Sunday, January 31, 2010

One reader sent this link in to share.

It is great when people post comments and send in links. Thanks to reader, MB, for this one.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Bridging from Pomegranites in the News to Technical Information

Bridging from ordinary articles about science up to technical information on the same topic is one of the main benefits of Reach Reading(TM). This post will review an example bridging from an article on Pomegranites found in today's news, up to the technical journal articles on the same topic.
Here's a link to the news article:

The article starts,"An acid found in pomegranates appears to block aromatase, an enzyme that converts androgen to estrogen, a hormone that plays a role in the development of breast cancer, the researchers wrote in the journal Cancer Prevention Research." It gives us a few clues.

Good: There are a few familiar items: acid, pomegranate, hormone, estrogen, breast cancer. Some might even be familiar with enzyme. A beginning step in Reach Reading
(TM) is to identify any words we don't know and define them. Granted this takes time, but, ultimately, it speeds up comprehension. It is important to use articles on topics of interest to the student when doing reach reading. I would have students bring in the initial science articles that they find in the newspaper or on line. Ah, there is another clue, "Journal of Cancer Prevention Research."

Jot down a few ideas about what you know already:

  • acid
  • pomegranate
  • hormone
  • estrogen
  • breast cancer
  • enzyme
Now, look up word you don't yet know, and find definitions for them. (Don't forget to get the complete reference for the definition. For example,
  • aromatase
Here's a link to one definition of, "aromatase." Check it out:

"Aromatase: An enzyme involved in the production of estrogen that acts by catalyzing the conversion of testosterone (an androgen) to estradiol (an estrogen). Aromatase is located in estrogen-producing cells in the adrenal glands, ovaries, placenta, testicles, adipose (fat) tissue, and brain."

The definition goes on and talks about breast cancer. You might want to come back to it later if it wasn't yet helpful, so, keep good track of where you got your information. Remember, we found this at: Accessed 14 Jan 2010.

Does the definition help you? If not, try another: The Wiki link has a drawing of aromatase. Then, a set of definitions related to hair loss gives another definition of, "aromatase": Soon enough, you'll find a definition that starts to make sense to you. Don't worry if you don't completely get it. Perhaps English isn't your first language. No problem, just keep going. You will catch on.

French: "L’aromatase est une enzyme du groupe Cytochrome P450 qui permet de convertir les androgènes surrénaliens comme la testostérone en œstrogène ..."

German: "Die Aromatase (CYP19A1) ist ein Enzym der Cytochrom-P450-Superfamilie. Seine Funktion ist die Aromatisierung von Testosteron zu Estradiol und von ..", or, "ein Enzym im menschlichen Organismus, durch dessen Wirkung Vorstufen des weiblichen Geschlechtshormons Östrogen in das aktive Hormon umgewandelt ...", or, "Ein Enzym, welches nach den Wechseljahren Androgene in Östrogene umwandelt. Aromatasehemmer blockieren das Enzym..."

Portuguese: A aromatase pertence ao grupo das enzimas do citocromo p450 e age como mediador da aromatização de andrógenos em estrógenos.

Perhaps reading definitions in other languages will help you, though, often the science words are cognates and are very similar to eachother in many languages.

Now, you try finding definitions for other words you don't know, for example, if you don't know, "androgen," you can look that up.

  • androgen
Then, we'll continue... The idea is to have fun with it. Don't feel it is a chore. Feel like you are on a treasure hunt in a video game, or, that you are making a great discovery. Enjoy the process of, "Reach Reading (TM)".

We can scan the article and see if a scientist is mentioned. Yes, there, in the next paragraph, "
Shiuan Chen." Looking further, I found this information via Google: "Requests for reprints: Shiuan Chen, Department of Surgical Research, Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope, 1500 East Duarte Road, Duarte, CA 91010. Phone: 626-256-4673, ext. 63454; Fax: 626-301-8972; E-mail:" The Chen article is on white button mushrooms, however: (Anti-Aromatase Activity of Phytochemicals in White Button Mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) Shiuan Chen1, Sei-Ryang Oh1, Sheryl Phung1, Gene Hur1, Jing Jing Ye1, Sum Ling Kwok1, Gayle E. Shrode2, Martha Belury2, Lynn S. Adams1 and Dudley Williams1, so, let's keep looking.

(Notice first, however, that the article gives contact information for the authors: "1 Department of Surgical Research, Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope, Duarte, California and 2 Department of Human Nutrition, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.")

