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Monday, March 20, 2017

Just the Facts Ma'am

For A to Z this year, my theme for this blog will be the "Fact versus Opinion" tour.

As a teacher, I knew what it was like to be Ceasar's wife. I got along with everyone the best that I could. I voiced few opinions outside of family and close friends. I agreed with every child about what mom and dad said. Really, the world is a good place, lots of good children and parents. It's funny how the negative ones can really color opinions and your day.

We talk about the problems with illiteracy. What about illiteracy with math or science? Do they exist? Sure, knowledge is power. Knowledge is power in that it allows an informed decision when needed. What flavor of ice cream is immaterial. What flavor of ice cream is a big deal when someone has a nut allergy. We constantly process information.

So knowledge is power.

As a teacher I was tasked with a variety of topics to teach. One was not to smoke.  I never discussed the issue heavy handed. Most sixth graders would seriously say they would never smoke. I worked more in the children understanding it was their decision. Unless they had a good reason to not smoke, they may pick the habit up one day. They needed to recognize that a couple of puffs with a friend who smoked could lead to a habit.

I would love to just tell people that climate change is real and that would be it. But people need to understand what climate change is to believe it is real. Interesting enough, oilman now secretary of state Rex Tillerson believes climate change is real. He also believes people will not make changes to prevent the repercussions so why bother.

We make decisions based on what we know. Sometimes, people have opinions because that is what everyone thinks around them. Consider the vaccine to prevent genital warts. When groups of people organized to say the vaccine would encourage promiscuity in teenagers, Governor Rick Scott of Texas shut them down with the statement to the effect that the prevention of genital warts was a public health matter not a morality issue. Although a very conservative politician, he made a decision based on fact.

I'm not discussing politics, will not touch on climate change, Different aspects of science I found interesting as a teacher are the topics. I hope you find them interesting too.

Please use a hyperlink to your blog with your comment so I can read your post. My strategy is to read five blogs above and below mine in the A to Z comment section each day. I will be putting my hyperlinks there.

This is the link for my other blog.   So Much To Choose From

Hey, It's Ann from <a href=""> So Much to Choose From </a>

This is what it looks like.

So Much to Choose From

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A to Z Reflections

When I decided to do A to Z, I thought what would it hurt if I played with this blog. It had a combination of 19 posts and pages. Each day, it was not unusual to get around 100 hits. With no feedback, I left it for teachers to get the activities. They are all popular.

I learned there is a place for a light discussion of science. I would like to say I plan to post once a week. But I will try to post about twice a month. My plan is to post an activity on the 15th of the month. I have recovered material from an old hard drive. Technology has moved quickly; but, the fundamentals of science change quite slowly. On the twenty-eighth of the month in deference to February, I will deliver a topical post.

Thanks for visiting me folks. A to Z is a great experience in that I get many insights about writing and more importantly what I should be writing. I'm gladdened when I see so many taking environmental science seriously. I walk along my driveway. The front field is overgrown and teems with life. This beautiful world needs to be saved.

Love you all.  Ann

Friday, April 29, 2016


My first science fair project, I was going to win. I had my topic ready. It was zoology. Zoology is the study of animals.

The teacher said it was too big. Too big, smig my 12 year old mind thought. What does she know? I was going to win and I had the winning topic. I loved animals.

I did the project. I didn't win. I remember putting my project out in all it's glory. It was toward the end of the row on the gym floor. This kid who I did not think was too bright had a huge project. His mom was working hard as he watched. He won, I lost.

By the time I got to ninth grade, I managed a third place. I made models of isotopes just like the World Book Encyclopedia suggested in it's science fair project presentation. The teacher told me I had a crummy project. It was a model.

The project was not that great. The ninth grade teacher was honest. Science fair projects using experimentation are preferred. The seventh grade teacher fades from my memory. If it wasn't my seventh grade science teacher. Perhaps it was a project in elementary.

Anyway, for the A to Z topic. It is perfect. And I plan to discuss one item about zoology and that is symbiosis since that has a Z sound.

I've always liked symbiosis in that two different species work together. However, mutualism where both benefit was my real preference.

Pine trees have a fungus in their roots called mycorhiza which help the pine tree absorb nutrients and of course the fungi makes food and reproduces with the pine tree's help. This is a case of mutualism.

Parasitism is also a symbiotic relationship. A successful parasite does not kill it's host. So HIV is not a successful parasite. Interesting enough viruses are thought to arise from the organism it infects. Viruses are somewhere between the living and non-living world. They cannot become active and reproduce without a host. Other than that, they are just scrap DNA in the dirt or where ever they are.

A friend of mine whose family were ethnic Germans who spent World War II in the Phillipines tells about having worms as a child. She had an uncle who had peppermints that were actually a laxative. He told her she could eat some. Being a child, she ate the whole bottle. As a result, she had diarhea and expelled the most worms. After that, she began to gain weight and wasn't so skinny. The worms were a successful parasite in that they did not kill her. Their presence weakened her.

Commensalism is where one organism benefits and the other is unaffected. Small fish swimming with sharks to eat scraps of food that escapes the sharks mouth is an example.

Domesticated dogs are put with commensalisms but it is actually a symbiotic relationship. The beginning dog was a wolf-dog that was neither a wolf or a modern dog. It was in transition. The fact that the dog benefited from living with humans is evidenced in there was a decline in the brain. When animals are benefited by another species, that brain function not used tends to be loss as the two species evolve together.

How we know that dogs benefited humans too is that humans also had a brain decline of about ten percent compared to the dog's twenty percent. Dogs got more out of the relationship.

The wolf-dog defended territory, brought home meat, helped with hunting in exchange for sitting around the campfire and being fed by the humans. I have read but have forgotten the source that without dogs, man would have probably died out. Then we would have had a real planet of the apes.

People may think the dog today does nothing. But, my dogs do alert me to strangers. The terriers efficiently hunt mice which can be a problem. And their emotional support is tremendous. I have a sister with mental illness and the dogs in our home reduced her need of medication. She still needs medication. It is a chronic disease. But the mood elevation helps her cope.
Louise hopping to flush out mice.

What do you mean I'm not supposed to be on the bed?