Hands-on class activities on the cell

January 12, 2010

Looking for some activities to jazz up your class lecture on the cell and biology?  Here are a few hands-on teaching activities for middle school or high school: Here are some cool cells to look at under a microscope: Cheek cells Onion cells Thin smears of ripe versus green banana, stained lightly with iodine.  Says […]

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Make a yummy fish mummy

October 30, 2009

Ok, it probably wouldn’t be very yummy, but here’s another hands-on activity you can use that’s rather Halloween-like.  Called “Make a ‘mummy’”, this Exploratorium activity is a great way to demonstrate how mummification works, by drying out the tissue in a fish using baking soda.  Egyptians used a specific type of salt to do this, […]

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The inner life of the cell

September 24, 2009

I was recently reminded of this wonderful visualization of the processes inside the cell.  As a physicist, I found this quite powerful in imagining this mysterious (and usually, to me, boring) microscopic world.  It was created by a Harvard professor in conjunction with a scientific animation company.  Here’s the video: In my art and science […]

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The Chemistry of Kissing

July 19, 2009

Since I’m woefully behind in posting on my own blog, I’m grateful to Sarah over at a Schooner of Science who wrote up an interesting article on the Chemistry of Kissing.  I was meaning to write something on this topic for a while, actually, since there was an interesting symposium at the AAAS Meeting in […]

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Cutest Lynx kitten *ever*

June 30, 2009

Well, I bet they’re all that cute. But I don’t care how big and manly you are, you know you’re moved to scritch it behind the ears and say “who’s a cute little kitty? That’s right, you’re a cute little kitty. Waschawhaschawhuh.” From the original article at National Geographic. June 29, 2009—The discovery of ten […]

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New blog! A Schooner of Science debunks the myths about lemmings

June 8, 2009

I came across a new science blog recently — A Schooner of Science — and really enjoyed Sarah’s fresh and funny writing style about all sorts of things that this blog doesn’t tend to cover — namely, biology and chemistry.  (I write about them when I can, but, well, it does all come down to […]

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New blog! The ARTFUL AMOEBA tells us about moss that swings both (all?) ways

May 30, 2009

My friend and fellow science writer Jen Frazer has started a new blog (well, two actually, but let’s start with the first). I don’t know how she can spend a whole day at work writing copy, and then come home and spin out gorgeous and witty prose, but, hey, she didn’t win the AAAS Science […]

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Cow eye tacos

April 28, 2009

In these tough economic times, waste not, want not, right? So, an enterprising Explainer at the Exploratorium thought well, there must be some good use for all these cow eyes we dissect on the museum floor every day. So, yup, you guessed it.  Kudos to those crazy kids for the following recipe: Tacos de Ojo […]

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How to raise tadpoles in the classroom

April 20, 2009

Here’s a problem most of us never have.  How do you raise tadpoles in the classroom without killing them off?  Which species are best?  And then what about the resulting frogs?  A teacher recently raised this on the Exploratorium teacher email list, and perhaps others can benefit from these words of accumulated wisdom. First, you […]

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What’s for dinner? (Teaching food chains)

April 6, 2009

Our latest Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears podcast from the NSDL is up! What’s For Dinner? Teaching Arctic Food Chains We already know why polar bears don’t eat penguins, but what do they eat? In this episode, we’ll share a simple activity that opens a window to understanding a unique ecosystem as one example of […]

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Why motion sickness makes us nauseous

March 20, 2009

If you spin around and around, why is it that you can feel a little sick? The answer lies in how we sense our balance, and an ancient disease of the gut. We get our sense of balance in large part from the vestibular system of the inner ear. A delicate little set of organs […]

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Why do your fingers wrinkle?

December 14, 2008

Why is it that your fingers get all wrinkly when you’re in the bath too long? It’s a pretty simple little answer.  You know how a spongue gets bigger when it gets wet.  The outer layer of our skin is like that too — it soaks up a bunch of water and gets swollen.  But […]

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Muscle trick: Why do your arms feel stuck together?

November 5, 2008

A reader to this blog posted this excellent question: Hi. My kids heard about this “trick,” one which I assume has to do with muscles or musculo-skeletal mechanics (or crampinG) but for which I don’t really have a definite, or detailed explanation. If you extends your arms out, holding your fists side by side together […]

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The drama of the immune system

October 24, 2008

Hey guess what!  Science Teaching Tips was just highlighted in the Websights section of The Physics Teacher.   Woo hoo! I’ve got a new episode of  the podcast posted — The drama of the immune system. This is one of the favorites of our group at the Teacher Institute, and teachers are always asking Tory to […]

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Beautiful slime molds

October 2, 2008

Several amazing photos of slime mold. Gorgeous! Slime and mold are two words guaranteed to send a shiver down many a spine. However, plasmodial slime molds, fungus – like organisms with about eight hundred and fifty species worldwide – possess a strange beauty that you might not expect. Come and take a look at a […]

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How to tell the difference between a man and a woman…

July 29, 2008

In this modern world, it gets tougher and tougher to figure out if someone is a Jim or a Jane. Whatever happened to the easy era of codpieces and corsets? Without those to fall back on, here’s a bit of physics you can use to figure it out in a pinch. Have the person in […]

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Myth 9: It’s a matter of taste…

June 26, 2008

Hey all, I just posted a new episode to my Science Teaching Tips podcast… a bunch of fun activities having to do with taste, and debunking some common myths about taste. Check it out — Episode 41. It’s a matter of taste. This activity is from the Exploratorium’s Human Body Explorations: The Nose Knows […]

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This so-called life…

June 10, 2008

Yesterday’s post in Engineering Life talks about the questions that are raised by genetic engineering, and whether we ought to be more worried than we are. I wanted to take the chance to point you to WNYC Radio Lab’s (So-called) Life episode, which talks about just this — what is life, what counts as natural? […]

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Myth 7: Blood is blue

June 7, 2008

I saw this on a teachers’ listserv, and realized that I had been told the same myth as a child, and it was one of those many things that worms its way into your knowledge base and then you never question it again. It’s funny how this happens, because with any thought, you often realize […]

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The "umami" taste

June 2, 2008

I was just listening to one of Robert Krulwich’s many delightful podcasts on science (Krulwich on Science — if you haven’t listened to it you must) and he was explaining how the “umami” taste was discovered. It turns out that for years and years scientists accepted the mantra that there are four basic tastes — […]

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