But at the January 2010 issue of Cancer Prevention Research, http://cancerprevention, we find, " Lynn S. Adams, Yanjun Zhang, Navindra P. Seeram, David Heber, and Shiuan Chen. Cancer Prev Res 2010 3: 108-113. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-08-0225[Abstract] [Full Text] [PDF] ." There is the original source for the abundance of articles found in the news today about pomegranate. The article itself will give you a mouthful, for example, "On consumption, pomegranate ETs hydrolyze, releasing ellagic acid, which is then converted to 3,8-dihydroxy-6H-dibenzo[b,d]pyran-6-one ("urolithin") derivatives by gut microflora, " where every other word (or nearly so) is an unknown...(so, we can go back to the definition game...) If you have breast cancer, or, know someone that does, you'll likely want to understand every word (Or, if not, you might want to bring a copy of the article to you doctor's office, so he or she will know, you've, "Done your homework.")

I hope that this has made, "Reach Reading (TM)" fun for you. If not, we'll try again another day. My students love it, but, perhaps not being with me in the classroom, but, rather. on-line, it might not come across as as much fun. Please give me feedback and ask me questions.

Dr. J

P.S.: Either men or woman can get breast cancer, so, I hope that you found the article of interest. Now that you are one of the world's few that knows about , "aromatase." perhaps you'd like to Reach Read
(TM) what it has to do with the prostate:
(c) 2010 J S Shipman

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Play a game and learn about preserving freshwater resources around the World.
is a link to an interactive resource that teaches about preserving freshwater resources around the World.

Give it a try and post feedback.

Links on fungi and lichens

Links on fungi and lichens

More later...Under development...

"PARA UNA MEJOR EDUCACIÓN FÍSICA" De Daniela Pace Profesora de Educación Física--->Science and Physical Education

Science and Physical Education is a link to a Portuguese discussion of physical education.

How can science and physical education be linked? Just as we talked previously about the link between science and business, here we think about the link between science and physical education.

Business and Science Overlap is a link on, "BPM". BPM is new tech talk for Business Performance Management. If you look over the article introducing BPM, you might see some ways that the ideas presented can be used in science industries such as alternative medicine, medicine, scientific instrumentation, pharmaceuticals, and others.

Once in a while, reading outside a narrow science field can bring new insight to the science field itself. Take a look and then jot down any ideas that come to mind related to the science that you typically do.

Even research fields can be turned into businesses. Sometimes we do not think as business people, and, indeed, it is good for us to think as scientists. But, not all students will be scientists. Some will be in business. It is good to let them think about how and where science and business overlap. Innovation can result.

(c)2010 J S Shipman

Saturday, January 2, 2010

See Sweden in Carl Linnaeus' footsteps

There's room for ten people only, but, this trip looks like a wonderful learning experience. Teachers, botanists, grad. students, hobbyists...

Spend 10-days touring Sweden in
Carl Linnaeus' footsteps

Join Botanical Society of America member and Rutgers professor Lena Strewe and local guides for a 10-day educational, cultural and natural history tour of Sweden (May 29-June 6, 2010). Apply by March, 2010. Space is limited to 10.
Download Sweden Tour Brochure

Source: 02 Jan 2010

Virtual Herbaria...A New Year with Plant Specimens On-line

Over the holiday, Dr. J inquired about a project that has a goal of bringing all the US Herbaria on line, both with images and a searchable database, in a, "virtual herbarium." Mary Barkworth, the chair of the virtual herbarium initiative in the United States got back with information right away. It is summarized and shared with Read-about-it readers here.

02 Jan 2010 13:06:35

  • The term [virtual herbarium], in general, has been used in many different ways, however, [botanists] tend to, "use it only for web sites that provide information about herbarium specimens online, preferably via images and a searchable database."

  • Utah Valley University has a good one for a small herbarium - but it is not much use if you are not in that part of the world.

  • Missouri Botanical Garden has a searchable database - tied the data base on names I think.

  • The Pacific Northwest Herbaria collaborate in making their specimen information available - as are the California herbaria.

  • Mary Barkworth chairs an initiative that has as its goals bringing all the US Herbaria on line - images and searchable database. (

Here are some related links:


  2. (great for names, incidentally for specimen information)



A special thank you to Chair Barkworth for the links and above information on virtual herbaria.

I (Dr. J) remind readers that the Botanical Society of America also has a plant image collection:

You can find images of plants here, too: (Lists many virtual image collections from all around the globe)

For information on digitization of herbarium specimens in Kenya:

Other herbaria with African plant collections and a link to an article on an African initiative (an initiative for a virtual herbarium, sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation):

From Brussels:

Latin American Plant Initiative (initiative is sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation):

Mireya Correa, herbarium director at STRI and the University of Panama, shared with SciDev.Net, that, "scanners today can take high-resolution images of both sides of a specimen....[which]... is much better than seeing the plants in a microscope [...] And you don't have to travel http://post-create.g?blogID=4227554902061100641to herbaria in other countries and spend a lot of money to see a type specimen. All the information will be in the digital database." Source: Accessed: 02 Jan 2010. More information at:

References to Asian plant image collections:

I hope that you have found this list helpful and that you will take a virtual tour of the herbaria around the globe. I have tried to include herbaria from all parts of the world. I am certain there are many other plant image collections. Please add any you feel were left out in the comments below. Thank you.

