Science can be fun to teach

Science can be fun to teach

Over one hundred (100) high school science teachers from the length and breadth of Jamaica and from the  science  disciplines (physics, chemistry, biology, Integrated science) converged on  the campus of The MICO University college for the three-day event. Teachers were awed through hands- on science activities using mainly local materials and covering some content areas of the National Standards Curriculum, and the Caribbean Examinations Council syllabi for the science subjects.

The aim of the workshop was to enable teachers to create an environment and opportunities for students to develop a love for science, hopefully translating into greater interest in science subjects and ultimately larger numbers of students opting to do the sciences in secondary school exit examinations.

The workshop was a very stimulating, exciting and novel experience for most teachers, who deemed it “successful” in demonstrating how simple fun ways in which science concepts are  taught can bring joy, excitement and enthusiasm to students.

According to Mrs. Sharon Thompson Jordan teacher of biology, “ this exposure has motivated me so much, not only to share concepts which I teach with my students but to begin a Science club which will see the utilisation of the various other concepts exposed to me outside of my area of teaching”.

The leader of the Pueblo Science group Mayrose Salvador, in commenting on the experience  of the group in Jamaica said, “We’re all very happy to have interacted with the science teachers of Jamaica and learn first-hand how receptive and dedicated they are to learning fun and novel ways of teaching science. The energy they displayed during the workshop was quite inspiring for us as scientists who go out into the world more often to share our expertise and strive to solve real world problems being faced in communities or schools. We’re all excited to go back home and continue to develop more experiments that teachers can use in their classrooms. We hope that the training will serve as a catalyst for further innovation of STEM activities and demonstrations that use locally available resources and promote collaboration…”

The event was sponsored by Solar Market Ja, the Association of Science Teachers of Jamaica, the Ministry of Education Youth and Information, the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica as well as Pueblo Science and IBM Jamaica.

This piece was published by the Association of Science Teachers of Jamaica.

Volunteer Reflections: Dr. Alon Eisenstein

Volunteer Reflections: Dr. Alon Eisenstein

Reflecting on my volunteering with Pueblo Science:
On this National Volunteer Week, I started thinking about my own volunteering experience with Pueblo Science. Sometimes it’s really hard to believe I’ve been doing this for 5 and 1/2 years now! And so much has changed, evolved, improved, matured.

I can still remember how we got together in the evenings to plan for the very first summer science camp. Lots of ideas, lots of excitement. And guess what? we’re still doing it. Still excited, still having fun, and the kids and parents share that excitement with us 🙂 They come back year after year, bringing siblings, bringing friends. It’s like an extended family at times.

I’ve had the pleasure of “playing” with science for so long, with small groups and large ones. I’ve “performed” on centre ice both in Toronto and Waterloo, on TV in Toronto, Ottawa and even Montreal, and even live on stage at Yonge-Dundas square. I got to do solo events, and lead groups of 20 volunteers, and now work with a group of amazing coordinators who are absolutely amazing and fun to work with.

So what did I learn over these years? I learned how to plan, how to deliver, how to be responsible and accountable. I’ve learned how to teach and explain, I’ve learn how to communicate and connect. I’ve learned how to recruit, and how to lead, but also to follow and listen, accepting other’s ideas and putting trust into others.
But most of all, I’ve learned to follow my passion, and have FUN. Yes, joy. That feeling that makes us feel so good, that we can’t have enough of. The happiness we feel when things work out, when kids smile and laugh, when parents nod and say “I didn’t know that, now you’ve taught me something new”. Knowing that maybe somewhere, sometime, someone will think back and remember a silly scientist who likes to stick spoons on his nose, and make you laugh while you think.

