December 1, 2013



I love making stuff.  One way I really enjoy learning is through designing and building things with my hands.  When building, I quickly find out: what works well, what does not, and what tools one might need.  I am forced to think about what to do next and how to change my strategies as I encounter problems or unfamiliar situations.

Mr. Fox Gardening

I love the word design (especially used as a verb).  I think all the meanings are awesome and deserve to be practiced regularly.  Notice the similarities between scientific investigations:  Purpose, Plan (Procedure), Sketch (Diagram), Funtion (Results).

Merriam-Webster Design: transitive verb (bold and italics added)

1: to create, fashion, execute, or construct according to plan :devisecontrive

2  a: to conceive and plan out in the mind (he designed the perfect crime)

b: to have as a purpose:intend (she designed to excel in her studies)

c: to devise for a specific function or end (a book designed primarily as a college textbook)

3  archaic: to indicate with a distinctive mark, sign, or name

4  a: to make a drawing, pattern, or sketch of

b: to draw the plans for (design a building)

How cool!  You could combine the meanings into:

Planning something distinctive in your mind,  sketching it out, and creating something that functions and serve a purpose. 

I hope all of you have many opportunities to really engage in designing something.


What have you built that you really enjoyed working on?  What made it fun?

What would you like to build if you had the time and materials?  What makes you curious or interested in this product / subject?

November 11, 2013


Gamification of Science Class

I need your help students!

I am studying Gamification, the process of making activities more game-like.

Goal: to increase student interest and engagement through:

  • competition
  • achieving goals
  • gaining status
  • helping others,
  • getting epic wins.

I would like to know your opinions on gaming and how engaging in game play could help you learn about science.

The video below is of a scientist discussing how video games can help save the world!

Start viewing at 9 minutes if you do not want to watch the whole video.

Click to see Gamification Infographic

Continue reading…

September 26, 2013


What are you interested in? (Great Presentation Example)

This TED Talk is a great example how to effectively use slides to enhance a presentation.  Notice the presenter is the focus, not the slides.  I also love the examples of what kids are able to do when they follow their passions!

Extracurricular empowerment: Scott McLeod at TEDxDesMoines

September 26, 2013


Presentation Dont’s – Ready

Any other “Dont’s” that you can think of?

What do you think are good things to do in a presentation?

September 22, 2013

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Icons (w/ Google drawings)

While learning about visual literacy, I stumbled on the idea of icons.

An ICON is a simple picture or symbol representing an idea, concept, or action.       

   Camera Icon1378704720_Cart_by_Artdesigner.lvGoogle Icon1378708864_monotone_earth_world_transparent? icon1378708524_Calculator

Icons …

  1. Quickly and compactly show information
  2. Focus and emphasis certain ideas
  3. Help you remember things

You can use icons in projects, posters, lab report procedures or diagrams, presentations … Let me know if you want to make one or have an idea on how you or I could use icons to help your learn.

These are the icons I created for the lab report document

Lab Shot

Click to see the Steps of Making an Icon

Continue reading…

September 16, 2013


Visual Concept Map Notes

When learning about a topic it is important to record what you’ve learned.

There are many ways to go about doing this.  We are probably most familiar with written notes.  The place of choice for most of us right now is Google Drive or G-Docs as the kids on the street are calling it. (: JK although if you want to start making up tech slang I encourage it)

Google Docs Shot

Google Drive is great because you can:

  • collaborate
  • make different kinds of files
  • view them on any computer
  • you don’t have to save!

Somehow middle school students always used to forget to save their hard work and be unable to turn it in after their, “computer did something crazy and they lost their work.”

Throughout the year I will try and expose you all to some other ways to keep track of and display information.  One way I like to keep track of ideas and knowledge is concept maps.

My favorite collaborative online concept mapping tool is Mindmeister.  

World Class Learners

Let me know if you want to try out Mindmeister for anything or if you come across any other cool concept map apps.

Click for more Mindmeister samples.

Continue reading…

September 5, 2013


Geneticist to Restaurant Owner

We talk a lot about exploring and developing your interests.

I was recently in Buenos Aires and went to a really cool restaurant, The Argentine Experience.  The restaurant engages diners in the cooking experience.   You learn about cooking processes, help prepare food, and of course eat.  But what I really got out of dinner was a story in following your passions

One of the staff described how he had gone to school to be a geneticist, got a degree, worked as a geneticist, and then decided his passion was food and people.  He got together with friends and started a restaurant in an apartment.  They put in hard work, engaged in trial and error, and explored.  They developed their idea into their career and opened a restaurant.  They also developed a philosophy.

“To work/travel and experience life where you want, with the people you like and love, the ability to give back to our clients anything they desire in a way that nobody else can, the ability to give more than you take but feel like you’ve taken everything you could ever want. This company is about mixing all cultures of the world together, taking the billions of ideas that we create, and blending them into a place in which everyone is welcome.”

You never know what you may do for a living, but hopefully your job and passions overlap!

Would you like to own a restaurant?

 What type of restaurant would you open?  

What would the slogan, philosophy, or advertisement be? 

August 25, 2013

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Google Research

Really cool tool built in Google Docs

Search, Cite, and Link to sites.  


Google Research 1Click to Read More

Continue reading…