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Thursday, July 27, 2006


Snacks 42 -- It's a GAS!!!

S4theB! episode 42 takes you into the Girls and Science (GAS) Camp produced by the Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach every summer since 1999. In line with the Center's mission, "...enhancing the classroom experience by increasing the use of technology, providing professional development opportunities to teachers, and encouraging connections between science experts and classrooms," this summer opportunity for middle and high school girls is one with a proven track record and all the promise of continuing for years to come. Listen to veteran Metro Nashville Public Schools science teacher Kathy Lee (Martin Luther King Magnet School for Health Sciences and Engineering) leads her small group through a forensic search to determine the gender and race of a human skull. When you do so, remember that this is just one activity in a full week of them. The Girls and Science Camp website will tell you more, including that the camp received the 2001 Vanderbilt University Diversity Initiative Award and that as part of the Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge 2005, the 2005 Discovery Health Channel "Science Camp" Award Special Prize Winner received an all expense paid trip to Nashville to attend a week of 2006 GAS Camp 2006. Listening to what goes on will tell you even more. Listen up here or click the "Feed" link in the lefthand sidebar will let you browse all 42 of our shows! Check out these pictures, too! Just to save you a few clicks, here is a copy of the sample activities that go on in the Camp(s):
Grade 7 Grade 8 Grade 8 @ Dyer Observatory


  • "Make Your Own Lungs"
  • "Mystery of the Bloody Stain"
  • "ReeBops"
  • "Sheep Heart Dissection"


  • "Does Sunscreen Really Work?"
  • "Glow Chemistry"
  • "Kidnapping She Wrote"
  • "Properties of Gases"
  • "Simply Sublime"
  • "What Causes the Heat?"

Environmental Education

  • "Acid Rain in a Bag"
  • "Aquifers"
  • "Building a Water Filter"
  • "Recycled Paper"
  • "Testing for Water Pollution"


  • "Effervescent Launchers"
  • "Hovercrafts"
  • "It's Electric!"
  • "Pinhole Cameras"
  • "Properties of Light"
  • "Protect Your Brain"

Other Activities

  • "Bottle Rockets"
  • "T-Shirt Chromatography"


  • "DNA Extraction"
  • "Firefly Bioluminescence"
  • "Making DNA Jewelry"
  • "Quantification of Extracted DNA"


  • "Flame Spectroscopy"
  • "Pale Powers"
  • "Polymers"
  • "Gems"


  • "Crime Scene"
  • :DNA Fingerprinting"


  • "Balancing Nails"
  • "Bed of Nails"
  • "Crystal Radio"
  • "Effervescent Launchers"
  • "It's Electric!"
  • "Solar Vehicles"
  • "Striking it Rich!"

Environmental Education

  • "Air Pollution"
  • "Biology & Chemistry of Soil"
  • "Chemical Testing of Soil"
  • "Leaf Litter Studies"
  • "Organic Matter in Soils"
  • "Soil Observations"


  • "Building a Comet"
  • "Is our Solar System Unique?"
  • "Oil Hungry Bacteria"
  • "Planet Quest"
  • "Where are we searching for planets?"
  • "Why do we put telescopes in space?"

Water Quality

  • "Water Quality Lessons"
  • "Acid Rain in a Bag"
  • "Bacterial Pollution in Water"
  • "Chemical Testing of Radnor Lake"
Whew. That's a lot of science. Good, solid, student-centered, hands-on science. If you know a student who would love to be in a real university lab and doing real science, don't hesitate to visit the GAS Camp website to learn more and apply! Music today is compliments of my dear old pal Scott H. Miller, who just last month released his own independent CD entitled "Letters to Myself." Each and every song on the CD is worth a listen and a relisten--Visit to hear more and to purchase this excellent CD, on which, by the way, I have a little piece of the writer's credit on one song, "The Complexion of My Love." Our TechTipTidbit feature today benefits from the gracious loan of information from digital media guru Jake Luddington's MediaBlab website. Jake's tips will continue to be heard on Snacks4theBrain! as long as he will continue to share with us! The opening sound clip is as I mention courtesy of the fantastically funny movie from Sony Pictures, The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra. I'm not kidding (though the movie most often is): Run out and get this movie! Finally, thanks to Kathy Lee and all the girls at GAS Camp. It's a G-G-G-GAS!!! And boys? Check out our Boys Exploring Science and Technology (BEST) Camp for you!!!

Friday, July 21, 2006


Snacks 41 -- Educational Change Advocate Ian Jukes!!!

