended a summer institute in 2001 and it's good to be back. I teach in a multi-racial population in the west Kensington section of Phila. which means that my student's perspective "places" are very diverse. I hope to leave this institute with a better handle on laying a foundation from where the students are (not necessarily the core curriculum) and not assuming I know the student's "place."

reaction #1
Name: mingh
Date: 2006-07-24 16:07:05
Link to this Comment: 19997

I enjoyed being able to individually explore the campus with our maps in tow. Reconvening and sharing was critical in extending our knowledge. It was definately in line with ideas I have for using my school's place. Of course, I wouldn't send my pre-k/k students out with the expectation that they would read a book much less a map (at least not a conventional one).

I bring my grade level up because I would like it to be kept in mind how concrete, ego-centric, literal, and experiential needy my students are. So, I'm a little concerned about tomorrow's presenter and the cosmos.

Session 1 what I learned
Name: Judith Odo
Date: 2006-07-24 16:10:40
Link to this Comment: 19998

What I learned today was that sometimes we have preconceived ideas about things, especially teaching! I have learned how effective maps are and interactive they can be for my science classes. My only problem will be to get internet access for my students. I enjoyed Google Earth and I think my students will also. The other map,, I found difficult to navigate. The opening picture of the cairn was really good it caught my attention and I would like to do an activity based on that idea. How could I relate this cairn idea to physical science? I would like to make a video display of pictures and thoughts from the institute as an introduction to the school year. Suggestions?

Day One
Name: Deb Hazen
Date: 2006-07-24 16:15:30
Link to this Comment: 19999

This was an exciting beginning to what promises to be an extremely useful exploration. I end the day with a continued commitment to place based education and a clearer sense of how this institute will help me implement this framework as I teach.

I particularly enjoyed the campus tour and the way that it helped to ground the later discussion about human settlement patterns. While I love technology, I often find myself disappointed by web resources and today was no exception. Eventually I found good resources relative to our discussion, but must admit that the entire time I was navigating the web, I was thinking about the altases and maps sitting on a bookshelf in my classroom that would have gotten me to the same place so much more quickly.

I can see adapting all of today's activities for use in the classroom. I sense that it will be important, however, for me to continue to develop new ways of responding to students who might (out of anxiety or learning style) seek to just simply arrive at the "right answer" or react fiercely to a classmate's perspective when it differs from their own. This will likely be an ongoing theme for me as the institute progresses because on some level I need to convince many students and parental units of the value of open ended questions.

I am also thinking quite a bit about the ways I can help kids who are busing into the school neighborhood, but not living there, own a common sense of place. I can identify this place, but that won't necessarily help kids who only experience the school in Lansdowne, PA between the hours of 8:30 and 3 own this stuff.

Finally, I am thinking about how I can connect the school place and global place to my student's home place if their home place so differs from my experience and sense of place. I'm mindful of how I ask students to step into my place when I take them on a camping trip each year, but at what point do I step into their place?

day 1--Sense of Place
Name: Marita
Date: 2006-07-24 16:15:52
Link to this Comment: 20000

In the first activity where we drew maps of ourselves in the world it was interesting to see individualized ways of answering the question and what things impinged most in the lives of various participants. Then combining our ideas with that of another we were able to produce a new "hybrid" version. (This idea of combining two conceptualizations could be used as a good brainstorming technique).
In the next activity we examined 5 different "environments" and compared their suitability for us versus that for plants. I noticed that while we are both living beings with similar physical requirements the fact that we are sentient influenced our choices and added to our needs.
The activity using the maps was good in that I became aware of the GoogleEarth site which was very interesting. However the maps on the other suggested website were frustrating and did not help me answer the question posed concerning population density.

Day 1
Name: Charles F
Date: 2006-07-24 16:16:25
Link to this Comment: 20001

The opportunity to explore the campus was very beneficial. I think this activity even in an urban environment is a good intro to understanding maps. They could also attempt to draw their own map of the area explored after this activity. I discovered Google earth last month and it is amazing. My students would love to use this type of technology to locate their homes, the school and friends/relatives homes. However, I'm not sure if all the computers in the phila s.d. are able to get Google earth. The map of where we are in the world is also a excellant opening activity I think I will use this year.

Science and a Sense of Place!
Name: Jennifer H
Date: 2006-07-24 16:28:56
Link to this Comment: 20002

I think one needs to have a" sense of "place" to enjoy science . I found my first day at the Summer Institute " Science and a Sense of Place", to be thought provoking and adventurous . First, I was challenged a great deal when I was asked to leave my comfort zone and trust the world around me to tour Bryn Mawr campus to make observations . Secondly, I found the information presented to me to be exciting and motivating. Learning science should be fun . Learning science should have a home base , however, the experience should take you to a place where you have not visited before.
Today, I have visited several places that I have not seen before . As I am teaching science in the classroom, I hope to take my students where they have not gone before .

Day 1 Review
Name: Dalia Gorh
Date: 2006-07-24 22:53:37
Link to this Comment: 20003

Todays class was enjoyable. I especially liked the hands-on activities. I am planning to use the "Map you in the world" activity as my first science lesson. It will be interesting to see where my kids view themselves in the world as well as a great "getting to know you" class activity. I thought that the walk was fun and a great way to introduce students to environmental science. However, I am not sure that I could apply this in my class due to safety concerns. If my school were able to set up google earth I believe it would be a great learning tool.I am glad that I was informed about this program!

Introduction and Day 1
Name: Kaitlin Fr
Date: 2006-07-25 08:57:29
Link to this Comment: 20004

Unlike most of you, I have a very limited background in education and have only been in the Philadelphia area for three years. I was born in Woodstock, New York, where my mother's family has lived in small towns in that area since the mid-1600s, so as a young child especially it seemed like every place was connected to a story that someone in my family could tell. We moved to Durham, North Carolina after that, and for awhile I remembering that place seeming so foreign to me-- funny accents, no mountains, hard clay soil, unbearable heat and humidity in the summer time... I had some incredible educational experiences, in summer camp and at school, that helped me feel more connected to that place. In high school, I became a very enthusiastic environmentalist and spent six working full time in an environmental education center at a local city park. I am now entering my senior year at Bryn Mawr College, with a major in Geology and a concentration in Environmental Studies. I spent last semester studying these subjects in New Zealand and getting to know a whole different place. This summer, I'm working with professors in the Geology and Biology departments and Banny Ackerman, a teacher in the integrated Watershed classroom at Radnor Middle School, to use studies of our campus pond to develop a watershed education program for elementary and middle school students.

I felt excited and challenged by the exercises we did yesterday. Although I've read a lot about "sense of place" in environmental education, I'm not used to being around others who are as excited as I am to discuss some of these topics. I felt a bit overwhelmed by the questions about where plants would feel happiest-- to a student of "objective" science, this seems like such a subjective question. But I really enjoyed Wil's analogy of human and environmental health-- I love using human systems to teach environmental systems concepts!

