Tuesday, May 11, 2010

inertia broken, seeds are on the way

After a few weeks of off and on examination of seed catalogs this past winter had created a huge list of possibilities. I delayed and delayed and delayed...

And truth be told we had plenty of seeds from years past to start a variety of tomatoes, peppers, chiles, eggplants, and herbs. We started marigolds, dahlias, calendula, snapdragons, rudbeckia, and more flowers. The room and now greenhouse are filled with seedlings.

Why the delay? oh probably this and that and some more of the other thing. But finally I was faced with a need for my favorite zucchini and cucumber seeds, both of which I will start directly outside in a week or two along with the green beans and swiss chard.

anyway, this is what it is all about... all from Pathway's Garden last year.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

views of the world

As my first year of using Conceptual Physics comes to a close, I am happy with my choice. The man won huge points in the first chapter, About Science. Near the end of that chapter he has a section called Science, Art, and Religion. He sees them as different ways to view the world and thus can complement each other.

I explained to my class that we were there to learn about physics, not disprove God. I have had a decrease in negative religion comments this year.

This all came back to me this week. On Wednesdays we have been quickly reviewing a concept then applying math to solve related problems. A question came up asking the students to determine which had a greater gravitational pull on a new born baby, Mars or the doctor standing 1.5 feet away. Turns out the doctor. The question started with the claim by astrologers that the pull of the planets at our birth will influence who we become as adults.

We did not prove that the planets have no influence, but we did see reason to have doubt. And while I believe science is not the business of disproving God, I also don't believe science is the place to ignore unscientific claims about the reality of nature, such as the age of the planet or evolution of life.

and by the way, I'm a Christian, a Leo, and a Rabbit who loves science... if that explains anything I have written above.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

of Echinoderms and tomatoes

The zoology class spent the week exploring the world of echinoderms; and what a wonderful example of what can evolve out of basic characteristics, which in this case are 5 part radial symmetry, tube feet, and an internal skeleton.

The earthworms of the sea floor, sea cucumbers, have a few swimmers in their midst...

The students imagined large alien sand dollars (imagine a cousin of the urchin with short spines) being responsible for crop circles...

and then I was much pleased to find this new post on sea stars.

Looking at echinoderms proved no different than looking at mollusks, which include clams, snails, and squids, or mammals which include bats, dolphins, and lions.

Tis a cool world.

In horticulture we are prepared to take on orders for our tomato plants. On Friday an e-mail informed the entire school of the varieties for 2010, and my car is filled with the ingredients to mix soil for the pots (all are in deep plug tray for now). As the orders come in we will harden off the plants in the greenhouse and by mid-May tomato plants will radiate out from Pathway to many home gardens, like mammals radiating out to all their shapes from their point of origin.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Unwanted plants...

Saturday I returned from leading a crew of comcast volunteers into the school's veggie garden, and ventured into my own backyard.

I weeded, appreciated the return of perennials, cut of dead flower stems from last year and pondered a certain plant.

Later in the day, I showed the new blooms and the mystery plant to my wife. We decided it was a weed. Being foolish I examined it a bit. Later, I would be glad I didn't taste it.

No, I don't taste strange plants and after this experience I will think twice about not wearing gloves.

My wife tracked down the plant and informed me that I had a thriving poison hemlock in my garden.

Sunday, she took the action photo that leads into this post, when I removed the plant. In the evening I searched out videos on plants that are winning the chemical war with humans, well, I could have used chemicals to kill the hemlock.

So, today I told my students to not be like me and be cautious when encountering a strange plant, and we reviewed the plants I normally speak of when I speak of the dangers of gardening. This is the hippest informative video found...

By the way the comcast volunteers did a great job helping out in our garden and across campus.


Friday, April 23, 2010

kudos to the Mighty Assistant... dried, fresh, and blooming flowers

above you see some of the bookmarks we made this winter. I had my hand in gluing the flowers down, but my wonderful assistant worked the flower press with many a student last summer and fall. The other day she made an arrangement of of Azalea blooms which led to...

  1. a student saying,"Can we dry those?" and off I went with students to gather spring blooms and the Mighty Assistant and the other students got out the microwave press. We came back and then back again with blooms of Blue Bells, Dogwoods, Cherries, Apples, and Pansies. Not what I had planned, but a wonderful day to capture spring in our midst
  2. On Tuesday, our supervisor came in to observe my teaching and saw the flower arrangements. Today my supervisor called to thank the Mighty Assistant for the arrangements she made this morning for a luncheon, which celebrated the success of some of our students.

This morning as I worked on the computer, the Mighty Assistant, saw something that no one had seen. One of our mystery aloes had decided to put on a show. And as my work week ended, I took some photos of that discovery...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

David Attenborough, a celebrity, takes us into Earth Day

In my classroom, there resides a few DVD's of the amazing nature films starring the David Attenborough. If nothing else, my science students will leave my school knowing that this man has lived an amazing life during which he has brought nature's mysterious ways into our homes again and again and again. They all know his name, and how cool is that. He makes us smile, and how cool is that.

20 years ago it was The Living Planet that emerged for us to see. After planning out a week of exploring the echinoderms in my zoology class, I changed plans Monday morning. We are watching, taking notes, and discussing the final segment. It is here that after exploring all the habitats of the Earth, Attenborough takes on how humans have changed the planet. So, we watch and discuss, and then I am sending the students to go to our new Wiki and update the planet's story. In the last 20 years, what has happened to those animals, plants, and places that Attenborough so cares about, that at the age of 83, he has reached the North Pole as he films his new series about life in the frozen realms.

Here, is the final message that my students will watch tomorrow...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

entering the world of wikispaces

I have an experiment going on at work. I have set up a wiki to use in my science classes. We will see where it leads and soon I will let the world in to see it, but for now the students and I are constructing it.

I let the students on last Friday and I learned a few things before the second class logged off. It will be like that, failures and successes guiding us on to a new teaching tool. My main mistake was having too many students editing the same space and student work was loss.

I want the students to be actively involved in teaching each other, not just a list of assignments. We will see.

This is the a wikispace by a presenter I saw at the NSTA conference... Why Wikis and see how he has applied it... his class wiki

Are wiki's happening in your district or are they blocked?

If you have a wiki for your classroom... I would love to see it. I'll let you know when we unveil ours.

many more examples of wikis

In horticulture we had plenty of weather to be outside this past week and our flower garden has gotten a spring cleaning. We scattered lettuce and broccoli raab seeds. We even ventured into a bed we don't usually touch, but I got tired of seeing all the dandelions. Here is a photo of myself and a portion of our flower garden as it appeared in August of 2007...