Category Archives: Science

thinking putty: an experiment in focus

I slept late this morning, but I went to bed late last night. I was working on school work and in the throes of thinking, planning, and writing the time slipped away. By the time I was finished, it was well past my regular bed time. When I crawled into bed, I had to move Ivy who had gone to bed without me and was taking up more of the bed than she should. She was nestled up against my leg when I fell asleep and she was still there when I got up. She beat me downstairs waiting patiently at the door to go outside while I started my coffee.

Gold Rush thinking putty at rest

She and I have a morning routine. When she came back inside, she sat beside the couch looking at me with her ears pulled forward as if to ask, ‘can I?’ I looked back at her and nodded, she jumped onto the couch and I went downstairs to the basement and my office.

November is a busy month. When school is in session all the months are full, but November and February always seem especially full. Thanksgiving is this week and I have two days of school and then we are on break until the following Monday. O is out for break the entire week and she is heading to Disney World with the marching band. She is excited. It will be odd not having her for Thanksgiving, sort of an experiment for what it will be like someday in the future.

I’ve been experimenting lately. I’ve been writing a monthly classroom newsletter for two subject I teach – science and history. I published my latest science newsletter Saturday evening.

I’ve been watching my students and my daughter, O, play with Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty . I was wondering if there was something to it and I grabbed a couple of tins for myself, sort of a birthday gift from me to me. It actually is pretty soothing and relaxing to knead the putty stretching, pulling, and squeezing it in both hands. I have two tins Gold Rush and Northern Lights. Continue reading thinking putty: an experiment in focus

It’s not magic, it’s science

It’s been raining since early this morning. The rain is welcome as late August, all of September, and the first week of October have been dry, very dry. I awoke this morning to Ivy wanting to climb into bed with me, rather than lie at my feet as she usually does. This morning she was up by my head, then my chest, leaping off the bed and running downstairs, then racing back up, before I finally relented and got out of bed and began my Saturday morning. Long before the sun rose.

The rain has been heavy with thunder and lightning, which is what spooks Ivy.

I had a few appointments in the morning before I was able to get back to writing and thinking or thinking and writing. It’s been a couple of weeks since my last post. Last weekend was a three-day weekend and I started writing a post, but didn’t finish, so it’ll be one of those blogpost topics which flickered, but didn’t light. I haven’t forgotten kindness, but just been focused on school and home, and of course the long season.

The long season is winding down. The Astros, my team, have made it to the postseason and they’ve advanced to the American League Championship Series, they need 2 more wins to advance to the World Series. I am watching and rooting, though sometimes it’s easier just to listen or learn the score after the game, but that takes the fun out of the game.

It’s all about balance, because sometimes the forces of life are beyond my control.

a balancing act, science, not magic

Last week my science students were beginning their study of forces, motion, and energy. Our focus in class has been to wonder and be curious about how things move. I’ve introduced my students to the magnetic cannon and Newton’s Cradle and last week I balanced two forks with a toothpick on the edge of glass beaker. It’s easier than you think, it’s all about finding the right balance and then trusting that apparatus (the forks with the toothpick) will balance and realizing that if they fall, I can try it again, and again until it balances. Continue reading It’s not magic, it’s science

3C’s for Sunday

It’s Sunday morning and school is in full bloom and my bucket is full, in fact it’s overflowing. Trying to rationalize how time will be spent between the ‘want to dos,’ ‘need to-dos,’ and ‘have to dos’ is the challenge to leading a balanced life. I am thankful to the time I devoted this past summer break for helping me develop a new habit of starting the day with 20 minutes devoted to thinking about what happened yesterday, what will happen today, and how it will shape tomorrow. It’s in line with my first thing…

my Sunday morning view from the deck…

Curiosity
It takes curiosity to Make the Days Count. I am naturally a curious person and according to my principal in 2014, that’s why he picked me to teach 8th grade science. This is my fourth year as a science teacher and I finally feel like I really know what I am doing. It all comes back to that trait – curiosity and wonder. Last August, in 2016, I wrote a post about the 100 most influential Americans. I promised to reveal who the nine Americans I chose for my classroom were, I never did until this post. Continue reading 3C’s for Sunday

hydrogen and helium: elemental

It’s Sunday morning by the lake. Yesterday was Saturday and tomorrow, is Monday. It’s how the week rolls, it’s elemental.

When I woke Saturday morning, it was cool and overcast. By midday, it had warmed and the sun was out. I had to install a part on the boat lift in the lake. I gathered my tools, my camera, and waded into the lake. Ivy came with me paddling and O followed. The install took only a few minutes, I took photos of the new part, then I took photos of the lake.

earth, water, and air – the ancient elements

I have taken hundreds, maybe thousands, of photos of the lake, but most of the photos I have taken are from shore or from a boat.

I focused on South Bay where a rain cell raced across the lake.

I was able to capture several of the elements of life by the lake – the lake, the hills, and the clouds at once. Of course, there are the sunsets, but that’s for another time. Continue reading hydrogen and helium: elemental

No travel Saturday

It’s a beautiful Saturday morning on the deck. The birds are singing, there is a gentle breeze rustling through the trees, and the sun is shining brightly. AND, I’ve decided to stay home and not fly to Seattle.

my office view this morning..

Continue reading No travel Saturday

FOCUS – a photo challenge

It’s Saturday morning and the past week has passed quickly, much too quickly. Honestly, the past nine days have been a blur. Summertime is usually my blogging time, school’s out and I am on vacation, sort of. While the past week or so has been a blur of days, I have been focused.

