Monthly Archives: November 2003

How To Build Your Own Microscope (And More)

Fun Science Gallery is a Web site for the amateur scientist created and maintained by Giorgio Carboni. He has posted instructions for building “scientific equipments from relatively cheap materials. Projects include instructions for making telescopes, microscopes, batteries, sidereal indicators, and several other instruments…” Included along with each set of instructions is a history of the original device along with ideas for experiments and activities. Be sure to check out the Fun Science home page for details of his copyright agreement.

If you know of any other similar Web resources, please let me know. Either send me an e-mail or leave a comment on this post.

Using Mother Nature to Help Stop the Spread of Computer Viruses

I received the following press release from the NSF news mailing list yesterday. It is a good example of how basic research can be applied to real world problems:


ARLINGTON, Va.-Taking their cues from Mother Nature and biodiversity, computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of New Mexico are collaborating on a National Science Foundation (NSF)-supported project to study “cyber diversity” for computer systems as a way to fend off malicious viruses, worms and other cyber attacks.

In nature, diseases are most devastating when an infection-causing organism encounters a “monoculture,” a vast swath of genetically similar individuals, each susceptible to the organism’s method of attack. In the same vein, computer viruses and worms exploit the same flaw on every computer running the same software.

“We are looking at computers the way a physician would look at genetically related patients, each susceptible to the same disorder,” said Mike Reiter, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and computer science at Carnegie Mellon and associate director of CyLab, a Carnegie Mellon initiative focused on advancing cybersecurity technology and education. “In a more diverse population, one member may fall victim to a pathogen or disorder, while another might not have the same vulnerability.”

To read this press release in its entirety, click here.

The Five Senses

  1. Learn about the Human Senses at the BBC Science Web site.

  2. Check out the following article at the Education World Web site with ideas for activities you can use to teach about the five senses (includes links to other internet “senses” resources.
  3. The New York Times’ Daily Lesson Plan offers a lesson plan entitled “Sense-itive Issues: Exploring the Relationships Among the Five Senses”:

    “In this lesson, students consider the difficulties of adapting to the loss of different senses. They then work in small groups, each developing a fictional superhero who experiences a loss of one of sense and must learn to compensate for it with his or her other senses.”

  4. CyberSleuth Kids has a list of internet resources for teaching about the senses.

“Fowl Science: Talking Turkey”

At The Exploratorium Web site, you can:

  1. Learn about the science behind how to cook a turkey
  2. .

  3. Check out the discussion on the Accidental Scientist Forum to find out if your method of cooking turkey safe or toxic?
  4. Watch the recent webcast of “Fowl Science: Talking Turkey” given by the Red Herring Restaurant’s executive chef Marc Schoenfield and learn the answers to the following questions:

    “Why does a turkey continue to cook after it’s out of the oven? How can you be sure to thoroughly cook the dark meat without drying out the white meat? Is stuffing really a good idea? How do you make the skin golden?”

The Human Body

Check out Education World’s “The Human Body: An Online Tour”, a lesson planning article with information and follow-up activities related to the human skeletal, respiratory, circulatory, and digestive systems.

Visit “Tissues of Life” and “Habits of the Heart” at the Science Museum of Minnesota Web site. These on-line exhibits have videos, animations, lesson ideas and diagrams.

Westchester Elementary Media Center has classroom resources and research tools for learning about “The Systems of the Human Body.”

The National Library of Medicine’s The Visible Human Project is “a digital image dataset of complete human male and female cadavers in MRI, CT and anatomical modes.

More About Bugs…

Check out the following Web sites for some more insect-related resources:

  • A little insight into a lot of insects – presents connections, web resources, activities, classroom resources, teacher resources and a list of relevant standards
  • Acres of Insects – lesson plans “developed by Arizona high school teachers working together with University of Arizona scientists and Center for Insect Science Education Outreach staff.”
  • Insectclopedia Audiovisual Resources – links to insect film clips and more…
  • All About Butterflies – an “on-line hypertext book about butterflies…designed for students of all ages and levels of comprehension.”
  • The Science of a City

    1) Researchers at Arizona State University have a section of their Web site, “Chain Reaction”, devoted to urban ecology:

    “What’s Urban Ecology all about? Birds moving to the suburbs… trees struggling in parking lots… drinking water that smells like dirt. These are just a few of the things that urban ecologists study. Join ASU scientists as they explore the relationships between people, animals, plants, air, and water in one of the most important environments on Earth – the city.

    Learn more about urban ecology by following the links on the left-hand side of the screen of their Web site:

  • Dig in – information about urban ecology.
  • Surf and Teacher Tools – links to sites with additional information
  • Try This – ideas/instructions for experiments to do in the classroom…make a carbon dioxide detector, find out how pollution spreads, and more.
    Continue reading The Science of a City
  • Blowing in the Wind

    Windstorms swept across the eastern U.S. today, with winds gusting as high as 70 miles per hour. Almost a million people are without power. Learn more about the wind at the following Web sites:

  • Discovery School’s Capture the Wind – instructions to build a simple anemometer and measure wind speeds.
  • Wind Chill – learn the relationship between wind speed and temperature
  • .

  • Education World presents Wind and Wings“simple hands-on activities that demonstrate Daniel Bernoulli’s principle of air pressure and air flight.”
  • “Science Snacks”

    The Exploratorium has instructions for miniature versions of some of their most popular exhibits, which they call Science Snacks. The experiments are indexed alphabetically or by subject.

    Subjects include: Chemistry, Color, Electricity, Fluids, Heat, Life Science, Light, Magnetism, Math, Mechanics, Perception, Polarization, Reflection, Refraction, Sound and Waves.

    Examples include:

  • Milk Makes Me Sick: a study of the basis of lactose intolerance
  • Glue Stick Sunset: the scattering of light by the atmosphere, which creates the blue sky and red sunsets, can be modeled when light from a flashlight shines through clear glue sticks.
  • and many, many more…
  • The site also offers a list of resources for buying “snack supplies“:

    …a collection of resources recommended by the teachers who created the original Snackbook. It includes sources for some hard-to-get items, for books and print materials considered exceptionally valuable, for unique suppliers, and for items that might not conventionally be considered to be science resources. It does not pretend to be all-encompassing, exhaustive, or universal, but we hope it will be useful.

    Very Cool Bugs

    While surfing the web I came across BugBios, a Web site that was created: “to help you really see insects for the miniature marvels they represent and to understand how intertwined our cultures have become with these alien creatures”.

    The site contains:

  • Amazing insect photographs accompanied by informative descriptions
  • Cultural Entomology Digest – articles about insects in human culture
  • Educational resources
  • A list of links to other insect-related Web sites