Date: 2006-07-25 11:46:23
Link to this Comment: 20009

How could the activities Liz introduced today, about "The Cosmology of Space" and "How Microwaves Work" be used in your classrooms to teach content and skills appropriate to your grade level and required science standards? For instance, what new questions could you write for a "Where is M13" worksheet? How could you use, in your own school, what you learned--or how you learned--or how you didn't learn--using

What questions or concerns or further explorations would you like us to think-and-talk about together? Think about pedagogy as well as content: for instance, how would you compare yesterday's exploratory-no-right-answer activities w/ today's, in which you could use various methods to arrive @ a close-to-right answer?

Date: 2006-07-25 15:03:54
Link to this Comment: 20011

Liz shared with us many intereresting things.The microwave experiments with the light waves ,lightbulb,and cd was quite interesting to see.I definitelyhave a better understanding of how energy moves around.I'm choosing The Solar System to enhance my students' abilities.

Tuesday's activities
Name: Regina Tos
Date: 2006-07-25 15:54:39
Link to this Comment: 20012

Below is a sample mini lesson that I came up with in response to Liz's lectures.
Lesson Plan on transfer of energy.
Objective : Students will begin to understand that one type of energy can be change into another type.
Prerequisites : Students understand the concept of energy.
Activity : 1) Students write how they are feeling in terms of room temperature and physical fitness.
2) Students in the gym stand within a small circular area. Each student is allowed to move within the circle (area is small enough that students have to brush up against at least one other student as they move).
3) Every 3 minutes students are to verbally state how the room temperature feel and their physical fitness. Teacher will record their answer.
4) After 9 minutes record the last students' observations.
5) Let students read their observations and describe the correlation of room temperature to their physical fitness.
6) Allow students to discuss within a small group what they learned.
Naturally this lesson would be followed up with questions on how we get energy, the best food choices for energy, etc.
The unit of cosmololgy is not truly appropriate for the Lifeskills. However I can adapt the movement and interactions of objects in space to how people interact (maybe).

Day 2
Date: 2006-07-25 16:02:10
Link to this Comment: 20013

I am planning to use the knowledge that I gained today several different ways. The part of todays class that struck the most intresest to me, and that I am excited to bring back to my students, was the microwave experiments. It has been my experience that my students look forward to hands-on science lessons. I would work backwards from Liz in that I would start with the local and then expand out to talk about the galaxies(how far would be dependent upon my students). If computers were more readily available the Where is M13 would be great to use with my students. The program is a wonderful tool to use to give students a sense of space.

Day 2 Review
Date: 2006-07-25 16:03:29
Link to this Comment: 20014

From today's actitivities I generated a few things I could do with my own students. The morning seesion focused on the "Cosomology of Space" and even though I beleive presenting this information straight on would be over my kids head, their are ways to make the jist of the material grade appropriate. I would use the M13 program to show my students what the universe looked like where the stars and other glaxaies were. They would find this fascinating.
This afternoon Liz did experiements to show how microwaves use water to cook food. This part of the day could easiliy be replicated in the classroom. Children love experiments and it was a good way to explain micro waves.

Name: Cynthia
Date: 2006-07-25 16:03:47
Link to this Comment: 20015

Using the M13 website,students would be able to approximate distaces in the Milky Way galaxy.I would also use a literature and math link /resources to stimulate thinking.The students could simulate the planets in orbit and coordinate the stars.We will culminate with a video presentation and make a small scale representation.Cynthia

Physic's reaction
Name: Deb
Date: 2006-07-25 16:04:14
Link to this Comment: 20016

When comparing yesterday's exploratory-no-right-answers activities with today's approach that included an appreciation for various methods to arrive at a correct answer, I wonder if students experience a real difference between a right answer and an answer that has to be supported with reasons? Might they naturally perceive the second as a request to prove the answer and is it natural for them to want to prove the "right" answer or feel that they can only prove the "right" answer?

This is a subject that is important to me, as I feel like I spend 75% of the school year telling kids that there are many ways of learning, there are many ways of arriving at an answer, and there are few absolutes.

There are a lot of "right" answers when studying the universe with students. There are also a number of concepts that don't ground easily in kid's personal experiences...I know that they get how big 8 ounces is because they can hold that yogurt cup in their hands, it is always difficult to help them wrap their minds around really big numbers. I'd like to continue to explore how to balance the "right" answers with the open ended and how to help them integrate and relate the big concepts to their lives.

Here's how I would begin to use some of the resources presented today.

Where are we in the grand scheme of things? (Part of The Sense of Place Unit)

Literature Link: The Same Stuff as Stars by Katherine Patterson

Lesson One: What is out there?

Questions to think about:
1.Where are we located in space?
2.What are we seeing when we look into the night sky?
3.How big is our planet in relation to other bodies in our galaxy?
4.What else makes up The Milky Way?
5.Does anyone know what is beyond The Milky Way?


1.Use the program “Where is M13?” to visualize the location of astronomical objects in the 3-dimension space of our galaxy, The Milky Way, and beyond.
a.Students will complete the attached scavenger hunt to identify and find key features of The Milky Way and bodies found beyond this galaxy.
b.Encourage students to visit for hyperlinks that will help students define unfamiliar terms.
2.The findings in this exploration session will be used in our literature circle discussions this week and as a reference for students who are fine-tuning their personal maps.

Learning from the cosmos
Name: Jack Marin
Date: 2006-07-25 16:07:09
Link to this Comment: 20017

I found that Lis McCormack's lesson provided me with a link to the Universe that I did not know much about. The physics of the cosmos was difficult to understand, but once we were navigating the M13 site, it proved fascinating. I had forgotten how long it took for the sun's rays to reach the Earth, but to compare that to the 4 -17 light years it takes from other stars close to the sun is mind boggling! The radiating light that arrives on our planet, warming it, may have a connection to the microwaves that we use to heat our food. I did not know why some items do not heat up in the microwave and why some are heated disproportionately to other items, but now I do!
I understood the power of 10 that Liz used to demonstrate distances of planets and other areas into the galaxies and away from the Sun. The site Anne shared late in the day will give me give me a visual tool to help my students visualize the distances from here to there and back! I think the ending scenes are marvelous ways to show students real images of things that are in distances of measurements we actively try to teach them.

Thank you Anne!!!!

Here is the start of my lesson plan as a reflection of today's activities----------

Lesson Plan: Where in the Universe Are We?

Objective: Students will be able to identify our Solar System and its relationship
in size within the Milky Way.

Materials: Poster Board, glue, colored sand, construction paper

Introductory Set: Brainstorm with students the names of all planets, other objects and stars that are in our solar system. Use three columns: Stars/Planets/Other objects.
Open discussion with Open-Ended questions like: What do you think our planet might look like if it was closer to the sun? What do you think is out in space that we cannot see just by looking in to the night sky. Why can’t we see stars during the day? Even when there is no moon at night, can you still see the stars in the sky, and if not why?

