Tag Archives: science

Logical thinking and problem solving – Readilearn

logical thinking and problem solving

Logical thinking and problem solving are important skills for children of all ages to develop, including those in early childhood classrooms. We employ thinking skills each day, in many situations, from deciding the order in which to dress ourselves, complete simple tasks, collect items for dinner or set the table; through to more complex problems such as assembling furniture, writing work programs, juggling timetables, and organising class groupings for activities.

This week I am excited to upload a new interactive digital story that encourages children to use logical thinking to solve a problem.

Dragona's Lost Egg

Dragona has lost her egg and turns to her friend Artie, owner of a Lost and Found store, for help. Artie is confident of helping her as he has many eggs on his shelves. He asks Dragona to describe features of her egg, including size, shape, pattern and colour. He uses a process of elimination to identify which egg might be Dragona’s. Children join in the process by choosing eggs with the characteristic described.

What is Dragona’s egg really like, and will Artie be able to help her find it?

You’ll have to read the story to find out.

The process of writing this story also required a problem to be solved; and I love nothing better than a good problem to solve.

What’s an ovoid? Do you know?

what's an ovoid

 

To find out, continue reading at: Logical thinking and problem solving – Readilearn

Introducing co-authors Brenda Miles and Susan Sweet – Readilearn

Brenda Miles and Susan Sweet

This month I have great pleasure in introducing you to two fine authors, Brenda S. Miles and Susan D. Sweet, who co-wrote the wonderful picture book Cinderstella: A Tale of Planets Not Princes.

With both World Space Week and International Day of the Girl Child just a few weeks away, I couldn’t think of a better book and authors to spotlight this month. This year’s theme for World Space Week is “Exploring new worlds and space”, and the theme for International Day of the Girl Child is “Girls’ Progress = Goals’ Progress: What Counts for Girls.”

princes and parties

Cinderstella sees no prince in her happily ever after. She’d rather be an astronaut exploring space. Challenging the role of girls as portrayed in traditional fairy tales, Cinderstella determines to take control of her own destiny and be what she wants to be in a universe of unlimited possibilities. The story encourages girls, and boys, to take an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and break the limits imposed by gender stereotypes and biases.

Continue reading: Introducing co-authors Brenda Miles and Susan Sweet – Readilearn

Crystalline wonders

This week, Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch Communications challenged writers to: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the word crystalline.

In her post, Charli wrote about hunting for agates. She also mentioned many other types of rock, including quartz, chert, silica, gneiss, granite, mica… She used terms like metamorphic and fossilised, and I was transported back to my high school science classes. Sadly, I wasn’t inspired to be a rock-hound like Charli, and needed to check my understanding of these words and terms.

My research uncovered both science facts and assorted beliefs about the seemingly magical properties of agate, some of which I’ll share with you.

#12 Science facts about agate (without getting too technical):

  • A type of quartz
  • Most commonly found in volcanic rock, sometimes metamorphic
  • Fine grains and bright colours, often in bands
  • Many are hollow geodes
  • Weather resistant
  • Often found in soil or on the shoreline of waterways
  • Many different types of agate
  • Found in many different countries
  • Many uses including art and jewellery
  • Polishing, often by tumbling, helps to expose their inner beauty of colours and patterns
  • Each agate is unique
  • Can vary in size and value

Sources: Wikipedia, Minerals.net, International Gem Society

Due to the bands of colour, agate is also known as Earth’s rainbow.

A collection of beliefs about the metaphysical properties and healing powers of agate

Can be used to create balance in emotional, physical and intellectual energy of an individual and of the universe.

Worn as an amulet, it provides protection.

Different colours and types of agate are considered to have different metaphysical properties, for example; some are thought to be calming, some uplifting, others bring abundance, some have healing powers, and others bestow strength. In fact, it seems agate can help with almost everything from marketing your writing and managing your overwhelming multitude of tasks to preventing traffic accidents.

Agate is a zodiac stone for my birth sign Gemini. While I may not dare agree with it (pass me the agate. I’m sure it will help me), I rather like the description. It tells me that Gemini is the sign of the inventor and that,

Those born under this sign can see both sides of an issue. They’re flexible and can go with the flow, and can be lively and talkative, or restless and nervous depending on their setting. Those born when the Sun is in Gemini are quick thinkers, quick-witted, and quick on their feet.

Disappointingly for me, I was not born in summer. I’m a Southern Hemisphere winter Gemini baby. Does that make me the opposite?

