Wandering and Wondering

Exploring the wonders of Science in everyday life!

It’s a new world record!

Today in class with my 7th graders (while taking a break from the exciting world of cell division), we watched the following video about a new world record set in Australia- 145 water skiers pulled behind one boat!

After we watched the video, I had my 7th graders write any questions that they had after watching the video on the white board. Some of the questions they had were pretty great! Some of my favorites were: How do they stop? Were they experienced? Did anyone chicken out? How would you sign up for that kind of stuff?

Here is my board with their questions:

After we talked about some of the questions they came up with, we explored Wonder of the Day #368, How do you set a world record? http://bit.ly/AytyrY

I think some of the 7th graders now want to set out to break a world record…any suggestions?

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Snow trip!

Being that it is 80 degrees in Los Angeles right now, I naturally thought about blogging about…..SNOW! Yup, that cold, white, powdery stuff that we have heard so much about, but rarely get to see.

Tomorrow, I am chaperoning our high school ski trip up into the mountains around Big Bear Lake for our 9-12 graders. I love the snow, and miss living in an area that gets snow every winter. I know, it can be a big pain, but something about snow falling and snow on the ground makes me want to curl up next to a fire and read a good book.

[scattered flurries] from felt soul media on Vimeo.

However, I highly doubt that having 50 high school students in a lodge will allow me to curl up with a book, I am going to have to come up with some fun games to play in the snow. Good thing I have Wonderopolis to help me out! Just a few days ago, they wondered, “What’s the best thing to do on a snow day?” http://bit.ly/Atsyt8

Do you have any favorite things to do on a snow day? What are some things I should do with the students in the snow? Leave me a comment and tell me all about it!

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I have played and coached competitive volleyball for the past 20 years. However, in the winter sports season, I am the assistant coach for our varsity soccer team…which is a bit of a misnomer, since all I really do is drive the team to their games and patch them up when they get hurt. But I cheer like crazy on the sidelines! I love all the kids, and have had such a great time getting to know more about the game of soccer!

Some things I have learned about soccer:

  1. It is not a “goalie” that protects the goal, that player is called the “keeper”.
  2. You can substitute players in and out for anyone on the field.
  3. Players can switch positions on the field- in the middle of the game!
  4. It is a VERY high contact sport!

Every four years, the FIFA World Cup is held in a different location around the world. The last FIFA World Cup was held in 2010 in South Africa, and it was definitely a World Cup of firsts. South Africa was the first African nation to host the World Cup, and it was also the first World Cup win for Spain!

FIFA World Cup 2010 South Africa from christopher guinness on Vimeo.

What’s your favorite sport? Do you have a favorite soccer team? Let me know in the comments below!

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Chicken (Noodle) Soup for….the husband!

Well, my husband has been down and out with the flu. ALL weekend! As I do anytime we get sick, I immediately drove over to the grocery store to pick up all the vegetables needed to make some from-scratch homemade chicken noodle soup. That got me thinking…what is it about chicken noodle soup that makes us feel so much better?

Is it the warmth? Is it the fluid? Is it the vegetables you use? Is it a placebo effect?

Wait– what is the “placebo effect”? The word placebo is from Latin for “I will please”…basically, if I give you a pill and tell you it will reduce your pain, you will probably feel a reduction in your pain. Even if the pill was actually just sugar! Since you thought it would reduce the pain, your mind tricked you into thinking the pill had actually reduced the pain. That is the placebo effect.

However, there have been MANY studies on the merits of chicken noodle soup, and I found an article from the New York Times about the different studies (http://nyti.ms/xOOBA), most notably the 2000 study done by researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (http://bit.ly/zUDkIU).

The UNMC study found evidence that there is more than just a placebo effect going on when you eat chicken noodle soup to help fight off a cold. The soup actually helps reduce your symptoms by inhibiting the movement of your white blood cells.

Want to know how to make the actual chicken noodle soup they used in their study? Here’s how!

We all get sick from time to time, so what should you do when you start feeling icky? Look at Wonder #416 to find out (http://bit.ly/xsPh4Q ), and don’t forget to eat your chicken noodle soup!

Do you have any special soup recipes or tips on how to treat a cold? Leave me a comment, I would love to hear from you!

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Adventures in Middle School…Part 1!

Middle schoolers are a very special breed….but I love them! This is the most formative time in a person’s life, so I look at teaching middle school not as just teaching them Science, but teaching them how to be productive citizens in their community. We learn about how to treat others with kindness and respect, how to work well with others, and how to use your time efficiently.

This week, I have been working with my 7th grade class to get them used to navigating through the Wonderopolis website. They are so excited about everything! Luckily, the school I teach at is in a 1:1 laptop program, so every student on campus has their own laptop. However, even if every student didn’t have their own laptop, we could have done it all together as a class and chosen a wonder to look at on the projector.

We all looked at the Wonder of the Day from Friday, January 6, “How Does Bleach Work?” (http://bit.ly/wy1qU1 ), since we are talking about the chemistry of life in class right now. After we had watched the video and read the information together, we then set out to discuss the Vocabulary for the wonder.

Once we had discussed all the vocabulary terms, the students were allowed to go on their own to find a wonder that really piqued their interest. Once each student had found his or her wonder to work on, I asked them to watch the video and read the information. Once they had done this, they needed to post an appropriate comment (they are middle schoolers, so I checked all the comments before they were actually sent!) to the wonder.

Their comments were so WONDERful, and really showed how much they enjoyed looking at the site. I think this will become a weekly exercise in the classroom…stay tuned!


It’s a dog’s life…

My husband and I are very proud parents….to a 12 pound dog named Spike. We adopted Spike about a year and a half ago, and he has such a great personality and we couldn’t ask for a more loving, funny, and slightly neurotic addition to our family!

While Spike is an “only dog”, he has lots of fun playing with his cousins-and he has a LOT of cousins! At his Aunt Debbie’s house, there is Chewie the chihuahua and Piper theĀ  pit bull. Spike loves patrolling the back yard with Piper and playing tug with Chewie.

Spike is a very silly dog who loves to sing. Yes, that’s right….sing! Spike will howl along with you, and will even howl at firetrucks!

Spike’s talent (which we are always sure to show off at parties) sparked a wonder in me….why do dogs howl?

Dogs howl in response to what they think is another howl (presumably from another dog). This is one way canids (dogs, wolves, coyotes, foxes) communicate with each other over long distances.

Another interesting fact that I discovered is that domesticated dogs are the only canids that primarily bark for communication. While all canids are able to bark, dogs are the only ones that actually use barking as their primary communication.

How do other animals communicate? Does your dog like to howl or bark? Leave me a comment and tell me all about it!

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What a WONDERful world!

I am so excited to be a Lead Ambassador for NCFL’s Wonderopolis.org Wonder Year Adventure 2012! We have already had such a great time getting to know all the other Wonder Families and can’t wait to see what WONDERful adventures we will have this year!

Our first trip with Wonderopolis took us to the beautiful city of Louisville, Kentucky. There we got to see the bats being made at the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, Millionaire’s Row at Churchill Downs, we got to feed giraffes at the Louisville Zoo, and we even got to blow our own glass ornaments at FlameRun!

I am so looking forward to sharing how my family and my students discover the wonders of the world, and how the wonders of learning never cease!

Continue on to see more pictures from our adventures in Louisville!

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