First Activity: Show students a chart of the Milky Way galaxy and identify where the planets are located that are part of our solar system. Ask if students know what causes each planet to appear to stay in the same place. Explain that there are billions of other objects in space that are farther away from our planet than the other planets you see on the chart, and that we are going to explore some of them in our lesson.

Using computers, model the M13 site that shows our galaxy, identifying the sun, or moon, and other planets we all are familiar with. Then highlight other stars and objects we are not as familiar with.

Extension: What does cross section view of the galaxy remind you of? Cross reference an overhead satellite photograph of a hurricane and ask how the two are alike and different. Pass out bowls or glasses filled halfway with liquids that will “swirl” when “swooshed” and explain why we have the effect, that the galaxy and a hurricane and tornadoes all have the same pattern, called a vortex. Let students use the “tornado bottles” to create a vortex movement.

Second Activity: students will create a two-dimensional model of the Milky Way with all planets in our solar system identified, and other clusters represented by thick swirls of different colored sand. (To be completed in pairs or individually).


day 2-Sense of Place
Name: Marita
Date: 2006-07-25 16:12:00
Link to this Comment: 20018

We certainly did get a sense of our place in the tremendous cosmos with today's presentation. I think the galactic map and "Where is M13?" would be too sophisticated for lower grade school students however information from it could be simplified or distilled to meet their level of understanding. While the experiments with the microwave would definitely interest younger students I'm not sure explanations about the underlying scientific principles would be grasped beyond some vague relationship to the presence of water. I still have more questions about what substances can polarize.
To compare today's activities with yesterday's I would say that it was more frustrating for me because it left me with a lot of unanswered questions.

DAY #2
Name: mingh
Date: 2006-07-25 16:22:45
Link to this Comment: 20019

Although I found the microwave experiments interesting, I probably will not be using them in my class. I think the concept of microwaves is a bit too far removed from reality for my students. Because of this, the curriculum doesn't have a natural lead to the topic - It would be contrived.

I am happy about being able to use the solor system information. It will be exciting to inspire curiosity, create dialogue, develop an appreciation for, and introduce new vocabulary about the sun, moon, and stars. I might just learn a thing or two myself! Anyway, the study of light, plants, and growth lends itself well to experiential, constuctivist, interactive activities that have to do with our solor system.

Reading books, listening to songs, dramaticizations (running fast like light waves), measuring one's own shadow in various positions and at different times of day are all examples of such activities.

Additional ideas after day 2
Name: deb
Date: 2006-07-25 17:22:03
Link to this Comment: 20020

1. Use the M13 page to compare and contrast what we think we know about the universe with what Maya astronomers believed...this is part of a culture study of Latin America.

2. At we learn the history of the microwave. In short, we learn that the household microwave is a by-product of another technology. Help the kids understand how a microwave works using the simulations that Liz McCormack shared. Work with them to connect this home technology to big picture microwaves (solar system). Then encourage them to identify another local/familiar technology and determine how it works/the science behind it. Have kids lead demonstrations to share their findings and enjoy seeing how many of our everyday conveniences might be by-products of other technologies.

3. is student article web published by NASA that briefly discusses microwaves and suggests that the same waves that cook food could propel payloads through space. How much fun would it be to pick ten current technologies that we take for granted and ask the kids to find a new application for them?

day 2 with liz
Name: carol
Date: 2006-07-25 20:28:46
Link to this Comment: 20021

I found Liz's presentation quite fascinating. The microwave activities would be great because the students could possibly predict outcomes,etc.We briefly discussed in class what my approach to this lesson would be during instruciton.However,I also realized that I might allow the students to select their own group materials to test/research.
The M13 presentation offers many possibilities,especially in light of our lunchtime dialogue today regarding how disconnected our students often are from "norm" reality.What finer activity than to have them discover where they are in relation to the universe (size,space,other worlds/life forms (ha)etc.
Again I find it most comfortable to be given some limited direction as I am then not left to "guess" what might be expected of me. Free play/exploration is wonderful under the "right"conditions;ie termination of standards/benchmarks.How much free play can we allot during any one instructional period?

Musings on teaching using really big numbers
Name: Deb
Date: 2006-07-26 07:00:12
Link to this Comment: 20023

So, I've been trying to figure out under what circumstances I would feel comfortable using the logarithmic universe map in my classroom (5/6). I realize that I am hung up on having the really big numbers be meaningful for my students.

1. I teach both powers of ten and scientific notation in 5th and 6th grade---but kids don't grasp the really big/small numbers--they learn an algorithm. I've read that there is some psychological barrier to grasping really large numbers for most people.

2. I think that I think it is important for kids (and adults) to really understand very big/small numbers---I don't want it to simply become a math notation in the 5th/6th--I sense that kids will bump up against scientific notation and either see it as accessible or not and that determination may influence whether they feel capable of interacting (versus memorizing) with content that uses scientific notation in the future.

3. I am concerned that in order to raise fully functioning adults we need to counter the trend toward innumeracy in this country. When people don't understand really big/small numbers they may not be able to make reasonable/logical choices/assumptions. One example: without an understanding of really big numbers, can one comprehend the national debt? On a more local scale---how about personal debt (the exponential growth rate resulting from high interest rates and the actual length of time that it might take you to pay off that purchase).

I'd love to hear what others think.

How can underwear catch on fire in the microwave
Name: Deb
Date: 2006-07-26 07:42:40
Link to this Comment: 20024


So while some of us are contemplating what happens to oil in the microwave...I'm trying to figure out how underwear can catch fire in the microwave--we've been told that there was no metal in the clothing---so as soon as all of the water evaporated wouldn't the underwear have become just like the salt? No heating?

Isn't science fun???


Lightbulbs in the microwave
Name: Regina Tos
Date: 2006-07-26 09:17:24
Link to this Comment: 20025

Last night I continued the experiment of exploring the effects of microwave energy on lightbulbs. Using the lowest setting (defrost) I placed the bulb (without the container of water that Liz used testerday). Within 5 seconds the Bulb emitted a bright bluish-green light for a second and then stopped. The filament in the bulb broke away from its' holder, but the rest of the bukb remained unchanged. The second experiment I did pLace the container of water and the bulb at first gave off a low light. After roughly 10 seconds the bulb again glowed a bright bluish-green light and then "died". The lesson of this experiment : 1) You do not know what meant happen in any given situation until you tried it. 2) It is fun to put objects in the microwave.

K-16 mini-symposium
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: 2006-07-26 14:33:14
Link to this Comment: 20027

To conclude the third day of the institute, we ask you to make your posting, not in this forum, but in another established for the discussion of K-16 Collaborations. Go to that forum, please, and begin by "placing" yourself (= identifying where-and-what you teach). Then take some time to describe what sorts of collaborative experiences you've already had w/ college-level teachers and resources.

What makes such collaborations work? How can they be improved?

