Jack Hills Zircon: Evidence of a Very Old Earth

Latest Story In a report published in Nature Geoscience, a scientific team studying rocks in Australia, used Australian zircons in the Jack Hills that are embedded in the rocks to decide the age and history of these rocks. They found evidence that the Earth’s crust first formed at least 4.4 billion years ago.  They analyzed […]

Governor Deal's Weather Task Force is More of a Mob Than a Problem Solving Team

To improve the state of Georgia’s response to severe weather, Governor Nathan Deal appointed a 28 member task force.  A few years ago, when Atlanta educators were accused of changing answers on student tests sheets, the Governor (Sonny Perdue) appointed a panel of three to investigate and prepare a report.  Why do we need 28 […]

Governor Deal’s Weather Task Force is More of a Mob Than a Problem Solving Team

To improve the state of Georgia’s response to severe weather, Governor Nathan Deal appointed a 28 member task force.  A few years ago, when Atlanta educators were accused of changing answers on student tests sheets, the Governor (Sonny Perdue) appointed a panel of three to investigate and prepare a report.  Why do we need 28 […]

NAT GEO The Wild Mississippi

NAT GEO presents The Wild Mississippi, a three-part TV program on Sunday, February 12.  I viewed the three episodes today, and recommend that you tune in Sunday night at 8:00 P.M (Eastern) to view the first of the three episodes.  The second and third episodes follow at 9:00 P.M. and 10:00 P.M.  Check the schedule […]

The Dinosaur Footprints Puzzle: Is it pedagogy or paleontology?

In the last post I reviewed the article “Tracking the Footprints Puzzle: The Problematic persistence of science-as-process in teaching the nature and culture of science by Charles Ault and Jeff Dodick which was published in the recent issue of the journal Science Education. I also reflected on my own experience in teaching and writing with […]

Water on the Moon

NASA scientists, of  Project LCROSS, have reported that there is water in one of the moon’s craters, and that there is more water in this crater than there is in the Sahara Desert.  The water, in the form of ice crystals, makes up about 5 – 8% of the crater’s mixture.  According to NASA, 8 […]

The Legacy of Katrina

This weekend is the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans, and much of the Gulf Coast region.  Perhaps the best way to start this post is to watch this video which I embeded from the nola.com Hurricane Katrina page.  The video is a sunrise service (February 9, 2007) amongst residents of New […]

BP Gulf Oil Spill Images

The latest word on effort to plug the BP offshore oil well using the “Top Kill” procedure is that the effort is continuing, but the company has not determined whether it is working, or that it won’t work. According to a report in the New York Times, BP will continue with the procedure. The report […]

The BP Oil Spill Compared to Previous Spills

As I write this post, BP has begun their “top kill” maneuver to stop the flow of oil by plugging the well with mud. This technique has not been used at such great depths, and we’ll have to wait perhaps for a couple of days to find out the result of this approach to stopping […]

How Much Oil is Spilling into the Gulf?

There is enormous frustration setting in as the BP Gulf oil spill continues into its second month devastating vast areas of the American gulf coast. To this date, we do not know how much oil is spilling into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The original estimate (established by BP) was 5,000 barrels per […]

The Importance of Geology in Science Teaching

Since January, we have experienced a number of geological events that have caused havoc and misery to many people around the Earth.  On January 12, Haiti was rocked with a magnitude 7 earthquake causing the destruction of the many cities and towns including the capital, Port-au-Prince.  Then, on February 27, a magnitude 8.8 earthquake occurred […]

The BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

As of today, no one really knows how much oil has leaked into the Gulf of Mexico threatening the entire Gulf Coast Region, and possibly Florida  and the East Coast. NOAA is using an estimate of 210,000 gallons of oil per day (5,000 barrels), but in a closed door meeting with members of Congress, BP […]

Iceland’s Volcanic Activity

Eyjafjallajokull, the volcano in Iceland that has been erupting and causing havoc for thousands of people around the world, is one of about 200 volcanoes that are located in Iceland.  Iceland is the world’s most active volcanic area, and the country is located at the interface of two tectonic plates that are moving away from […]

Iceland's Volcanic Activity

Eyjafjallajokull, the volcano in Iceland that has been erupting and causing havoc for thousands of people around the world, is one of about 200 volcanoes that are located in Iceland.  Iceland is the world’s most active volcanic area, and the country is located at the interface of two tectonic plates that are moving away from […]

