Student Questions and Citizen Science for #Eclipse2017

Leading up to the eclipse I have heard a lot of interesting questions from students.

I would like to address some of the questions students have had as I am sure they have asked you as well. This is an effort to make sure we are as informed as possible and can help students understand more about the sun and the solar eclipse.

#1 Why does the eclipse make the sun more dangerous?

To be clear, it is always dangerous to look at the sun. As a result of the high emphasis for eye protection during the eclipse some people have felt the event must add power to the sun in some way. This idea is wrong however. The difference is we typically do not try to look at the sun. And for good reason. The eclipse does not change the power of the sun in anyway. You should never look at the sun without proper eye protection. Eclipse glasses should be called sun glasses because the truly protect our eyes from the sun. Sunglasses should called “it is brighter out here than I can tolerate” glasses Or brightness glasses because they help us deal with a bright environment. Here is a link to give more detail about the dangers of looking at the sun. http://gizmodo.com/5926497/what-happens-when-you-stare-at-the-sun

#2 Can we take off our eclipse glasses during the eclipse.

If you are watching the eclipse from Out of the totality zone, you should NOT remove your glasses at any time while you are looking at the sun. Totality of course means the moon totally or completely blocks the sun. A small portion of the sun, a sliver if you will, will always be exposed. That small sliver will still emit a lot of powerful UV light which will cause permit damage to eyes that look at it. According to Rick Fienberg in the AAS video “How to safely watch a solar eclipse” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTCkC5ANlJg the eclipse glasses reduce the sun’s power to a millionth of what it would be without the glasses. If you have a million times the power blasting into your eyeballs, that is going to be problematic.

#3 I look at the sun all the time and do not have any problems.

Yes, you have likely glanced at the sun for less than half a second. That half a second did cause some damage but it did not cause permanent damage. The duration of time spent looking at the sun was so short your eyes will repair. That being said, after you glance at the sun, often times when you close your eyes you can still see the sun. That is because the bright image has been temporarily burned into your eyes. The longer you look at the sun the less temporary (and more permanent) the image becomes in your eyes.

#4 We are not in the path of totality so why do we even bother to look?

Even if you do not get to experience a total eclipse, partial eclipses are still really cool and very beautiful. We will be exposed to a 99% eclipse. From our vantage point in Dickson TN, the sun and moon combine to create a diamond ring effect. There will be a gentle ring of light around the moon and the part to the sun that peeks out will make the ring look like is has a big bright diamond.

#5 What about my animals, do I need to worry about them going blind during the eclipse?

No, your animals should be perfectly fine. Most animals of this planet to not have the sense of curiosity and capability to wonder the way humans do. Most organisms will not have the wherewithal to even realize something is different. Likely they will think nothing more than, Wow, that was a short day, and a shorter night, and it is day again already?! The animals may go through their night time behaviors during the eclipse because to them it seems to be night. They will not take the time to look up and burn their eyes.

Besides watching the eclipse there are some cool science experiments for which you can help scientists collect data as citizen scientists. Here is the NASA list of #citsci projects for the eclipse https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/citizen-science

There are two projects that caught my eye. Both are good because anyone can participate. The first one is called, How Cool is the Eclipse – https://observer.globe.gov/science-connections/eclipse2017 – This project asks citizen scientists like you and I to record changes in the clouds and air temperature before, during, and after the eclipse. Past eclipses observers have seen air temperature drop as the sun is covered by the moon. Scientists would like to more about any atmospheric changes that occur. Go to the site and download the app Global Observer to learn more about how to participate. It is free.

The second project is called, Life Responds – https://www.calacademy.org/citizen-science/solar-eclipse-2017 – This project asks citizen scientists to look at plants and animals and observe any changes in behavior during the eclipse. It is possible that animals and plants may react to their environment during the changes that occur with the solar eclipse. To learn more, visit the site above and download the iNaturalist app.