You might ground your answer by speaking specifically about your collaborations this week w/ a bi-college biologist, humanist, physicist and computer scientist:

Your addressing these questions now will help all attending our mini-symposium on K-16 collaborations, upcoming this Friday, to prepare for the discussion.

Day 2
Name: C Foster
Date: 2006-07-26 16:07:17
Link to this Comment: 20029

As an elementary teacher I am always leary whenever I hear an attempt to teach students about the cosmos. The universe is so immense and much of it can be so abstract that even some adults don't get it. I can see how a brief introduction about microwvaes and their place in there cosmos' past and present could be connected to the activity with the microwave oven. I think it's very difficult to make a connection but I do think that science is the perfect realm to try to connect these because our students need to understand that science is ultimately studying the world (cosmos included) which enables us to find our place in it.

The INTERNET is not only for Porn
Name: Jack Marin
Date: 2006-07-26 20:34:43
Link to this Comment: 20034

This was an interesting day, day #3 that is. I was not myself in the AM, and I found the lecturing disrupting my being awake! It was interesting to hear about how the routers carry the browser messages to the servers, but
I would have had more fun and learned more surfing the web!

The second part of the day was super! Of course I didn't follow directions exactly, creating three short animation stories, rather than focusing on a more exciting one story - Great job Regina and Dahlia!! WOW to "yous guys"

I think I would try this with a small group of fifth or sixth graders, but I would have to bone up on the skills myself, then try it in a small group because I am not sure children this age could navigate these commands, etc.

I think I know how the Internet affects our space- it takes you anywhere you want to go. You can be literally way out in Outer Space, or you can just travel to look for something unusual, like miniskirts in Tanzania.
That certainly is far from our spaces here on the Main Line!

Today I remembered how in college (back in the late 70's) how we used to say how we were so spaced-out. I guess that meant like we were floating in outer space. But today we are spaced-out as a people, with friends and family incommunicado and so many places we can visit so far from our homes.
And that's what happens when we surf the Internet...we are so spaced-out!

Name: Cynthia
Date: 2006-07-27 12:20:24
Link to this Comment: 20040

The computer is a powerful tool for students and teachers to learn through virtaal worlds and to relate their experiences to their personal environment.JD's presentation was phenominally inclusive and engaging.I especiaaly enjoyed the Alice program,

Mapping: From "The History of Location" to "Spatia
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: 2006-07-27 14:08:38
Link to this Comment: 20043

End of Day 4.
Three homework assignments.

if I could live anywhere...
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: 2006-07-27 14:32:44
Link to this Comment: 20044

Too much of a temptation, not to answer these questions myself..So:

I would live in San Francisco, if I could.

I would live in Barcelona, Spain, if I could.

My best meal ever was @ the Zuni Cafe in SF.

I had

I went to the College of William and Mary, in Williamsburg, Va.

Predictably: I had no idea what the mascot is. A quick googling showed that it was "Indians" when I was there in the late 60's, was changed to "Tribe" several years ago, but is still under a NCAA ban because the new image, a feather, might offend some American Indians.

My favorite group is the bluegrass band Dry Branch Fire Squad;
they are from Clinch River, Va.

I have many good friends, not rankable. They live (in no particular order, and not exclusively...) in New Market VA, Havertown PA, Wayne PA, Ardmore, PA, Radnor PA, Vestaburg MI, Saudi Arabia....

Where in the world is everything I like?
Name: Jack Marin
Date: 2006-07-27 15:31:30
Link to this Comment: 20046

I think I would to live in Oregon, if I could live somewhere else in the United States. But only in an isolated part of the state, and where there would be adequate water supplies through 2050.

If I could live in a different country, it would be New Zealand.

The best meal I ever ate was at a steakhouse in Argentina, where we ate fresh beef!

I went to Philadelphia University for my undergraduate degree (formerly Philadelphia Textile)

The Mascot at Philadelphia Textile was the Ram. I wore the Ram outfit at ice hockey games.

My favorite rock band came from the UK (I think), But I am sure my favorite musician is from the UK.

My best friend lives in Morrestown, Nj

Betsy's Questions
Date: 2006-07-27 15:37:37
Link to this Comment: 20047

If you could live anywhere else in the United States where would you live? I would like to live on the Big Island - Hawaii, above Kealakaikua Bay.

If you could live anywhere in the World where would you live? Florence, Italy.

Where have you had the best meal you have ever eaten? (out) Django, South St. and 4th, Philadelphia.

What did you have? Too much! Scallops, Foie Gras and Gruer Burgunder (white wine).

Where did you go to college? HSU, CA.

What is the mascot? Lumberjack.

Where does your favorite musician, band or group come from Too many, but San Fransisco breeds many.

Where does your best friend live? San Luis Obispo, CA

This is the same posting with a few more details
Name: jack marin
Date: 2006-07-27 15:55:24
Link to this Comment: 20048

Where in the world is everything I like?
Name: Jack Marine ()
Date: 07/27/2006 15:31
Link to this Comment: 20046

I think I would to live in Oregon, if I could live somewhere else in the United States. But only in an isolated part of the state, and where there would be adequate water supplies through 2050.

If I could live in a different country, it would be New Zealand.

The best meal I ever ate was at a steakhouse in Beunos Aires, Argentina, where we ate fresh beef!

I went to Philadelphia University for my undergraduate degree (formerly Philadelphia Textile)

The Mascot at Philadelphia Textile was the Ram. (I wore the Ram outfit at ice hockey games).

My favorite musician (Phil Collins) is from the UK.

My best friend lives in Morrestown, Nj

Using Maps and PowerPoint
Name: Jack Marin
Date: 2006-07-27 15:57:20
Link to this Comment: 20049

Today's afternoon session was really neat! I learned how to use Power Point which has always
intimidated me. I learned about Google Images too. Great part of the course!

my history
Date: 2006-07-27 16:00:16
Link to this Comment: 20050

If you could live anywhere else in the United States where would you live?
If I could live anywhere else in the U.S. it would be Chicago.

If you could live anywhere in the World where would you live?
If i could live anywhere in the world it would be the south of France

Where have you had the best meal you have ever eaten? (out)
Tom and Diane's

What did you have?
Fried shrimp, collard greens and a sweet potato

Where did you go to college?Temple and Saint Joseph's

What is the mascot?
An Owl

Where does your favorite musician, band or group come from?

Where does your best friend live?West Oak Lane

Date: 2006-07-27 16:01:27
Link to this Comment: 20051

If you could live anywhere else in the United States where would you live?

If you could live anywhere in the World where would you live?

Where have you had the best meal you have ever eaten? (out)

What did you have?

Where did you go to college?

What is the mascot?

Where does your favorite musician, band or group come from?



Thursday and for Betsy
Name: Regina Tos
Date: 2006-07-27 16:02:59
Link to this Comment: 20052

Today was filled with new knowledge that I found to be a little overwhelming. Jeff did an excellent job of presenting information that I never truly thought about before. Some of the web sites that he gave us can be very beneficial to students to gain a visual image of the history of Phila.