March 11 Chile Earthquakes

Several earthquakes occurred in Chile today (March 11), and according to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quakes were “aftershocks” associated with the 8.8 Chile earthquake of February 27.  According to the USGS analysis, the earthquakes occurred in the region of aftershocks of the major earthquake.  Here is the USGS early analysis of today’s earthquakes: The […]

Aftershocks & Historic Record of Earthquakes in Chile

The February 27, 8.8 earthquake offshore Maule, Chile occurred at the boundary between the Nazca and the South American Plates.  According to reports from the USGS, coastal Chile has been the location of vary large earthquakes for centuries.  There has been a written record of earthquakes in Chile since the 16th Century.  In 1735, when […]

Aftershocks & Historic Record of Earthquakes in Chile

The February 27, 8.8 earthquake offshore Maule, Chile occurred at the boundary between the Nazca and the South American Plates.  According to reports from the USGS, coastal Chile has been the location of vary large earthquakes for centuries.  There has been a written record of earthquakes in Chile since the 16th Century.  In 1735, when […]

From Earthquakes to Tsunami in Images

The 8.8 magnitude earthquake was the largest of many earthquakes that occur along the coast of Chile between the Nazca and South American tectonic plates.  As you can see on the map here, earthquakes regularly happen here, and around the rim of the Pacific (the Rim of Fire).  The 8.8 magnitude quake was a deep […]

Magnitude 8.8 Chile Earthquake

In the book The Art of Teaching Science, Chile is one the countries featured in an exploration of science education around the world.  The article was written by Claudia Rose, Director of the International Baccalaureate Program at the International School Nido de Aguilas in Santiago.  As of this writing, I was unable to access any […]

Snow Day in the USA

According to one report, 49 of the 50 U.S. states reported snow on the ground today. Only Hawaii had no snow. Here in the Atlanta area, the massive storm that left Dallas under nearly a foot of snow (a record), the snow started falling around 1 P.M., and had been reduced to flurries by 8:00 […]

NASA's Role in Inspiring Teachers and Youth

NASA, created by Congress and President Eisenhower on October 1, 1958, has played an important role in the hearts and minds teachers and their students. Although originally created as a national defense strategy, NASA’s space exploration missions have effectively inspired generations of people, not only in the U.S., but around the world. I wanted to […]

NASA’s Role in Inspiring Teachers and Youth

NASA, created by Congress and President Eisenhower on October 1, 1958, has played an important role in the hearts and minds teachers and their students. Although originally created as a national defense strategy, NASA’s space exploration missions have effectively inspired generations of people, not only in the U.S., but around the world. I wanted to […]

How Knowledge of Geology will be Important in Rebuilding Haiti

According to reports from Haiti, the relief effort is in full swing, and although search and rescue efforts were officially stopped, in truth,  they are still happening, and of course this is a hopeful event for the people in Haiti.  According to Christiane Amanpour, the U.N. is beginning to work toward the clearing away of […]

Assessment of the Haiti Earthquake and Aftershocks

The aftershocks that have rocked the region near the 7.0 earthquake of January 12 in Haiti will continue for months, if not years, according to a report by the United States Geological Survey (USGS).  It is important to understand the nature of the seismic activity in this region as this knowledge will be significant in […]

Aftershocks of the Haiti Earthquake: Are they Earthquakes?

Today, Haiti experienced a rather large 6.1 aftershock that was located 56 km from Port-Au-Prince.  Aftershocks are earthquakes.  In Haiti, there have been more than 40 aftershocks ranging from 3.0 to 5.9 as seen in the map here.  Today’s aftershock was the largest one since the 7.0 earthquake last Tuesday.  The relief efforts are underway, […]

The Severity of the Haitian Earthquake

The earthquake that occurred near Port-Au-Prince, Haiti on January 12, 2010 was one of the worst ever natural disasters.  Aid is pouring into the Haitian capital, and aid organizations, and governments from around the world are descending on this Caribbean country.  Our hearts go out to the people in Haiti, and we only hope that […]

Thinking Big: Stephen Hawking's Universe and Science Teaching

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post entitled Some Ways to Interest Students in Science, and one method I suggested was to help students “think big.”   Helping our students ask “big” questions, as Carl Sagan did, was the principle described here: Where did our universe come from?  How big is the Universe? and so […]

