Monthly Archives: December 2003

LABRats December 2003 Update

I wanted to give you an update to a recent post about LABRats, a national program that is being developed by the Society for Amateur Scientists. The LABRats program “will teach science, self-esteem, and community service to America’s young people.” I have posted the text of a recent e-mail that I received from the LABRats newsgroup below:

Dear LABRats enthusiast,

As 2003 draws to a close, we are working hard on several fronts to make LABRats a reality, and we’d like to share some exciting news with you on partnership developments.

We have an agreement with a local Boys and Girls Club that will share their space, members, and programming expertise during LABRats development and testing. We have also met with a world renowned science-technology center that is potentially interested in being a full development partner and may function as a regional office where mentors and adult volunteer leaders can be trained to deliver LABRats through various community organizations. Through these and other conversations, a model for a pilot program and subsequent dissemination is beginning to emerge.

I look forward to continuing to share exciting LABRats development news with all of you throughout 2004. Thank you for your time, enthusiasm, and support. You are an important charter member of a growing national LABRats community, which, we believe, will one day change they way science is taught across the country. Your perspectives and experiences are valuable as we embark on program development, and I welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions.

Please email feedback to me at

If you have a posting that is appropriate for the whole group, please email to Postings are moderated.

Best regards,

Heather Smith
Society for Amateur Scientists
Director of Program Development

Subscribe to the LABRats newsgroup to get periodic updates on program developments.

Project Physics

Although I haven’t been posting much over the holidays, I have managed to keep up with the teacher blogs that I read. John Hellman recently posted on his blog “So you want to be a science teacher” about Project Physics, a book that:

“arose out of the desire to develop “a humanistically oriented physics course” that would get more students excited about physics and to present the influence of science on society, and vice-versa. It’s really a wonderful text- each major topic is introduced with historical background of how the discoveries were made. The book takes the reader through a course of discovery that mirrors that of the original researchers, and really builds (for me, at least) excitement in the reader.” – from

He also offers suggestions on how to find a copy of this book for yourself.

100th Anniversary of Flight

100 years ago today, Wilbur and Orville Wright, better known as the Wright Brothers, flew 120 feet over the beaches of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in a powered aircraft to become pioneers in aviation.

The following sites have some ideas for activities and experiments related to aviation and aeronautics:

  • Science Fun with Airplanes
  • Celebrating 100 years of flight at the Scholastic Teachers Web site
  • Aeronautical Classroom Activities from NASA
  • Airplane Lesson Plans from Lesson Planet
  • Christmas Gifts for the Scientist in Your Life

    Are you looking for a special gift for the scientist in your life? Here are just a few gifts that you can buy at The Discovery Channel Store:

    Discovery Whodunit? Forensics Lab ($79.95)
    Winner of the 2003 Parents’ Choice Silver Honor Award.

    “Learn how to use science to fight crime! With advances in forensic science, more and more crime work is being solved in the lab. Now you can introduce your child to a fun and fascinating side of science, with this complete at-home forensic lab. You’ll face six tough cases – each harder than the last. Use the state-of-the-art lab instruments to analyze handwriting, decipher blood type and examine mysterious fibers in your search for answers.”

    Discovery DNA Explorer Kit ($79.95)
    Named to Popular Science’s 2003 Best of What’s New List.

    “Explore one of the newest frontiers in science – DNA mapping. From science labs to courtrooms, few discoveries are as exciting as the world of DNA. With this deluxe, first-of-its-kind kit, you can extract, view and map real DNA yourself. Ideal for budding forensic-scientists or secret agents, the working lab and tools are just like the real thing. Plus, you’ll have all the supplies needed for six fascinating DNA experiments. Extract DNA from vegetables, find out what actually makes ink colors and even grow crystal stalagmites!”

    Remote Control Vectron UltraLite ($39.95)
    Featured in the December 15th issue of The Scientist in the article “Presents for Profs: Holiday gift ideas for the scientist who has everything”

    “Control your very own UFO as it glides, hovers and flies! The Vectron UltraLite is an infrared, remote control flying disc that’s ready to fly right out of the box. Just set it on the docking base, charge it for approximately 10 minutes, then stand back and watch it lift off, hover and fly around like an alien spacecraft. The special proportional controls mean the harder you press the trigger, the higher it flies. Just ease off the trigger to make Vectron descend. Designed for indoor use, this unique design is completely safe – the propeller stops instantly and automatically upon contact with any object.”

    National Institutes of Health Bookshelf

    Science textbooks can be very pricey (as I am sure a lot of you already know.) The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has aquired the rights to publish some well-known biomedical text books on-line. The books include:

    Berg, Jeremy M.; Tymoczko, John L.; and Stryer, Lubert. New York: W. H. Freeman and Co.; 2002.

    Introduction to Genetic Analysis. 7th ed.
    Griffiths, Anthony J.F.; Miller, Jeffrey H.; Suzuki, David T.; Lewontin, Richard C.; Gelbart, William M. New York: W. H. Freeman & Co.; c1999.

    For a complete list of books, check out the main page of the NCBI Bookshelf.