If you could live anywhere else in the United States where would you live? I think I would want to live in the soutwest part of Arizona.

If you could live anywhere in the World where would you live? Assisi, Italy

Where have you had the best meal you have ever eaten? (out) Momma Maria's Resturant in South Phila.

What did you have? Three types of pasta, different pieces of meat, chocolate moist cheesecake

Where did you go to college? Penn State

What is the mascot? The Nittany Lion

Where does your favorite musician, band or group come from? Pat Croce from South Philly

Where does your best friend live? Center City Philadelphia

Name: Deb
Date: 2006-07-27 16:03:14
Link to this Comment: 20053

If you could live anywhere else in the United States where would you live?

If you could live anywhere in the World where would you live?

Where have you had the best meal you have ever eaten? (out)
My great grandmother's house in the Pocono Mountains

What did you have?
Fish I caught (and cleaned) with my great-uncle. Blueberry pie--after picking the huckleberries.

Where did you go to college?
Temple for my undergrad. I recently completed a MSEd at Drexel--however, I never stepped foot on the campus.

What is the mascot?

Where does your favorite musician, band or group come from?
PA--my husband plays classical guitar every evening.

Where does your best friend live?

History of Location
Name: Deb
Date: 2006-07-27 16:07:32
Link to this Comment: 20054

The toy store of resources is grand! We did a Philadelphia unit last year and I wish I had the resource list then--makes me want to do the whole unit again.

I can see using the resources across the curriculum--one in particular that stands out: last year I used primary source documents that were available from an author to show the kids how one author does research to write a piece of historical fiction. Now I can help the kids find their own primary source documents!

day 4
Name: mingh
Date: 2006-07-27 16:12:11
Link to this Comment: 20056

If you could live anywhere else in the United States where would you live?

If you could live anywhere in the World where would you live?

Where have you had the best meal you have ever eaten? (out)
Harve De Grace, MD

What did you have?
lobster and steak

Where did you go to college?
Saint Joseph's

What is the mascot?

Where does your favorite musician, band or group come from?

Where does your best friend live?
Upper Darby

I thought today's presenter was informative and useful for all. I definately plan on using the links he provided for the great pictures. I can't wait to ride by the house on Vodges street to see what that looks like!

Name: C Foster
Date: 2006-07-27 16:22:07
Link to this Comment: 20057

If you could live anywhere else in the United States where would you live VIRGINIA

If you could live anywhere in the World where would you live?

Where have you had the best meal you have ever eaten? I THINK IT WAS CALLED CAPTAIN ???SOMETHING

What did you have?

Where did you go to college?

What is the mascot?

Where does your favorite musician, band or group come from
Where does your best friend live?

Preferences--Day 4
Name: Marita
Date: 2006-07-27 16:24:43
Link to this Comment: 20058

I think I would like to live in Hawaii although I have never been there. I would like to live on my own island somewhere with a fairly warm sunny climate or move between two locations with opposite seasons---say Argentina and Montreal, Canada.
I have eaten in so many places and so much was good that I can hardly choose. Locally I enjoy the Vietnam Palace on 11th St. in Philadelphia. They make good spring rolls that you eat with fish sauce and the Vietnamese crepes are good too.
I went to Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. I'm not sure about the mascot but I think Pegasus and possibly a lion are part of the college seal. I went to graduate school at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. I have no idea what its mascot is.
I don't have a favorite band or group. I do a lot of different kinds of dancing of which one is Argentine tango.
My best friend is from New Jersey.

History of Location
Name: C Foster
Date: 2006-07-27 22:13:54
Link to this Comment: 20059

Today’s presenter was extremely informative. I especially enjoyed the afternoon power-point assignment. The combination of using some of the archive maps and photos with something like Google earth would be an excellent activity. Somehow I am going to try it with my students. It would be great for them to see what their current neighborhood was like years ago or even see where and how their parents and grandparents lived. When we are able to trace the path that family and others have traveled before us, it enables us to more easily find our place.

Survey :All About Me !
Name: Jennifer H
Date: 2006-07-28 07:25:44
Link to this Comment: 20060

If I could live anywhere else in the United States, I would live in Xenia,Ohio .
If I could live anywhere in the world, I would live in Alaska .
The best place I have eaten is at Bucca Dippepo.

My best meal at Bucca Dippepo consisted of a pasta dish with mushrooms,cheese,chicken,peppers,tomato sauce and lots of garlic .
I attended college in Wilberforce University .
My alma mater mascot is a pirate.

My favorite band is a Spanish-American band called in "In The Spirit" .
My best friend lives in Norristown, Pennsylvania.

next weeks class
Name: carol
Date: 2006-07-28 09:19:09
Link to this Comment: 20062

1.california or arizona.
2.ritz naples florida
8.philly,san diego

Let Diversity Flow!
Name: Jennifer H
Date: 2006-07-28 09:21:33
Link to this Comment: 20063

Diversity allows for the inclusions of different cultures, races, socio-economic strata, and ethnic groups. As a result, diversity allows for greater opportunities for these group to learn from one another . An atmospere of acceptance and broard learning experiences is created . Let Diversity Flow. Let it flow, let it flow !

next weeks class
Name: carol
Date: 2006-07-28 10:27:40
Link to this Comment: 20064

1.california or arizona.
2.ritz naples florida
8.philly,san diego

Mapping questions
Name: Kaitlin
Date: 2006-07-28 10:45:58
Link to this Comment: 20066

If you could live anywhere else in the United States where would you live?
Brevard, North Carolina

If you could live anywhere in the World where would you live?
Dunedin, New Zealand

Where have you had the best meal you have ever eaten? (out)
Nana's Restaurant, Durham, NC, after my twin sister graduated high school.

What did you have?
A delicious salad with goat cheese, some sort of nuts, and beets. That was the first time I ever liked beets! I don't remember what I had with it.

Where did you go to college?
Bryn Mawr College

What is the mascot?
The owl

Where does your favorite musician, band or group come from?
Vancouver, BC, Canada

Where does your best friend live?
Chanhassen, Minnesota (near the twin cities)

Spatial Literacy
Name: Judith Odo
Date: 2006-07-28 14:46:06
Link to this Comment: 20079

If you could live anywhere else in the United States where would you live?
If you could live anywhere in the world whre would you live?
Some place not too hot or humid, lots of ocean and mountains. Does this place exist? I don't know.
Where have you had the best meal you have ever eaten? What did you have? Red Lobster, I had a sea food medley of all my favorites cook to perfection, shrimp, lobster, mussels, scallops, and red snapper.
Where did you go to college? Chestnut Hill College
What is the mascot? Griffin
Where does your favoite musician,band,or group come from? Philadelphia
Where does your best friend live? Philadelphia, Germantown

Spatial Literacy
Name: Cynthia
Date: 2006-07-28 15:00:41
Link to this Comment: 20080

I would like to live in Hawaii.I would live in a Carribean island.The cruise ship served me a center cut pork chop,It was absolutely delicious!I attended Cheyney university.The Cheyney wolf is our mascot.Stevie wonder is from Detroit.Patti Laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa Belle hails from Phiily.My best friend lives in Yeadon.