Thinking Big: Stephen Hawking’s Universe and Science Teaching

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post entitled Some Ways to Interest Students in Science, and one method I suggested was to help students “think big.”   Helping our students ask “big” questions, as Carl Sagan did, was the principle described here: Where did our universe come from?  How big is the Universe? and so […]

Drain the Ocean: A Program Exploring Hidden Landscapes

I received an email note from Minjae Ormes, Digital PR + Film Consultant at National Geographic announcing Drain the Ocean, a TV program that explores the terrain and creatures beneath the ocean.  Using scientific research and CGI, NG “drains the ocean” to reveal a landscape largely unknown to us. The program airs Sunday, August 9 […]

Holistic Teaching: Integrating ideas of Vernadsky & Lovelock into science teaching

The opening sentence in John Miller’s book, The Holistic Curriculum is that holistic education attempts to bring education into alignment with the fundamental realities of nature. Nature at its core is holistic,interrelated and dynamic. As such we have much to learn about curriculum from environmental education, and the science-technology-society (STS) movement (each developed In previous […]

Holistic Teaching: Integrating ideas of Vernadsky & Lovelock into science teaching

The opening sentence in John Miller’s book, The Holistic Curriculum is that holistic education attempts to bring education into alignment with the fundamental realities of nature. Nature at its core is holistic,interrelated and dynamic. As such we have much to learn about curriculum from environmental education, and the science-technology-society (STS) movement (each developed In previous […]

Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky & the Gaia Theory

In the last post, I introduced Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky (link to a brief bio), the Russian scientist whose pioneering work, unnoticed by James Lovelock when he first proposed the Gaia hypothesis, forms the basis for much of our understanding of the biosphere, what it really is, and how the region of the biosphere is the […]

Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky & the Gaia Theory

In the last post, I introduced Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky (link to a brief bio), the Russian scientist whose pioneering work, unnoticed by James Lovelock when he first proposed the Gaia hypothesis, forms the basis for much of our understanding of the biosphere, what it really is, and how the region of the biosphere is the […]

Global Thinking & the Gaia Theory

In 1989 I met Dr. Anatoly Zaklebyney, professor of environmental science education, the Russian Academy of Education, Moscow. I was working with American and Russian teachers on a project that had emerged from teacher and researcher exchanges that I directed for the Association for Humanistic Psychology. Our project in Russia was organized by the Russian […]

Global Thinking & the Gaia Theory

In 1989 I met Dr. Anatoly Zaklebyney, professor of environmental science education, the Russian Academy of Education, Moscow. I was working with American and Russian teachers on a project that had emerged from teacher and researcher exchanges that I directed for the Association for Humanistic Psychology. Our project in Russia was organized by the Russian […]

The Gaia Theory: Its Origins & Implications

The Gaia Theory was the result of collaboration between the British scientist, James Lovelock, and the American biologist, Lynn Margulis. They proposed the Gaia “hypothesis” in their 1974 paper entitled Atmospheric homeostasis by and for the biosphere: the Gaia hypothesis and was published in Tellus, Volume 26. According to the Gribbin’s account, Lovelock and Margulis […]

The Gaia Theory: Its Origins & Implications

The Gaia Theory was the result of collaboration between the British scientist, James Lovelock, and the American biologist, Lynn Margulis. They proposed the Gaia “hypothesis” in their 1974 paper entitled Atmospheric homeostasis by and for the biosphere: the Gaia hypothesis and was published in Tellus, Volume 26. According to the Gribbin’s account, Lovelock and Margulis […]

The Gaia Theory: Implications for Science Teaching

I returned this week from a two week trip to Texas, and waiting for me in the mail was a book I had pre-ordered from Amazon.  The title of the book is James Lovelock: In Search of Gaia, and it was written by John Gribbin & Mary Gribbin.  Here’s what the book is about: In […]

Space Shuttle Discovery Launched!

I am watching the countdown of STS 119, the October 15, 2009 launch of the Space Shuttle, Discovery. I started this post at T minus 6 minutes and counting, and continued watching until Discovery reached orbit.  It’s always amazing whenever we launch the Space Shuttle. I remember watching the landing (from TV) of the first Space […]

Asteroid 2009 DD45 Comes Close to Earth: A Teaching Opportunity

Australian astronomers noticed a surprise blip on an image taken from Siding Spring Observatory, and announced that an asteroid, designated 2009 DD45 would pass about 40,000 miles from Earth on March 2.   It did, and it was reported on most news services.  And it provides an interesting teaching opportunity to examine asteroids, and also […]

