Monday, October 3, 2011

Virtual Classroom

Hi Everyone

If you are currently enrolled in one of my classes you can go here to view the virtual classroom: https://myecsd/schools/8405/Collaboration/Virtual%20Class%20Rooms/default.aspx

To login, use your school id and password.

Please contribute to the Team Discussion!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

DIY: Make your own magnetic putty!

This instructable shows you how to make your very own magnetic putty... and it is really easy!

See all the steps:

Then you can play with it:

Natural Works of Art - Sand under a Microscope

Sand is a fascinating substance and very different all over the world. It can be composed of the remnants of volcanic explosions, eroded mountains, dead organisms, and even degraded man-made structures. And examined closely enough, as the scientist and artist Gary Greenberg has, sand can reveal spectacular colors, shapes, and textures. See more at Discover Magazine here.
Taketomi Island, Okinawa, Japan
Looking like a puffy white star studded with little pearls, this is the shell of an amoeboid protist called a foraminifera, or foram. An estimated four thousand types of forams live in the world's oceans.
The shells, called tests, are made mainly of calcium carbonate, which the animals derive from carbon atoms in the air and water. Forams thus play a significant role in the carbon cycle. (Magnification 75x) [From Discover Magazine]

 Plum Island, Massachusetts
Metamorphic minerals, which form at high temperatures and pressures underground, can become heavy, brightly colored sands like these. But color is often unreliable for identifying different types of sands.
Here, the pink and red grains are garnet, but garnet can also be brown, black, green, or orange, depending on the chemistry. The bright green epidote in the center can also be gray, brown, or nearly black. The angular, black magnetite--the most common naturally occurring magnetic material on earth--is always black, however, and is frequently found near garnet. (Magnification 95x) [From Discover Magazine]
Maui, Hawaii
Not all sand is made of tiny bits of rock. Biogenic sand, which forms from the remains of marine life, is the major ingredient of many tropical beaches. The grains here are tiny fragments of a baby sea urchin shell.
The raised bumps on the white grain represent the sites of insertion for the sea urchin's spines. The blue grain has eroded to the point that the raised bumps have been completely rubbed off. (Magnification 100x) [From Discover Magazine]

Learn Something New Everyday - Fungi!


From Noma Bar

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Don't be afraid to...

Amazing Photography: Dew-Covered Insects

Photographer Miroslaw Swietek took the magnificent macro photo of a dragonfly covered in dew. To see more incredible photos by Swietek go here.

Nerdy joke

12 Events That Will Change Everything

Scientific American has made an interactive animation to give a peek at the 12 EVENTS THAT WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING. Explore the animation here!

Crooked Forest

In western Poland, a forest of about 400 pine trees grow with a 90 degree bend at the base of their trunks AND --> all bent northward.

The trees were planted around 1930, and it is believed that they grew for 7-10 years before tree farmers used a mechanical device to hold the trees in the bent formation.

You can see more at the Discovery News site here.

Learn Something New Everyday - Skin Cells!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Science 30: Energy Technology Links

Please use your textbook and the following links to help you fill out the summary chart for the 12 energy technologies. I also encourage you to do further reading on the internet about each one! Try to think critically when evaluating sources, as many resources will be biased towards a certain technology. Please understand the science behind the technology and then come up with your own opinions and discuss with others in the class.

It is important to understand how each technology works and to know the main energy transformations involved. You must also be able to differentiate between active and passive solar energy.

Coal-fired power plant:

Nuclear power plant:

Hydroelectric power generating facility:

Tidal power generating facility:

Wind turbine:

Passive solar heating:

Photovoltaic cell:

Geothermal heating:

Geothermal electricity generating facility:

Ethanol fuel:

Hydrogen fuel cell (automobile):

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sensory Illusions

Our brain tries to fill in the gaps in what we perceive and sometimes errors occur. Optical illusions, auditory illusions, and magic tricks take advantage of this.

