MSM 257: From NanoTech to Space – Be Safe

Presented in collaboration with the Association for Middle Level Education.

Jokes You Can Use:

This past fall semester, at Duke University, there were two sophomores who were taking Organic Chemistry and who did pretty well on all of the quizzes, midterms, labs, etc. Going into the final exam, they had solid “A’s.”

These two friends were so confident going into the final that the weekend before finals week (even though the Chem. final was on Monday), they decided to go up to University of Virginia to a party with some friends.

So they did this and had a great time. However, they ended up staying longer than they planned, and they didn’t make it back to Duke until early Monday morning. Rather than taking the final then, they found Professor Aldric after the final and explained to him why they missed it. They told him that they went up to Virginia for the weekend, and had planned to come back in time to study, but that they had a flat tire on the way back and didn’t have a spare and couldn’t get help for a long time. So they were late getting back to campus.

Aldric thought this over and agreed that they could make up the final on the following day. The two guys were elated and relieved. So, they studied that night and went in the next day at the time that Aldric had told them.

He placed them in separate rooms, handed each of them a test booklet and told them to begin. They looked at the first problem, which was something simple about free radical formation and was worth 5 points. “Cool” they thought, “this is going to be easy.” They did that problem and then turned the page.

They were unprepared, however, for what they saw on the next page.

It said: (95 points) “Which tire?”


A guy was in a cave, looking for treasure. He found an old lamp, rubbed it, and a genie came out. The genie said “I will grant you three wishes, but your ex-wife will get double.” The man agreed, and said “I wish I had a mansion.” The genie granted it, and his ex-wife got two mansions. The man said “I would like a million dollars.” The genie again granted it and his ex-wife got two million dollars. Then the man said, “Scare me half to death.”


A distraught older woman is looking at herself in the mirror and crying. Her voice shakes as she says to her husband, “I’m so old. I’m so fat. I look horrible. I really need a compliment.”

Her husband, determined to quickly give his beloved the comfort she needs, exclaims, “Well, you have great eyesight!”

“Well, I finally retired my old car”, said the old man. His pal ask, “Did you junk it or trade it in?” “Naw nothing like that, I put four new Michelins on it.”

Eileen Award:

  • Twitter:  David Katz, NAESP, Student Linkup, BJ Piel, Mark Denham (Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Education at the University of Detroit Mercy)




15 Ways of the Successful Self-Directed Learner

by Jeff Cobb


1. Takes initiative

2. Is comfortable with independence

3. Is persistent

4. Accepts responsibility

5. Views problems as challenges, not obstacles

6. Is capable of self-discipline

7. Has a high degree of curiosity

8. Has a strong desire to learn or change

9. Is self-confident

10. Is able to use basic study skills

11. Organizes his or her time

12. Sets an appropriate pace for learning

13. Develops a plan for completing work

14. Has a tendency to be goal-oriented

15. Enjoys learning

Malala Yousafzai

The winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize will be announced on Friday, and Malala Yousafzai, the youngest nominee ever, is considered by many to be the frontrunner.


Middle School Science Minute

by Dave Bydlowski (k12science or


Nanotechnology Basics


I was recently reading the Summer, 2013 issue of “Science Scope,” a magazine for middle school science teachers, published by the National Science Teachers Association.  Within this issue is the monthly column, “Green Science,” written by Jessica Palliser.  This month, Jessica writes about the nanoscale and provides a basic understanding of nanotechnology basics.

From the Twitterverse:

* Daniel Pink ‏@DanielPink

Dilbert creator Scott Adams: “To put it bluntly, goals are for losers.” . . .  (via @WSJ)

* Kari Catanzaro ‏@catanhistory

@mrg_3: #ICE13 Smackdown: Check out Songify!  Turn speech into music!” Can’t wait to try with students! #tlap #edchat

* Manan Shah ‏@shahlock

@edrethink #rechat without being creative it’s not obvious if one has actually learned something

* Todd Van Horn ‏@tvanhorn39

11 Tips on Teaching Common Core Critical Vocabulary  via @edutopia

* Todd Van Horn ‏@tvanhorn39 17m

Using QR Codes to Differentiate Instruction  via @edutopia

* jake duncan ‏@duncanbilingual 42m

Here is the doc from the Tech Slam #RSCON4 session with @markbarnes19:  #ce13

* Derek McCoy ‏@mccoyderek 38m

Handwriting vs. Typing: Which Skill Do Students Need Most?

* Todd Van Horn ‏@tvanhorn39 53m

25 Things Successful Educators Do Differently  via @sharethis

* Ryan Bretag ‏@ryanbretag 1h

How the iPad can turn teaching special ed ‘on its head’

* Lisa Neale ‏@lisaneale 3h

RT @s_bearden: RT @TeachThought: 5 Strategies For Creating A Genius Mindset In Students … #hwdsb #plpnetwork #OntCL

* Maria Popova ‏@brainpicker 1h

The odd day jobs of famous poets, illustrated

#mschat every Thursday at 8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time.