Sources: Crystal Vaults, Crystal Healing, Crystals and Jewellery

It seems that with a small collection of differently coloured agates one could conquer almost everything, be self-aware and self-confident, courageous and strong, peaceful and healthy.  Perhaps a collection in every home, on every corner, and in every classroom, could be the answer to humanity’s problems.

#12 Agates for a classroom collection?

  • Blue – creativity, problem solving, courage
  • Banded – creates a healthy environment, removes negativity, cuts ties to negative relationships, helps seek solutions and to try new things, offers protection, encourages creativity
  • Blue lace – healing and calming, nurturing and supportive, reduces anger, reduces fear of being judged, assists with verbal expression
  • Botswana – creativity, problem solving, quit smoking, energises the brain
  • Bull’s eye – focus
  • Colorin – helps accept changes associated with aging
  • Crackled fire – energy and protection, prevents burn-out
  • Crazy lace – focus, reduces negativity
  • Dendritic – abundance, peace
  • Green – enhances thinking, improves decision making, resolving disputes
  • Laguna – builds community, improves learning, especially in mathematics
  • Moss – self-esteem, friendship skills, try again

What do you think? Is it worth a try? I know of at least one teacher who thought so. I was employed to replace her when other teachers and parents became concerned that the children weren’t learning anything useful. She may have found a sense of calm and balance, but the children were disrupted, distracted, and disengaged. Like many things, the power is in the actions we take, and not manifested by the object itself.

Charli likens rock hunting to writing. She says,

the more you show up to the beach and the page, the better your chances of finding a crystalline wonder.

I think polishing the agates to reveal their inner beauty must be a little like writing, and teaching too.

That’s one reason why I keep showing up. I don’t know that I’ll ever find a crystalline wonder, but I’m prepared to put in some effort to find out.

This is my response to Charli’s challenge. It didn’t go quite where I intended and maybe not where you’d expect, but I hope you enjoy it anyway.

Darling Crystalline

Her mother wanted Chrystal; father, Clementine. Calm registrar decided: Baby Crystalline.

Parental spats continued as Crystalline grew up. Never in agreement, it made her so messed-up.

Crystalline retreated, spent days all on her own, searching by the water, for brightly coloured stones.

She gathered a collection that healed her aching heart, ignited self-compassion and made a brand-new start.

Believing stones worked magic, curing each and every woe, she took the heart stones with her, wherever she would go.

She shared their healing powers, with any she could find, she told them “Pay it forward. She became their darling Crystalline.

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

Classroom minibeasts – Readilearn

Learning about minibeasts in the classroom is a great way of engaging children with science knowledge, appreciation of nature, the interrelationships between people and the environment, sustainability, and caring for our planet. It fits beautifully into the science curriculum in an early childhood classroom when children are learning about living things, their needs, their external features, and their life stages.

With live minibeasts in the classroom, it is possible for children to observe all these aspects of a tiny creature. They can use their observations to consider how the life stages of minibeasts compare to those of others, including themselves.

My personal favourite minibeasts for the classroom are butterflies, but there are many others equally suitable; such as:

  • Silkworms
  • Meal worms
  • Stick insects
  • Cockroaches
  • Spiders

The timing and choice may depend upon your location.

For Australians, Minibeast Wildlife is a great resource.

This week I have uploaded some new resources to support a unit of work about minibeasts in an early childhood classroom. These are resources I used for many years in my own classroom. I hope you find them useful too.

Butterfly diary is a free printable resource for recording observations of butterflies in the classroom. Observing the stages in these brief lives helps develop an appreciation for all life. Recording observations integrates science learning with other subject areas

Continue reading: Classroom minibeasts – Readilearn

living things sea turtles

Learning about living things – sea turtles – Readilearn

Children love learning about animals and, by adulthood, must of us have a basic knowledge of many. Unless there is a specific reason for us knowing or finding out more, the knowledge can remain just that – basic, sometimes even with misconceptions. For example:

Remaining curious and continuing to seek information is a characteristic of a life-long learner. One of the purposes of school is to encourage life-long learning.

In the early childhood science curriculum, children begin to learn formally about living things, their needs, and their life stages. This knowledge helps to develop an understanding of, and appreciation for, all living things. As well as providing children with the science concepts included in the curriculum, it is important to stimulate their curiosity by encouraging them to ask questions and explore additional information; for example,

This week I have uploaded a new free interactive digital resource to assist children in their first three years of school learn about living things by learning about sea turtles. With interactive features and fun facts, the resource is also suited to multi-age classrooms. It would be of interest to any curious child with a thirst for knowledge.