Test your own senses and take the BBC's sense challenge:

Some sites that have specific illusions:
            Spanish Castle Illusion:
            Watercolour Illusion:
            Above is the Hermann Grid Illusion

The following are links that contain various optical illusions:

 This is the Rene Magritte Museum in Brussels, Belgium. He was a surrealist artist in the early 1900s and famously exploited human perceptual errors to make interesting, thought-provoking paintings. You can see more of his work here:

Many artists use a knowledge of perception to create art, but another famous and very clear example of this is M.C. Escher.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Biology 30: Exploring Virtual Neurons

Use these online animations to help you study and understand how a nerve impulse travels down the axon, how resting membrane potential is maintained, and the mechanism of neurotransmitter release in the synapse.

Click on image above to read all labels.

Explore this website to see animations for all of these processes and mechanisms in the neuron:

A virtual neuron - see how it behaves here: l

See how resting membrane potential is maintained here:

An animation of an action potential here: 

Another animation for nerve impulse/action potential here:

This one shows the changes in the ion channels during an action potential. Make sure you know where sodium and potassium move during depolarization and repolarization. You can check it out here:

More animations from the same organization that did the last animation. Check out "Propagation of an action potential" and "Synaptic vesicle fusion and neurotransmitter release" here:

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Beautiful Images: Stingrays!

There have been some interesting posts about stingrays lately. Above is an X-Ray image of Heliotrygon gomesi, one of two new species of freshwater “pancake” stingrays discovered in the Amazon rain forest. You can see more information and pictures at Our Amazing Planet.

This photograph by Sandra Critelli is of Golden Rays taken off the Mexican Coast. Golden Rays grow up to seven feet across and migrate within the Caribbean. The spectacular scene was captured as the magnificent creatures made one of their biannual mass migrations to more agreeable waters. Despite having poisonous stingers they are known to be shy and non-threatening when in large schools. These schools can be as large as 10,000 stingrays. You can read more here and see more pictures here.

Atomic Humour!

Thanks to one of my students for sending this to me!

Deadliest Science: Biology, Chem, or Physics?

Comic from: dD in an eggroll

Blogger Alex "Sandy" Antunes wrote an article on Science 2.0 that explores which science causes the most deaths.

According to movies, physics would be the clear winner: car crashes, gunshot wounds, bicycle accidents, falling down, people hitting each other, and war are all physics-driven deaths.

Chemistry related deaths would be toxins, poisons, drugs, alcohol, or drowning.

But... biology is the deadliest. Since heart disease, cancer, and stroke kill the most people in North America, as well as disease and infection throughout the world's population.

You can read the full article here:

Glacier Caves

"Working with an expedition cruise company that sails to the world's most remote places like Alaska and the Arctic, Eric Guth is constantly surrounded by large bodies of ice.

Six years ago, he spotted a small opening on the edge of Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska. He hiked to it with the intent of walking around as he'd seen others do before. But something compelled him to look inside."

Now he has spent the last six years searching for glaciers, exploring them, and photographing the formations.

You can read more about Eric Guth and see more of his photographs at

Spiderweb Trees

"Here’s a delightful morning snack: When Pakistan experienced severe flooding last year, it had the unexpected and rather creepy-crawly side effect of driving millions upon millions of spiders to the trees, where they could escape the floodwater. Since the flooding lasted for such a long time, many trees became blanketed in thick layers of web.

But according to the UK government, which assisted in the flood release effort this may have actually had a positive health effect: On-the-ground reports suggest that there are fewer mosquitos than would have been expected after the influx of so much stagnant water. This, in turn, may have reduced the very real risk of malaria to local populations afflicted with flooding. The web-coated trees, however, remain scary-looking."

This information and the pictures were taken from

A Bright Idea!

"Maria and Igor Solovyov (Solovyov Design) are industrial designers based in Minsk, Belarus. One of their recent projects is “Insight”, the ingenious concept for an energy efficient lamp shaped like the human brain."

You can see more pictures at

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Wild Pets!

