Category Archives: Human Ingenuity

Forces & Motion

As our G10 class get working on the Forces and Change in Motion unit, I thought it was time to update the resources to take advantage of the Stratos jump and try out GoogleDocs* and presentations embedded into WordPress.

This task was designed based on student feedback from the last unit test. Some students wanted more (!) test-like situations and practice with the criterion, so I put this together. Prior to this lesson we had some short discussion on prior knowledge on forces (based on sports day situations) and free body diagrams. The rest they were learning as they went along. It was more engaging than I expected – lots of reaching for whiteboards, cooperative arguments and research.

The presentation for the unit is first, with the stimulus video next and the task below.

Note: interestingly the GPresentation embedded fine, but the embedded GDoc lost its formatting. 

Red Bull Stratos – Jumping from the Edge of Space

Felix Baumgartner is ready to jump! Follow the live feed below, or on the Red Bull Stratos website. His aim is to jump from the edge of space, breaking the sound barrier in freefall. Whoo!

Here’s a CGI simulation of what’s expected:

Three World-Changing Biology Experiments

A quick overview of three experiments that helped advance Biology:

15 year-old develops effective, cheap test for pancreatic cancer [TED Audition]

Wow. Here’s Jack Andraka’s TED Audition for a talk on his work developing a carbon nanotube and antibody-based test for pancreatic cancer.

Jack won the 2012 Gordon E. Moore Award ($75,000) at the Intel International* Science and Engineering Fair for the same work:

Read more about him, his work and the work he built it on here on

*Yup – you can have a go too.

One World: Formative Assessment Video Discussion Task

In this one or two-lesson task, students watch one of the videos below as an introduction to science as a solution to a problem in a global context. They then work together to produce a mind-map poster of the issue and its solution, covering the main ideas of the One World criterion.

Here are the videos:

United Nations University Our World 2.0: Plastic to Oil Fantastic

TED Talk: Michael Pritchard’s Lifesaver Bottle

The Missing Link to Renewable Energy? Donald Sadoway at TED2012

“We need to think big, we need to think cheap… Let’s invent to the price point of the electricity market. If you want to make something dirt cheap – make it out of dirt. Preferably dirt which is locally sourced!”

This is an entertaining and erudite TED Talk from MIT’s Materials Engineer Donald Sadoway which outlines our current problem of grid-level electricity storage, describes how batteries work and goes on to explain where we could go with molten metal batteries. He describes his passion as science and service to society, which is a great sentiment.

This is a good link to our units on Chemistry, Physics and Environmental Science and would make a fine starting point for a One World project. How can science positively impact the world?


So is the Earth full or is abundance our future? #TED2012

TED 2012 is underway and they have been posting some of the talks to their website. Here is a pair of talks which showcase different views of where we are in the world right now – each of them linking to our units on Environmental Science. You can also follow them on the Guardian’s liveblog.

In the first, Paul Gilding states that “The Earth is full,” but that it takes times of real crisis for us to create solutions and climb out of the hole we have dug for ourselves.

In this one, Peter Diamandis argues that we are living in a time of abundance and that human ingenuity will get us out of our problems.


EDIT – 4th March

These talks which have also been published are relevant to the issues we are studying in class. Have fun watching them!

Daniel Pauly: The ocean’s shifting baseline

Paul Snelgrove: A census of the ocean

Hunting for the Higgs

Do you know what’s going on at the Large Hadron Collider right now? Let’s have a look in their canteen…

Or perhaps we’d better check out the news…

Find out more about the search for the Higgs boson (and what it all means) on this week’s Guardian Science Podcast.

Here’s an explanation of the Higgs field:

And this is where the Higgs field and the boson fit into the Standard Model:

The Biggest Wave Ever Surfed

Garret McNamara, a Hawaiian surfer who looks suspiciously like the dad from Modern Family, has broken the world record for the largest wave ever surfed. At an estimated 90 feet (30 metres), the wave is off Nazaré, Portugal. Here it is:

This video clip from the Guardian has his board-cam and a short interview with him.

To find out more about the science of riding big waves, this is a good ten-minute clip from KQED Quest explains how giant waves are formed at Mavericks.

Riding Giants, about the history of big wave surfing and Laird Hamilton, is great too.

Jae Rhim Lee’s Mushroom Burial Suit

Oooooh... Mummy!It’s Halloween!

In topic 5.1 we learn that energy flows… but nutrients recycle. We are made of organic molecules – nutrients. So why not truly go green?

Watch the TED talk below and think about how many connections across the course we can make so far.

I want one!

For more on how saprotrophs such as fungi can be harnessed to solve pollutant problems, check out Paul Stamet’s talk: 6 ways mushrooms can save the world.


In other grisly news, a UK taxi-driver has donated his body to science – to become a mummy (in the ancient Egyptian sense).


Mummy image courtesy of

%d bloggers like this: