Thursday, October 25, 2012

Art and Science: What you can do with Crayons

Some students learn best by drawing.  It is amazing what can be done with crayons.  Try letting students draw what they see.  Many students will do better than I have done.  Here are my examples.


Thank you Rachel Carson

Bluebird in Apple Tree

Mallard Pair

All drawings (c) 1992-2012 J S Shipman

Writing Ideas- Women in Chemistry: Kudos to Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

 Eight exclusive web videos 
celebrating the contributions of 
extraordinary chemists:
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
supports the Chemical Heritage Foundation's
Women in Chemistry series.

Source:  Accessed 25 Oct 2012

Here's the link:

Thank you to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for supporting this educational chemistry series.

Have students write what they think chemists do, what kinds of careers they have, and have them name a chemist or two, or, tell who (what kind of person) is likely to become a chemist.  Then, watch the videos. Not all at once, but, over time.  After the videos, ask the students to write about the same points that they did before seeing the videos.  Bring out the first essays.  Have the students compare and contrast their before and after essays.  Feel free to post the essays here or to have the students write to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation or the Chemical Heritage Foundation or both.

(c) 2012 J S Shipman

Monday, October 22, 2012

Colors: Art, Science, Geometry, Technology

Under development...More coming soon...  Your patience is appreciated....  Have a great day!  Dr. J

Color can be used to engage students in science.  Here are some videos and ideas to get you started. or accessed on 22 October 2012 bring you to a video on mixing color with light.  Here it is:

A the idea of a color wheel was also presented in the above video.  Let's look at another view of that concept:
 Source:, Accessed 22 October 2012.

See how geometry comes into play here?

Another video links the traditional color wheel to a scientist.  Do you know which scientist?  Watch and find out.


Do you see ideas here that you can use to develop a lesson or group of lessons or provide tools for students to do their own exploration of science and color?  You can bridge from these ideas to animation or electronics or painting or chemistry or interior decorating and you can engage students in science.

(c) 2012 J S Shipman

Friday, October 19, 2012

Great news from Italy: Major steps toward growing replacement kidneys. How exciting!!!

Here are some quotes and their translations on an exciting discovery.  There's also a related video.  Read them, watch the video, and think about these things:

1.  Do you think that the body will reject kidneys grown from techniques like these?  Why or why not?  Can you support your answer?  Give some references for the items you choose for support.

2.  Is there a similarity among the work of scientists globally?

3.  Dr. J thinks this news is exciting.  Do you?  Why or why not?

4.  Was it interesting to hear a woman scientist speaking in her own language?  Could you pick up some words?  
5.  Do you know someone with a kidney disease?

6.  What are some ways you can protect your kidneys?

Please feel free to add comments below.

The technique in fact opens the way for technologies that make it possible to produce human nephrons from patient's own cells and to mimic human renal diseases by means of genetic manipulation in order to study the complex mechanisms and a preliminary assessment of the activity of the drugs, thereby reducing the experimentation animals. "The generation of nephrons from single cells - adds Ariela Benigni, head of the Department of Molecular Medicine Center Astori - had never been described

Original text

La tecnica infatti apre la strada a tecnologie che consentiranno di produrre nefroni umani da cellule del paziente stesso e di mimare mediante manipolazione genetica malattie renali umane per studiarne i complessi meccanismi e valutare in via preliminare l'attività dei farmaci, riducendo in questo modo la sperimentazione sugli animali.  “La generazione di nefroni a partire da singole cellule – aggiunge Ariela Benigni, capo del dipartimento di Medicina Molecolare del Centro Astori – non era mai stata descritta

Source:  Accessed 19 Oct 2012  (Translation—Google Translate)

The importance of the discovery is confirmed by the fact that the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, a magazine that publishes the work of Xinaris in its issue of October 18, 2012 

Original text

L'importanza della scoperta è testimoniata dal fatto che il Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, rivista che pubblica il lavoro di Xinaris nel suo numero del 18 ottobre 2012*, ha voluto dedicarle l'editoriale.
Source:  Accessed 19 Oct 2012  (Translation—Google Translate)

Can you find the original journal article? .  Reading journal articles can be a slow process and the more you read them in a certain area, the faster the process is.  I encourage you to follow new developments, like this one, as they happen, in the technical journals.  You might not know all the words, but as Joan Beinetti says (personal communication, 1989), "No one knows all the words."  You develop a bigger vocabulary by reading more and using the new words you find.  Enjoy!