Forever that silly-scientist, happy National Volunteer Week #NVW2017

Dr. Alon Eisenstein
April 27, 2017
Lifted from https://www.facebook.com/PuebloScience/

Introduction to Scientific Method

Introduction to Scientific Method

“Science is more than a body of knowledge, it’s a way of thinking.”
“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”

– Carl Sagan

When we were small, shortly after being born into this world, we often asked “why?” or “how?” to understand things around us. In other words, from our youth, we observed our surroundings, our families, and asked questions or formed a “hypothesis”, a fancy word derived from Greek “hypo-” meaning “under” and “-thesis” meaning “placing”, and together gives the meaning of “foundation”. This is a common human experience, to want to understand the foundation of our observable universe, the place we live in.
For example, you observe a newborn being introduced to you, maybe this is your younger sibling or cousin, and then you may ask an elder “where do babies come from?” This baby came out of seemingly nowhere. The elder may give you a story about a bird carrying the baby from the baby factory, but you feel skepticism, another word for feeling doubtfulness. A month ago, you remembered observing the mother of the newborn having a round, protruding belly. You now feel curious about that belly and you take a look at the mother’s abdomen, which is now surprisingly smaller! You say to that story-telling elder “I actually think babies come from the bellies of mothers!” and the elder looks surprised. You feel the urge to ask the mother about her belly and baby, and she admits she was at the hospital for labour and delivery, the birthing of her child. Now even more curious, you ask if the baby was once inside her belly, which made it so round and big in the past. The mother says yes. You go on to ask your own mother, your grandma, your aunties and they all say yes to your hypothesis. Over time, you observe more once round-bellied mothers showing off their newborns to you, and you also observe that their bellies shrunk after giving birth. You ask your friends Mary, Michael, and Maxine if they observed other mothers’ bellies shrinking after babies show up and they have the same observations as you! You now confidently confirm that babies do in fact come from mothers’ bellies, and not from some bird delivery service.
How strange and wondrous you think to yourself. You now have a million other questions to ask, and you discuss them with your friends, like “if mom grows the baby, what are fathers for?”, “how does the baby grow inside the belly?”, “does the baby grow where food gets digested? If so, why doesn’t the baby get digested?”, or “Is there a separate organ for the growth of the baby?”. You and your friends come up all sorts of explanations and you want to know if these explanations are right or wrong. You now think to yourself, “My friends and I did all of this work to collect this evidence, let’s write it all down for other kids to know!” You type it all up and post it to social media to share with your friends. Your classmate, Marcus, comments that he doesn’t agree with your findings because his mother’s belly did not shrink after his little sister was born. You find that a bit funny, and form new hypotheses to explain why his mother’s belly didn’t shrink. You respond with “maybe it takes a while for the belly to shrink”, “try looking again in a week”, but you don’t say “maybe your mom is overweight” – that would be rude to say publicly, perhaps say that in private.
Congratulations, you are now thinking like a (respectful) scientist!
“Wah? Wait, mi cyah believe it! It can’t be that easy! Cho man!”
Let me justify my claim. In that example, you:
(1) observed something, became curious about it, and started asking questions;
(2) heard an answer and felt skeptical about that answer;
(3) you formed a hypothesis to provide an alternative explanation;
(4) took action to gain more evidence to support or oppose your hypothesis;
(5) developed a method for confirming the evidence;
(6) worked with your friends to confirm the evidence;
(7) developed confidence in your hypothesis through evidence;
(8) generated even more curiosity, and started a discussion amongst you and your friends;
(9) documented your findings for others to see for themselves and either agree or be skeptical and give their own criticisms of your evidence; and
(10) responded to their criticisms, which affects how confidently you believe your evidence.
Science does have a lot of facts to memorize, especially from textbooks, but the nature of Science is not memorization. Rather, the scientific method is used to fulfill that curiosity inside all of us. We take for granted the facts we memorize, but understand that it was another human being, or teams of humans just like us, that worked very hard to prove them. However, scientific facts only stay facts if other people can repeatedly confirm they get the same results, no matter if they live in Jamaica, Haiti, Canada, China, or Antarctica! Most importantly, scientific findings must stand the test of time – does the evidence discovered centuries ago still remain true today? If I looked through a telescope pointed at Jupiter, would I still see its four moons that the father of Physics, Galileo Galilei, discovered 400 years ago? Yes, I would, except I would expect to see 63 more known smaller moons orbiting Jupiter discovered by others since then, meaning there could be more moons left to discover! This is the progress of science– discovering truth by building on previous discoveries.
“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
– Isaac Newton, 1676

Scientific facts would be questioned if people got different conflicting results, giving people more reason to be skeptical. The scientific method is by no means perfect as some people lie about their evidence, some evidence never gets validated by other teams of scientists around the world, some experiments are just badly designed, or sometimes politics gets involved. However, right now, the scientific method is the best way for humankind to systematically understand the observable universe and reliably produce facts for the expansion of our knowledge. If scientists ever make a mistake, the great thing is that there will always be another group of scientists to challenge them. This keeps the pursuit of truth pure and exposed, and any flaws will eventually be detected by someone skeptical – perhaps it will be you!