A special thank you to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation which has made the formation of several components of the virtual herbarium possible.

A reminder that philanthropy for the sciences, like botany, are especially important when the economy is down. Since plants provide food and oxygen, shelter, fiber, shade, and help prevent desertification, among other benefits, it is important that all aspects of botany are supported. Please contact the director or chair of your local herbarium if you would like to help support the plant images initiative near you. Thank you for support of and interest in the sciences, science literacy and science education.

Dr. J

Find scientists in your location, or, around the globe, and support them. Support research in areas you feel it is needed. Support science literacy and science education. Thank you.

Translation Portal (testing translation service...Try it. Add comments/feedback. Thanks.

Japanese Translation for 140 languages by ALS

I am getting DNS errors, or, getting the ads mixed into the posts. I am working to get this straightened out. Meanwhile, I've been able to translate into French, German, and, Italian. I'll keep at it. Let me know how the translations are. J

Science Fair Ideas--Youth Science Projects is a link to some science fair ideas.

Read these ideas while thinking of experimental design and laboratory report format. At any grade level, you can compare and contrast control(s) to experimental(s), for example.

How will you collect the data? Have you prepared a blank table to write your observations in? Are you keeping a notebook of all experimental details?

How can you take ideas for science fair projects and turn them into well-designed experiments, rather than "laboratory activities?" What do you think?

Other posts on may be useful.
You can put, "science fair," in the search bar of this blog and scroll down through the resulting list, or click on link(s) below (and scroll if necessary):
Added: 2-24-2010:


This Day in History's Today's Post is on Lindbergh

Here is a bit of a quote:
This Day in History

"Trial of the Century" Begins (1935)

Bruno Hauptmann, a German immigrant to the US, was convicted and sentenced to death for the kidnapping and murder of Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr., the young son of famed pilot Charles Lindbergh.

Here are the related links:
The, "Read more," link---

A poem, by Dr. J, relating this historical trial to science---

Using translation services in the classroom to help teach/learn science. Example: Pollution in the Arctic? Let me translate that and see....

Students can use newspapers in a language they know to supplement their coursework in another language. Here is the opening of a French article as an example. In Boston there are many Haitian students, for example, who speak French and Haitian Creole, and some English. If their reading level is higher in French or Creole, they can supplement their learning by reading in their best known language.

L'environnement unique et fragile de l'Arctique est soumis à de multiples pollutions, qui, pour beaucoup, proviennent de l'extérieur : réchauffement climatique, substances toxiques transportées par les courants atmosphériques et océaniques vers le pôle...
Source: Accessed 1-1-2010.

Using a translator like Babel Fish ( one gets:
L' single and fragile environment of l' The Arctic is subjected to multiple pollution, which, for much, comes from l' outside: climate warming, toxic substances transported by the airstreams and oceanic towards the pole...

The L's we can guess mean, "the." And touching it up with high school French or best guesses, we get something like:
The singular and fragile arctic environment is subjected to multiple sources of external pollution: global warming, wind- and ocean-transported toxins which move toward the pole....
It might not be the best translation, and, perhaps might not even be accurate, however, a foreign student can perhaps get a better idea and learn some vocabulary in the language in which the class is being taught.

If students have a group activity where they share news articles on science, some articles coming in with different languages and different perspectives than from our own countries can enhance our critical thinking and knowledge base. You will be happily surprised at the results of student discussions from science sources in different languages. Often, the science words are the same, or nearly so, and the students don't feel lost as a result. They realize students are learning the science words in the language of the classroom, too. They are not behind on these words. They and the native speakers are learning the science words together.

Students can also use translators to help them comprehend directions for assignments and teachers and parents might develop better communication skills with them.

If the translators are needed on a regular basis, talk to your school's computer professional to ensure that you are following laws and regulations concerning the translation software use.

Web pages are also translatable at the touch of a button in many cases. Use your search engine. Here is an example from a Google search:

Consensus Scientifique sur le Changement climatique dans l'Arctique

[ Translate this page ] Ce Dossier est un résumé fidèle du rapport scientifique de consensus produit en 2004 par l'Evaluation de l'impact du changement climatique dans l'Arctique ... - Cached - Similar -
Source: Accessed 01-01-2010.

