Friday, December 24, 2010

Final Project: IB Biology Lab Options

Possible topics:
1.  Lake ice and snow
2.  Air Quality
3.  Frost Tube
4.  Surface Temperature

Lake Ice and Snow:

There is a lot of information on this website.  Explore around.  Look at whatever is interesting to you.

Insert link for data sheet.

1.  Watch the video.
2.  Read the background essay.
3.  Answer the discussion questions.
4.  Write down five things you learned from the ALISON website.

Air Quality:
Watch this local news video from Missoula, Montana, or read the article.  Notice:  Palmer was left off.  Boo hoo.  Maybe they weren't sure I would ever make it back from Russia.  :)

Review the questions you answered during Desirae's visit in December.

The program was started in Montana and they have now started a sister project in Alaska.  Check out some of the student presentations from the previous years symposiums for ideas.

1.  Watch the promo video or read the news article.  Write down three things your learned.
2.  Review handouts from Desirae.  Write down three important facts about air quality.
3.  Look through the Big Sky website.  Look at five presentations from the 2005 symposium.  List their topics.
4.  Watch the Drought and Air Quality video.  Read the background essay.  Answer the discussion questions.

Frost Tube:

Tunnel Man Video ... for fun  It is on youtube so if you are trying to do this at school it won't work.  :(

Permafrost Outreach Program UAF Website  This website has a lot of information.  Poke around.  See what you can find.  Kenji is an amazing person who does amazing things.  See if you can figure out what they are.  He visited our school ... yes ... The Tunnel Man was on campus in September!  My 6th hour and Mr. Berberich were witnesses.

1.  Watch the melting permafrost video.
2.  Read the background essay.
3.  Answer the discussion questions.
4.  Write down five things you learned at the permafrost outreach website.
5.  Look through the data sheet and protocols.

Surface Temperature:

Glance through the entire document.  Read pages 3-6.

1.  Watch the temperature video.
2.  Read the background essay.
3.  Answer the discussion questions.
4.  Look through the field guide, data sheet and protocols links.  Write down five important things to remember when collecting temperature data.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Week 9: Freshwater Ice

This summer I went to a polar science conference in Norway.  While there I became aware of how proud the Norwegian are of their explorers, such as Nansen and Amundsen.  I came home with a list of books documenting their adventures that I wanted to read.  I spent my rainy Alaskan summer reading about brave men who definitely knew their ice, be it sea ice or freshwater ice.

"Nansen in front of the ship in the summer of 1894, strongly doubting that the ice drift would lead him to the Pole."

Cultural connections can use a historical perspective such as the first explorers into a polar region or the connection can be with those who lived in polar regions all along.  The books I read had many examples of how the extreme environments of the Arctic and Antarctic were difficult for explorers.  I was even more in awe of the people and cultures whose entire lives were spent in these extreme environments.

River ice break up is a fascinating topic for me.  There are many cultural connections from betting in the Nenana Ice Classic to the routine spring floods in many communities as the ice breaks up and dams form downstream.  

As an ALISON teacher, freshwater ice is a topic I've received much training (from the best researches anywhere on these topics).  The more I learn, the more I realize there is to learn.  The video Students Measure Changes in Lake Ice and Snow is a great introduction to ALISON.  Although I'm not as active as I used to be in ALISON, I continually find ways to apply my knowledge of lake ice when teaching.  Many students ski, snowboard or snowmachine, making snow and ice a topic that is interesting and relevant to them.  More importantly though doing ALISON allows students to work with scientists - being trained and collecting data using the same equipment as the researchers at UAF.  This is such an exciting way to teach, learn and do science.

Here is an article titled "Temperature variations in lake ice in central Alaska, USA" written my Marc Gould and Martin Jeffries of UAF.

I wish this was the first module.  There are so many connections to our everyday life in the topic of freshwater ice and snow.  So much interesting, relevant and fun stuff!  Quick question:  The video "Studnets Measure Change in Lake Ice and Snow" ... do you know where I could find the full video?

Three classmates:
My ALSION pal Cheryl has some neat links to the permafrost tunnel.  

Alison spent a week in Hawaii and contemplated how warmer climates view climate change compared to colder ones.

Amy brought my attention to the video ... Elements in the Stars

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Week 8: Sea Ice

Explore:  Sea ice is something totally foreign to me.  Until I started going to workshops with teachers who taught in remote coastal villages that is.  I'm sure I still don't "get it" ... but at least I know it exists now.

Another term that is new to me is cryosphere.  The cryosphere is the portion of Earth's surface that is solid water ... or ice.  So that would include sea ice, lake ice, permafrost, glaciers, snow, and the ice in my freezer!

At first I thought that this mysterious cryosphere had nothing to do with me and my life.  Then I watched the cryosphere video ... oh well, I guess I do have snow in my backyard and the freezing rain caused ice on the roads that got me two extra days off from work last week.  

Extend:  Snow and ice are great topics for Alaskan students to explore.  Let's face is most of the school year is winter.  If you want to get kids outside doing science, there will be a days available for snow and ice studies than plants.  

I am somewhat involved in a permafrost study that partners with UAF.  Basically Kenji comes by a couple times a year and checks on our "frost tube".  A frost tube is a simple PVC pipe with some flexible tubing inside.  The flexible tubing contains a colored liquid ... so we can see how deep the frost is in the winter.  If we lived in an area with permafrost we could also see how the permafrost layer changes throughout the winter.  Another easy way for students to do science, and interact with scientists.  

These images show what a frost tube is and how it keeps track of the frozen layers throughout the year.  (

Kenji also makes fun youtube videos called TunnelMan!  

