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The Bad News: We lost the soccer game. The Good News?

20 Jul

The left winger for my Sunday soccer team is a physicist!

Introducing Matthew F, Professor of Physics.

We had a brief conversation (after our crushing 2-0 loss to Dubliner Pub FC) about Quarks, String Theory, Unified Field Theory, and why most of the things we now know about physics have been around since 1915. Then a brief discussion about how stronger telescopes and advances in technology lead to greater certainty/uncertainty about the nature of the universe. The CERN Hadron collider in Switzerland has led to confirmation of the Higgs Boson particle.


Supporting Lessons:

1. What is the smallest piece of something? Atoms, Quarks, and Elements

2. Is Pluto a planet or a rock? why? introduction to classifying heavenly bodies

3. Parallel Universes. What if we lived on flat surface?

4. Time line of the heavans: How long have we known about the 9 planets?

5. How technology leads to discovery which leads to new technologies:

from galileo’s first telescope (designed by someone else) to the Hubble telescope and he Hadron collider, how has new technology led to greater certainty of our universe. Also,sometimes experiments clearly DISPROVE our theories. Example: the experiment with the “luminous ether” that proved it did not exist.


I want to interview Dr. Michio Kaku

19 Jul

Does anyone know how to get in touch with him?

Well, whether I end up interviewing him (we’re both New Yorkers after all, it could happen) or another physicist….

I want to know more about the following:

1. What is the String Theory?

2.What is the Unified Field Theory?

3. Please explain the scientific evidence for parallel universe…

4. …and wormholes

5. How does a theoretical physicist work? Can you actually get paid to dream up crazy things that you can’t prove.

6. What inspired you to become a scientist? What did you read /watch/play/do as a child that led to this?

7. What’s your opinion on the role of science fiction in leading to the interest and study of science fact? Is all Science Fiction good ?

I just watched 1 or 2 of Dr. Kaku’s videos:

He had me at “Physics is responsible for everything” and his love of Flash Gordon. Also, it was Science Fiction not science fact (alone) that inspired him to become a Physicist. Awhile ago there was a textbook company working on a series for high school students in which they would use Science Fiction to inspire children to become scientists.

I love that Montessori education a.k.a. Cosmic Education is all about engaging the imagination of the child and inspiring her to learn more. I know that Maria Montessori believed that it was better to engage the intelligence with abstract stories of our vast universe (God With No Hands) than with Fantasy (FlashGordon). I would argue that there is room for both.

After all, many of the technologies used by Star Trek (Classic) in the 70’s are now technological fact: skype (open a channel!) , cell phones (communicators). We’re still working on warp drive. Worm holes? I first heard of them on Star Trek DS9 not from reading Physics although I did both in High School.

Michio Kaku does a good job of delivering Science FACT in a playful way.

Scientists have to also be good storytellers if they want to engage a larger audience. I believe that’s where WE come in as Montessori teachers.

Some other good videos to watch:

Has anyone used Ted Talks in their classroom? I have not used them with elementary students but have viewed them as part of classes I’ve attended. I only heard about TED about 5 years ago for the first time.




Dr. Michio Kaku’s videos that  I like:

Einstein’s theory showed the limitations of the Newtonian model.

String Theory shows the limitations of Einstein’s Theory

“Like insects on a soap bubble”

Older Than the Stars!

14 Jul




I’m taking a class at St. Kate’s University this month on the Big Bang Theory. I just read Older Than the Stars by Karen Fox.

I want my students to memorize some short poems this year and her verse from Older Than the Stars would be perfect. It has such great alliteration, rhyming, and repetition. I’d also like to introuduce my students to various forms of writing poetry. Some of the text in this book also suggests a concrete poem.

A website that I’ve used for over a decade for teaching poetry forms is this:

Also, there’s a great children’s book called “A Kick In The Head” that has excellent examples of all the various forms.

Also, They Might Be Giants have made a whole album of songs for kids about science. Here’s one of my favorites:

So for follow-up work I’d suggest:

1. Write your own poem (rhyming, alliteration, repetition, concrete0 on one of the words from the glossary at  the end of the book. This, of course, would require research so I better make sure I have some trade books at various levels on hand. Reading A-Z is a great resource for leveled books that teachers at my school use. Here’s a link to a good resource on the research process:

They could also write a piggy back song instead.

2.Some words not in the glossary; star, galaxy, solar system, constellation. I would love to assign some follow up work on types of planets (rock or gaseous) and types of stars. Not all are created alike…


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