You might also look at a few foreign language journal articles and see the same, "lab report format," or review articles covering several experiments which are reported in the journals in, "lab report format," in the foreign (and own country's) journals. That similar format among nations' research articles helps students from other places feel included in the class. I find it amazing, but, I have heard more than a few students say they didn't know they had scientists in their own countries. It is a confidence builder when they see their own people doing science. They feel they can do it, too.

Here is a link to a French article, for example:

Another follows here:

I have seen students of different languages make great progress in comprehending science topics when this, "International Approach," is used.

(c) 2010 J S Shipman

French weather... Whatever the weather, there's a link. Add yours :-)


Friday, January 1, 2010

Literature and Science - Literacy Enhancement

In Classic Myths to Read Aloud, "The Spinning Contest" is a story about hubris (ὕβρις) or overbearing pride. It is from a Greek myth about Arachne (Arachne (Arakhne) (Αράχνη)). It takes about 9 minutes to read aloud and can be a good introduction to the overlap between literature and science.

Many times childhood stories prepare us to understand, or share understanding with others who have the same stories in their background. That is, childhood stories, like, "The Spinning Contest," or, for that matter, "The Emperor's New Clothes," give us common bonds for ideas to link in our minds, so we can build knowledge within ourselves and also relate to others.

In teaching, I noticed that students having a hard time in science may have had difficulty because of a lack of childhood experiences like making cookies or sharing stories or visiting museums. These lacks could be compensated to some degree by doing these types of activities later on. I noticed, from my own experience, that any student wanting to learn was able to compensate for any lack in his or her prior life experience. But, some students got a helping hand when classes of different subjects were blended, showing connections between ideas to the students. Thus, I have decided to add this post on, "The Spinning Contest," as an example of ways to help students learn science and build science literacy.

The story begins, as many child hood stories do, "there once..." Here we go with the opening:

There once was an ancient city that lay across the Aegean...Sea from Greece, and in that city dwelt a certain maiden, Arachne... by name. Though her parents had been very poor, Arachne brought wealth and comfort to their little cottage through her great skill in weaving and embroidering. Source: Classic Myths to Read Aloud. Three Rivers Press, New York. 1989. Pp. 64-67.

Now, don't we all love a story. Children do, but, we adults do, too. Find a version of the story of Arachne that you enjoy. Read it. Then reflect...on ...spiders.

Spiders have eight legs and two body parts, the abdomen and the thorax.
Source: Accessed 1-1-2010.

Spiders have silk spinning glands to spin silk for their webs, however,
not all spiders spin webs.
Accessed 1-1-2010.

Spider silk is used in dentistry to form a matrix for dental implants. Source: Dr. Bakheeta Almansouri. Personal communication. 2008-2009, many discussions.

Spiders are frightening to some people (Source: Personal communication with
many people 1968-72)
but do many good things, too. Fear of spiders is
Source: Accessed 1-1-2010.

Spiders belong to the Arachnid family. Source: Accessed 1-1-2010.

There are more than 30,000 species of spiders. Source: http://www. Accessed 1-1-2010.

Spiders are oviparous, which means "egg bearing." Their babies come
from eggs.
Source: Accessed

Most spiders have either six or eight eyes. Source: Accessed 1-1-2010.

All spiders have fangs, through which venom is ejected. Spider bites
can be quite painful, and a few can be fatal.
Source: Accessed 1-1-2010.

Spiders eat many types of harmful insects, and are a friend of gardeners,
keeping the garden pest population down.
Source: Accessed 1-1-2010.
Reading the story on Arachne may help listeners connect spiders to the word arachnids.


New Year's Resolution: Don't neglect Plants!

There is “a recognized tendency, even for knowledgeable biologists, to overlook, underemphasize or neglect plants when teaching introductory biology courses.”35 Too often, biology is “botany taught by a zoologist,” leaving students with “the popular delusion that biology is the study of animals.”29 This results in widespread ignorance about and underappreciation of plants.3,4,10,14,33,36
Source: Accessed January 1, 2010
Plants provide excellent examples and experimental subjects for all the life science standards (NSES p. 106) Source: Accessed January 1, 2010

Plant blindness can be costly. What values do plants bring to us? That is a good question to ask ourselves and our students. Try to make your own list, then, check out the following and other pages on the web. Visit your local botanic garden for more ideas. Don't forget the virtual Plants Cafe (here or top left of this blog for the link).

Other links related to what science is taught---the science learning standards...
Please feel free to add links from your own countries either by e-mailing them ( or by adding them to the comments below the post.

Happy, healthy, blessed, and, prosperous New Year.