All posts by Christine

Giant African snails seized from schools

Giant African SnailsCNN reports that giant land snails have been seized from Wisconsin classrooms by federal health officials.

The snails are illegal in the U.S. because they reproduce quickly, eat native plants (as many as 500 different varieties), and can transmit meningitis via their mucous trails.

“In 1966, a Miami boy smuggled three Giant African Land Snails into the country. His grandmother eventually released them into a garden, and in seven years there were more than 18,000 of them. The eradication program took 10 years, according to the USDA.”

Yikes! This is a good example of an “invasive species.” The article also notes that “people who have the snails without knowing they are illegal will not face punishment.”

All About Birds

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology offers tremendous resources for identifying birds. Their website “All About Birds” has information about:

  • some great locations for birding in the United States
  • how to identify birds that you find AND
  • how to report your observations as part of the “world’s largest bird studies research team”.
  • They also have an Online Bird Guide where you can find descriptions, pictures, sounds, conservation status, other names, cool facts and a full detailed species account for an ever-increasing list of bird species.

    Check it out!

    Project Dragonfly

    Dragonfly logoProject Dragonfly began as a collaborative project between the National Science Teachers Association and Miami University funded in party by the National Science Foundation. The Dragonfly website contains collections of on-line articles written by children about specific scientific topics.

    These topics include: Butterflies, Houses, Baseball in Space, Family Ties, Navigation, Space, Time, Water, People and Plants, and more…

    “[Project Dragonfly] celebrate[s] good questions and investigations, rather than science as “following directions.” Avoid cookbook science and static “activities.” Making a leaf collection, for example, would not be sufficient unless the leaf collection answers a particular question, or unless it generated certain questions and investigations. Also, tell us of your different predictions, different possible methods for their study, different interpretations of their findings. What went wrong? What surprised you? Science is rarely perfect or undisputed–when it is, it is usually boring. We value students’ reasons for conducting their inquiries and their personal feelings. (We prefer inquiries generated by students and teachers or parents, but if the inquiry came from, or was based on, a suggestion in a book or other publication, please include the title, author, and publication information with your submission.)”

    Children are invited to submit their own work (including articles, narratives, poems, stories, artwork, jokes, interviews, etc). Information on how to submit can be found at the following link.

    Charles Best, the founder of Donors Choose, was on the Today show this morning to talk about the success of his charitable organization during the four years that it has been in existence. You may remember that I featured this organization in an earlier posting to this website. Donors Choose is celebrating the fact that over $1 million dollars has been donated by citizen philanthropists to help NYC schools. And now the organization is going national…they are currently up and running in North Carolina and hope to eventually expand to all 50 states.

    Playing With Time

    On the Playing With Time website (which I discovered via, you can see a variety of every day events occuring either faster or slower than they usually do.

    “Here at the Playing With Time web site, unseen worlds of change will be revealed. You will see time sped up and slowed down, and behold the beauty of change. Time will be in your hands to witness, replay, and even create. You never know… you might not look at things quite the same way again.”

    The Playing With Time project actually consists of two parts: the website and a museum exhibit. The exhibit is currently in St. Paul, Minnesota and will continue travel around the country until 2009.

    Cornell’s Backyard Bird Count

    Are you looking for something to do this weekend? Well then, how about participating in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Great Backyard Bird Count, which is currently underway (February 13th through 16th). Check out for more details (including a printable bird tally list for your area):

    February 2004 — Scientists and bird enthusiasts can learn a lot by knowing where the birds are. Now that winter has gripped much of the continent, what are our birds doing? Bird populations are dynamic, they are constantly in flux. We want to take a snapshot of North American bird populations and YOU can help us. Everyone’s contribution is important. It doesn’t matter whether you identify, count, and report the 5 species coming to your backyard feeder or the 75 species you see during a day’s outing to a wildlife refuge. Your data can help us answer many questions:
    – How will this winter’s snow and cold temperatures influence bird populations?
    – Where are the WINTER finches and other irruptive species?
    – Will late winter movements of many SONGBIRD and waterfowl species be as far north as they were last year?

    As of 2004-02-14 23:29:52.0 the total tally is as follows:
    Total Checklists Submitted: 8,325
    Total Species Observed: 436
    Total Individual Birds Counted: 865,385

    Ban Dihydrogen Monoxide!

    I first saw the following text in an e-mail back in 1997. For those of you who have not yet read it, or have seen it and may have forgotten about it, I thought that it might be fun to post it here. It’s a good reminder of the fact that there really are no totally harmless substances. Find out more about the origin of this “warning” at


    Dihydrogen monoxide is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and kills uncounted thousands of people every year. Most of these deaths are caused by accidental inhalation of DHMO, but the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide do not end there. Prolonged exposure to its solid form causes severe tissue damage. Symptoms of DHMO ingestion can include excessive sweating and urination, and possibly a bloated feeling, nausea, vomiting and body electrolyte imbalance. For those who have become dependent, DHMO withdrawal means certain death.

    Dihydrogen monoxide:
    * is also known as hydric acid, and is the major component of acid rain.
    * contributes to the “greenhouse effect.”
    * may cause severe burns.
    * contributes to the erosion of our natural landscape.
    * accelerates corrosion and rusting of many metals.
    * may cause electrical failures and decreased effectiveness of automobile brakes.
    * has been found in excised tumors of terminal cancer patients.

    Continue reading Ban Dihydrogen Monoxide!

    The Debate Continues…

    Georgia’s lawmakers have proposed a bill that would require the state-wide curriculum to correspond to the national standards. Check out the following articles that were published in the Athens Banner-Herald over the last couple of days:

  • Concern over evolution prompts curriculum bill (February 10, 2004)
  • Evolution flap prompts curriculum bill (February 9. 2004 )
  • Note: Read more about the National Science Education Standards here.