personal course blog for 300:462

Sunday, November 11, 2007

PUM blog posting simplified

Alert the media: Microsoft has started making useful software again. I am making this post from Windows Live Writer, which can post to sharepoint and third-party blogs like blogger and wordpress. It actually rocks. It's worth the 90 minutes I spent downloading security updates so it would install.

Map image

It handles all the image scaling and uploading tasks. This is great! I should be able to blog about my lessons in less time than it ta

Map image
kes to teach my lessons!

In other news, wow, Microsoft sees my house and my wife's green Scion.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

fun and danger with DHMO

My students were very impressed today because I let them work unsupervised with dihydrogen monoxide.

The common substance has many remarkable properties but it's also a little worrying to see how many dangers it's associated with.

Consult the dhmo faq for more information.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Buoyancy in vacuum chamber

Another video for class this week. Predict and test the result of removing the air from around this balance.

This is a video I found elsewhere on the web, and converted to Google Video so I can show it in any classroom. You should never count on finding modern technology in a classroom!

observe and explain video

I will be using this in my classes this week. If I post it here, it will be easy to find when I need it.

From Physikshow at University of Bonn.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

new favorite comic

from xkcd

Ask Calvin's Dad

Stolen from someone who stole them from Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson.

Illustrating the value of a good explanation in science education!

Calvin: Why does the sun set?
Dad: It's because hot air rises. The sun's hot in the middle of the day, so it rises high in the sky. In the evening then, it cools down and sets.
Calvin: Why does it go from east to west?
Dad: Solar wind.

Calvin: Why does the sky turn red as the sun sets?
Dad: That's all the oxygen in the atmosphere catching fire.
Calvin: Where does the sun go when it sets?
Dad: The sun sets in the west. In Arizona actually, near Flagstaff. That's why the rocks there are so red.
Calvin: Don't the people get burned up?
Dad: No, the sun goes out as it sets. That's why it's dark at night.
Calvin: Doesn't the sun crush the whole state as it lands?
Dad: Ha ha, of course not. Hold a quarter up. See, the sun's just about the same size.
Calvin: I thought I read that the sun was really big.
Dad: You can't believe everything you read, I'm afraid.

Calvin: How come old photographs are always black and white? Didn't they have color film back then?
Dad: Sure they did. In fact, those old photographs are in color. It's just that the world was black and white then. The world didn't turn color until sometime in the 1930s, and it was pretty grainy color for a while, too.
Calvin: But then why are old paintings in color?! If the world was black and white, wouldn't artists have painted it that way?
Dad: Not necessarily. A lot of great artists were insane.
Calvin: But... But how could they have painted in color anyway? Wouldn't their paints have been shades of gray back then?
Dad: Of course, but they turned colors like everything else did in the '30s.
Calvin: So why didn't old black and white photos turn color too?
Dad: Because they were color pictures of black and white, remember?

Calvin: Dad, will you explain the theory of relativity to me? I don't understand why time goes slower at great speed.
Dad: It's because you keep changing time zones. See, if you fly to California, you gain three hours on a five-hour flight, right? So if you go at the speed of light, you gain more time, because it doesn't take as long to get there. Of course, the theory of relativity only works if you're going west.

Calvin: Why do my eyes shut when I sneeze?
Dad: If your lids weren't closed, the force of the explosion would blow your eyeballs out and stretch the optic nerve, so your eyes would flop around and you'd have to point them with your hands to see anything.

Calvin: How do bank machines work?
Dad: Well, let's say you want 25 dollars. You punch in the amount and behind the machine there's a guy with a printing press who makes the money and sticks it out this slot.
Calvin: Sort of like the guy who lives up in our garage and opens the door?
Dad: Exactly.

Calvin: What causes the wind?
Dad: Trees sneezing.

Calvin: Why does ice float?
Dad: Because it's cold. Ice wants to get warm, so it goes to the top of liquids to be nearer to the sun.
Calvin: Is that true?
Dad: Look it up and find out.
Calvin: I should just look up stuff in the first place.

Calvin: How come you know so much?
Dad: It's all in the book you get when you become a father.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Monday, January 22, 2007


Here's a picture of me, in period 6, wearing my boy and talking to some scholars. This is interesting (maybe) because I blogged it from my phone.

video online

OK, this is a video of my kid but I am trying out technology that we will use in our class. This sort of thing has got a lot easier since I started in DTSE way back in ought-five.

Friday, January 19, 2007


I think feedreader is cool, you can import the opml file of all our student blogs at once! I just wish I could find an online service that worked as well, and let me publish the resulting agglomeration so that everyone didn't have to set up their own service.

what did I learn tonight

Get to class in time enough to set up my own computer! It seems that my laptop does not like to connect to the rutgers wireless network. When I stole a wired connection from a nonworking desktop I couldn't use it because the DHCP is protected. Bah. I will file a support request and I'm sure the helpdesk guys can fix that.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

what do I want to learn?

I would like to learn better ways of getting the class to work together to produce content that's as relevant as possible to their own needs.

I want to figure out the best way for people to make Vernier projects without having access to a full assortment of probes.

I want to learn ways to build community so that students do as much as possible for each other.

innovation, efficiency, community

Yesterday while driving to school this short and punchy version of the course mission statement finally occurred to me. The idea of the three-pronged approach was well developed in my head, but I wanted a way to get the idea across as succintly as possible.

I like this because it's an easy way to get a grip on the goals of an activity. The idea builds on a concept I learned in Eugenia's class too: a lesson must fall somewhere on the graph of innovation vs efficiency. Too much innovation and you make no progress, too much efficiency and there is not much excitement for students.

In my own teaching I usually go way too far in one direction or the other, but being aware of these ideas is helpful. Like the lines painted on the side of the road. A beginning driver might veer back and forth between them but in time you learn where your lane is, I suppose, to torture a metaphor.

I like the layer of community over both of these. Good relations, real engagement, will bind all your other goals together. If your classroom is a community your students will help you through any tight spot. And god knows, you can't build a society of friendly people through technology alone but in the busy modern world of the high school student it's very natural to connect online.

Monday, January 15, 2007

how to help someone use a computer

Words of wisdom. Or at least I think so. What do you think?

grey and chris and peter 2006


chris and grey 2003