Saturday, December 18, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Morgridge Center Associate Director Randy Wallar stated, "At a time when concerns about our children's science aptitude is at an all time high, the Morgridge Center grant will help the UW Department of Biochemistry expand their unique science education program. We are pleased this will provide leadership opportunities for UW students to participate, while addressing critical educational needs in our local community."
The unique program introduces students and adults to the biology, chemistry, and structure of matter by exploring phenomena and materials with length scales from microns to millimeters. To get a sense of these sizes, the human hair is approximately 100 microns in length, and crystals are often measured in millimeters.
The Microexplorers program will develop activities to introduce and reinforce concepts of the physical sciences, including the study of metals, crystals, liquid crystals, micro- and nanostructured materials and plants. Activities will be tailored to different age groups to address their unique level of scientific understanding. The experience will teach children how scientists think and how observations and hypotheses can be tested using experiments.
Douglas Weibel, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and lead on the project stated, "There is an exciting world waiting to be discovered by inquisitive minds using low-cost digital microscopes as a platform for discovery-based learning. Many children and adults do not understand basic concepts in biology, chemistry and physics. These principles are easy to understand when a hands-on activity reinforces a concept. The microscope is a great tool to do this."
In collaboration with the Center for Biology Education and the Materials Research Science and
Thanks to the generosity of John and Tashia Morgridge, the
The campus and community impact of the
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Monday, April 19, 2010
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Reminder that we will do lab tours and a couple of investigations on Monday the 19th. We are scheduled to return at 4:00.
The extra lesson has been scheduled for Tuesday the 20th usual time from 2:30-4:00.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Friday, March 19, 2010
I also saw one of my heroes, Bill Nye the Science guy. I kept missing him at the conference, but ran into him at a restaurant. My good friend Evelyn took our picture and Bill Nye was nice and posed.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Thursday, March 4, 2010
MicroExplorers has been awarded a large grant that will support an after-school science club at Aldo Leopold Elementary School in Madison, WI. The awards reception will take place at the National Science Teachers Association annual conference in Philadelphia in March of 2010.
This award will allow Leopold students the opportunity to expand the afterschool science clubs started in the 2009-10 school year.
For more information about the Toyota Tapestry Grants, please visit their website.
Thank you for supporting science education!
The students last week started looking at super hydrophobic surfaces. We continued our investigations on levels of scale. Students categorized leaves based on their properties. On the macro scale kids sorted leaves based on color, texture, shape. After categorizing the leaves using the microscopes, they came up with some really amazing ways of categorizing the leaves. One group came up an interesting response I had not heard before. They grouped together leaves that all had a similar micro-structure that looked like a human tongue. Another group put all of the leaves together that seems to shine under magnification, or as one of the students said, “It looks like there are diamonds.” Finally, the students used water on the leaves to see if they had the nano-structures that would make its surface super hydrophobic. The first time I submerged a nasturtium leaf, the students gave a couple of wows. Then they were able to test the leaf surfaces of the leaves they had been using to test for super hydrophobicity. The poster by at NISE-Net is a great representation of scale. I also was able to share SEM images of the nasturtium leaf. The students were able to “see” what was happening on the nano scale.
Then, to represent through a model, I used a glove that is usually used to wash cars, to represent the nano sized “hairs.” Bubbles were used as a model of the water droplet, showing that because of the “hairs,” the water is not able to impregnate the surface of the leaf.
Dr. Neil Shirtcliffe from Nottingham Trent University used another model to demonstrate this using a bed of nails and a balloon. So, I tried it out with the students. I may need to modify my design a bit, but I think the students really liked it when we put the balloon on a single nail and got a nice loud pop.
This week’s investigation is about iridescence in nature and how light interacts with various surface structures.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Introductions: There is a new group of students who may or may not know each other. I have pulled from various third grade classrooms at Leopold. The only direction I gave to teachers was to encourage two students from each classroom to join the club. If there were more than two kids who wished to join the club, a lottery system could be used to pick the students. Since one of the classrooms did not have students who wished to join the club, I had a couple of extra empty spaces that were filled by a few kids from other classrooms.
What is the smallest thing you can think of? I love starting with this question. It gives me so much information about the student’s prior experiences. Children’s ideas of scale are amazing. I will post their responses. If this group is like all the other groups I have worked with, the smallest thing they can think of will range from a dime to a grain of sand. It is truly a gift to introduce the microscopic scale to children at a young age.
What does a scientist do? In this portion of the lesson I gather a little more information about what a scientist does and I introduce science notebooks. Each child will draw pictures, write descriptions of what they know about scientists. Once again, I will use this to understand prior knowledge and start to get students understanding, and more importantly, misunderstanding. I will post scans of their work.
Microscopes and Inquiry: Then,I will introduce how to use the microscopes and lab safety. Each child will get a set of goggles and a lab coat. They will work in groups of three and use the microscopes to discover the identity of nine objects. I took pictures of everyday objects that I magnified from 10-200X. The students will need to match and justify their conclusions based on evidence. It is a really fun challenge to see the students have to justify their answers. I encourage the students to challenge themselves. Some of the objects look very similar. So, they really must have some solid evidence based on their observations.
Finally they will have to justify their results the other MicroExplorers. I like starting this from the first day. It becomes part of what we will do each day of the club. Conclusions must be based on evidence. I will post videos of the student justifications after the investigation.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Following the lotus effect investigation, one of my students wondered if Coco, our class gecko, also had super hydrophobic skin since water seemed to roll off of him whenever we sprayed the cage. Coco agreed to allow us to spray him with water and we found that his skin is super hydrophobic. It even maintained its super hydrophobicity after it was shed.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Insipirations from nature... Kids drawings. Thanks to Greta Zenner-Peterson for scanning all of these for us.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Monday, January 18, 2010
Disclaimer: no geckos were harmed in any of our experiments. He had some water sprayed on him and the skin he sheds has been studied under a microscope.
I just submitted my shot at the Toyota Tapestry Grant for Science teachers. I am looking to get funding for an after-school science club for next school year. I got a grant this past year from the Aristos Grant program in the Madison Metro School District for the science club that I am running this year, but so many really great ideas came from the kids this year, that I knew I would need more resources. So, I will keep my fingers firmly crossed.
Highlight text to find out what has been magnified 20X. Sandpaper
Thursday, January 14, 2010
In the fall of 2009 I lead an after school club. One of the investigations was looking at Super Hydrophobic surfaces. The students tested various leaves for super hydrophobicity. We have a list going of super hydrophobic leaves. We have Nasturtium, Elephant Ear, Brassica, and Cabbage. Feel free to add more that you have discovered.