Evaluate:  At first I thought this topic was a bit repetitive, revisiting the same topics from previous modules, but after I watched a few videos I changed my mind.  I appreciate that ice was broken up into two modules.  It really is too big and too important and diverse of a topic to be covered in one module.

Three classmates:

Want some help with positive feedback loops?  Talk to Tyler.

Get to know Mother Earth with Kathy.

Kris does a very thorough job guiding me through the module.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Week 7: Carbon

Explore:  Adapt, Migrate or Die!
Lately the topic of climate change has been bringing me down.  It is no longer a new topic ... but an old horse, beaten down.  People know what is going on but I hear so much doubt, conspiracy theories, "but there is nothing I can do about it" attitudes.  Doom, gloom, hopelessness.

Then I farted around in this week's cultural connections.  This may sound weird but I found it uplifting.  In Alaskan villages climate change is here, now, affecting their lives and they are doing something about it.  Whole communities and school districts ... like the Arctic Climate Modeling Program.  Ahhh, the sun peaks  over the mountain.

Extend:  I love the interdisciplinary overlapping topics in this module.  Climate change, carbon cycle, periodic table, geologic timelines, early life on Earth, origins of Earth, organic chemistry ... what a great thematic unit.  I teach so many of these topics separately.  Look how well they fit together!

I'm thinking the 6 Soil Microbes and Global Warming video will fit in well during our microbes unit in biology, reinforcing the carbon cycle topic we cover earlier in the year.  If I can't do one thematic unit, at least I can show how the topics recycle throughout the year.  Life Before Oxygen will also be a great segway into arachaebacteria.

For the past 12 years I've been collecting green up and green down data using protocols from the GLOBE Program.  It is an easy to do activity where students observe a branch or leaves on a branch to document when the leaves change color and fall off in the fall, and the when bud burst happens in the spring.  I've enjoyed using this program to give kids a chance to contribute to the base line or moving line data for Alaska.

Evaluate:  This is one of my favorite modules.  So many overlapping topics and concepts, with real life issues and problem solving mixed in.  Bravo!

Three classmates:
For some first hand accounts of how the climate is changing in Juneau ... see Kevin.

Marilyn's blog makes me fall out of my chair in awe ... it is so professional looking.

I learned about Our World 2.0 from Doug.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Week 6: Air

Explain:  This week we look at the atmosphere.  In some ways the atmosphere seems simple, a "thin" layer of air.  But, the more I learn, the more I realize it is much more complex and often misunderstood.

This summer I had the opportunity to attend a conference for polar science researchers.  The atmosphere was a topic that filled many sessions.  Especially in the arctic and antarctic, the atmosphere is a subject of great concern with new knowledge surfacing regularly.

Extend:  Two ideas:
1.  Phase changes and the idea of latent heat are key topics in the lake ice unit I teach.  See ALISON link from Week 5.  It is a tricky subject for kids to "get" ... absorbing energy without a change in temperature.  Thanks for the ideas.

2.  I am also involved in a program based out of the University of Montana called Air Toxics Under the North Star.  It is an extension of a similar program called Air Toxics Under the Big Sky.  The program has students collect particulate matter data with a machine called the DustTrak.  The students design their own inquiry project and present their results to other students and adults.  The items in this week's module will be useful in this project.

Evaluate:  No complaints.  Great resource for students and teachers, again.

I love the 24 hour clock showing the history of the Earth!  You are doing great blogs.  (Tim)

You have some great cultural connections. I hope that someday I'll have such a wealth of knowledge to pull from! (Lila)

Thanks for sharing your memories from childhood and college days.  It makes your blog fun and easy to read.  (Carolyn)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Week 5: Oceans, so big, so wide, so deep

Wow this week does cover so much ... just like the oceans, I guess.

Explain:  I got a kick out of the video clip on the Coriolis Effect.  The video wasn't overly exciting, but the comments on the YouTube site, under the video were very entertaining.  I've learned that the people who make anonymous comments online are usually the folks who shouldn't.  Who would've thought there could be so much controversy in a boring old topic like the Coriolis Effect?!?

The video about Ben Franklin and the Gulf Stream was a big chunk of my new learning this week.

Extend:  There is something for everyone this week, some biology, geology, physics, chemistry ... oceans have it all.  The lesson that I found particularly applicable for what I'm teaching right now is the video clip about specific heat with the balloon, I think I will try that at home!

I teach a unit involving lake ice, so seeing some of the info about specific heat and oceans ice reinforced the lessons we do in that unit.  If you are interested, the lake ice project is called ALISON - Alaska Lake Ice and Snow Observatory Network.  Check it out.

Seasons ... I watched the sunset/sunrise video just because it felt good.  It reminded me of a time lapse video I saw at a conference this summer.  It went through an year in Antarctica in about ten minutes showing the landscape from 24 hours of daylight to 24 hours of darkness.  Here is a YouTube video that is not the one I remember, but still interesting.  I bet students could make a video using Google Earth that shows the seasonal daylight changes in Arctic and Antarctic regions.


Evaluate:  Oceans are an easily overlooked, skipped, misperceived topic.  I love how this module brought so many topics to the table so I could sample them all.  Yum.   

Three of us:

Ian keeps busy writing about what he's read.  See his link to his other blog.
Is anyone interested in a field trip to Maui?  Dave and I are!
Bobbi used GoogleEarth to measure her island, Kodiak Island.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Week 4: Three Colleagues

Michael bikes from Haines to Skagway.

Craving motion, forces, earthquakes and explosions ... see Winsor.

For some great links to information about native cultures, visit Kristen.