MSM-120 Title: Sneaky Science Achievement . . .


How do you keep a parrot on its perch?    Polly Grip.

Trains and Tea Kettles
A man who had spent his whole life in the desert visited a friend. He’d never seen a train or the tracks they run on. While standing in the middle of the RR tracks, he heard a whistle, but didn’t know what it was. Predictably, he’s hit and is thrown to the side of the tracks, with some minor internal injuries, a few broken bones, and some bruises. After weeks in the hospital recovering, he’s at his friend’s house attending a party. While in the kitchen, he suddenly hears the teakettle whistling. He grabs a baseball bat from the nearby closet and proceeds to batter and bash the teakettle into an unrecognizable lump of metal. His friend, hearing the ruckus, rushes into the kitchen, sees what’s happened and asks the desert man, “Why’d you ruin my good tea kettle?” The desert man replies, “Man, you gotta kill these things when they’re small.”

On Our Mind:

NMSA hires new Executive Director:  Dr. Drew Allbritten

“Beginning his professional life as a middle school mathematics and science teacher, his career has included serving as executive director for the Council for Exceptional Children, the Georgia Association of Educators, the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education, and the Iowa Association of Community College Trustees. During that time, he held roles in the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, Committee for Education Funding, Coalition of Lifelong Learning Organizations, and the National Coalition for Technology in Education and Training (NCTET). Allbritten also served as a United States presidential appointee and as an elected member of the Michigan House of Representatives where he championed reform in middle schools.”  -From the NMSA Press Release.

NMSA hires new Research Journal Editor:  Dr. Karen Weller Swanson

“Karen Weller Swanson was previously a middle school science teacher at Mount Elden Middle School in Flagstaff, Arizona. She is currently an associate professor teaching doctoral research methods for the Tift College of Education at Mercer University in Atlanta, Georgia. She earned her doctorate in curriculum and instruction at Northern Arizona University (NAU). Her research topic was “How does high-stakes testing pressure influence collaborative practices of middle school teams?” Her master’s and bachelor’s degrees were in secondary education and biology from NAU. Additionally, Swanson was named a 2010 Carnegie Academy of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) Scholar.” – From the NMSA Press Release.

NMSA announces new Voucher Program.

  • Minimum amount $250/No Maximum.
  • Expires two years from date of issue.
  • Valid on membership, book purchases, event registrations, on-site professional development, and Middle Grades Assessment.
  • No refunds or cash back.
  • Voucher may be redeemed via mail, fax, phone, or online. Limitations apply to online redemption and cannot be used for on-site purchases.
  • Member discounts apply upon usage of voucher.

From Our Listeners:

Middle School Teachers
9a.  Cell Phone Science Workshop for MS and HS Teachers

Join other outstanding physics and technology teachers from across the Midwest to discover the fundamental science and engineering of cell phones and other wireless communications.  We live in a world with instantaneous global communications.  Over 270 million Americans have cell phones.  Our students use iPhones, BlackBerrys, and other wireless devices every day.  Despite the ubiquitous nature of modern communications, most students (and teachers!) don’t have a clue of the science behind these wonderful, technological marvels.  Three high school teachers working with engineers from Cingular, Motorola, and the University of Michigan have developed an exciting and innovative 3-week program.

The Square One Education Network will host the 2-day workshop.  The workshop will be at the Macomb Intermediate School District in Clinton Township, MI June 23rd and June 24th from 8:30 AM till 3:30 PM. Square One will pay for training, invited speakers, meals, and a complete classroom set of equipment for participants.  CEU credits will also be available.  Mark Davids and Rick Forrest, authors and designers of the program, will lead the sessions.  The deadline to apply is May 18, 2010.  Conference Details will be updated on the Square One website at:

9b.  World Environment Day Contest

The Project Earth World Environment Day Contest is designed to highlight the efforts of students in grades 6-12 to become more environmentally sustainable and for teachers and students around the world to share and learn from each others ideas and efforts.  The winner of the contest will be announced on World Environment Day, June 5, 2010, and will be awarded $500. All participants will receive a participation certificate. The last day to enter the contest is May 22, 2010.  For more information, please visit:

From the Twitterverse:


Origami Projects:  Sticky Notes
Book version:  Sticky Note Origami

Don’t Buy It – Consumer Awareness:

Tech Tools:

GeoGebra is free and multi-platform dynamic mathematics software for all levels of education that joins geometry, algebra, tables, graphing, statistics and calculus in one easy-to-use package. It has received several educational software awards in Europe and the USA.

MeetingWords is a simple text editor for the web.

Your text is saved on the web, and more than one person can edit the same document at the same time. Everybody’s changes are instantly reflected on all screens.

Work together on meeting notes, brainstorming sessions, homework, team programming and more!


A free science library and personal learning tool brought to you by Nature Publishing Group, the world’s leading publisher of science. Scitable currently concentrates on genetics, the study of evolution, variation, and the rich complexity of living organisms.


Udemy is a website that enables anyone to create an online course. Our goal is to provide our teachers with everything they could possibly need to create a great learning experience over the internet. We’ve worked hard to build this site and we hope you like it. Everything is completely free, because we believe nobody should have to pay for Udemy unless they are making money themselves.

But why did we create this site? We created it to solve a simple problem:

Currently, educators are constrained by the physicality of their course. Whether an SAT tutor or an IT education company, instructors can only teach those in proximity to their location. Online education breaks down those barriers, but publishing an online education course is time-consuming and expensive. Online education is dominated by large businesses that have spent millions on developing the infrastructure necessary to create, distribute and monetize their content.

Physics Central:
Learn how your world works. Includes Physics Quest:
PhysicsQuest is a story-based activity that exposes middle school students to the fun and relevance of science. APS provides a free PhysicsQuest kit to registered 6-9th grade physical science classes, home school groups, science clubs, and after-school programs. The kit includes a user’s manual and materials for four physics experiments.
Ask a Physicist


Educational Attainment Rises Among All Americans

Demographic Shift Could Pose Challenges for Schools

Americans across major racial and ethnic groups became better educated over the past decade, though significant gaps remain in the rates at which blacks and Hispanics earn a high school diploma or college degree, a new analysis of U.S. census data finds.

College for all? Experts say not necessarily

The notion that a four-year degree is essential for real success is being challenged by a growing number of economists, policy analysts and academics. They say more Americans should consider other options such as technical training or two-year schools, which have been embraced in Europe for decades.

An Idea to Consider: The Purpose Is the Point

By Phillip Harris & Bruce Smith

Just do it, screams the ad copy. Git ’er done, crows the comedian. Whatever you do, don’t shilly-shally around overthinking your actions. If America had a national bumper sticker, that’s the message our society would doubtless want it to convey. We understand and often share those feelings. But a more judicious approach is not just more sensible, but the only one likely to get us where we want to go.
But all of this effort, and the haste with which we try to adopt the policies, is misguided for at least two reasons.

Events & Happenings:

Calendar of Events:

NMSA News:

Other News:

  • ISTE Eduverse Talks are the recorded sessions held on ISTE Island every week. Join ISTE in their Second Life conference location for their weekly talks on education.
  • The Ohio Middle Level Association will hold their annual conference February 18 & 19, 2010. Jack Berckemeyer will be keynoting.
  • Second Life: