Thursday, September 23, 2021

Draw A Scientist

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Children, Nature of Science, Early Childhooe

Ed Hessler

Draw a picture of a scientist is a common assignment given young children. It has been the subject of a considerable amount of research although that is not the subject of this post. Here is a fine article about the research by The Atlantic's Ed Yong who describes what we have learned. It also reveals children's thinking about the nature of science.

The stick-figure scientists drawn by the child of bioethicist Alison Bateman-House, take a different slant, capturing experiences such as spilling something important and the delight of giving a lecture. The child had six ideas not one. The last was one her Mom finally asked. Be sure to scroll down to see them all including a couple Bateman-House included.

h/t NatureBriefing

The stick-figure scientists drawn by the child of bioethicist Alison Bateman-House brilliantly capture ineffable experiences such as the horror of spilling something important and the fun of giving a nice long lecture.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

The Most Beautiful Experiment In Biology.

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, History of Science, Nature of Science

Ed Hessler

Scientists Matthew Meselson and Franklin Stahl were at the beginning of their careers in molecular biology "when they performed what is not recognized as one of the most beautiful experiments in modern biology." 

The experiment was the first, critical test of the Watson-Crick model for DNA and settled it.

In this film (22m 07s), the authors, now long retired, have a wonderful conversation about this experiment, serendipity in science, their careers and about their lives in science. The experiment led to a warm, lifetime friendship which is clearly evident

Below the film there is a link to short biographies and also a good summary of the experiment.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Images of Mangrove Forests Around the World

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Art and Environment, Society, Culture, Wildlife, Watersheds, Sustainability

Ed Hessler

This is the 7th year of the Mangrove Photography Awards, a project of the Mangrove Action Project. The aim is "to show the relationships between wildlife, coastal communities and mangrove forests, as well as the fragility of these unique ecosystems, both above and below the waterline." They didn't mention beauty but the images show their aesthetic appeal.

You can think of mangroves as ecosystem engineers for they clean water--both fresh and saline, stabilize coastlines, protect land from wind and wave damage, provide resources such as food, wood, medicine and fuel for humans, and conserve biological diversity.

There is a large gallery of photographs at the BBC, naming the winners, countries of the photographers, locations, and categories. It provides a glimpse into their wonderful diversity and of course, beauty.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Children's Questions About COVID-19 Vaccines

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Health, Medicine, Children

Ed Hessler

Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN (1m 57s) answers questions from 5th grade students in Atlanta about COVID-19 vaccines.

You will notice the children are wearing masks while outside and at a distance from Dr. Gupta. This is a school policy. 

A good conversation in Q & A format.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Father, Baby Boy & The Natural World

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Early Childhood, Nature, Culture

Ed Hessler

In this New Yorker documentary, "Walking Before Walking," filmmaker Adam Amir introduces his son to the natural world. It is also a  reflection of what Amir learned about himself. 

The documentary is 23m 28s long and I hope its length doesn't dissuade you from watching it. It is beautifully filmed and the comments throughout allowed us to listen to a person thinking outloud.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Cashew Agriculture

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Biodiversity, Nature, Agriculture, Society, Culture

Ed Hessler

Cashew farmers in Guinea-Bissau have struggled with the coronavirus pandemic's interruption of the supply chain and on top of this a new tax which was later rescinded for farmers and the lowering of taxes on intermediaries and exporters.

Another important product is cashew wine. It is made by "squeezing the juice from cashew apples then fermenting it - it is popular within Guinea-Bissau." In addition, non-alcoholic cashew juice, is made and sold to local restaurants.

BBC photojournalist Ricci Shryock reports on cashew agriculture and products. 

Friday, September 17, 2021

Friday Poem

Environmental & Science Education, Poetry, Art & Environment

Ed Hessler

It is September 17, 2021. 
Good morning from the Center for Global Environmental Education (CGEE) at Hamline University. This is day number 260 of 2021 (6240 hours with 71.23% of the year tucked away). There will be 12h 24m 54s of daylight between sunrise at 6:54 am and sunset at 7:19 pm.

It is National Apple Dumpling Day - delicious with ice cream - and Foodimentary includes five facts about them and some events in food history. I've never tried it but Apple Cider Ice Cream with Cinnamon sounds like a perfect match . Saving Room For Dessert has some lovely photographs as well as a recipe.

Quote.  “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is yourer than you.” Horton Hears a Who, Dr. Seuss. If you don't have the book, you can take a peek inside at the link.
Today's poem is by Robinson Jeffers, a poem I've long wanted to post but the only copy I knew was in a form I thought inconvenient to read (required turning a page and it was included with a number of other poems in consecutive order).  Jim Culleny, 3 Quarks Daily recently published it all by itself. I was so pleased to find it at last although in fairness I didn't look very hard. hard. In fact it fell into my lap. Thank you Mr. Culleny.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

A Sacred Forest in Papua, Indonesia

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Nature, Culture, Society

Ed Hessler 

The BBC has a short film, 3m 28s, about a sacred forest in Papua, Indonesia. It is a mangrove forest and for women only. Men found there are fined. In this forest women gather clams and also share stories..

Story by an all female team, including the crew who received permission to enter.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

What Do You Do All Day? Joel Berger, Musk Oxen, and Polar Bear Research

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Wildlife, Nature, Nature of Science, Biodiversity, Biological Evolution. Behavior, Global Climate Change

Ed Hessler

You might have read or been read to or have read to/with a child, Richard Scarry's What Do People Do All Day?  I can't foget Working: people Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do by Studs Terkel. These books are timeless. It is always a pleasure to find out just what people do all day and below is one more.

The British journal Nature in a recent Nature Briefing adds to Scarry and Terkel by describing what wildlife-conserevation biologist Joel Berger does all day. He investigated how musk oxen (Ovibus maschatus) and polar bears (Ursus Maritimus) will interact when driven together by climate change. One part of his research included dressing up as a "polar bear, pulling a bear head on and placeing a cape over a range finder, camera and date books. If some oxen charged, I'd throw off my costume and stand up straight," to live another day. "Whew!"

In this short read (3m) you may learn more and see a picture of him standing, bear head off and arms wingspread. A posture that has served him well so far. This story does not have the ending he'd have liked for he has been banned from research in the Russia for three years (Wrangel Island, NE coast of Russia), accused of being a CIA spy (the only "word" he recognized during the hearing)!   All this over a date error on his permits. 

Berger has since gone to another part of the world, Patagonia, to study an entirely different species. More here on this work in search of the huemul, Chile's national mammal. In it, he describes his approach to conservation biology

If you are interested in his research on musk oxen Berger takes us into the minds of musk ox in this video (7m 55s). There you will also learn more about him, how he thinks about and practices science, and the nature of his research on grizzly bear-musk ox interactions.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

From NCSE: Climate Models--How Well Did They Do?

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Global Climate Change, Earth & Space Science, Earth Systems, Global Change, Models, Nature of Science, History of Science

Ed Hessler

The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) "has worked to breakdown over the years ...  the idea that climate models can't be trusted. With that in mind, NCSE has collaborated with The King's Centre for Visualization in Science to bring ... a new visualization that eloquently shows the accuracy of climate models over time. We think this applet will be a game-changer for teaching climate science." 

To engage with the applet see here.  I think you will find it quite amazing, powerful, and depending on your teaching duties helpful in understanding models and their use. The applet includes detailed information on how to use these models in the process of "hindcasting." 

And even for those who are not teaching it is useful in understanding the use of models of science and their use, in particular, in understanding climate change.