This blog was written by Jonathan Lau.

Alginate Worms

The alginate worms are a fun way to explore polymers. They are slimy but edible. Make sure to wash your hands and clean all the needed materials before starting this experiment in your kitchen!

You’ll need:

2.4 g of sodium alginate
5 g calcium chloride
a few drops of food coloring
tap water
measuring cup (1 cup)
2 bowls
1 syringe

Prepare the Alginate solution

  1. Place a cup of water and a few drops of food coloring in a bowl.
  2. Slowly add the alginate powder in the bowl of water. Using a hand mixer mix thoroughly.
  3. Set aside the alginate solution for an hour to remove the bubbles from solution.

Prepare the Calcium bath

  1. Place 2 cups of water in a bowl.
  2. Add the calcium chloride to the bowl and stir to dissolve.

Make the Alginate Worms

  1. Draw the alginate solution into the syringe.
  2. Squirt the alginate solution into the calcium bath
  3. Start playing with your edible alginate worms

How are the Worms Formed?

Sodium alginate is a polymer: a large molecule made of many identical smaller molecules. Sodium alginate in solution has sodium and alginate ions. We add it to a solution of calcium chloride, which contains calcium and chloride ions. Calcium attaches to alginate molecules to make calcium alginate, an insoluble gel. A slimy (but edible) worm! Some acid reflux medicines (e.g Gaviscon) use calcium alginate to form a protective gel in your tummy!Aren’t polymers amazing?

Pueblo Science hosts “Curious Kids Love Science!” at the University of Toronto

Pueblo Science hosts “Curious Kids Love Science!” at the University of Toronto

On Sunday January 22, Pueblo Science will be hosting its fourth “Curious Kids Love Science!” event in collaboration with the University of Toronto’s Family Sundays program at Hart House. The theme for this year’s event is Polymers, where kids will participate in hands-on science activities to learn about polymers. Activities will include slime making, DNA extraction and even molecular gastronomy. U of T students will be volunteering their time on this wintery Sunday morning to bring joy, excitement to children of U of T families, while teaching them about what polymers are, where we find them, and how we use them.

Read full  article at Marketwired

Science Trick: Blue Bottle

Science Trick: Blue Bottle

On shaking: it is BLUE!. . . . On standing it is COLORLESS! Here is why this happens…

WHY DOES THE COLOR CHANGE ??

What is in the solution?

  • Sodium hydroxide – makes the solution basic
  • Glucose acts as a reducing agent (loses electron)
  • Methylene blue – acts as an indicator for the reaction

 

What is happening?

Glucose is a reducing agent and in basic solution will reduce methylene blue to a colourless form.

Shaking the solution admits oxygen which will re-oxidise the methylene blue back to the blue form.

Science Trick: Traffic Light Reaction

Science Trick: Traffic Light Reaction

Why does the solution turn red, yellow and green? Here is a quick demonstration!

 

What is in the solution?

  • Sodium hydroxide – makes the solution basic
  • Glucose – acts as a reducing agent (loses electron)
  • Indigo carmine – indicator for the reaction

 

What is happening?

  • Indigo carmine can exist in oxidised (loss of electron ), reduced (gain of electron) and intermediate forms.
  • Each form has a slightly different structure which means that each structure absorbs a different frequency of light; hence the three different colours – red, yellow and green.

 

Charity Wants to Inspire a Love of Science in Students, and to Equip Communities

Charity Wants to Inspire a Love of Science in Students, and to Equip Communities

Makeshift devices that pick up marshmallows, gaseous substances overflowing, a spinning robot — the little projects that make kids ooh and ahh — if that was the kind of science class you were exposed to.
What brings science lessons to life are enthusiastic teachers and hands-on experiments, but labs and activities require resources, and not all neighbourhoods have them.

Full story at Start Up Toronto