Wednesday afternoon’s rain total – the rain gauge is OUT of focus

This past week I am doing what many educators do over summer break – professional development. I am taking a class on teaching science using the modelling science methodology. The class is certainly keeping me on my toes and I am taking notes and making sure I don’t miss anything. Trying to stay focused on why I am in class in the first place – to use the science modelling framework in my science classroom.

Big Red and me – my signature selfie and a possible future blog post

Last summer, similar class – Modelling Biology but, this summer I am taking Physics: Mechanics. The instructor was my son, W’s, physics teacher and W enjoyed having him – but the class pushed him as a student, just as my own physics class and teacher did when I was in high school. I am having flashbacks to Mrs. Matney’s 3rd hour physics class from 1979-80. The class content is definitely keeping me on my toes and I need to remind myself to stay focused. Coincidentally, Mrs. Matney is STILL teaching high school physics. I made a brief visit to my old high school in April when I was visiting my mom. I asked to see Mrs. Matney, she was out of school at a high school science competition. The year I had Mr. Matney she was selected as the high school’s teacher of the year. I learned a lot that year in science, but I learned more about myself and grew up, sort of. I sent Mrs. Matney a thank you e-mail over a decade ago and she responded that she was still teaching science. I am thankful for her dedication to teaching and especially her patience understanding with me when I was her student. Continue reading FOCUS – a photo challenge

#FinishSTRONG

It’s that time of the year. It’s the end of the school year. As of this moment, there are 19 days remaining in the school year, that is if I count school days only. Sandwiched in between those final four weeks are three weekends and one of them is a three-day weekend. The kids know it, the teachers know it, there is no good way to hide it. So, I don’t try to hide the fact that the days are slipping away towards summer break.

Memorial Park – Sunday, April 23 – today was just as sunny, but the tulips weren’t as vibrant.

Right now, it’s the middle of spring. The flowers and trees are blooming and today is a beautiful sunny spring afternoon. The sky is so blue, I can almost taste it. Last night, we had a frost warning, but I didn’t see any frost on the yard or on the rooftops when I looked out across the yard this morning. It was cool, but evidently, not cold enough.

But warmer days will soon be here, then summer, summer break, and before I realize it, I’ll be back in school again. It’s a cycle, the always repeating cycle of life and the seasons.

A couple of weeks ago I got the email below from a student. Continue reading #FinishSTRONG

April Fool

It’s our last day of spring vacation and I awoke early to watch the sun rise over the ocean, one last time, or at least until next Spring Break. At home, I can always wake to see the sunrise, but it doesn’t have the majesty of the sun rising on the horizon over the ocean, though the very act of the sun rising bring a new day and a new opportunity to make the day count is something special.

Saturday morning’s last ocean sunset, for me at least

I’ll get to see the sunset one last time before we take off and head home. Here 77F (25C) and home 32F (0C), Spring is just around the corner I keep reminding myself. Seemingly, April’s April Fool prank on me – April Fool.

Fort Jefferson in Dry Tortuga National Park – from our trip Thursday

Continue reading April Fool

Solitude – a photo challenge

It’s Saturday and I find myself searching for solitude. It’s been a peaceful day, so far: Men’s group at church, a Saturday morning webinar on Tinker vs. Des Moines, a bit of school work, and a power nap. Earlier, I found a bit of solitude at my desk after the webinar and I’m back after the nap. At the moment, I have the sounds of “Still Wild” by La Mar playing. It has a pleasant beat and it’s peaceful and calming.

Tomorrow is the Super Bowl and an unofficial national holiday. I don’t have a preference who win, I only hope it’s a good game. In previous years, I have made my predictions known, not this year. Tomorrow will be a busy day getting ready for the coming week.

I read the WordPress e-mail and post WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitude yesterday after school. I pondered the topic this morning; I was stumped. Finally, it came to me this afternoon.

The lake: magic – a photo challenge.

Saturday afternoon’s view the sun shines

We were up at the lake last for Thanksgiving. We had a good time and celebrated Thanksgiving and enjoyed the peace and solitude of being Up North. We invited our neighbor, Mr. Bill over for Thanksgiving dinner, he’s retired and a full-time resident along the lake. He’s also a diehard Detroit Lions fan and they had won the Thanksgiving Day game with a field goal as time expired. I always look forward to seeing him. When we talk, it was always about family, friends, and the peace and solitude along the lake. Especially, the lake.

At school, my science classes Continue reading Solitude – a photo challenge

summer’s last gasp

Yesterday was the last full day of summer, in a little more than three hours fall arrives.

9:21 AM CDT – September 22.

Today is split summer and fall. Tomorrow is first full day of fall.

driving west - storm clouds rolling in from the northwest
driving west – storm clouds rolling in from the northwest

It was a good summer, but it had its moments. Yesterday, we got our last summer storm and it rolled through the area as I was on my way to school. Fortunately, it hadn’t started raining when I arrived, or I would have been drenched walking in.

At the end of the day, another wave of rain arrived as I was leaving school and it sprinkled on me as I walked to my car. That was it, summer’s last gasp. We’ve needed the rain, it’s been dry.

The shorter days are already here. Last night, I noticed it when I got home and I reset the front door light timer to come on earlier. Soon the leaves will turn and then fall. Cooler nights and then frost. And, we’ll probably get a few storms into fall, the worst storms seem to be the fall storms that blow up over the Great Lakes.   Continue reading summer’s last gasp