Ruxz_M-rbu5hJUPoenSULdy6Wzk The Science of My Life: October 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fun NASA Contest Winners...

I came across this today while reading the online edition of USA Today.  I wanted to share the essays and art that was recognized as winning entries.

The Shuttle Program is a generational marker for parents like me, and I will miss it.  I am grateful we took our kids several times to the Kennedy Space Center, and we even saw one of the Mars Rovers launch from Cape Canaveral in 2003.  I really need to convert my old photographs to digital...I could show you the cutest pix of my kids at KSC.

Junior High visits CSI Mini Cassia Center

Yesterday I hosted a 7th grade class from BJH in the MCC lab.  We did a microscope activity and they were able to see their own cheek cells, stained and 400x bigger than normal!  It was a great morning, and I am grateful for their teacher, Mrs. G, for having a passion for teaching science.  Keep it up!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Snake River AEYC Fall Conference

I think this looks like a great day for all early childhood educators. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011 9:00am-4:00pm EST
College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls
This conference will be filled with exciting information.
Topics will include: the importance of immersing young children in nature,
inquiry inside and outside of the classroom, and 100 nature resources.
For questions, or to register for the conference, please contact Jennifer Patterson at 208-732-6884 or

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What a busy day!

I saw three exciting STEM activities in action today.

Four local classrooms submitted online applications for the e-instruction classroom makeover for new technology.  Their submissions were original and fun.  Good job and good luck to Burley High School and Declo Junior High.

I have a son participating in a FIRST FLL Robotics team, and their competition is next Saturday!  They are learning some great programming and teamwork skills, and I appreciate all the work this program requires of the team members.

Tonight is an Open House for the Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge from 6:30-9PM in Burley.  They are working on a plan to improve the services and programs at the Refuge so my students and I are hopefully going to attend.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cassini Scientist for a Day

This essay contest is just about over (submissions due tomorrow) but I wanted to share the website and challenge anyway.  There are so many opportunities for our students to pursue, but we as parents and teachers have to be aware first, then guide them towards topics that interest them.

I find out about NASA events by being registered with NEON...Nasa Educators Online Network.  I get weekly updates about student and teacher contests, PD opportunities, and other activities. 

If you are reading this blog and want more of a specific topic, please email me with your request.  I am writing this blog to share relevant STEM news with families in my community.  I am going to add some new features this week to emphasize how important parents are to their child's educational experience.  Most teachers would agreee that parent attitudes directly affect student achievement in class.  So let's get to it!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Soil Conservation District Speech Contest

As we finish National Forest Products Week in Idaho, I wanted to share this opportunity for high school kids in our area. The event is scheduled for next week, and there are cash awards!


Epilogue Oct 25:  My son did a great job tonight and won first place for East Cassia District.  But this is a good example of how we need to help our kids participate in these kinds of events.  There were only 5 students in attendance, and the organizers were prepared to hand out 9 cash prizes!  I will continue to post activities like these that can benefit students. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

NY Times article and MORE outreach

Thanks to my parents who read the WSJ and NY Times daily, I get the best science articles sent to me.  This one is just another reminder that our job as STEM educators, regardless of the age of students we teach, is critical to prepare young adults for a more challenging work environment.  As parents, our job is to encourage our students to take the harder classes and look for opportunities outside of the classroom to explore STEM and other technical experiences.

Also today, President Obama recognized 12 scientists for their from the Univ of UT...

Today I am spending my time with junior high students who are taking an elective course called Science and Technology.  Along with the required classes in Life, Earth, and Physical sciences, these students are problem solving with technology.  Very cool, Mrs. G!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Great Idaho Shakeout!

Today is the statewide Earthquake drill at 10:20 AM.  Parents, ask your kids if their school participated...and go over the experience with them.  My first grader is a little nervous, because drills mean you practice for something scary.  Since I am in class with my CSI students today, we will duck, cover, and hold on as well.  Lab tables are great for this kind of drill!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Another great teacher getting materials through donors...

I read this article over the weekend and I am encouraged by willing and motivated teachers.  They are solving their needs by reaching out online.  Try it for yourself...I know it works, especially for smaller quantities of materials.

I spent yesterday with some great kids at Cassia High School.  We did activities about magnetism, chemical reactions, and engineering.  I appreciate all the opportunities I have to visit classrooms and see students who are motivated to learn.

