Tag: education

Teachers: help your kids detect cosmic rays

By Phil Plait | June 27, 2012 10:30 am

One thing I like to see is kids getting their hands on doing science. There’s something about being involved with something, actually doing it for yourself, that gives you a sense of ownership over the knowledge, makes you part of something bigger.

Here’s another chance to do that for students across the world: the ERGO telescope project. ERGO stands for "Energetic Ray Global Observatory" and the idea is to build simple cosmic-ray detectors that can be sent to classrooms all over the world. Here’s a short video describing the project:

Cosmic rays are energetic subatomic particles that come blasting in from space. They’re created by the Sun, by exploding stars, but distant galaxies… basically, by cool, interesting objects. By distributing these detectors across the world, students can share their data and come up with their own ways of examining them.

If you’re a teacher and you want your students to not just learn science, but to experience it, then this sounds like a good way to do it! They even have a simple form you can fill out to apply for a grant to get started.

Related Posts:

Something powerful lurks nearby
Attack of the galactic subatomic particles
No, a new study does not show cosmic-rays are connected to global warming
Bobbing for extinctions

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff, Science
MORE ABOUT: cosmic rays, education, ERGO

States of educational decay

By Phil Plait | April 4, 2011 2:28 pm

You know what happens when you cut education in your state? Businesses may start to leave.

Basically, Arizona is looking to cut hundreds of millions of dollars to K-12 and University education in order to save money — despite the incredibly obvious problem that cutting that money means gutting your future work force and depriving them of the education they need to get the high-paying jobs. This did not escape Craig Barrett, a former Intel Chief Executive, who serves on the Arizona Commerce Authority. In that article it’s clear he thinks cutting education makes Arizona a less desirable place to set up business.

I’ve often wondered if biomedical research companies would start leaving states that promote creationism over evolution teaching. Now I have to wonder if I was being too narrow in my thinking. I would be interesting indeed if big businesses start telling state legislators that if they cut education funding, businesses will have to look elsewhere for their future employees. Hopefully Arizona will get that message… one that many other states (like oh, say, Tennessee) need to hear as well.

I think it’s clear that a lot of legislators don’t care all that much about education when it comes to actually teaching the kids science (aka reality). Maybe a poke at their bottom line will stir them to do the right thing, even if not for the most important reason.

Tip o’ the brow ridge to a) Fark, and 2) Robert Luhn of NCSE for the Tennessee article. In fact, you should use their RSS feed to keep up with their tireless fight against antireality!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Piece of mind, Science

NASA wants smart high school kids

By Phil Plait | March 24, 2011 4:43 pm

NASA is looking for U.S. high school students to participate in their INSPIRES program: Interdisciplinary National Science Program Incorporating Research Experience. Students who get in will get access to all kinds of cool stuff:

The selected students and their parents will participate in an online learning community with opportunities to interact with peers, NASA engineers and scientists. The online community also provides appropriate grade-level educational activities, discussion boards and chat rooms for participants to gain exposure to careers and opportunities available at NASA.

That’s nice, but the real deal is this part:

Students selected for the program also will have the option to compete for unique grade-appropriate experiences during the summer of 2012 at NASA facilities and participating universities. The summer experience provides students with a hands-on opportunity to investigate education and careers in the STEM disciplines.

Man, I would’ve killed for that opportunity when I was in high school! So if you’re a teacher with some good students, a parent, or a high school kid yourself, check out the program. And if it looks good to you, apply! The deadline for applications is June 30.

Hey. Sometimes, it is rocket science.


Creationists suffer defeat in Oklahoma

By Phil Plait | February 23, 2011 1:55 pm

A few weeks ago I wrote about Oklahoma State Representative Sally Kern, who had submitted a bill to the state legislature that would significantly weaken science education in that state. Basically, the bill would bar teachers from grading students down on science tests because of that student’s particular belief. In other words, the student could say the Earth is 6000 years old, and the teacher couldn’t fail them.

Well, some good news: that bill failed to pass the vote. The bad news? It only failed 7-9. Nearly half the people in the state’s Education Committee felt it would be OK (haha) for students to fail to learn actual science, and not be penalized for it.

And Kern, the bill’s sponsor, will no doubt not take this defeat lying down. She has a long, long history of blatant anti-reality leanings — she once compared being gay to having cancer — and I’m sure she’ll be proposing some new version of nonsense soon.

But there’s some hope. Fred Jordan, another member of the Education Committee, said,

"We’re opening the door for teachers to kind of say whatever they want to say, whether it’s religious issues, creation, evolution. I really feel like we’re opening the door to where any and everything can come in."

That is precisely right. So given that statement by Jordan, I’ll leave you with this:

Tip o’ the knuckle-whacking ruler to Mandy Qualls.

Related posts:

America and India love their antiscience
Oklahoma: One step from doom

Butterfliiiies… iiinnnn… SPPPAAAAACCCCEEEEE!

By Phil Plait | November 5, 2009 12:00 pm

bug_girl_by_skepchickjillMy friend Bug Girl (an entomologist and Skepchick) sent me a note about a cool opportunity for U.S. east coast teachers: you can participate in a Shuttle experiment involving Monarch butterflies in space!

When Atlantis launches next week, it will be carrying some Monarch caterpillars to be taken aboard the Space Station, where they will hatch and be observed. Lots of questions will be investigated: What happens when pupae burst open in space? How will the butterflies cope? Will their migrating instinct be satisfied by moving 7 km/sec across the face of the Earth?

OK, I made up that last one, but Monarch Watch is looking to get teachers and students involved in the real science of butterflies in microgravity. But HURRY! They need your email by tomorrow, Friday, November 6! So if you’re an east coast teacher, go to Bug Girl’s blog and see how you can join in on the insecty fun.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, NASA, Science

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