Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Science of Brining Your Turkey

In honor of Thanksgiving, I thought I would share this link from one of my new favorite sites, Cooking for Engineers. Michael takes readers through the science behind turkey (and other meat) brining, which is soaking in a salt solution. It is a good refresher on osmosis if you haven't taken biology in a while and a fun amount of trivia for the T-day table. FYI, brining was popular long ago as a way to make imperfect cuts of meat more tender, and it has come back into fashion as we try to be more health-conscious by eating leaner meats. (I learned that at a brining demonstration at the Culinary Institute of America.)

As it relates to work, I think it would be great to have more "science of food/cooking" programs for youth. The only afterschool product that I have found is part of the 4-H Youth Experiences in Science materials. There are several other sites, though, including this one from the Exploratorium. If you know of other ones, please share!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Futures Channel: Movies and Activities about Sci/Tech

The Futures Channel includes a large collection of movies with related activities for kids (and big kids, like me!) I really like the one with Dava Newman (an amazing engineer!) talking about futuristic space suits. Another provides hands-on math activities to go with a video about robot-builders from NASA. The videos would be good to use as a focus, followed by the activities that connect back to them. You could even have a whole club that does one of these a day.

Thanks to Mike on the ITEA Innovation Station list for the reference!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Youth Involved in New Dinosaur Discovery

You may see a news story in the next few days about a newly discovered dinosaur species. You may be interested to know that a group of Chicago-area high school students were a part of this discovery. The students, as well as three teachers, were part of every aspect of the research that led up to the press announcement. They participated in science fieldwork during the summer, toured the fossil lab where the new species was reconstructed, completed a day of training by lead scientists, and studied scientific reports and media alerts before they were released to the public and press.

Their participation was part of Project Exploration, a Chicago nonprofit science education organization (and CSAS member). Paleontologist Paul Sereno (who led the new discovery) and his wife, educator Gabrielle Lyon, founded the organization in 1999.

The experiences of the students and teachers are available at the Project Exploration website.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Fun Forensic Science?

Groundwork, Inc., an outstanding community organization in New York City, shared this video in their most recent newsletter. Apparently, the youth in one of the Groundwork programs discovered that their program director had been "murdered". It took teamwork and sleuthing to find out "whodunit". And, their Film Club produced a trailer video to build up excitement around the event.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Afterschool Astronomy, Easy and Interesting

In case you missed it, there is something very interesting happening in the sky. A comet named Holmes is in the middle of an outburst, making it easily visible - even in urban areas. It went from magnitude 17 (fainter than Pluto and not visible with binoculars) to magnitude 2.5 (among the brighter stars). This type of astronomical event can be very engaging for kids, if someone reminds them to look up!

There are a number of tools online that can help with amateur astronomy. Each month, NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab posts video podcasts highlighting the most interesting things to see in the sky. Google Earth now includes Google Sky, so you can look up as well as down. If you want a free program that takes you even further, Celestia is great!

If you are actually planning to include astronomy in an after-school program, there are several resources that may help. The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) is a leader in the field of astronomy education and serves as a professional association for many space science educators. ASP sponsors Project ASTRO, which links astronomers with educators, and Astronomy from the Ground Up, workshops for informal educators. NASA has numerous resources, including those collected at the Afterschool Astronomy site and a new "Beyond Einstein Explorers Program" being tested in Washington DC after-school programs that will soon be widely available. Finally, anyone working with high school students and with access to computers might want to learn about the MIT After School Astronomy Program, in which youth participate in actual astronomy research.

Friday, November 02, 2007

More Time for Learning (Another View)

I expressed my thoughts on extended learning days last week. Now, Karen Pittman, who is wiser than I, offers her thoughts.

Link to Forum for Youth Investment

Thursday, November 01, 2007

No Time for Science (Video)

An addition to my previous post. Here is a video about the need for more science time in elementary schools.