Author Archives: Stephen
Sam Harris: Science Can Answer Moral Questions
Timely and provocative, here is Sam Harris on facts, values, morals and perceptions. Jump here for lesson ideas. Trigger alert (it’s Sam Harris): some raw issues discussed.
A Great Batch of TOK Questions
This year’s TOK Questions are a great crop (I think) for connecting the sciences as an area of knowledge with many current and historical knowledge issues. Here’s a wee poster I made on PiktoChart for the questions. Which do you lean towards and why?
PaperPile: Managing Citations in GoogleDocs
I have been looking for something that can replace MS Word’s citation manager and work in a similar way to Zotero. Here’s a quick post on how to use the PaperPile add-on for managing references in GoogleDocs. Paperpile is free from the Chrome store, though I am using the upgraded version.
The Environment is Interdisciplinary
Working with Eco Club and thinking about the complexities of the interactions, causes, effects and issues we need to tackle, I am often reminded of this Lovelock quote, from a 2014 interview in the Guardian. Perhaps if we can get interdisciplinary teaching and learning right in our schools, we can help students make the connections they need to truly understand the deeper causes of the problems they might need to solve.
For a more detailed post on how we’re trying to tackle IDU’s, please see my blog.
Exploring Environmental Science: Student BlogPosts
In our current Grade 10 Environmental Science course, students have designed their own unit based on an area of interest and their subject choices for next year. This year’s class have broken into four groups: climate vs biodiversity, climate vs ocean and air currents, pollution & biomagnification, and invasive species vs biodiversity.
As part of the requirements for the unit, students must write a case study blog post, assessed using Criterion D: Reflecting on the Impact of Science, that explores an action taken related to their topic of choice. They were asked to look for some reliable sources, making the most of the blog format with suitable media and images. Successful blog posts teach the reader about the big ideas of their unit, through the lens of a specific case.
Here are some of their products:
- Kaiki’s Mercury in Fish
- Fred’s Artificial Photosynthesis, Turning over a new leaf for solutions to Climate Change
- Kikoy’s The Great Wall of Rivers
- Kayla’s Golden Mussels Should Be Feared As A Monster!
- Takeharu’s Oh no! The Bluegill Army is Attacking!
- Michelle’s The Bald Eagle throws DDT — an outrageous move.
- Doo Hyun asks how we can stop global warming?
- Natsuki’s “Bi Bi Fossil Fuel, Hello BioFuel”
- Juhaku’s Burmese Pythons costing citizens every year
- Mami’s MicroBeads
- Irma’s Plant a Tree; It’s Easy as One Two T(h)ree
Making the Invisible Visible: Climate Change & CO2
This is very neat video from NASA, showing carbon dioxide changes over time, with annotations. See a breakdown here.
Thank-you! Some huge milestones…
This weekend, i-Biology.net passed 4,000,000 page views and GB£5,000 (US$ 7,500) in donations to charity through the Biology4Good project!
Thank-you to all who have supported the site and especially to those who have shown their appreciation through helping me support a selection of my favourite charities. In a time of big changes for IB Biology (and in my own work), these donations provide the motivation to keep the site alive.
Do Something That Matters
If you know me you’ll know I’m a keen surfer and have spent years in Indonesia (now in Japan). This TEDx Talk by Dr. Dave Jenkins is inspirational and informative, as he describes their work at SurfAid International (2007 NGO of the Year). He describes how we can harness doing what we love for the good of others, but also discusses the importance of community connection and authenticity in service projects and the danger of the ‘founder sydrome’.
Watch it – maybe use it for inspiration for your CAS projects – and share with those responsible for service in your school.
Although they don’t have a JustGiving page to add to my Biology4Good fundraising team, you can support them with donations (and T-shirts) here.
When you are developing service learning projects, you might consider using the Service Learning Cycle. Find out more about it here.
Ebola: What’s Going On?
Ebola is making headlines at the moment – in this task we’ll learn more about how it works and what is being done to stop it. Refer to this excellent resource from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). These short videos also give some background.
Goal: Produce a poster, blog post or short presentation to communicate accurate information regarding Ebola.
Role: You are science communicators.
Audience: Your peers – high school students and teachers.
Scenario: Ebola is making the news in a big way – and so is misinformation about it. You need to find and present accurate information about Ebola, including potential risks and what is being done to combat it.
Product: Large visual poster, blog (500 words with media) or short presentation (4-5 mins).
- Describe the pathogen of Ebola, including type of pathogen, characteristics and ‘behaviour’.
- Outline the effects of Ebola on the patient: symptoms, damage, cause of death.
- Outline how Ebola is transmitted, including risk factors for transmission.
- Explain why patients who survive Ebola infection become immune to future infections.
- Describe current treatments for Ebola, including their effectiveness.
- Describe how an outbreak of Ebola might be controlled.
- Outline how a vaccine for Ebola might be created.
- Evaluate the current level of ‘panic’ about Ebola. To what extent is it justified in our context?
- Define any new or technical terms used (or discovered in your research) for the audience.
- Compare Ebola and other viral infections.
- Discuss the origins of Ebola, including how it is thought to have become able to infect humans.
- This could be used to reinforce the diseases unit.
- Students should be vigilant on student use of resources: there are many conspiracy theories out there clouding the issue.