Hello, ya'll. Scott again with S4theB! episode 41! As an example of the way the world is flattening, I've gotten to know Ian a bit after only attending one of his dynamic workshops this past spring, a get-together of teachers and administrators at Harpeth Hall Academy here in Nashville, Tennessee. Most of my fellow technology staff and teachers attended, along with several classroom teachers with an interest in understanding the effects that ongoing exponential change in all areas of our lives, especially those technological, will have upon the way students learn and teachers "teach." This is of primary importance to our science teachers (not to mention all teachers) as students are increasingly lost to our formal teaching institutions because in large part the work they are asked to do in school--in the ways they are asked to do it--is pretty meaningless to them. Disagree? Listen to some of the numbers in our chat about the percentages of students leaving schools in droves. As Ian says, "They're voting with their feet." Listen here as Ian Jukes, host of "The Committed Sardine" blog (an immensely popular online resource for teachers) chats about the future of the future. If you like what you're hearing, feel free to browse at the "Feed" link in the left-hand sidebar to hear other episodes. Shareshare as you will! Songs today are from both and I like 'em and I hope you will. If you do, run on over to the former website for Joe Turley's music and the latter for both Happy Rhodes's and Causeway's. There's more where that came from!!!

Monday, July 17, 2006


More NECC Info for All Teachers!

Next week I do believe I'll be posting the fascinating interview I held (over Skype--he in British Columbia and me home in Nashville, Tennessee) with forefront educational technology spokesperson (sort of that, not really, he defies definition--listen next week to understand more) Ian Jukes. In this "in-betweener" week I want to take the opportunity to share some exciting and rejuvenating resources for all you teachers who are--as we all know you do in the summer--laying around eating bon-bons and watching soaps all day until mid-to-late August when you'll be gearing up for the 9 months of teaching once the kids are all finished their summer work of bringing in the crops. Just Kidding. One big thing I took home to Nashville from NECC in San Diego was a dedication to spreading the word about how Web 2.0 resources can and will, ineluctably, inform the future of education. Will Richardson's stirring session on the topic has me on it like a pit bull on a stranger in the house. With permission from Richardson, I've cut a 5 minute listen from his NECC presentation and mounted it on my school's server, which hopefully will drive you to listen to the whole thing. See the "Podcasting" entry below for more info on how to find the whole presentation. If you teach, you at least need to be aware of the development (or set of developments bunched into a broad concept to enhance its digestibility). Some examples: Blogging: Nature Magazine recently published the top 50 Science blogs, based on Technorati rankings. You don't have to know what any of that means; just visit the site and browse the blogs until you find one you might want to visit regularly. Email me (link in sidebar) if you need help setting up automatic (RSS) delivery... Open Source Software: The NECC podcast by David Thornburg entitled "March of the Penguins: Linux Comes to Student Desktops" is a must-listen. Unfortunately or otherwise, in order to listen ISTE is driving you to iTunes to subscribe to the NECC 2006 set of podcasts. I suggest you bow to that strategic move and do so. Here's a direct link. Podcasting: Assuming you take my advice above, there are a number of other good listens at the NECC 2006 podcast reservoir that you might discover by capriciously downloading and hearing them. I suggest Will Richardson's "A Web of Connections: Why the Read/Write Web Changes Everything" and "One Laptop Per Child" (Keynote by Nicholas Negroponte) at the very least. For a quick and dirty definition of "Web 2.0," see Wikipedia's posting.