The Civil War Trust

The Civil War Trust is America’s largest non-profit organization (501-C3) devoted to the preservation of our nation’s endangered Civil War battlefields. The Trust also promotes educational programs and heritage tourism initiatives to inform the public of the war’s history and the fundamental conflicts that sparked it.

9 Out Of 10 Americans Are Completely Wrong About This Mind-Blowing Fact

This pretty much speaks for itself. At 1:05, I get a rude awakening. At 1:41, he starts talking about you. At 2:24, he says a “bad” word. At 3:50, he kind of breaks my brain. At 4:50, he lets you know how broke you really are. At 5:20, he rubs it in. And at 5:50, he points out that reality isn’t close to what we think it is.

Web Spotlight:

Beware of the Internet Safety Industrial Complex

Larry Magid


I got a call recently from a woman who works for a company that makes an app designed to “keep kids safe” by enabling parents to monitor their texts and social media activities. The pitch included some dire statistics such as “70 percent of kids are cyberbullied”

And it’s not just companies. Some non-profit organizations, government agencies, politicians and police departments have also exaggerated problems, presumably to attract media attention or possibly help justify their budgets. One non-profit organization has repeatedly claimed that 85 percent of teens have been cyberbullied — a number that flies in the face of all reputable research reports.

Be especially wary when you hear statements like “a disturbing trend” or a “growing problem” that aren’t accompanied by any research data. What many of these reports fail to say is that victimization of children has been on a steady decline for years.

Fake numbers

Even though I knew it was completely false, it didn’t surprise me to hear the spokesperson for the monitoring app claim that 70 percent of kids had been cyberbullied. Though not all are guilty of this, it’s not uncommon to hear such exaggerations from companies (and some agencies and non-profits) in the Internet safety space.

While any case of cyberbullying is bad, the fact is that the statistics are nowhere near as dire. The numbers vary a lot. The National Center for Educational Statistics reports that 6 percent of students in grades 6-12 experienced cyberbullying. The Centers for Disease Control found in 2011 that 16.2 percent of students had been bullied via email, chat rooms, instant messaging, websites or texting — compared to 20.1 percent who had been bullied on school property (traditional bullying) — during the 12 months prior to the survey. The Cyberbullying Research Center reports that “on average, about 24 percent of the students who have been a part of our last six studies have said they have been the victim of cyberbullying at some point in their lifetime.” Dan Olweus, who the editor of the European Journal of Development Psychology referred to as the “father of bullying research” wrote a 2012 article for that journal where he said that “claims about cyberbullying made in the media and elsewhere are greatly exaggerated and have little empirical scientific support.” Based on a three-year survey of more than 440,000 U.S. children (between 3rd and 12th grade), 4.5 percent of kids had been cyberbullied compared to 17.6 percent from that same sample who had experienced traditional bullying. An even more interesting statistic from that study is that only 2.8 percent of kids had bullied others.

There have also been a lot of false reports about the incidences of kids being sexually solicited online. During that recent pitch about the monitoring app, I was told that the woman’s own son encountered creeps online but — when I asked what happened — she said that he ignored them. It turns out that’s common. Unless kids are looking to hook up with strangers online, that’s exactly what most teens do. Parents can freak out all they want, but kids generally know how to avoid getting entangled in unwanted online relationships.

The problem — as articulated by researchers — is that some kids take extraordinary risks and the kids who take risks online are the same ones that make bad decisions in their offline lives.

Whatever the numbers are, they’re still too high but they represent a small minority of kids which is why a one-size-fits-all approach, including monitoring and filtering, doesn’t make sense.

Olweus is also concerned that fixating on cyberbullying could encourage “an unfortunate shift in the focus of anti-bullying work if digital bullying is seen as the key bullying problem in the schools.”

He worries about funneling resources in the wrong direction, while “traditional bullying — which is clearly the most prevalent and most serious problem — would be correspondingly downgraded.”

I worry about something else. One of the best ways to counter negative behavior is to show that it’s not the norm. Exaggerating cyberbullying makes it look common — in some cases we’ve seen numbers that make it look as if the majority of kids are engaged in it. If it’s common it must be normal and if it’s normal — so goes the reasoning — it must be OK.

The Six Best YouTube URL Tricks


  • Repeat All or Part of a Video

  • Download Any Video

  • Bypass Regional Restrictions

  • Jump to a Specific Time

  • Disable Related Videos

  • Skip to the Good Parts With the Wadsworth Constant


The myth of NASA’s expensive space pens

During the space race back in the 1960’s, NASA was faced with a major problem. The astronaut needed a pen that would write in the vacuum of space. NASA went to work. At a cost of $1.5 million they developed the “Astronaut Pen”. Some of you may remember. It enjoyed minor success on the commercial market.

The Russians were faced with the same dilemma.

They used a pencil.

Fantastic story, right? Except that’s not what happened. NASA originally used pencils in space but pencils tend to give off things that float in zero-g (broken leads, graphite dust, shavings) and are flammable.

After testing, NASA ordered 400 Fisher pens for use on space missions at a cost of under $1000. Russia switched to using the pens a year later.