I have encouraged my students to participate in both citizen science projects and I will be participating with my offspring on Monday. We have already identified a few species of web building spiders in the yard for observation. Also curious to see if lightning bugs come out although it might be a little out of season. I expect it is going to be a lot of fun.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Talking to Parents about Social Media (Twitter) in Class

I received the following email from a parent about her daughter using Twitter for school.  If you have time, please share what else should I have included in the email. 🙂

Mr. Taylor,

My name is JoeAnna Hasen and I am Kimberly Hansen’s mother. We try to limit Kimberly’s social media. Can you please better explain the reason why she will need a Twitter account for your class? Thank you.

Ms. Hansen, (names have been changed to protect the innocent)

Thank you for your email and questions about Twitter. I do not know if Kimberly showed you the document I sent home about Twitter. Just in case she didn’t, I have it for you copy and pasted below. – I will give more detail under the document. 🙂

Parents and Students,

An essential part of the Earth Science class is science communication.

  1. We need to communicate our learning with others.
  2. We need to talk to experts out in the real world.

In order to meet this criterion, students are asked to make a school/class twitter account for science communication and learning purposes. The account will be used in and out of class time and should be treated as a “professional account.”

To be clear, a professional account is an account that is public and open and also has the potential to be seen by future employers, universities, or other organizations to which the student might hope to work for, attend, or be involved with.

The most important part of managing a twitter account is to make sure all posts/updates are positive and professional.

Students will be taught proper tweeting technique and etiquette (yes, there are unspoken rules for tweeting by people who use twitter for professional purposes). Students will  also receive weekly digital responsibility and safety training.

Once the class is over for the year if the student wishes to continue using their class twitter account for professional and educational reasons, they are encouraged to do so.

Here are guidelines for setting up a twitter account for class.

  • Go to https://twitter.com/ and click sign up for Twitter.
  • Watch the following screencast FIRST.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cptoOdw_Hk
  • Use your school email and common password for our class.
  • Make your username:
    • example : 7ataylor18
      • Period you have my class
      • First initial
      • Last name
      • Year you graduate
  • No eggs: use a photo of yourself or something that’s easily identifiable as YOU for your profile pic (AVI). Your photo cannot be of someone else.
  • Your bio! Keep it brief & informative, and it may include information about you that makes you unique as well as what you want people to know about you as you build your professional learning network or PLN. You can put your state for location, but please leave the website blank.
  • Follow Mr. Taylor @TayHighSci . Do NOT follow anyone else until receiving specific information about this in class.

 

More detailed information for Ms. Hansen.

Twitter is the fastest way to connect people across the planet. It is like instant messaging but it is public and as a result of being public it can be safer. As a parent, I would ask “if it is public how is it safer?” It is safer because anyone can see what is being said at any time. This gives the Twitter user the responsibility to keep their tweets positive and professional. If you know the individual’s Twitter handle/Twitter name, you can look them up without an account and see their tweets, likes, retweets, followings, and followers (Tweets can be made private but that defeats the purpose of Twitter.

In my class, student activity on Twitter will be limited to science learning and communication. We will not spend time looking at tweets from celebrities unless it is to talk about the importance of digital responsibility and safety. Students will be trained how to identify who to “follow” and what kind of activity might warrant “unfollowing” someone and maybe even “blocking” an individual.

 

Student safety is number 1. Students are told to block someone who is sending them inappropriate tweets and to notify their parents and teacher immediately. At that point parents and/or teacher can talk to admin and decide if more steps are needed to resolve the problem and what legal actions might need to be taken.

We also discuss the etiquette behind tweeting, example: proper way to reference sources, methods of replying and retweeting messages and posts. We will talk about how to properly vet someone before we follow them.

Fortunately, over the past 6 years of using Twitter in the classroom, I haven’t had any problems other than one student being a little rude and that rudeness was directed at me.

One suggestion, if you decide you are okay with Kimberly making a Twitter account, that the two of you make it together. Make sure that the both of you know the password and username. This will allow you to access the account any time you want.

