Thursday, August 13, 2015

Last Week's Top STEM Exploration Picks! August 8, 2015

Bookshelf of the week:

Last Week's Top Picks:

Whalecopter Drones! Scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) have successfully used unmanned aerial vehicles to study the health and habits of whales. The drones are able to fly over a whale's blow hole, and non-invasive 'breathalyze' it to measure signals about the whale's health.
The Ebola vaccine has been shown to be 100% effective in preventing infection and symptoms of the Ebola virus in a recent trial involving guinea pigs. This could provide critical information in preventing the spread of Ebola if another outbreak were to occur.
Rosetta has been exploring the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko for one year now. The Rosetta probe released the Philae lander in early November 2014 and it made a rougher than planned landing on the comet surface on 12 November 2014. Since arriving at the comet just over a year ago, Rosetta and Philae have provided humans with previously unknown knowledge of the structure and composition of comets. One of the most significant discoveries to come back from the mission is the presence of the precursors to life including complex organic molecules!

See you next week! Keep Exploring!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Live from Hawaii August 4th

For the next two weeks we will be blogging 'Live from Hawaii' from the conferences of the Global Hands on Universe Project, the International Astronomical Union General Assembly, the Galileo Teacher Training Program, and from other STEM explorations around the Island of Oahu (home of Honolulu and Waikiki).

Bonnie Thurber discusses GHOU in Nepal 
Today was the first day of the Global Hands on Universe where we heard about astronomy education projects around the world. One of InsightSTEM's strategic areas is to support learners in emerging economies with our low cost, portable, science exploration technologies... So hearing about these kind of efforts from around the world is invaluable.

Its interesting how different perspectives around the world can have influences on the work that we do. For example, teachers in Chile are always seeking professional development as they can get permanent salary increases based on their participation; and in Nepal where families are told to engage in activities at home or their children will not do as well in school.

For teachers its important to remember that we need to prove how we are offering something genuinely different from the hundreds of other programs that they are offered each year.

You can learn more about the Global Hands on Universe Project at

What I'm Reading this Week: Deaf Children's Wisdom

Deaf Children's Wisdom
(Note the author's convention of using lower case 'deaf' is reflected in this post).

This book is an interesting reflection of the attitudes of deaf children to the instruction that they receive in schools, and how it can influence teaching in the classroom both teaching directly in sign language and with an interpreter present. The book explains many of the frustrations that deaf students encounter in the classroom... Though many of the aspects described may equally apply to any students, hearing or deaf, but it certainly highlights that even middle school aged deaf children are able to think meta-cognitively about the instruction that they receive through the lens of the language barriers they encounter. I am certain that the same barriers exist I'm science classrooms for all students as the language of science can seem unfamiliar and poorly introduced and explained for all students. The deaf students describe their frustrations when a proper picture is not painted of new concepts before using them. This book is a great reminder of the struggles of language barriers that exist when working with deaf students and give food for thought about how that situation could be improved. For me, it was also a reminder of how alien the language of science can be for all students, and how great attention should be paid to painting pictures of new concepts so students can form sound mental models -- making the science more accessible to them all.

Jake's Rating 3.5 out of 5

Pick it up today at Amazon:

Other books to consider reading on this topic are: (Please let me know in the comments if you read any of them!)