Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Conference for the Advancement of Science Teaching

I'm currently attending CAST in Houston at the Reliant Center. I am staying at the nearby Park Plaza Reliant Center Hotel, a place I recommend you avoid like the plague.

I arrived tired and cranky from the drive here, about 2 and half hours. I spent nearly 45 minutes trying to check in as 1)the hotel did not have enough people working the check in counter and 2) I had the misfortune of arriving just behind a large group of teachers from Wichita Falls ISD, who for some reason did not discuss roommate arrangements on their 8 hour drive to the convention, and had to hash it out at the front desk.

I also had the misfortune of being assigned a room two doors down from one of the Wichita Falls people who was busy screaming at a hotel employee in the hallway just outside my room. Later I saw her down in the bar screaming at the restaurant manager for something.

The hotel is the butt of running jokes among the teachers at the conference. Twice in about 3 hours last night they had to rescue people from stuck elevators. Arriving back from the conference at lunch time we found of all things, the restaurant was closed. Food was available at the bar if you were willing to wait 20 minutes to order it and eat standing up. Not to mention they were also out of Coke. How can they expect people to eat a hamburger without a cold Coke to wash it down?

I'm blogging in the hotel lobby. Their are some very nice, non-functioning high speed internet connections in the room and wireless access available in the bar or lobby.

I attended two interesting presentations this morning. One was by two 1st grade teachers from Lubbock ISD presenting a unit on the solar system they teach to their students. They provided a link to a fantastic website called Planet 10. Be sure to try the Solar System flyby as well as the Planet Builder.

Battery and caffeine levels are running low.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

My son's apartment

My son is 21 years old and lives with 3 other males. Needless to say his apartment does not stay clean but last weekend I saw something I have never seen before.

Ladies and gentleman I give you:

Mold growing on a plastic shampoo bottle!

Other pictures for your viewing displeasure include:

This lovely sofa-sleeper was purchased at a garage sale for only $20. The stain in the lower left corner is ketchup. As an added bonus it came with its own set of sheets! No charge!

No swinging bachelor pad would be complete without a counter space full of empty liquor bottles. Always sure to impress the ladies!!

Another surefire way to impress the babes is with a room like this. I'm pretty sure that somewhere in there is a bed and a computer I seem to remember costing us a lot of money.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The real reason for the 65% rule

From this Austin American-Statesman story comes the real reason Gov. Goodhair is pushing for a 65% spending rule. It comes from an organization called First Class Education, which has paid for commercials to run in several states. The Statesman also obtained a copy of a First Class Education memo which states the group also hopes the rule will "create rivalries between teachers and administrators while boosting Republican credibility on education issues"

Nowhere in the memo does it say anything about actually improving education for kids. Those of you who read by blog know that I feel the Republicans don't give a damn about kids and their real purpose is to destroy public education so their friends like the McGraws and Chris Whittle can make big bucks at the public trough.

Funny how athletics are considered "instructional" when it comes to the 65% rule but librarians aren't. The Republicans know it would be political suicide to cause school districts to give up their football teams.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Help! Updated

Thanks to The Science Goddess and Allen for their help with the experiment problem I was having. One of the links Allen provided showed how the same effect can be created using a black marker and some water, while the Science Goddess' suggestions greatly cut down on the amount of time and safety gear required for this lesson.

The picture at left shows one of the early results. Although we didn't get the red I was hoping for we did get some nice orange and yellow, and it was more than we got the other way. Now if someone could show me a way to capture the results a little better. Snapping a picture of it didn't work out too well so I placed it on a flatbed scanner. This picture does not show the results as well as they really looked.

Thanks again for those who offered help.

Monday, October 10, 2005


I'm hoping someone knows the answer to this problem I am having.

I am doing an experiment with my 2nd graders where we are trying to extract the red, yellow and orange colors out of leaves. So far we've been able to get only yellows. I have tried nearly everything I can think of, and even consulted two chemistry professors, both of whom say I am doing it right.

Here are the steps we do:

1. Tear the leaf into tiny pieces
2. Using the edge of a rock, cut and rip the pieces into even smaller pieces
3. Place all pieces into a cup and add acetone, stir thorougly
4. Using a q-tip, dab the resulting green liquid onto a piece of coffee filter
5. Dip the coffee filter into rubbing alcohol, just barely gettiing into the dab of green liquid.

Variations I have tried:

- different leaves. I've used spinach, lettuce, collard greens, as well as leaves off of local trees.
- differnet strengths of rubbing alcohol, from 71% to 90%
- different strengths of acetone. While I haven't measured the mixture I have used about half acetone/half water all the way up to full strength.

Any ideas out there?