Spatial Literacy
Name: Cynthia
Date: 2006-07-28 15:00:41
Link to this Comment: 20081

I would like to live in Hawaii.I would live in a Carribean island.The cruise ship served me a center cut pork chop,It was absolutely delicious!I attended Cheyney university.The Cheyney wolf is our mascot.Stevie wonder is from Detroit.Patti Laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa Belle hails from Phiily.My best friend lives in Yeadon.

What's Working
Name: Judith Odo
Date: 2006-07-28 16:04:02
Link to this Comment: 20082

Basically, the entire workshop has been very fullfilling! I am trying to make sense of place of were I am today. I am feeling a little disconnected when I missed a couple of days but I am still trying to figure out what and how I will teach this year. I still need some more guidance on certain areas. Last year I had a lot of difficulty implementing some of the new strategies. If we could go over how to implement the new strategies in a very hostile environment, I think that would be very helpful. Overall, I would give you an A+!

End of Week One: Feedback?
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: 2006-07-29 15:26:18
Link to this Comment: 20086

We've just ended the first week of the Summer Institute on Science and a Sense of Place.

At Discussion Summaries you'll find notes on our Friday morning discussion about K-16 collaborations.

In addition, we encourage you to post here any specific feedback/suggestions/corrections/thoughts you may have regarding the usefulness of what we have done in our own particular version of K-16 Collaboration, this Institute.

Very much looking forward to more of the same next week!

spatial literacy
Name: Ann Dixon
Date: 2006-07-30 12:10:13
Link to this Comment: 20090

If you could live anywhere else in the United States where would you live?
Boulder, Colorado

If you could live anywhere in the World where would you live?

Where have you had the best meal you have ever eaten? (out)
Oooh, that is hard. I would have to nominate:
1) Sunday dinner at my Alabama grndmother's house, with a full Southern spread of food;
2) Crawfish boil at my cousin's house in New Orleans, on a newspaper-covered picnic table;
3) Softshell crab po-boys at a place that no longer exists in the West End, New Orleans

Where did you go to college?
Bryn Mawr (A.B.)
Penn (M.S.E.)

What is the mascot?

Where does your favorite musician, band or group come from?
New Orleans

Where does your best friend live?
Several very good friends, in PA, CO, New Orleans, and Berkeley.

What's Important in Science Education?
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: 2006-07-31 15:52:39
Link to this Comment: 20095

At the beginning of our second week, we took some time to describe what we've gotten, so far. What have we done, that we think is important in science education?

thinking about watershed education
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: 2006-07-31 15:55:43
Link to this Comment: 20096

At the end of day 6, thinking about applications:

1) what makes you nervous about watershed education?
what would you have to think about?
what would keep you from adapting it to your classroom?

2) what are some solutions?

What's in your Watershed?
Name: Jack Marin
Date: 2006-07-31 17:58:32
Link to this Comment: 20097

I explained today my concerns that students in the area who are interested in the study of the environment may be understand why we should be careful what we put into our water, or why we should conserve water. I will take them out to do stream studies and they will get very excited when studying macroinvertebrates. I will test for Ph and Oxygen levels in water. We will study the concepts of runoff and garbage in our waterways. But I won't be able to tell them how to care for or why we should save our water, because our water is cared for- for us.

Thank you to Catherine and Kaitlin for a very satisfying outdoor experience
today. It was exhilerating!

PS- Catherine, please make me the CD with the small map (including outline) and the 1952 and 1992 maps, which I can take to Kinkos.

Where is your watershed
Name: Jack
Date: 2006-07-31 17:59:44
Link to this Comment: 20098

The first sentence should not have the word "be". but "NOT" ..........OOPS

doing watershed education
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: 2006-07-31 18:43:20
Link to this Comment: 20099

What we're nervous about in doing watershed educationSome possible solutions
water conservation not an issue for our kidsdon't make this a "right answer" project, but a more open-ended one--explore the watershed and make observations
it doesn't connect to immediate issues for our kidsstart a club/do field trips/talk about other regions, their issues
bad weather/mud and dirt,
general cautions abt. taking them outside
extra planning
(ex: change of clothes)
"you can't change the amount of time you have"spread out the lesson/do it in chunks
think interdisciplinarity: share a slot w/ history or english teachers
how to find a watershed in an urban environment?go outside during/after a rainstorm
how to overcome our own nervousness about reading mapstomorrow's session on spatial literacy!
how to apply this directly to their lives?alter your materials/make it more tactile: use relief maps, clay
crowd managementenlist other adults to help out on field trips
how to adapt to a "pull-out" situation?team teach, organize around a theme, take a monthly field trip
how to fit into standing curriculum?close the door!

thoughts on watershed education
Name: Kaitlin
Date: 2006-08-01 00:55:32
Link to this Comment: 20103

Although I hesitate to reveal my own naivete and idealism in front of a (slightly) wiser crowd, I'd like to continue the discussion that Jack and I began this afternoon. I'm borrowing some ideas from a brief conversation I had with Anne, Wil, and Catherine at the end of the day that was sparked by our reflections on what we're nervous about and possible solutions. One of the themes that we've discussed a lot recently is this notion of teacher as expert, especially when it comes to teaching science. As I mentioned to some of you on the pond today, one of my favorite elements of watershed education is that I often don't know what we're going to find or why we observe what we do. The same can be said about inquiry-based learning in other topics, science or otherwise.

My concern is that we lose much of the richness of discovering a sense of place with our students when we approach lessons with too much of a personal agenda. I'm not saying it's wrong to tell students the goal or even predicted outcome of a lesson or activity, but when those predictions and goals include emotions and attitudes, I think we need to be especially careful. For example, if I created a mapping lesson designed to show my students the problems of increased development in the past 50 years, I (or my students) might feel a sense of failure, disappointment, etc. if the investigation revealed that building density and development had not really increased in our neighborhood. It sounds ridiculous to me to feel disappointed when our environment is healthier than we think, but I'm sure I'm not the only student of the environment who has had this experience.

It's definitely not my intention to come up with even more restrictions to place-based education, so I'd like to close with a possible solution. The phrase "innocent until proven guilty" keeps coming to me: I can imagine that we are the jury in a criminal trial of our neighborhood/watershed/etc. We listen to all of the evidence and then decide whether the place where we live is healthy or suffering, and to what degree. But if we go into the trial having already decided the verdict, no lawyer is going to want us on her jury. For those of you who are nervous about how to conduct such open-ended inquiries with your students, perhaps you could take this analogy literally-- use some of the activities we did today or with Jeff Cohen to collect "evidence," and help them generalize what this evidence means. Conduct a mock trial of your watershed, with students in different groups representing all the typical roles in a criminal trial. The jury reaches a conclusion and the judge(s) give a "sentence" (action plan) if there's a guilty verdict. This opens up a whole can of worms about the scientific process, storytelling, loopy science (appeals???), etc. And you can structure it in a way that you don't even have to leave your classroom!