(c) 2012 J S Shipman

Monday, October 15, 2012

From Paul Kim on You-tube...Your Invitation to Envision , Imagine, Design a New Learning Environment



Portals to Free College Courses is a link to Free college courses at top universities.  In a poor economy, many people have time but no money.  Here is a perfect solution...Invest in your brain.  Investing in yourself builds you up and can lead to stronger economies, more friends, and, intellectual stimulation.  Enjoy!

Here are some examples:

Here's a video from Yale about some of their courses:

Please enjoy learning.  Share your experiences in the comments here at this post.  Thanks.

Dr. J

(c) 2012 J S Shipman

Don't miss this Algebra link sent in by a reader:

(To Dr. J, and, to readers)
Hi there!
Don't worry, this isn't really homework. I was checking out and I saw your page titled "Lab Exercise Link from Morrison Labs - Read about it." Here's the link in case you don't remember it: lot of teachers and students aren't aware of the free teaching resource videos and homework help tutorials that are available online. There is an awesome site called that covers all the subjects--and it's supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Check out some of our videos on algebra:
Here's the link. I was hoping that if you liked it, you wouldn't mind sharing it with your readers by mentioning it on your site. If math isn't your subject, also offers free help for science, history, government and more so maybe you would just like to recommend
Beth Pickett

Thanks so much, Beth.  I am sure our readers will enjoy improving their algebra skills here.  Math is critical to science literacy.

I found some things of interest.  Here is a sample of an open text book from the site (Note that I capitalized the S-es in the word Spanish, other than that, the links are quoted here and are just a sample of what is available.  Go to the original link for more details.  Report back here how ( Click  works for you.:

Unit 1 - Algebra—A New Angle

Lesson 1 - Algebra—What’s it all about?

Topic 1 - Algebra—Everyday and Extraordinary
Topic 1 - Algebra—Everyday and Extraordinary (Spanish)
Topic 2 - Algebra—Why and When
Topic 2 - Algebra—Why and When (Spanish)
Topic 3 - Algebra—Approaching Problems
Topic 3 - Algebra—Approaching Problems (Spanish)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Active Engagement in Science and Mathematics through Music- Pattern Recognition leading to Higher Mathematics needed for Deeper Study in the Sciences

Here is a peaceful video to watch on the interconnections of mathematics and music.  Watch it and see what ideas come to your mind for connections of math and music to science.  Think about what questions come to your mind, if any, when you watch the video?  Jot them down.  

Since in this blog, the focus is on science literacy and science education, how can the video enhance them?  For example, did you hear new vocabulary?  A video can bring new vocabulary to life because we hear the words pronounced and also see the usage of the word, the context.  Mathematics is important to science literacy.  That is why the STEM- science, technology, engineering and math- education focus prominent today includes the, "M."Another valuable M, however, is music.  Music can engage students in science (That is why I once submitted a grant proposal to FIPSE called, Humanities at the Heart of Science.  Music is one of the humanities that engages students).  Vocabulary development is one way.  Another is the ability of music in the video to engage students in science and mathematical studies.

Many skill sets of musicians and scientists overlap.  Can you think of some?  List as many as you can.  Now circle on the list skills you think you have or could develop.  Write a reflection on what you discover by this exercise.

How can you use the video to further enhance science reading?  Do you know Harlan Brothers?  Have you seen his journal articles?  Do you know how to find them?  Remember that in journal articles, you might find new and difficult vocabulary.  Remember as Joan Beinetti says, "No one knows all the words," (personal communication, 1989).  After you have slowly read one or two articles on a topic, you will start to develop more vocabulary in the field of the article.  The more vocabulary you develop, the easier other articles on the same topic are to read.  By the time you have read 5 or 6 articles, you are likely to be looked at by others as an expert...or, at least, quite knowledgeable, in that area.

Let's go about finding some articles.  Just searching using his name, we find a number of links.  Let's look at one:

H. J. Brothers, "The Nature of Fractal Music," in Benoit Mandelbrot - A Life in Many Dimensions, edited by Michael Frame, World Scientific Publishing (Fall, 2012).
H. J. Brothers, "Pascal's triangle: The hidden stor-e ." The Mathematical Gazette, Vol. 96, No. 535, 2012; pages 145-148.  [Try this, too:]
H. J. Brothers, "Pascal's prism." The Mathematical Gazette, Accepted for publication, July 2012.  (See here also.[and here:]

Pick one of the articles or books above as a starting point, or, try to find an article on your own to start with.  