Research on domesticating wild animals has gotten some press lately. Not only does this research provide a possibility for neat pets... but we are learning more about genetics and selective breeding.

Foxes have actually been used in this research for many years. One study has been continuing for 45 years! Each generation has been selectively bred for tameness—fearlessness and nonaggression toward humans. By now the foxes in the project behave like pet dogs, barking and wagging their tails at humans. Also, instead of having a red coat colour, these domesticated foxes have a "piebald" colour.

National Geographic has a great article this month on taming wild animals. You can read more and see more pictures on the website:

Would you like a pet fox?

It Tastes Like Chicken

The field of culinary evolution faces one great dilemma: why do most cooked, exotic meats taste like cooked Gallus gallus, the domestic chicken?

It is curious that so many animals have a similar taste. Did each species evolve this trait independently or did they all inherit it from a common ancestor? That is the burning question.

Using a diagram that shows how some kinds of organisms evolved from other kinds of organisms. This is a "tree" of evolutionary ancestry. Then the author and researcher created a tree using flavours of their meat to see if animals that taste similarly have similarly tasting ancestors.

You can read more about the process through this link:

Comic from Toothpaste for Dinner 2006

Making Things Glow in the Dark


It’s a simple process. Just drain the contents of a magic marker into a jar of water. Cut the stems off of some flowers and stick them in the jar. Let the flowers sit in the solution overnight. In the morning, after they have absorbed the fluorescent dye, they’ll glow in the dark when exposed to ultraviolet light.

You can make... GLOW STICKS:

Learn Something New Everyday - Single Cell!

Neat Trick...(the secret is chemistry)

The liquid is just water. The spoon is made of pure gallium and is completely solid.

BUT... because of the low melting point of gallium (only about 30 degrees)... the spoon disappears!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bio 30 - DNA Replication and Protein Synthesis Links

DNA Replication Video:

DNA Transcripion/Translation Video:

DNA Replication Animation:
(Please go through the entire animation)

Transcription Animation:

Translation Animation:

This website has shorter animations of Replication, Transcription, and Translation with quizzes as you work through the steps. To get to the other processes, use the left toolbar.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bioluminescent Bacteria

The Gippsland Lakes are a chain of lakes in eastern Victoria, Australia. A combination of fire and floods changed the conditions of the water and led to the proliferation of Synechococcus, a photosynthetic cyanobacteria.

BUT... the most interesting thing about these bacteria is that they are bioluminescent, or "glow" when there is any movement. This means that this bacteria will light up when there is a wave or ripple in the water, and wherever people played in the water. Read more about bioluminescence here.

Here are some spectacular pictures of these lakes. You can also see more here.

This is a picture of a rock skipping across the water.

Wearable Pollution Monitor!

Warning Signs is a visualization of the pollution that exists invisibly all around us. When the wearable senses carbon monoxide, the piece subtly changes color and pattern to indicate higher levels of carbon monoxide in the atmosphere to the wearer and those around him or her. This piece was designed and created by Nien Lam and Sue Ngo. You can learn more about these designs here.

Learn Something New Everyday - Saliva!

Solar Wind Bridge

This bridge that harnesses both solar and wind energy has been designed by Italian architects.

The structure represents a bridge with large wind turbines mounted under it, between the pillars. The bridge will traverse a valley with large open space and the wind turbines will operate at high altitude where the speed of wind is higher, thus more green energy will be collected.

In addition, the "Solar Wind" will be able to harness solar energy, since its entire road will be covered with a dense network of solar cells. The latter will be coated with a see-through and highly resistant type of plastic.

It was said that the bridge will be able to generate 40 million kWh per year! (This would power half of the United States -- the largest energy consumer -- for the entire year.)

Science Art - Quilled Anatomy

Quilling is a craft that involves coiling strips of paper and gluing them into different shapes. Sarah Yakawonis is an artist that has started to study anatomy through the art of quilling. You can follow her different projects on her blog:

Her attention to detail is very impressive!