SciBlogs

Posts Tagged blogging

one of the largest living insects? Alison Campbell Jul 23

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If you don't like spiders then you probably wouldn't like this either: from China come reports of what's claimed to be the largest known aquatic insect. (I can't find any actual published scientific descriptions of the creature; it will be nice to see the claim confirmed – or denied! – as it's a pretty impressive specimen. 

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My first thought on seeing this image was, a dobsonfly! I've not ever seen an adult specimen, but the aquatic larvae I encountered when running a macroinvertebrate lab class (way back in my Massey days) have equally impressive mandibles – hence the nickname of 'toe biters'. Given that the adult Megalopteran pictured here has a 21cm wingspan (!), I wouldn't care to encounter its larvae when paddling in a stream.

Becky Crew has a great take on this creature on her Running Ponies blog, including some fascinating info on other giants of the insect world.

acapella science does eminem Alison Campbell Jul 17

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It's not biology but this video is too good not to share :) I've always had a soft spot for acapella singing, & acapella science is just wonderful as an example of combining music & science communication. (Those who want the lyrics will find them here at Scientific American.)

a bunch of fascinating animals you’ve never heard of… Alison Campbell May 30

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… unless you've been following this blog for a while, in which case you may already have read about the sarcastic fringeheads (who are not members of a rock band, despite the wonderful name!).

The dumbo octopus, the pacu (a fish with teeth like nutcrackers, an attribute that has given rise to an urban myth guaranteed to alarm men), the pink fairy armadillo – yes, really! – visit the IFLS webpage and read all about them!

a bunch of fascinating animals you’ve never heard of… Alison Campbell May 30

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… unless you've been following this blog for a while, in which case you may already have read about the sarcastic fringeheads (who are not members of a rock band, despite the wonderful name!).

The dumbo octopus, the pacu (a fish with teeth like nutcrackers, an attribute that has given rise to an urban myth guaranteed to alarm men), the pink fairy armadillo – yes, really! – visit the IFLS webpage and read all about them!

most excellent epiphytes Alison Campbell Mar 28

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A couple of years ago I spent a lovely afternoon in the huge domed glasshouses of Singapore's "Gardens on the Bay". The 'cloud forest' was my favourite – both for the concept & for the wonderful range of epiphytes on show there.

Singapore cloud forest mountain.jpg

So you'll understand that I enjoyed reading about it again on this blog, written for the New Zealand Epiphyte Network. Anyone with even a passing interest in New Zealand's native plants should drop by the site. And maybe sign up to be part of their citizen science project while you're there?

Go on, you know you want to :)

drawing fractals Alison Campbell Aug 27

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I’ve just stumbled across this rather lovely video on mathematical doodling. Learn to draw fractals, maths snowflakes & more. Even dragons! What’s not to like? YouTube Preview Image

a cheer for saccharomyces cerevisiae Alison Campbell Mar 17

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Here’s another of those catchy science-based ditties – & definitely one I’ll be adding to my collection for showing in class :) (I would have embedded it, but MT is not doing what it should today…later edit: thank goodness for IT wizards!)

 

And a happy St Patrick’s day!

artistry Alison Campbell Feb 13

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We are in full enrolment mode at the moment – for some reason a lot of students have left re-enrolling &/or seeking advice until the Very Last Moment – so I have little time for serious blogging. (It’s always the same at this time of year, only this year more of the same.) But I still have an eye for lovely biological images. So how’s this for a combination of artistry and science?

They’re from the Science is Awesome FB page:

They’re the work of Italian artist Guido Daniele, who uses hands as his canvas. One hand can take up to ten hours.

Ah, well, back to the grindstone.Your turn, Grant :)

what might a ‘science for citizens’ curriculum look like? Alison Campbell Feb 02

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That’s the question blog-buddy Michael Edmonds asked some of us last night, & it got me thinking.

Sir Peter Gluckman raised the idea of a ‘science for citizens’ curriculum back in early 2011, in his report Looking ahead: science education for the 21st century. Included in that report was a brief list of some skills, knowledge, & abilities that all children need to have (characterised as ‘citizen-focused objectives’):

  • a practical knowledge at some level of how things work;
  • some knowledge of how the scientific process operates and have some level of scientific literacy
  • enough knowledge of scientific thinking as part of their development of general intellectual skills so that they are able to distinguish reliable information from less reliable information.

As I said at the time, the tricky thing is to work out how to deliver this, & the sort of learning experiences we might use in the classroom (& out of it!)

The ability to distinguish ‘reliable’ from ‘less reliable’ information is essential, given that we are now in a time when that information is only a few mouse clicks away. Students need to be learning how to do this right from the start of their time in our education system. And the tools to do it are pretty much part of the scientific process, so learning about one complements gaining knowledge in the other.

If we’re going to offer two ‘streams’ of science education, as proposed by Sir Peter, when should that start? Or should we simply take the ‘science for citizens’ from the start, hopefully keeping as many students as possible ‘turned on’ to science for as long as possible, & then split off an ‘academic’ stream – for potential scientists & engineers – later in the piece?

And what would this mean for students who might come late in the day to realising that science/engineering is where they want to be? Split into the streams too early, & we risk closing the door to those young people. We need to lock in the flexibility to allow students to change course mid-stream, as it were.

(We need to provide them with good advice, too. Wearing one of my other hats for the moment, just now I’m seeing quite a few young men & women who want to study engineering but who are weak in physics, or maths. Or who dropped maths in year 12. And in at least some cases, they seem to have gained the impression that ‘you can just pick that up at uni.’ I can generally work out a pathway for them, but it means they’ll take longer to complete their program; time that would have been saved by better choices earlier on.)

What about content? I mean, we can’t deliver process skills in a vacuum? Personally I’d go for more human biology in the curriculum. Children tend to be fascinated by how their bodies work, & such knowledge is important when making decisions that affect health, for example. And I’d like to think that a good grounding there would help people to recognise when they’re being offered sound advice as compared to some of the significant volume of health pseudoscience that’s out there these days.

And I’d also go for developing awareness of our place in the global ecosystem. Yes, there’s a lot to learn about our local environments & how to care for them, but our 21st-century science-literate citizens understanding of our large-scale impacts is also necessary if their world is to remotely resemble ours.

What would you like to see in this curriculum?

 

more quirky science songs Alison Campbell Feb 01

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Lately I’ve been amazed and entertained by some of the quirky science music videos out there (some are parodies, some not). Here are two of the latest to catch my eye.

This one – this one we’re sooo going to show in the first-year cellular & molecular paper :)

And this works for me too (though I’m not a physicist ‘n all).

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