Monday, July 10, 2006


Snacks 40 -- NECC 2006 San Diego--Explore, Dream, Discover

Heavy sigh...'K, ya'll. Finally sitting in the Los Angeles airport sipping on a tall iced tea and making some time to hammer out a blogpost I can put S4theB! episode 40 into. Here are the (essential) shownotes. I've been woefully remiss in posting the show. It was simply too busy, too fun, and too social at NECC 2006. The time I spent not in sessions, on the exhibitor floor, in meetings, or out networking with my growing group of educator pals was spent walking to one place or the other or completely knocked out in my hotel room. I didn't even get to the beach, ya'll, I was workin' so hard for you! Then, as you'll read below, I tagged on a couple days in L.A. with my godson. The show today is an amalgam of these things, and I hope you'll agree with me that even if it's hard to hear sometimes it's worth the effort. It is hard to hear sometimes when you're there in person, too, at least in the the poster sessions ("A Noob in Second Life") or at the exhibitor hall (David Macquart of Global Nomads Group) at the Polycom Booth. The audio in the spotlight sessions ("Telling the New Story: Promoting Visions for 21st Century Classrooms") is much better, and I have to commend the ISTE tech folks for the outstanding technical quality of every presentation I witnessed this year. If you check the attendance report at NECC, you'll see that over 12,000 teachers, technologists, and administrators registered and attended and that doesn't even count the vast numbers of people in town for exhibiting their wares to these folks. If you want a notion of how many that might be, take a gander at the interactive exhibition floor plan! Float your mouse over that and the exhibitor names pop up. Wow. To make the ride easier this show, I've added superb new music from Bill deRome, Amy Ayers, and Slackstring--maintaining a consistent theme of mellow intelligence this show. Please check out their individual links here and also visit the Podsafe Music Network, source for these great singers' great songs, to see you you can explore the rich but underdistributed store of fabulous independent music the world has to offer (but the "powers-that-be" in the music biz often fail to celebrate). There's also a Tech Tip Tidbit, as you've come to expect :). Thanks to Joan Roehre, Jan Zanetis, Elaine Shuck, and especially to all my peeps at the IVC (Interactive Videoconferencing) support desk. I don't feature my own work in this podcast, but if you want a notion of how that went (fantastically, what else with such great support?) take a peep at my Desktop IVC blog and at the results for a search for "Merrick" at NECC. And finally, a great big thank you to all the folks who faithfully attended my three presentations and who may have gotten here to S4theB! as a result. Okay, I have to add a personal aside, and only because I'm so proud of my brother. We're related by soul, not by birth, and the hospitality he and his beautiful wife Riad showed me as I visited them after NECC in order to spend some quality time with my godson, Seamus, was (as I told Riad when I was leaving) "positively Southern," ya'll. Said brother is James Morrison, who has a very nice little gig on the immensely popular Fox Network series, "24." I'm a "24" addict, I readily admit, and not only because Jimmy is on the show. But here's the thing: If you are interested in acting, or writing, or movie production, or poetry, check out my favorite male earthling's official website, and especially his "Media Productions" page, for details of his work--his webmaster recently made two of his (and his incredibly talented wife's) independently produced movies available for free download at that page. Wow. I got a personal viewing of Riad's new short, Crossing, which is so moving and well written, acted, and directed that I can't help but expect very big things from it. If you have any money you'd like to donate or invest, contact these folks from James's website. Their new project is amazing, and its details are available upon request. I can't talk about it here or he'd have to kill me. That would be sad. Listen up to S4theB! episode number 40 here! Additional Links: Auburn University's Second Life project poster session description David Warlick's Connect-Learning Global Nomads Group

Thursday, July 06, 2006



Hello, ya'll! Welcome to all of you and I hope you enjoy this morning's session, "Truly Engaging Content from the Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach." If you're waiting for Snacks! episode 40, we're workin' on it here in San Diego. It's on the way, so patience, pilgrim!!! I apologize for the slight tardiness, but I know you;re going to like it when you hear the highlights from the nation's largest educational technology conference that I have in store for you!!! Cheers! Scott

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Episode Guide:

1 Joe Lopez interview
2 S4theB! Introduction
3 Keystone PSA Announcement
4 Kathy Schrock interview
5 Todd Lamitina IVC
6 Charles Brau IVC
7 Ginny Shepherd interview
8 Jeannie Tuschl interview
9 Keystone Conference
10 Scott Merrick on IVC K12
11 Vicki Metzgar interview
12 Jerry Wilmink IVC
13 Louise Rollins-Smith interview
14 Louise Rollins-Smith interview 2
15 Keystone Conference
16 Keivan Stassun interview
17 William Schaffner interview
18 Science Songs
19 Geek Gift List
20 Rocky Alvey interview
21 Bill Snyder interview
22 Biomedical Engineering Forum
23 Rick Chappell IVC
24 Bob O'Dell and Arnie Heiser IVC
25 Glenn McCombs IVC
26 Charles Brau interview
27 Jerry Wilmink interview
28 Educational Podcasting
29 Ginny Shepherd "Out of the Lunchbox" talk
30 Vickie Hannig and Melinda Cohen interview
31 David Warlick interview
32 Highlights from past shows
33 Randy Reiserer interview
34 Arnie Heiser interview
35 Overview of CSO
36 Overview of CSO 2
37 Glenn McCombs interview
38 Albert Reynolds interview
39 David Salisbury
40 NECC 2006 Highlights
41 Ian Jukes interview
42 GAS Camp (Girls and Science Camp)
43 Stephen Camarata interview
44 Jeff Ray interview
45 Kyle Butler interview
46 RIP (Research Internship Program)
47 Ig Nobel Awards
48 Dyer Star Chamber
49 Steve Spangler Science

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