Monday, October 17, 2011

National Forest Products Week...Essay Contest...

Are your students busy writing their essays? It is National Forest Products Week, and IFPC (Idaho Forest Products Commission) is offering its 17th annual Essay Contest. Don't miss out!

Look around you. How many items can you see that came from a forest? PLT activity recommendation: #13, We All Need Trees. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Friday, October 14, 2011

More Outreach!

What a week!  Today I traveled over to TF to visit a great school!  Wings Charter School invited me to do the Black Box demonstration again, and some of the students remembered me from last year.   We had a good talk about expectations and preconceived ideas and how we should make observations and record data based on what we see, not what we want to see or expect to see.  They are a fun group of kids.  Thanks Mr. G for making time for STEM!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Global Handwashing Day

I had no idea this existed, but October 15 is Global Handwashing Day.  This caught my attention because I have taken the glo-germ box and lotion around Magic Valley (thanks to Cassia 4H!)  to teach about the importance of soap when we wash.  The kids are convinced I pump germs on their hands when I give them the lotion.  So here is more info on this topic, along with a picture of my son's hands in the glow box!

Global Handwashing Day
October 15

Global Handwashing DayThe practice of handwashing with soap tops the international hygiene agenda on October 15 with the celebration of Global Handwashing Day. Since its inception in 2008 – which was designated as the International Year of Sanitation by the UN General Assembly – Global Handwashing Day has been echoing and reinforcing the call for improved hygiene practices worldwide.
The guiding vision of Global Handwashing Day is a local and global culture of handwashing with soap. Although people around the world wash their hands with water, very few wash their hands with soap at critical moments (for example, after using the toilet, while cleaning a child, and before handling food).
The challenge is to transform handwashing with soap from an abstract good idea into an automatic behavior performed in homes, schools, and communities worldwide. Turning handwashing with soap before eating and after using the toilet into an ingrained habit could save more lives than any single vaccine or medical intervention, cutting deaths from diarrhea by almost half and deaths from acute respiratory infections by one-quarter.
Global Handwashing Day will be the centerpiece of a week of activities that will mobilize millions of people across five continents to wash their hands with soap.
For more information, see the flyer (PDF) and access Global Handwashing Day on the web.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

INL Field Trip with CSI students

It was a great day to be on the INL site.  I learn new things with each visit and I know my students enjoyed the opportunity to be at such an interesting DOE Lab.  Don M. gives a great tour, and a trip to EBR-1 during the summer months is worth the drive.  But getting into the Advanced Test Reactor Building to see a real reactor is always exciting.  And getting to drive a van the size of the space shuttle is exciting also.  So here are a few pictures from our field trip.  Enjoy!

This new exhibit about EBR-II is cool. 
Idaho was so happening in the 50s and 60s if you were a nuclear engineer!

Monday, October 10, 2011

St Nicholas Science Outreach

What a fun afternoon at St Nicholas School!  The students and teachers were so excited for our visit.  Thanks to Vangie for the invite, and Mr. Bill for always blowing their minds while crushing cans.

Mr. Bill demonstrating Rutherford's experiment about the pong balls were thrown toward the silver plates, and the children counted how many hits occurred.

I focused on states of matter and properties of water.  That lava lamp never gets old!
Tomorrow is also a great adventure to to come!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

How to celebrate Earth Science Week

I have some great events scheduled this week throughout the Magic Valley, so tonight I will post a few ideas to celebrate Earth Science.  On Tuesday, teachers and students can participate in "No Child Left Inside" Day.  Go outdoors and look at rocks, erosion, water, and anything else that can give us clues about the Earth.  On Wednesday, it is National Fossil Day, sponsored by the National Park Service.  For more ideas about activities, go to
On Friday, we can focus on Chemistry and the Earth....a great idea since it is the International Year of Chemistry.  (

Have a great week in all that you do.  I will share my adventures each day...I promise to bring back lots of pictures of STEM in Action!
Shoshone Falls, TF, Idaho

Friday, October 7, 2011

Earth Science Week

More news from ISTA...October 9-14 is Earth Science Week sponsored by the American Geological Institute.  All attendees were given a big packet of info about Earth Science, and I will highlight a few of the special days next week. 

