Today we met with Fridolin Weber, what a great meeting. Working with Fridolin is going to be wonderful. I was anxious about working with astro-physics because I am the member of the group that has the least amount science and math background and I was concerned that I would have a difficult time guiding my students through the project. However, today as Fridolin and the group were discussing the science of muons and some mathematical computations I actually was able to follow along and it made sense. Where were these teachers when I was in high school?
The group came up with some really wonderful project ideas and we are beginning to make prelimminary plans for the project. It was interesting to find out the pratical applications of astro physics and how many of the applications will be interesting to students. I'm pretty sure we could get them to buy in on any one of the ideas. It's going to be terrific working with such interesting subject matter and with a great team of teachers!
I've found all the meetings with the scientists very interesting. I am concerned that whenever I've asked what math they use, the answer I keep getting is that they don't use much math, just science. I think a good question might be, what pre-requisite skills do they expect a students to come with. I can work on critical thinking, problem solving and self-directed learning within the mathematical context. Not sure how that will fit in with the project we create. Andy talked about solving differentiable equations. This fits in with my AP Calculus but not Intermediate Algebra. The positive thing I'm taking away from this week is the enthusiasm from my team. We all agree that we will make it work and keep building every year to make it better. We all see the great potential in what we are trying to accomplish.
I'm excited to have expanded our list of possible topics after spending our time with Fridolin this afternoon. We were able to talk more in depth with him regarding his muon research and ask questions so we could sort out how we could explain it to our students. We walked away with a much more in depth and clear idea of the work he's doing and how we could relate it to our students in our classrooms. We also spoke with Fridolin about a project his teachers had once presented to him. He and his classmates problem solved and developed a method using math and science to estimate the number of sand particles on the earth. This spurred us on to begin expanding our list of possible topics, which we'll eventually present to our students. We're anxious to have our students in our classrooms so we can talk about the possibilities. Until then, I hope to remain as open as possible in terms of project ideas, and focus on learning the technology portion of our classes. I still would like to work more on video editing, uploading, and putting together presentations. There's a lot of technology out there and while we have so many experts around us, I'd like to be able to work through as much technology as I can.
If you can imagine a small child wearing rainbow-striped suspenders (it's the Punky Brewster era) with her parents who are talking to friends, family...or acquaintances. Wanting to break away from the conversation, the child begins to pull away but is held in place by her parents who effortlessly hold onto her suspenders. Her feet are moving, but she is going nowhere. That is sort of a crude analogy of the way I feel as the day ends today. I feel like I have so many small project ideas that can be incorporated throughout the year, but I am still having difficulty envisioning a culminating project. There are so many more things that I need to learn (re-learn) including the Intermediate Algebra standards and how to best utilize Andy's expertise as a resource for our team. I have written key words mentioned by Andy that align with the Chemistry standards, but how these key ideas will transform into a project has yet to be determined.
The field trip that Dr. Cooksy took the CPH and SOH teams on today was pretty eye-opening to the world of computational biochemistry and the use of technology in current research practices. I had experienced the Cave during a Biobridge training, but I took the nature of molecular shape and binding sites further by thinking how all this would fit into pharmaceutical research, health and medicine, and alternative energy sources. The virtual tour of downtown San Diego, Torrey Pines coastline, etc. was a fascinating way of bringing in the idea of field trips without actually going to the location itself. The coolest piece of technology, however, was the computational microscopy center that uploads biological specimens and enhances their size through computer technology and hundreds of megapixel capability. A color-enhanced brain tissue specimen was enlarged so that the neurons were in focus AND the size of my pinky! The cell body, nucleus, dendrites, axons and axon terminals were vividly clear and the color-enhancement made them look amazing! Sandra and Siena have been extremely supportive and, I think, are as anxious as I am to get our hands dirty in creating a project that has a positive outcome!
Today was a huge brainstorm day with our scientist and themes. Initially I was very excited by the idea of working with Dr. Weber since his area of expertise (Einstein) relates to some of the English 9 curriculum and the rhetoric goals of the new English rhetoric and writing course we are piloting for the district. After today I have more understanding and enthusiasm for specific ways Dr. Weber, and the other scientists, will serve as resources and mentors for our students and project.
Three days ago I did not know what a "muon" was, yet after today I not only know but could explain the concept in a way that students and their families would know--and care to know. This is very energizing for me since obtaining new knowledge is an adventure--the process of discovery and inquiry is THE transferable skill I wish to facilitate in all my students.