Volcano in Your Backyard

Volcanoes have received a bad rap recently, especially if the US Geological Survey is to receive “stimulus” funding to monitor and investigate volcanoes. According to the Governor of Louisiana funding “something called ‘volcano monitoring’ is an example of questionable funding in the appropriation bill. But the mayor of Vancouver, Washington begs to differ, and points […]

A (Crude) Oil Lesson

Gas prices are down in the $2 range, and Thomas Friedman says that it leaves him with mixed feelings.  In his bi-weekly New York Times column today, he reminded us that when gas prices went beyond $4, Americans changed a lot—drove less, polluted less, exercised more, used more public transportation, and there was lots of […]

Teaching About Hurricane Prediction: With an Eye on Hanna

Teaching and learning about Hurricanes has been a interest of mine for many years, beginning as an Earth science teacher in Lexington, Massachusetts, and then extending to the writing of textbooks for elementary and middle school students.  In 2005, right after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast and New Orleans, I created a website entitled […]

Hurricanes Gustav and Hanna: Double Trouble

In his weblog, Andrew Revkin reported that the dual activity of Hurricanes Gustav and Hanna pose a double threat to the Southeast and to the Gulf Coast.  As seen in this map, the hurricanes are close enough to each other to be considered a double system, perhaps like a double-star system.  As of Monday afternoon, […]

Hurricane Gustav

Yesterday, my wife and I attended the annual art in the park festival (Marietta Square)in which more than a 100 artists presented their work.  It was crowded with people of all ages strolling through the park and bordering streets, looking at the art, and occassionally buying a piece.  One of the artists that we were […]

Continents A-G0-Go

There was very interesting article in the NY Times online newspaper today entitled Long-Term Global Forecast? Fewer Continents. The article discussed plate tectonics, and the work being done by some geologist in using data to make predictions about the where the plates and continents will be 50 million to 100 million years into the future. […]

The Grand Canyon and Noah's Flood

Huh? I was listening to a local radio show today, when I heard the show’s host claim that rangers at the Grand Canyon National Park can not tell visitors the age of the Grand Canyon because it might offend creationists. And in the Canyon bookstore is a book for sale that claims that the Grand […]

The Grand Canyon and Noah’s Flood

Huh? I was listening to a local radio show today, when I heard the show’s host claim that rangers at the Grand Canyon National Park can not tell visitors the age of the Grand Canyon because it might offend creationists. And in the Canyon bookstore is a book for sale that claims that the Grand […]

Teaching Global Warming and Climate Change

I thought I would start the new year on the subject of global warming or global heating, as some have called it. How should the topic of global warming be approached in a middle or high school class? That’s what I’d like to talk about. In 2006, there were a number of events that called […]

40th Anniversary of Soyuz

“40 years ago, on November 28, 1966, Soviet Union launched the first unmanned prototype of the Soyuz spacecraft, inaugurating the longest serving family of vehicles to carry humans into space,” writes Anatoly Zak, Publisher of the RussianSpaceWeb.com. You can go to his website to explore an interactive guide to Soyuz. When America’s fleet of space […]

The Race to the Moon: von Braun and Korolyov

In the last two posts I have discussed the space exploration and rocket development contributions of Wernher von Braun for the Americans and Sergey Pavlovich Korolyov for the Soviets. Each man is considered the person who led these respective countries into space. Sending humans to the moon and returning them safely, and indeed exploring beyond […]

Wernher von Braun and the American Rocket Program

In the previous post I focused on Sergey Pavlovich Korolyov, the Chief Designer and brilliant engineer of the Soviet rocket program. In this post I want to talk about Wernher von Braun and his contribution to the American rocket and space program. My thinking is influenced by Cadbury’s book, SpaceRace, as well as my own […]

Katrina Re-Visited

Last Fall, I wrote a Katrina online activity entitled, Hurricane Katrina: A Citizen Resource. This citizen resource is designed to help us understand the magnitude of this natural disaster, and to point us toward ways to reduce the destruction and loss of life caused by natural disasters. Nearly 3,000 visitors have made use of the […]

How Are Quakes Related?

I came across an interesting article No, One Quake Did Not Lead to Another, in New York Times Online. The article pointed out that following Hawaii’s 6.7 quake on October 15, two other big quakes occurred, a 6.8 near Papua New Guinea, and a 6.4 off the coast of Peru. People wondered, Are these quakes […]

The Hawaii Quake, or Is It Quakes?