But today I will just mention the contests associated with the topic of "Our Ever-Changing Earth."  For students in grades K-5, there is a drawing contest.  For students 6-9, there is an essay contest, and for everyone there is a photo contest.  Check out their website for details and look for a few more ideas next week.

In Idaho, we have a lot of geology to appreciate and enjoy.  I attended a workshop yesterday about Bats in Idaho, and I was reminded how critical our bats are for pest control and pollination.  So if you find a great cave...respect the BATS!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

SNOW DAY in Idaho Falls at the ISTA Conference

What a fun day I had in IF with great teachers, presenters, and friends.  The workshops were very interesting, and I really like meeting new people that share my passion for STEM education.  I was not prepared for the snowstorm, but it was sure lovely to look at.  Not fun to drive in.

Big ideas for me were the iSTEM Conference that is coming again this summer...the Conference will fill up quickly so I will keep you posted.  Also  the ISAS program that I posted about yesterday...what a great opportunity for HS Juniors.  Thank you teachers who are taking advantage of this conference.  See you again tomorrow!

Teachers doing an engineering challenge in the iSTEM workshop

Teachers working on their Black Box design during my presentation.

So much SNOW!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars Program

YAY!  I have a Junior!  We just printed off the application!

Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars (ISAS) is a competitive program that allows high school juniors to take an engaging online NASA-developed course on Space Exploration through Idaho Digital Learning that teaches a broad range of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills aligned with Idaho Content Standards. Based on their course performance, students will be invited to participate in a week- long summer academy at Boise State University and NASA Ames Research Center in California.

Deadline to apply is December 5, 2011. 

All things ID Dept of Ed are shared on their

Monday, October 3, 2011

World Space Week

I did not know this...what a great excuse to watch October Sky again!

The Space Age began on Oct. 4, 1957, with the launch of Sputnik 1. To commemorate this event, World Space Week will be celebrated on Oct. 4-10, 2011. During World Space Week, teachers are encouraged to use space-themed activities in the classroom. Educational materials can be found on the World Space Week website, and teachers can enter classroom events into the global calendar.
UN-declared World Space Week, October 4-10 annually, is the largest space event in the world and the ideal time for teachers to use space in the classroom to excite students about learning. Please click below for more information. An Invitation to Participate is a...

Sunday, October 2, 2011

International Night of the Moon

It must be October, because the nights are colder and popular topics include the moon, harvest, mythical creatures, and mazes.  CSI is a great place to enjoy the season, and Saturday night is no exception.  Before you attend the presentation at the Herrett Center, take the family to the Corn deal out there at $1!  Ages 6 an under are free.  The maze opens at 5 PM each night.

Shane Ridley Stevens, who sometimes goes by his Indian name, ‘Good Bear,’ will be featured at the International Observe the Moon night starting at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8 at the Herrett Center for Arts and Science on the College of Southern Idaho campus.

Stevens has entertained and educated audiences of all ages for more than 20 years, often addressing the misconceptions and stereotypes of America’s indigenous people. He uses storytelling, music, and dance in his presentations. His performance for the event is titled ‘Indigenous Stories of How the Moon Came To Be.’ It will start at 7:30 p.m. in the Herrett Center’s Rick Allen Room, after which the monthly star party will begin in and around the Centennial Observatory.

The entire event is free and open to the public.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Youth Pheasant Hunt

Today my son participated in the Mini-Cassia Youth Pheasant Hunt that was sponsored by ID Fish and Game.  What an awesome day!  Thanks to F & G, Bill Millenkamp Hunting Preserve, and all the volunteers who took the time to teach these lucky kids all about pheasant biology, skeet shooting, and hunting etiquette.  The landowner really cares about having healthy habitat for his birds, and it was good to see the interaction between landowners and state agencies.  This event was free for the kids to go, and we will definitely look forward to this again next year.  

The landowner had a full nursery for pheaseants, bobwhite quail, and chuckers.  So cool!  In any given year, he might release 6000 birds, and harvest about 800.  So he has a great community for his birds.

An important point that the Fish and Game officer made to the group was that in terms of habitat restoration and education efforts, the hunting groups have really made an impact.  Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation...they play an important part in management plans.  It was an interesting day for me.