You might be interested in the following biographical information quoted from Wikipedia:

In 1997, while examining the sequence of counting numbers raised to their own power ( {an}=nn ), Brothers discovered some simple algebraic formulas [1] that yielded the number 2.71828..., the universal constant e, also known as the base of the natural logarithm. Like its more famous cousin πe is a transcendental number that appears in a wide range of formulas in mathematics and physics.

Having no formal college-level mathematics education, he sent brief descriptions of his findings to the host of the National Public Radio show “Science Friday” and also to a well-known mathematician at Scientific American.

His communication with “Science Friday” led to a fruitful collaboration with meteorologist John Knox. Together they discovered over two dozen new formulas and published two papers on their methods. These methods subsequently found their way into the standard college calculus curriculum by way of a popular textbooks on the subject.[2] [3]
Brothers went back to school to study calculus and differential equations. He went on to publish methods for deriving infinite series that include the fastest known formulas for approximating e.[4]  (Source:  Accessed 11 October 2012.    See also:
So, there is a fine example of a student communicating on an interest leading to a fascinating career in an subject that blends his love of math and music.  Before digressing too much, let's return to fractals and music, remembering that reading slowly and carefully, you will develop the needed vocabulary to understand even very difficult topics. And, you can contact people, as did, Harlan Brothers, and meet the people you need to grow your knowledge.

Let's look at the abstract of another article on fractals and music (, accessed 11 Oct 2012):

ABSTRACT The objective of this paper is to identify  some distinctive features of fractal music – offering a possible answer to the question: “What does fractal music mean?”.  Following an introduction to the general concept of fractals, it discusses their fundamental characteristics, that is the scale invariance and self-similarity derived from a power law. The understanding of the fractal nature of music requires a clear grasp of the fundamental physical characteristics of sound, such as pitch, duration and timbre. The perception of music, however, is  a psychological experience, so the paper briefly explores some amazing but widely known examples of aural illusions, deriving from our logarithmic sensitivity. Following a brief  outline of the main areas of current research in this sector, the paper proposes a formal definition of fractal music, based on its physical, mathematical and psychological characteristics.  Finally  a musical composition is analyzed, showing that it is indeed real fractal music according to the proposed definition. The paper concludes by suggesting possible areas for further exploration."
It looks like this article might be readable, but, even here, students will have to develop some vocabulary as the authors definition may be difficult for many people (children and adults, alike).  Also, the author is new to this research area and the understanding is limited as a result.  Check out the definition of fractals in the article here:
 and compare it to what you find here:

or here:

Have students note that not every article presents the rigorous academic nature needed for serious study fractal music.  Have the students check for these concepts and other possible errors:

Let students have fun finding articles and slowly reading them, using the dictionary at hand or an on-line dictionary as needed.  For example, fractals are defined here:

A deeper study of fractals and related material can be found here,  "a collection ... meant to support a first course in fractal geometry for students without ... strong mathematical preparation, or any particular interest in science:"

Have students do their own searches for definitions and journal. (Be sure your virus protection is on.) Have them check the academic rigor of any definitions they find.  Similarly, are the journal articles they look at refereed (peer-reviewed by those knowledgeable and recognized in the field of study)?  Have the students each find an article abstract by a leading researcher in this field.

After the students read the article abstract(s), they might wish to get the article(s) by inter-library loan from the local library and then read the full article and even e-mail the author with a question.  They might even pick up a musical instrument and try to make some musical fractals.  Enjoy!

Note that Michael Frame and Harlan J Brothers have worked hard to establish a rigorous framework for the study and discussion of fractal music. Comments or questions can be posted below in the comment section and also submitted to:

"Dr." J.  and to Harlan Brothers

(c)2012 J S Shipman

Monday, October 1, 2012

Valley Central School District Posts Educational Videos to assist Parents and Students

Here is the link to educational videos posted by Valley Central School District... 
(Valley Central is a great school district, especially when parents and other care-givers participate in conferences and volunteer, mentors from the community help guide students, teachers teach with a lot of methods so they can reach all students, and, students read a lot and study!  (Are you doing your part to make your school great?)):