Continue reading: Learning about living things – sea turtles – Readilearn

The Penguin Lady responds to An Oily Problem

Imagine my delight when The Penguin Lady read and responded to my post!

In a recent post I shared this Ted talk The Great Penguin Rescue in which “the penguin lady” Dyan deNapoli talks about an oil spill that occurred when a ship sank off the coast of South Africa in the year 2000, oiling nearly 20,000 (almost half) of the total population of African penguins, and the efforts made to rescue them.

The rescue was successful with 90 percent of the oiled penguins returned to the wild.

I found Dyan’s story inspiring, not only for the penguin rescue, but for the learning she credits to the rescue, especially that one person can make a difference, and that “when we come together and work as one, we can achieve extraordinary things.”

I was delighted when Dyan read the post and supplied additional information. Since so many of you were interested in her story, I wanted to share with you what Dyan had to say.

This is her comment:

Hello Norah! I just came across your great post about oil and oil spills. Thank you so much for sharing my TED talk about the Treasure oil spill rescue, and for informing your audience about these important issues. I really enjoyed your flash fiction, and listening to Cesar Harada’s TED talk as well.

Thank you for providing information about how folks can adopt a penguin. I wanted to share the websites of a few more penguin rescue centers that are in need of support, and through which folks can adopt a penguin or fund the hand-rearing of an abandoned penguin chick. There are many organizations rescuing penguins throughout the Southern Hemisphere (there’s actually a complete list of these groups in the appendix of my book, The Great Penguin Rescue), but the following three are organizations doing great work that I regularly support and like to highlight. These are all groups that are doing direct, hands-on work to save oiled or injured penguins. (I also regularly support The Penguin Foundation in Australia, which you’ve already listed above.)

SANCCOB (the center we worked with during the oil spill rescue in 2000): https://sanccob.co.za/

Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT – also working to save Endangered African penguins): http://dict.org.za/pages/give-to-save/give-to-save.php

Yellow-Eyed Penguin Trust (YEPT – saving Endangered Yellow-Eyed penguins in New Zealand): http://www.yellow-eyedpenguin.org.nz/passion/support-the-trusts-work/make-a-donation

Thanks again – and keep up the great work!

Cheers,
Dyan deNapoli – The Penguin Lady

These are the ones I listed:

Seabirds. Adopt a penguin

The Penguin Foundation

The World Wildlife Fund

Wildlife Adoption and Gift Centre

I hadn’t realised that Dyan had written a book about The Great Penguin Rescue, but I immediately downloaded and started listening to the audiobook. It is a great read and I highly recommend it. I am not alone in doing so. The book has won three awards.

In the book, Dyan tells the story of how she came to be The Penguin Lady, provides information about penguins, and explains how the great penguin rescue was carried out. (Probably other stuff too, but I haven’t finished listening yet.) I have also ordered a hardback copy as it includes colour photographs. I’m looking forward to receiving it in a week or two.

In a subsequent comment, Dyan shares some of her story:

And to answer your question about when and how I became interested in penguins, it was quite accidental. I had returned to college at the age of 31 to pursue my lifelong dream of working with dolphins (which I briefly did in Hawaii), and during my senior year I landed a full-time, 4-month internship in the Penguin Department at the New England Aquarium in Boston, MA. From the moment I stepped into the penguin exhibit and found myself surrounded by 65 honking, braying, cavorting penguins, I was pretty-much hooked. Their behaviors captivated me, and I was totally surprised to discover that each individual had their own unique personality and temperament – not really what I had expected in a colonial bird. And I wanted to learn more about them.

I stayed on as a volunteer at the aquarium after graduating, and when a position finally opened up a year later, I applied for and got the position of Penguin Aquarist. I was at the aquarium for 9 years in total, and after leaving there at the end of 2004, I founded my company, The Penguin Lady, to teach kids and adults of all ages about penguin biology, behavior, and conservation. I speak in a variety of settings both locally and internationally, and donate 20% of my proceeds to penguin rescue, research, and conservation groups. One of my favorite gigs is being a guest speaker/penguin expert on nature cruises, and next February I’ll be returning to Antarctica as a guest lecturer for Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic, which I’m VERY excited about!! My mission is to raise awareness and funding to protect penguins – 13 of the 18 penguin species are currently listed as Vulnerable, Near-Threatened, or Endangered, and that is what drives me to do the work that I do.