Sorry this is so long. I look forward to working with you all to find practical solutions to all of our concerns about teaching science with a sense of place.


P.S. The maps we used today might not be the most appropriate ones for your watershed. As Catherine said at the end of the day, see the resources list in the back of the thick handout for where to buy maps or download them for free. Betsy (tomorrow's workshop leader) might have some other suggestions. I'd be happy to work with anyone who is interested to help track down the best map for use in your classroom so you can write that into your grant proposal if necessary.

An agenda when teaching
Name: Deb
Date: 2006-08-01 07:09:22
Link to this Comment: 20104

I absolutely agree with Kaitlin (keeping our agendas out of our lessons) but for a slightly different reason.

Thinking solely about the environment for a minute...everything that I have read about those who go on to become environmentalists indicates that they were not exposed to the environment through dire problem scenarios as children--rather they were exposed to the great outdoors through an adult/adults who modeled a love of/respect for/good stewardship of the environment.

If we expose kids too early to a raft of "problems" in the environment they do the reasonable thing--they shut down emotionally and assume that it is a lost cause.

My guess is that this works for other fields of study--kids who are only exposed to everything that is perceived to be wrong with our government probably don't want to go into public service.

I loved hearing Kaitlin ask us to consider teaching about watersheds as part of a discpline--not an avenue toward highlighting a problem or remediating that problem. Very cool idea! Most people my age were first introduced to environmental studies as a tool to identify and solve specific problems--Kaitlin reminds us that environmental science has come into its own as a discipline and deserves to be treated in the same way we handle any other science, social studies, math topic...

Thanks for a really great day of data collection and mind expansion!

Check out Defining ideas
Date: 2006-08-01 13:27:01
Link to this Comment: 20105

reflecting on spatial literacy
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: 2006-08-01 15:24:51
Link to this Comment: 20106

We've just had two very different days, exploring the landscape around us, both physical and virtual. What came out of these experiences for you? What thoughts do you have about what works and what is useful, in acquiring spatial literacy? For you? For your students? (For instance: how did you experience the directed experiences of Monday? The more open-ended experiences of Tuesday?)

spatial literacy
Name: deb
Date: 2006-08-02 06:52:48
Link to this Comment: 20107

We've just had two very different days, exploring the landscape around us, both physical and virtual. What came out of these experiences for you? What thoughts do you have about what works and what is useful, in acquiring spatial literacy? For you? For your students? (For instance: how did you experience the directed experiences of Monday? The more open-ended experiences of Tuesday?)

I've included lessons designed to teach spatial literacy each year--but as I reflect on yesterday's experience--the open ended format gave me more opportunity to reflect and muse throughout the day--I'm wondering if spatial literacy ought to be a unifying theme for all that I teach. Given this thought, I went web surfing to see what others were saying about spatial literacy. The hits I got might lead one to conclude that spatial literacy is a big topic in England and just another branch on the tree of standards in this country.
I was intrigued by a journal article in which the researchers reported that 79-94 percent of car seats were improperly installed and 46% of accident related deaths in kids 1-14 were related to automobile accidents. The researchers build a case for the importance of a K-12 spatial literacy curriculum--the entire text can be found at

I was looking forward to using the data that we provided about our preferences...

Mapping the Genome
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: 2006-08-02 21:08:39
Link to this Comment: 20110

I just put up some quotations that caught my ear, as well as some photos from the day we spent, today, Mapping the Genome. What did you find useful in our session? What was problematic/less useful--that we might look @ and make use of, as teachers?

labeling the unknown
Name: Deb
Date: 2006-08-03 07:21:01
Link to this Comment: 20112

I've been intrigued by the labels given to what is unknown in a discipline by each of our presenters as our students will read these labels both emotionally and intellectually.

Here's what my notes reveal:

Jeff Cohen talked about not being able to know everything--especially the motivations of people as we are unpredictable and wilful. He also initially did not identify his field as "science" ---because of this lack of predictability?

JD talked about computer scientists having semi-decidable problems.

Will and Tamara talked about biologists having "junk".

Liz showed us that in the cosmology of space there is a "zone of avoidance" and a "comoving future visibility limit". The latter defined as a something that no matter how long we wait we will never be able to see beyond.

While the cosmos has incredibly lofty terminology to label what we don't know--the geologists were pretty "down to earth". I can't remember any distinguishing language to label the unknown--instead I remember various stories being presented that might explain an observation--there didn't seem to be any pressure to distinguish between the right story and the unknown. Anyone remembering this differently, or more fully?

Betsy brought us maps and a sense that it wasn't so much what we don't know as what we do know about how political maps can be.

Un-used vs Unknowable
Name: Wil
Date: 2006-08-03 09:03:26
Link to this Comment: 20113

A few thoughts on the last few days...

Junk is that which is un-used and applies to DNA, not the unknowable. However, Deb makes it clear that labels, and the words we use influence the way we see and deal with the world. I appreciate the chance to think about this with all of you. I'm not quite sure if scientist as a group are more or less comfortable with the unknown, even if their profession is about discovery.

My hunch is that you can not make any sweeping generalizitions about scientist as far as their comfort with the unknowable. I originally came to science looking for "Truth", but quickly realized that there is only patterns, some more predictable than others. In other words, there is only levels of uncertainty. I then choose to accept or reject that level of certainty in which to base my beliefs or actions.

And here is one "place" we as teachers would like to help our students get to. That is, to realize that they have access to and the ability to make information that is useful. That they must become their own authority. But authority and expertise should not be confused. This is another distinction I would like to consider with all of you. I would assert that some people are experts on some subjects at least relative to someone else. And expertise is OK. It's only when experts claim "Truth" and fail to be skeptical that it becomes problematic. To be able to make this distinction between authority and expertise is another "place" I would like to visit more with you all.

Thanks to all for leading me on to new "places" in my teaching.

expertise and unreliability
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: 2006-08-03 12:32:50
Link to this Comment: 20114

Two big questions emerged for me from this morning's fascinating session w/ Wendy Sternberg.

  1. Wil started the day by distinguishing "authority" from expertise," and then suggesting that we can position ourselves as "experts" in our classrooms, w/out assuming authority and so keeping our students from taking authorship of their own learning.

    But as soon as Wendy stepped up to the plate, we started asking her to give us answers to our questions. Could we think about that together? Why did we put that game of "ask the expert" so immediately into play--right after we had problematized that sort of interaction as being useful in the classroom?

  2. Then: Wendy ended the morning by inviting us to see how unreliable our sensory perceptions are: how we compensate for our blindspots, succomb to optical illusions, engage in color opponency.

