Blog Archives

What’s Your Water Footprint?

Visualizing.org had a competition for best visualisation for World Water Day (22nd March), and the winner is this interactive world map by Joseph Bergen and Nicki Huang, from Harvard:

What's your water footprint? Joseph Bergen and Nicki Huang's interactive visualisation.

The Looming Water Crisis

Could we run out of water before we run out of oil?

World Water Day is just around the corner – March 22nd.

Powerful messages abound regarding the impending socio-political, environmental and humanitarian disaster of the global water shortage. Watching the presentation and video above you will notice some startling, terrifying statistics. As a critical thinking or data-literacy task, can you track down the sources of those statistics?

What is 'Water Stress?'

With Earth Day (April 22) coming up, and the GIN conference around the same time, there are plenty of opportunities to explore the water shortage as an issue upon which we, as learners and leaders, can take action.This would in itself be a great topic for local and global CAS, or a self-contained theme for the Group 4 Project.

Find out more about the world water crisis here:

Some resources to use:

Using the resources above, as well as other local orgnisations, can the school develop and monitor a sustainable water plan?

Here’s a cool video, with a good soundtrack, from charity:water

Do you have any more resources and ideas for the water crisis to share? Add them in the comments below!

LifeSaver Bottle: Michael Pritchard at TED

TED2010 is on right now in California, so it’s a good opportunity to look at some of their best talks of the past year. This one is short and inspirational – how to meet the UN’s Millenium Development Goal to Halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without access to safe drinking water and sanitation – for just $8bn!

Michael Pritchard’s LifeSaver bottle is a solution to clean water needs. For just $150, it can filter even the dirtiest water, in remote areas, or following disasters such as the Haiti quakes. Spurred on by the problems following the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, see Pritchard demonstrate the technology at TED 2009:

There’s a nice little link there to cell theory and magnification, also.

This year, who is going to be worth watching? Check out the list of presenters here.

The Memory of Water: Science or Pseudoscience?

“Can you tell the difference between science and pseudoscience”

“What separates effective medicine from alternative medicine?”

This is an activity from the ToK and Biology section.

As you grow through Biology and ToK, you should develop your critical thinking skills and become more of a skeptic. Being able to answer these two questions is a skill that you can carry through life, helping you to make sensible decisions when faced with a range of seemingly convincing alternatives.

Medicine is a system of rigourous testing, evidence collection, statistical analysis and controls to ensure that a treatment is effective when recommended to patients. If it works and it is strongly corroborated, we call it medicine – it is available to professionally-trained medical doctors to use or prescribe for their patients.

Alternative medicine is simply that – alternative to medicine. It is not rigorously tested, double-blind controlled or statistically analysed. It is built on belief without true empirical evidence. One might believe it’s efficacy based only on anecdotal or circumstantial evidence, but this is not enough.

This activity links with unit 3.1 – Chemical Elements and Water.

Richard Dawkins’ recent series Enemies of Reason tackles these issues brilliantly, as does Dr Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science blog. Start with this short clip of Dawkins explaining the idea behind homeopathy, a bastion of alternative medicine:

Homeopathic First Aid.
Homeopathic First Aid.
  • So why is it that people buy into homeopathy and alt med?
  • Have you heard of the placebo effect or the powers of suggestion and how they affect feeling?
  • Watch the whole episode (below) and think of reasons why a patient might feel better after visiting a homeopath than after a consultation with the doctor.
  • What is the difference between complementary and alternative medicine? Which might a doctor recommend as part of a treatment? Why?

To find out more about homeopathy and it central ideas:

Homeopathy from the Skeptics Dictionary

The End of Homeopathy? From BadScience

And lots of great information from Evidence Based Medicine First

Video Links

Watch the full series of Enemies of Reason on GoogleVideo:

Part 1: Slaves to Superstition

Part 2: The Irrational Health Service (includes the homeopaths)

Ogo-dear... Burrrp!
Ogo-dear… Burrrp!

And it’s not only homeopathy that abuses our sacred water. The oxygen-water companies are it too.

More than Water? From BadScience (download reading activity here)

Unless you have gills, it’s an expensive burp! from Chem1.com

So, when you read the magazines, watch TV or wonder about a miracle cure, anti-ageing cream, magical treatment or anything else related to unusual claims and you health, think: “Where’s the evidence?”

Now here’s a funny sketch from Webb and Mitchell:

Chemical Elements and Water

Here is the class presentation:

You can click on the shadowed images in the presentation to be taken to the animations and videos.

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