Types of evidence of student learning--desired outcomes--were discussed. I can assist the team by having my students synthesize the information and create a science poster, write, act out, and film a muan definition skit, summarize facts and write a biography of Einstein, and produce community information video shorts explaining the basics:
Electrons—same charge but heavier—muon—it will rain down to earth’s surface and penetrate the objects. Catch and see how they are being deflected—atomic nuclei: muon, written as µ with a minus sign near top right, is like Xrays or UV rays—muons exist unseen as rays detected by sensors sensitive to magnetic radiation bending around objects/defected and this action forming a picture.
In math gathering and graphing/plotting data, studying satellites and parabolas, etc. will be part of their use of Dr. Weber's knowledge.
For journalism, we discussed creating a Utopian video based on the "what if?" aspect if the technology we discussed today went to fruition and was applied--ethical implications could be explored and debated. We also discussed reading Animal Farm in our advisory classes so the students would understand this approach to use/misuse of technology.
Finally, we ended with the "big idea" questions: can we integrate real research with the students and explore the ethical implications of research and the need to know how to obtain clean data—quality process experiment—as long term goals? How?
Thank you Andy, James, Shelley and Donna for providing this opportunity. It is difficult to know where to begin to reflect on our trip this afternoon to visit the “cave” at UCSD. This human size black cylinder with a removable wall allows you to enter and to experience 3-D technology. We were able to actually be part of the molecules we were examining. As the scientist explained the properties, they could be literally “in your face.” It was astounding and certainly helped me to better understand and assimilate the information. I could easily see this as a teaching tool for history and it was explained that they are using this 3-D approach to visit an archaeological dig in Jordan.
Then, it was on to the supercomputer room where I encountered multiple computer monitors showing the Research Channel. A few minutes ago, I researched and discovered a downloadable pod cast on “Food Safety in the Supply Chain” which directly updates the students study of the creation of the FDA (one of my standards.) Not only that, it uses the National School Lunch Program as a case study!
From there, we visited our host’s office and spoke of how he spent his days doing computer-supported research. And then on to the best toy, the largest wall of computer monitors in the world working simultaneously to present unbelievable visual images. We saw the infrared version of the coast of San Diego followed by an art museum in Florence where they are using technology to discover an artists rendering behind another painting on a wall. I want that wall in my classroom – oh the places we could visit and discover. We did see a smaller version of the wall with 20 monitors and that would be a good start!
I felt like a pinball spinning in multiple directions and bouncing from here to there. It is just another moment during this lovely week – at universities, just to learn and to focus on ways to pass on the learning! Sigh.
How do I begin putting in words an experience that was mind-blowing and at times very much surreal? Today I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to go to UCSD to the so called ‘Cave’- a three dimensional modeling device that is useful in visualizing not only biological molecules but pretty much any artifact of any size. After putting my 3-D glasses on, I was taken aback by what I saw. The molecule that was being presented had come alive! I was literally standing in front or even inside of the actual molecule. I couldn’t resist the temptation and I reached out to grab part of the molecule but of course, only grabbed air. As the scientist rotated the molecule I continued to be in complete awe (still am!). I was absolutely fascinated to see how this cutting edge technology is being used to better understand the structures of molecules in an effort to prevent the spreading of viruses and much more. As I was standing there I couldn’t avoid thinking about what an amazing learning opportunity this could be for my students. The immediate connection between what they see in the classroom—Lewis structures/VSEPR—would be totally comprehendible by seeing the 3-D rotation of the molecule. I am already thinking of ways I can expose my students to 3-D computerized models or better yet, arrange a fieldtrip to the Cave.
Particularly important in this field trip was the reoccurring emphasis on collaboration amongst scientists. Every place that we visited, it was evident that no scientist works in isolation; they must work together for the overall advancement of science and technology. This is why it makes sense to do project based learning in our own classrooms—it is more authentic than what we currently do. I am really excited about the possibilities of our project and above all the student learning outcomes.
Yesterday I got a more full understanding of the work that Roland does. It is funny, actually, that of the 4 scientists that we visited, it was Roland's research that i was the least clear on. But, after talking with him, i feel that I do now understand what work he does.
I am actually very encouraged about possible project integrations with Roland's research. There are a few different ways that we can go with the content, depending on which direction we take our project. I am most excited about the statistics and probability options (probability of genes showing up at random, percent similarity of genes in different species, etc). The growth aspect of cells and viruses is another way that we could go. It is probably more genuinely tied to the content of my class, but i think a little less interesting. But, anyways, lots of directions in which we can go, so that is exciting.
My reflection on Thursday takes me to questions and ideas as well. For one I had the opportunity to go to the “Cave” at UCSD and experience science in 3D. What a great way to see science and get students interested in science. Along those lines I kept thinking of what would be the project that our school would embark on.