Today we did a little practice tweeting in class. Here is a link that will take you to the tweets we shared during class. You can see there is a little joking around and the tweets were not of any significance, just practice.

https://twitter.com/search?f=tweets&vertical=default&q=%23scistuchat&src=typd

I would be happy to answer any questions or meet to show you more of how we use it. You are also welcome to come to my class anytime. Your daughter’s class usually meets from 12:30 till 1:18 pm.  RM 115

Thank you
Adam Taylor

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Goals for my Science Class this Year. – (http://wp.me/p17e1J-7a)

Over the last 2 years, I have been implementing a few simple ingredients from the Next Generation Science Standards. This year I am going to make a much bigger jump into the standards. For those who are not familiar with the NGSS, a major goal behind it is to help students think like a scientist, do science, and figure things out. Here is a list as to what thinking like a scientist, doing science, and figuring things out looks like. This list is called Practices for K-12 Science Classrooms. (Image from http://www.nextgenscience.org/three-dimensions Dimension 1: Practices)

8_science_practices_image

These practices are also the type of skills that are needed to think critically and could even define the term, critical thinking.

I also plan to use Cross Cutting Concepts (Dimension 2) of science and engineering. These concepts are:

  1. Patterns. Observed patterns of forms and events guide organization and classification, and they prompt questions about relationships and the factors that influence them.
  2. Cause and effect: Mechanism and explanation. Events have causes, sometimes simple, sometimes multifaceted. A major activity of science is investigating and explaining causal relationships and the mechanisms by which they are mediated. Such mechanisms can then be tested across given contexts and used to predict and explain events in new contexts.
  3. Scale, proportion, and quantity. In considering phenomena, it is critical to recognize what is relevant at different measures of size, time, and energy and to recognize how changes in scale, proportion, or quantity affect a system’s structure or performance.
  4. Systems and system models. Defining the system under study—specifying its boundaries and making explicit a model of that system—provides tools for understanding and testing ideas that are applicable throughout science and engineering.
  5. Energy and matter: Flows, cycles, and conservation. Tracking fluxes of energy and matter into, out of, and within systems helps one understand the systems’ possibilities and limitations.
  6. Structure and function. The way in which an object or living thing is shaped and its substructure determine many of its properties and functions.
  7. Stability and change. For natural and built systems alike, conditions of stability and determinants of rates of change or evolution of a system are critical elements of study.

(The list above was taken from http://www.nextgenscience.org/three-dimensions Dimension 1: Crosscutting Concepts.)

I have dreamed of leading my students to become critical thinkers and science literate. This is the path I will follow to achieve my goal. Good or bad, the plan is to reflect often and share progress, obstacles, triumphs, and failures.

– If I make the time. 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Transitioning to an NGSS Classroom: Starting simple — http://wp.me/p17e1J-70

Pedagogically speaking I am new to the NGSS and I am in a state that decided to write their “own standards” (almost carbon copies of the Next Generation Science Standards). The standards are so close to the NGSS that I feel comfortable saying they are NGSS standards

As a result of my NGSS “newbieness” I am starting at a basic level for my NGSS focus this year with my students. My focus is evidence-based thinking (EBT). Although EBT is the foundation of science/critical thinking. Helping students develop thinking skills instead of guessing the right answer is a major shift, at least for many of the students I work will.

For example: What do you observe in the image below?

Tree

At the beginning of the school year students responses to the question might include:

“A tree, a tree in a field,” and if I’m lucky “a tree in a field in the fall.”

“How do you know it is a tree?” I ask

“Because I can see it is a tree!”

“What is your evidence?”

“I know what a tree looks like and that is a tree.”

At this point students have not supplied evidence and some of the students are annoyed with my questioning. To be fair I do bait them a bit and if I gave more precise instructions, the task I ask of them would be much easier to complete.

So then I ask the question again. List some observations about this image. Possible responses from students might include: There is a tree, the tree is in a field, the tree has red/orange/yellow leaves.

My followup question would be, “What is your evidence there is a tree in the image” –

“I can see it.”

“What about it tells you it is a tree?”

Finally I start to hear things like, leaves, branches, a trunk. They might tell me about the color of the leaves and how they vary in hue on the same branch.

I feel starting the year this way to help students see that evidence is simple. Evidence does not need to be a Law-and-Order smack-down that sends everyone into a whirlwind because of the profoundness of the evidence. More times than not the evidence for a claim is painfully obvious. This can be tricky for some students because they feel they are wasting their time. It is a necessary step however.

So what is next? Practice is key. Once students begin to recognize evidence for the obvious things like images or various objects we can start to visit more complex things like concepts and hypotheses.

We will see how it goes.

Suggestions and feedback are encouraged.  

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

So Comes the Start of #SciStuChat for 2015-2016 School Year. (http://wp.me/p17e1J-6R)

We are thrilled to announce our first #SciStuChat of the school year will be a collaboration with the US Department of Energy. With the help of NSTA (National Science Teachers Association) the DoE reached out and asked if we would be willing to co-host a Twitter chat about bio-energy on the #SciStuChat hashtag. We jumped at the chance to work with the Department of Energy and their wealth of resources and connections.

bioenergizeme

For those who are unfamiliar with #SciStuChat you can learn more at scistuchat.com but here are some of the basics. Sci = scientists. Stu = Students (high school). Chat = Twitter synchronous discussion using a hashtag.  The discussions were first organized in 2011 and have continued once a month between Sept and May of the school year. Topics have covered Earth Science, ie, volcanoes, tornadoes, black holes. Life science ie, cloning, evolution, sharks. Physical science, ie, green chemistry and everything in between.

bioenergy

All high school students are invited to participate along with their science teachers. Science/STEM minded professionals ex, scientists, science writers, engineers, technology, mathematicians, and anyone with strong energy toward science and science education are also encouraged to join the discussion whether or not they are experts on the topic for that month. Science thinkers are all we really need.

The monthly discussion takes place on the 2nd Thursday of each month at 9 pm Eastern Time. The chat runs for an hour using the #scistuchat hashtag on Twitter. If you are not familiar with how to use a hashtag to facilitate a discussion or how to participate, check out the video below.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Twitter in high school, a short journey. – http://wp.me/p17e1J-6O

Below are links to several of my blog posts that document many of the benefits for using Twitter (social media in general) in the high school classroom. Some of the links also show the steps myself and others took in our school district to encourage the unblocking of Twitter.

  • Benefits of Social Media in class. – http://wp.me/p17e1J-5Z vine instagram twitter
  • Twitter finally unblockd in my school district. http://wp.me/p17e1J-5y includes benefits to students and the process I went through to keep pushing the district.
  • This Google Hangout On Air was only possible because of the connections I was able to make on twitter. http://wp.me/p17e1J-4s
  • Twitter can provide on the spot connection with experts http://wp.me/p17e1J-3A
  • You might concider sitting down with the super and show them the benefits by hand – if you have the time. – This is what I would show them http://wp.me/p17e1J-38 3 ways to use twitter. Without an account, with an accout, with an account and actually tweeting.
  • Points for trying to convince my district to unblock Twitter. http://wp.me/p17e1J-2h – there is a chance you have already covered these topics with your higher-ups but thought it might help anyway.
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Suspended, blocked, and lock accounts Oh My – How can we get our students signed up on Twitter?

If you have attempted to get your students sign up for Twitter accounts at the beginning of the school year in class you know that it can be a huge pain.

Some of the problems include…

  • Verify the account with a phone number when the students already had an account linked to that phone number
  • Limiting confirmation to phone number, some students don’t have cell phones, there is no confirmation through e-mail.
  • On the rare chance you can use email confirmation…..
    • Twitter will tell you the email account is already being used when it actually had never been used for Twitter.
  • Twitter not allowing multiple signups from the IP address.

We realize the problems listed above are safety measures to prevent Twitter bots and computers from making mass accounts to spam all of us.  But we are still hoping to find solutions to the problems before we start the new school year.

Please share you thoughts and ideas with Joshua Marsh @jjsmarsh or myself, Adam Taylor @2footgiraffe. Or post ideas in the comments section.

If we collect solutions that work, we will post them here. 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment