Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Science Research Needs Continuity

What's That? (57) by jurvetson
Attribution License

Science Research needs continuity that cannot be found through the use of a market forces model. How Algal Biofuels Lost a Decade in the Race to Replace Oil, an article by Alexis Madrigal sums up the setback in alternative source energy research which happened in the 1980's.

We may now be ready to set things right, if we continue to fund scientific research for alternative energy sources, such as algae.

Carefully read the story of how we, yes we, abandoned alternative sources of energy and played our fiddles while the oil burned up our economy.

Ooops! Now we bemoan the fact. On the positive side, one thing is different now, and that is the ability of people, including scientists, to get their message across without the help of traditional media. Journalists and their bosses failed miserably to report on these issues, so greedy people who only look out for themselves were able to bring us, as a nation, to our knees with the high price of energy and the destruction of our economy.
clipped from
How Algal Biofuels Lost a Decade in the Race to Replace Oil

For nearly 20 years, a government laboratory built a living, respiring library of carefully collected organisms in search of something that could grow quickly while producing something precious: oil.

But now that collection has largely been lost.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory scientists found and isolated around 3,000 species algae from construction ditches, seasonal desert ponds and briny mashes across the country in a major bioprospecting effort to find the best organisms to convert sunlight and carbon dioxide into fuel for cars.

Despite meager funding, the Aquatic Species Program (.pdf), initiated under President Jimmy Carter, laid the scientific foundation for making diesel-like fuel from the fat that microscopic algae accumulate in their cells. Fifty-one varieties were carefully characterized as potential high-value strains, but fewer than half of those remain.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Michigan Water Pollution

One of my students, Alex, focused on Michigan Water Pollution as he developed his Glog for our Environmental Life Science research.

This is an area of personal concern for this environmental science enthusiast. His evidence of focus on his topic makes this interactive poster quite useful. I would direct you to his inclusion of leftover medicines in the water systems which is an overlooked, yet extremely detrimental water contamination problem.

Teachers could share this Glog as an example for students or as a teaching tool. As always, I would recommend that you cite this blog in your work.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

As Earth Becomes Arrakis, It Won't Be Pretty!

Here is just a small sample of what other continents can see in their future as the glaciers melt and mountain snows never come to recharge the water systems. It's all a part of the natural progression caused by human interference that Earth will go through as it becomes Arrakis. Let's hope there are no worms.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Friday, November 20, 2009

Student Glogs: Fossilized Life Found in Mines

Environmental Life Science students selected a narrow topic to create a thesis statement, research their topic and make a poster. They could choose to use interactive methods, like Glogster: Education version, word processing or presentation software or web applications and static posters.

Most selected an interactive format. I will be displaying these over the next few days. What do you think of this interactive web application? Do you see an opportunity to use it and replace the static poster?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

2005.10.11-Prep Lab-Part 01-Erfoud, Morocco

While this Prep Lab in Morocco is very loud because of the air compressor, this is a fantastic video showing some unique marine fossils, including crinoids, trilobites and other sea creatures.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Another Reality

A humorous look at a truly tragic dilemma of cost vs. long term needs.

The Corporation: DDT and Pesticides

a clip from the movie, The Corporation. Do Corporations have an ethical responsibility to the world community?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Using Animoto For Presentations

Using this sample Animoto video as a guide. You may use the Animoto web application to build a video from images and videos. Add your own music, or use the music available on the web application.

The video you create can represent one part of your Biodiversity presentation and can be transferred to Youtube or other presentation media.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Our Footprints: Heavy on the Land!

A man's steps by isolano.
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License

On Blog Action Day 2009, bloggers all around Earth are sharing their ideas, comments and actions for Climate Change.

If we hope to be the change we see in the world, let's start at home.

The Nature Conservancy has provided a wonderful, easy to use carbon footprint survey It can be used to determine your carbon footprint. Try it out and learn how you can lighten the burden on Earth.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Open To Interpretation!

BEWARE by pheezy
Attribution License
Sometimes the old adage, "Take this advice with a grain of salt!", screams out for renewal, especially in the area of "green" advice. Just because you use a chemical substance at home for one job, don't try to repurpose it in some novel way just to try to be green. When reading advice, make sure it's NOT OPEN TO INTERPRETATION. If you're not sure what is being said, ask for clarification or don't use it.

The advice given by green advocates is definitely well-intentioned, even if it may be unclear at times. Sometimes, they may give advice or information that is open to interpretation. Writers must include the necessary caveats, subject nouns, or explanations that bring accuracy to the sustainability party, the green revolution or whatever you are calling your ecological epiphany.

A case in point comes to us from the Exchange For Green: Green Living, Better Living network website via their advice that they mention comes via the Real Simple website.

Before explaining, I'll mention a few caveats of my own. First, I love Real Simple, and their work is very helpful for thrifty people everywhere. Second, I am very impressed with the Exchange For Green Network. Third, I share this story, because the information can help you be a critical thinker and live sustainably in a healthy way.

When I read the Green Advicespotlight, I notice it listed a decanter, hot water, vinegar and dishwashing soap. The directions stated,
Swirl the rice around for a few minutes to remove the residue, rinse with hot water, and air-dry.
There was no clear information as to which was being cleaned, the rice or decanter. Therefore, I inferred from their directions that the advice was about cleaning 1 cup of rice, enough rice for meal preparation. Not knowing what they maaaay have been talking of cleaning, I became alarmed...don't use dishwashing soap to clean your rice.

So, as the effective consumer I try to be, I decided to find the reference link on the Real Simple website. There was no link to the the Real Simple article at the Exchange for Green Advice, so I had to search the Real Simple website. Using the following key words (tags) alone and in various combinations: rice, clean, decanter, dish soap, I never found the reference.

Next, I did a browser search and found an article called "How to Clean The Inside of a Glass Bottle" (aka decanter), at TipNuts. This was a great advice article. It was very clear in its meaning and directions. The author mentions using rice to clean glass bottles, but only suggests using 1 teaspoon of rice. This makes sense, so there maaaay be a misprint: 1 cup of rice on the Green Network website maaay have been mistakenly substituted for the recommended 1 teaspoon of rice.

It is NOT sustainable to use 1 Cup of Rice. If you need to use that much rice that will be destroyed, you are not living sustainably...therefore NOT GREEN. If you need that much of an abrasive substance, you would be better served in using some sterilized, cleaned, fine-grained sand. The sand can be cleaned using solar heat or other simple, sustainable methods. You can reclean this light abrasive, store in a repurposed container and save for use another time.

Personally, I would use a long bottle brush and other substances, that are sustainable or low/nonpolluting, to clean a decanter. Since the bottle brush may not be readily available, a long spoon and a dishcloth can be substituted for the bottle brush.

My suggestion is that you should comment if you notice or perceive problems on a person's blog or advice blurb. Ask questions if something they've written doesn't seem correct and sustainable. That's what I do, and I'm on my way to their website. To comment, I had to sign up to be in the network, and I'm waiting for a login.

Enjoy working towards a sustainable life and always ask questions!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Designs on DaVinci

Doing DaVinci, a new interactive website with a companion weekly show, contains historical and scientific information about Leonardo DaVinci, as well as games and surveys. There are also video clips and information and interviews about the expert builders who brought DaVinci's machines to life, from his notes and diagrams.

One of the more interesting web applications on this site is Leonardo DaVinci's Personality Quiz. Several colleagues in our PLN, professional learning network, tried it out. We found it enlightening, as well as entertaining. This quiz would definitely capture the interest of students and teachers. It could be used as a lesson starter, sometimes called the anticipatory set.

This website contains timelines, samples of DaVinci's machines and a host of other applications that could be used by teachers of any subject.

The draw to DaVinci, as the ultimate Renaissance Man, remain his great and varied interests. Try out the website, quizzes, model-building and dramatizations. The companion television show will air each Monday throughout the month of April.

Image Credits:
DaVinci Notes of Geometry of Flower
The Babe in the Womb