Thank you, Dyan, for sharing so generously.

There is much more to discover about The Penguin Lady and The Great Penguin Rescue. She is as passionate about education as she about penguins. Through educating us about caring for penguins, she is helping us care for the environment and make a better world. You may be surprised by some of the information in this wonderful educational video. I was.

And I’ll leave you with Dyan’s reminder:

You can connect with Dyan on both Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

 

 

 

An oily problem

It would be difficult to imagine our daily lives without access to oil and oil products. Transportation is one of the most obvious uses of oil, but did you know that many items we use every day are made from oil or its by-products?

Some of these products include:

  • Plastics such as food containers, toys, computers and printers, white goods, CD cases
  • Synthetics used in items such as clothing, curtains, furniture upholstery, carpets
  • Cosmetics such lipsticks, moisturisers, deodorants and antiperspirants
  • Nylons used in stockings, ropes, tents, parachutes
  • Polystyrene used in cups, coolers, packaging
  • Toothpaste, chewing gum, dentures, contact lenses

The list, unlike oil, is almost inexhaustible.

But there is a downside to oil too. Oil spills in the ocean are an enormous issue for marine life. In this Ted talk The Great Penguin Rescue, “the penguin lady” Dyan deNapoli talks about an oil spill that occurred when a ship sank off the coast of South Africa in the year 2000, oiling nearly 20,000 (almost half) of the total population of African penguins, and the efforts made to rescue them.

deNapoli explains that a degreaser used to remove the oil from the pelicans was invented by a 17-year-old boy. How cool is that. She says that more than 1,000 volunteers turned up each day to help with the rescue, and continues

“After half a million hours of grueling volunteer labor, more than 90 percent of those oiled penguins were successfully returned to the wild. And we know from follow-up studies that they have lived just as long as never-oiled penguins, and bred nearly as successfully.”

It is an inspiring story, not only for the penguin rescue, but for the learning deNapoli credits to the rescue. She says,

“Personally, I learned that I am capable of handling so much more than I ever dreamed possible. And I learned that one person can make a huge difference. Just look at that 17-year-old. And when we come together and work as one, we can achieve extraordinary things. And truly, to be a part of something so much larger than yourself is the most rewarding experience you can possibly have.”

deNapoli finishes her talk with the words,

“Humans have always been the greatest threat to penguins, but we are now their only hope.”

I hope you find time to listen to the entire talk. It is what inspired my flash fiction story in response to the prompt set by Charli Mills this week at the Carrot Ranch. Charli challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes oil. It can be an oil refinery, the raw product or used as a commodity. How does oil fit into a plot or a genre? Go where the prompt leads.

Child citizen to scientist

Familiar sounds heralded his arrival: feet scraped stairs, bag thudded deck, screen door crashed.

Shouts of “Mum! Mum!” preceded him as he charged down the hallway, arms flailing, holding something aloft.

His words exploded in a jumble.  She deciphered few. Baby stopped suckling, curious.

“Slow down,” she said, patting the sofa with her free hand.

He thrust the brochure at her.

“I wanna adopt a penguin. Please, Mum. Can I?”

“Penguins can’t live here. It’s too hot,” Mum teased.

“Mu-um!” The words tumbled again. “Scientist… school… oil… penguins dying… ‘dangered… We have to save them from going extinct! Please!”

The title Child citizen to scientist refers to the now welcome involvement of citizens in the collection of scientific data, as described, for example, in this article on Fast Company about the collection of pollution data around the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

About 18 months ago, I published a post about a project led by science teacher Cesar Harada who encouraged his students to innovate and problem solve through science. He explained his project in this Ted Talk.

I particularly appreciated Harada’s conclusion about children and their involvement:

Who knows, if my young penguin adopter is encouraged, he may grow up to be scientist too.

For a picture book that introduces children to the concept of caring for our oceans, One Less Fish by Kim Michelle Toft and Allan Sheather is a great starting point. With its beautiful silk paintings, the book helps to educate children about the oceans, the way we pollute them, and what we need to do to protect them and their inhabitants.

If you are interested, there are a number of organisations through which you can adopt a penguin. These are just a few. I’ll leave it to you to investigate your best option. Just remember: you can’t take it home. 😊

Seabirds. Adopt a penguin

The Penguin Foundation

The World Wildlife Fund

Wildlife Adoption and Gift Centre

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.