    So: what happens to the vaunted scientific faith in careful, replicatable observation, once we recognize the unreliability of our senses? How might the notion that our "brains make up what we see" translate into our classroom practices?

More resources
Name: Kaitlin
Date: 2006-08-03 15:10:53
Link to this Comment: 20115

For those of you who were asking about vernal/ephemeral pools on Monday, here's a good starting point:
Western Pennsylvania Conservancy—Seasonal Pools Registry for PA
(Not just for W. PA. Lots of helpful resources and links if you surf around)

Also, various activities for building a watershed model (I am a big fan of the second one or similar models that use topographic maps of your region).!conman.html

Name: Cynthia
Date: 2006-08-03 15:59:20
Link to this Comment: 20116

Tamara helped me to understand DNA,molecules,and chromosomes.The mapping proved to be challenging.Many questions were generated with regard to disease.

Name: Cynthia
Date: 2006-08-03 15:59:21
Link to this Comment: 20117

Tamara helped me to understand DNA,molecules,and chromosomes.The mapping proved to be challenging.Many questions were generated with regard to disease.

Name: Cynthia
Date: 2006-08-03 16:05:28
Link to this Comment: 20118

Tamara helped me to understand DNA,molecules,and chromosomes.The mapping proved to be challenging.Many questions were generated with regard to disease.

What's my brain trying to tell me?
Name: Jack Marin
Date: 2006-08-03 20:33:35
Link to this Comment: 20120

How might the notion that our "brains make up what we see" translate into our classroom practices?

I try to infuse in my lessons images that most of us do not see. I look at the sky and see birds circling overhead. I look at the ground and see insects squiggling down a blade of grass. I look at a ceiling and see the
stains from a leaky roof...yes my brain helps me to decipher what I am actually seeing, but I like to translate it into altered concepts that help me pass on to my students what you might term a "warped view" of things. I don't always see things as the matter of fact way that you might see them- I try to find a deeper meaning in simple images, and that's how I
teach children. Sometimes it clicks, and sometimes I just stay "out there"
where I came from.

Reflection of today: I was in awe of the human brain specimen. It's one thing to hold a dead animal or a dead animal's brain. But to be that close to a human brain that was once inside another human, well that was totally
outrageously exciting and goosebumpling for me!

Kids and Soil
Name: Jack M
Date: 2006-08-03 20:36:48
Link to this Comment: 20121

Dear Anne

Thanks for the words of encouragement today, RE my soil lesson. It's going to be a work in project, I think. I have about 80% of it where I want it to be right now. But you encouraged me to spark an even more genuine "hook"
in all my lessons this year.

That alone was worth coming to BMC today!

brains make up what we see
Name: Deb
Date: 2006-08-03 21:46:21
Link to this Comment: 20122

A recipe for constructing stories from our observations:

Blend Wendy's idea that brains make up what we see with JD's notion that entities working in concert are more capable/intelligent than individual entities.

Set aside until Tamara's "much loved junk" proves useful/ripens, then add a heaping measure.

Expect that as in all human endeavors some unpredictability and wilfulness will find its way into the bowl (thanks Jeff).

Fold in (ever so gently) appropriate parts of authority and expertise. The amount of each may depend on the humidity--or not, check with Wil if you aren't sure.

Strain through Anne's Sieve of Pyrrhonism.

Pop in Liz's microwave for a cosmic minute.

Season liberally with Paul's "science is about getting it less wrong blend" before serving.

Sheep Brains
Name: Judith Odo
Date: 2006-08-04 09:14:03
Link to this Comment: 20123

Yesterday was very good. I enjoyed the interactions with the sheep and human brain. However, I would have liked to do more hands on and less talk. I realize that most of the people in the room really are not science oriented so overall the day was very good. I especially enjoyed the map making session with Betsy. I have already incorporated some of her ideas and strategies into my lesson for the upcoming school year.

I am so glad that my brain function is higher than that of a sheep! Praise the Lord!!!!

Date: 2006-08-04 09:18:02
Link to this Comment: 20124

Learning about brains today helped me understand why all children can give different stories about one event. Also, I learned that repetition is important for students to commit material into their long term memory.

Date: 2006-08-04 09:37:38
Link to this Comment: 20125

I wanted my final posting to speak to a few things.

First, I never acknowledged Catherine and Kaitlin for a job well done. I was so impressed with the developmentally appropriate, yet widely ranged, activities.

Second, the comment that I really identified with yesterday went something like this: Our brains lead to very adaptive behaior. Sometimes behavior in the classroom is seen as deviant or disrespectful. However, that same behavior is what alows them to survive in their homes. It made me reflect on the attitudes that teachers have about children. Do we personalize or make value judgements about misbehaviors too much? Maybe we should emphasize behaviors that are acceptable in our school communities and make it clear to children that there are ditincctions between a home and school environment.

Finally, last week I was speaking with a colleague about being slightly frustrated over the institute's not having early childhood activities. My colleague then said "they don't want to hear your criticisms do they". I reflected for a moment, and I had to answer "yes" to her question. It was true. I really felt there was an effort not only seek information from me, but, to also listen and take action about my concerns. It was a true collaborative effort to which my colleague said, "that's great". I agree. Thank you.

Name: cynthia
Date: 2006-08-04 15:12:43
Link to this Comment: 20126

Looking at a brain was fascinating.It helped to answer some questions that I had about brain functions.

more resources
Name: Kaitlin
Date: 2006-08-07 19:43:13
Link to this Comment: 20136

Hi all-
A couple more resources that I've stumbled upon in the past few days:
(1) I just finished reading _A_Civil_Action_ by Jonathan Harr. Some of you may remember the movie of the same title starring John Travolta-- it's an Erin Brokovich-style true story of a lawsuit in a Boston suburb with a high incidence of leukimia and other health problems. There's plenty of good literature and movies out there on environmental health issues (like Silent Spring), and a lot of the resources to do your own research are available now thanks to right-to-know legislation. If you don't feel like getting technical with it, I don't think you have to. For those of you who are thinking about incorporating the "where am I/plants happiest?" exercise into your teaching, perhaps the "why" dimension could include investigations into basic environmental quality issues. Or investigations into what industries have been in your neighborhood through time and how that affects "sense of place."
(2) On a totally different note, I came home yesterday and re-discovered a book that I'd scored off the free table in the science building a few weeks ago: Stewart Brand's _How_Buildings_Learn_. It's a coffee table book with photographs, illustrations, and texts of how buildings throughout the U.S. (both "famous" and vernacular) evolve with environmental and social changes. Many of the buildings remind me of Jeff Cohen's palimpsests. I think this book would be a great jumping-off point for anyone doing studies of buildings in their area. It's kinda pricey, but I'd be happy to lend it to any one who's interested in taking a peak or using it in their teaching.

Good luck to all as you prepare for fall! Please be in touch if you ever need assistance with watershed education, exploring your playground, etc. All my best,

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Name: Webmaster
Date: 2006-11-28 14:41:25
Link to this Comment: 21213

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