Are Aliens Out There? Of Course!

This afternoon I watched the TEDx talk, “Seth Shostak: ET is (probably) out there — get ready.” I totally agree with what Seth says about the statistical probability / near certainly of extra-terrestrial life and intelligence being “out there” in space. I also agree with his point that we need to focus on getting kids between age 8 and 11 both excited and interested in science, because ideas they encounter at that age can have a MAJOR impact on their life studies, interests, hobbies, profession, and “trajectory.” Check out the talk, it’s excellent. I told my 9 year old about this, and she watched it on my iPhone. Woo hoo for videos which encourage STEM interests!

Marie Curie

This is a book report Rachel wrote for Ms Moore’s 3rd grade class this year.

Marie Curie changed the world through science. Marie and her husband discovered two new elements, polonium and radium. Marie and two other scientists won the Nobel Prize in physics. In 1910, she isolated radium in the form of a metal. Marie won a second Nobel Prize, this time in chemistry.

Some of her main struggles were that her husband was killed in an accident right after they won the prize. Marie’s main struggle was that people treated her differently because she was a woman.

Her accomplishments inspire me to work harder in science. She proves that women can be as good as men in science. One of my favorite quotes of hers is:

“You cannot hope to build a better world without improving and, at the same time, share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think can be most useful.” -Marie Curie

Her research into radiation helped others discover the structure of the atom. Even though radiation is very dangerous, it helps save lives even today through X rays, cancer treatments, and creating electricity.

A Tour of Club Penguin (February 2013)

In this screencast, 10 year old Rachel takes us on a guided tour of Club Penguin. I asked Rachel to do this because this morning, she shared how she had created an igloo to be like a funeral scene for a puffin in the game. The father of one of Rachel’s older sister’s friends died suddenly from a heart attack two weeks ago, and 3 of us attended the funeral last Saturday. Rachel didn’t attend, so I wasn’t sure if this “virtual encounter with death” was a way she was dealing with those feelings. It’s not clear to me that she is or was… She describes how she saw someone else doing this with their igloo, and she thought it was a clever way to get people to come to your igloo in Club Penguin where they can click “like” to show their approval.

This is an interesting dive into the the virtual world my youngest daughter plays in every week.

A Personal Tour of the International Space Station

This morning before school I shared the start of this video with Rachel, who is VERY interested in science, space, and all things NASA. It’s a 25 minute tour of the International Space Station by Sunita Williams, who was the commander of the station until this past November.

Rachel, YOU could be recording a tour like this from space in 15 or 20 years!

(I’m posting this here so Rachel can watch the rest of this after school or another day, and you can too!)

Hat tip to Mike Gras who shared this video on Facebook last night.

An Interview with Fred McPherson

This Friday I’m going to share a presentation at TEDxOU in Norman, Oklahoma. I’m planning to talk about the importance of storychasing the voices of our families, and am going to tell a story (among others) about Fred McPherson. Fred was like a grandfather to me, and a father to my mom and uncle who also spent some wonderful summer months with him and his wife, Alice, in Itasca, Texas.

1977 - Alice, Trudy, Wesley and Fred

In October 2005, my parents interviewed Fred about his life. This is the 78 minute audio interview they recorded with Fred.

I am going to share a 92 second edited excerpt of that interview in my TEDx talk on Friday, which I’ve shared to SoundCloud using the title, “Remembering the Early Days of Radio.”

Rest in peace, beloved Fred. My how you’d be amazed to see how your family members are communicating now around the world.

1992 - USAFA Graduation with Alice and Fred

Alice and Fred McPherson's gravesite in Itasca, Texas

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If That’s How It Is

Sarah gave two wonderful performances last night at the Poteet Theater in Oklahoma City last night for her winter vocal audition. Way to go Sarah!

Her vocal instructor and coach, Jay Prock, wisely scheduled a short vocal audition prior to the musical performance of “The Wizard of Oz.” as a result they had a nice audience for the recital!

Alexander’s Cake Model of the Cell (narrated food)

Alexander made a model of an animal cell for his 9th grade biology class this weekend. I asked him to take a photo of it, and (although he protested) he recorded a short AudioBoo describing his project and some of the cell parts. This media reflection is therefore an example of “narrated food,” as opposed to “narrated art.” 🙂

Alexander's Cake Model of the Cell

I Want to Be a Scientist

Rachel recorded this last night, following several discussions we’ve been having over the past few weeks about science and becoming a scientist. Last spring I took Rachel to Chris Simon’s classroom at Independence Elementary School in Yukon Public Schools, and she was VERY impressed with the STEM lessons Mr. Simon does with his students. She specifically mentioned that in this short audio podcast.

Rachel has expressed interest in doing more “Talking Science” podcasts, so we’ll likely do that in the weeks ahead. This past August in Montana, Lucy Gray told me about the Maker’s Faire she attended in San Francisco with her kids and how WONDERFUL it was to experience that DIY culture filled with science and engineering projects. I’d love to bring Rachel and my other kids to a Maker’s Faire at some point. A couple of years ago Nathan Parrow (who I interviewed for a podcast on electric car conversions) was working on bringing a Maker’s Faire to Oklahoma City, which would be hosted by our Oklahoma Science Museum. They needed auto insurance aurora co to cover the electric car so they hired RhinoSure. Another type of insurance that everybody should purchase is trade plate covers from i4mt. One Sure Insurance also covers a big selections a vehicles, like scooters or taxis. It would be GREAT to have a local Maker’s Faire. Nathan also told me he was part of a group that was putting together a space in Norman for DIY / STEM projects. I’m not sure what the status of that initiative is either, but I’d love an update if you have info or a related link to share.

Young people start forming their identities about who they are and what they want to do EARLY in life! We can’t underestimate the importance of providing kids with MULTIPLE opportunities to experience how fun, engaging, and challenging science, technology, engineering and math work can be. This can’t wait till middle school, high school or college!

Last night William Chamberlain saw my Tweet about Rachel’s AudioBoo and initiated a conversation with Krissy Venosdale about Space Camp for Rachel. I’m going to look into those options. About five years ago our son, Alexander, attended a week-long day camp at the Cosmosophere in Hutchinson, Kansas. I’m going to look into camp opportunities there as well as at the Houston Space Center, which we visited in July 2011. I am SO thrilled Rachel is excited about science and STEM, and want to do whatever I can as a parent to further nurture these interests… whether or not her Oklahoma City Public Schools‘ elementary school provides these kind of learning experiences “formally” or not. Hopefully we’ll be able to host some kind of “Scratch Camp” for parents and kids at her school later this fall or next spring.

Touching a moon rock!

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