In the wake of the mid-October Hawaii quake, scientists are not sure whether the >6 aftershock was an aftershock, or an independent earthquake. The first quake, which was measured at 6.7 on the Richter scale occurred at 7:07 A.M. at a depth of 24 miles; the second quake was measured at 6.0 on the Richter […]

Earthquakes in Hawaii—Unusual or Part of Hawaii’s Geology?

The other day I heard a CNN news-reader, during the time when readers don’t read, but speak for themselves, say right after a story of the October 15th big Hawaii earthquake: “My, what a strange place for an earthquake to take place!” So much for earth science education! Actually we know that the Hawaiian Islands […]

Earthquakes in Hawaii—Unusual or Part of Hawaii's Geology?

The other day I heard a CNN news-reader, during the time when readers don’t read, but speak for themselves, say right after a story of the October 15th big Hawaii earthquake: “My, what a strange place for an earthquake to take place!” So much for earth science education! Actually we know that the Hawaiian Islands […]

Was New Hampshire Once Part of Africa? Roadside/Roadcut Geology

The title is very tantalizing, isn’t it? I grew up just a few miles from New Hampshire, and studied earth science in undergraduate school. I can tell you that in our courses taught by very fine professors of geology, I never heard anyone make that claim. It would take many years after my undergraduate studies […]

The Space Shuttle: Connecting with Space

It looks like NASA will be proceed with the launch on July 4 of the Space Shuttle Discovery. It will be the first time that a launch of astronauts has taken place on Independence Day. Let’s hope that it proceeds as the astronauts hope. Imagine getting on that giant rocket twice and have it called […]

Glacial Retreat: Evidence of Global Warming

We just returned from a trip to the Rockies, and spent several days in the Rocky Mountain National Park, hiking, watching wildlife, and simply enjoying the majestic scenery of these western mountains. A million years ago, these mountains were covered with glacial ice, and the erosion caused by the ice created many “glacial-features.” One for […]

Does Global Warming Cause Hurricanes?

No. That’s the short answer. No one factor causes hurricanes, cyclones or tornadoes. However, global warming, (especially the warming of ocean surface temperature) could contribute to an increase the frequency and intensity of hurricanes. Recent studies suggest that hurricane intensities (say more category 4 or 5 storms) may have increased. One scientist, Kerry Emanuel, published […]

It’s Getting Hotter in Atlanta

Well, hot temperatures are arriving in the Atlanta area; but its been hot in Texas. What’s the fuss. It’s summer. Well last year, 2005, was the hottest year during a period of temperature measurements from 1860 to today. These measurements include combined annual land, air and sea surface temperatures. Take a look at the graph […]

It's Getting Hotter in Atlanta

Well, hot temperatures are arriving in the Atlanta area; but its been hot in Texas. What’s the fuss. It’s summer. Well last year, 2005, was the hottest year during a period of temperature measurements from 1860 to today. These measurements include combined annual land, air and sea surface temperatures. Take a look at the graph […]

Measuring CO2 in the Atmosphere

In 1958, Roger Revelle and Charles David Keeling developed with funding the Mauna Loa research station for measuring CO2 in the atmosphere. Samples are collected every hour from 5 towers standing above the volcano. According to their website, “Air samples at Mauna Loa are collected continuously from air intakes at the top of four 7-m […]

1906 San Francsico Earthquake Centennial

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake which hit the city at 5.12 a.m. on that day. In an earlier post, I commented on the significance of the 1906 earthquake, and recommended a book by Simon Winchester, A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake […]

Driving along a Valley in the Middle of the North American Plate

Yesterday, my wife and I were driving north along Interstate 81, which runs along the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. The valley runs in a SSE to NNE direction, and is located about mid-way along a line running east (from Iceland) to west (to California)—roughly in the middle of the North American plate. The drive is […]

Rita and Katrina, Linking Natural Disasters, People and Science

The two hurricanes, Rita and Katrina, that have impacted millions of people directly, and the rest of the US population indirectly, as well as many people around the world, bring home the importance of making science education real, and encouraging students to be engaged with real problems and events in nature. Too much science teaching […]

Hurricane Katrina: A Citizen Resource

The devastation of Hurricane Katrina was beyond belief, and might be the worst natural disaster in US history. Natural disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, and other severe storms have impacted more than 2.2 billion people in the past 10 years. This is a very large increase from the previous ten years, and […]