MSM 611: Faster Than the Columbus Method


Shawn and Troy talk about AI, school closings, Zyn trouble and more. Dave has 40 years of the Science Olympiad. 


My job is top secret. 

Even I don’t know what I’m doing. 

As I suspected, someone has been adding soil to my garden. 

  • The plot thickens.

They’re making a movie about clocks. 

  • It’s about time

I heard there was a new store called Moderation. 

  • They have everything there

Last night me and my wife watched three DVDs back to back. 

  • Luckily I was the one facing the TV.

Did you know crocodiles could grow up to 15 feet?

  • But most just have 4.

Middle School Science Minute  

by Dave Bydlowski (k12science or

K12Science Podcast:  Science Olympiad

I was recently reading the September-October, 2023 issue of “Connected Science Learning,” a publication of the National Science Teaching Association.  

In this issue, I read the article “40 Years of Inspiring Students to Explore STEM: What has Science Olympiad Learned?”  It was written by John F. Loehr and Jenny Kopach.

In May 2024, Science Olympiad will celebrate the 40th Annual Science Olympiad National Tournament at Michigan State University.  The Olympiad has been successful over these 40 years because it has demonstrated the following four factors:

*  Recognition – Students’ work and efforts are displayed and recognized in a very public fashion.

*  Personal Choice – Students have the autonomy to decide how they want to be involved in the program.

*  Peer and Professional Networks – Students’ passion and interest in topics is recognized and celebrated by both their peers and STEM professionals.

*  Responsiveness – The 23-event structure gives Science Olympiad the flexibility to adapt to changing interests, circumstances, and needs. 

Reports from the Front Lines

  • AI Conference

The Social Web

Jim Costa@JimCosta_

“South Detroit” is on board

Kory E. Woods   @KoryEWoods

The city of Windsor held a special Detroit Lions flag raising ceremony yesterday outside of Windsor City Hall to show support for the Lions hosting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Sunday’s divisional round game. :

@RenaldoAgostino  @cityofwindsor   

Susie Dent  @susie_dent

Word of the day is ‘finifugal’, from the 19th century: avoiding the end of something (a box set, an excellent book, sleep, etc.) because you want it to go on forever.  

For anyone who hasn’t heard it, to ‘hurkle-durkle’, from 19th-century Scots, is to linger under the covers of a warm bed long after it’s time to get up.

Word of the day is a reminder of ‘mubble-fubbles’: a fit of gloom and despondency combined with a sense of impending doom. Essentially the mubble-fubbles are the 16th-century equivalent of the Sunday evening blues.

Pixelmator Team  @pixelmator

Photomator and Pixelmator are coming to #AppleVisionPro  Starting February 2nd, enjoy all your favorite tools and features from Photomator and Pixelmator on iPad in a whole new creative space. We simply can’t wait! Learn more on our blog:

Richard Byrne  @rmbyrne

Google Bard can be used to create multiple choice and true/false quizzes about a variety of topics commonly taught in middle school and high school classrooms.  

Eduease is a new AI tool that you can use to quickly convert PDFs into online quizzes. Watch this video to see how it works.  

Historic Vids  @historyinmemes

They don’t make cartoons like this anymore

Marcus Green

This amused me. Taken from the Linkedin feed of John Fila who describes himself as “an award-winning educator and curriculum coordinator who promotes equitable access to high-quality educational materials and experiences for all learners:  


5 Metacognitive Questions For Students Learning New Material




Use YouTube to improve your English pronunciation. With more than 100M tracks, YouGlish gives you fast, unbiased answers about how English is spoken by real people and in context.

First 5

  • FREE daily resource for educators!
  • Practical ideas and activities that are perfect for the first five minutes of class time!
  • Arrives in your email inbox every morning at 7 AM EST.
  • 18+ NEW activities and ideas each day that focus on classroom connections, self-care, care for others, and the development of character.
  • Ideas and resources for building dynamic and trusting relationships within classroom communities.
  • Users pick 1 of the 9 activities from either the Primary or Secondary First Five.

Emoji Kitchen

Combine emoji.

Origin of Everything

Every aspect of our daily reality, whether it’s the words we use, the pop culture we love, the technology that gets us through the day, or even the identities we give ourselves, emerges from thousands of intersecting histories. And, in this series, we’re going to explore them ALL! . . . . Okay, maybe not ALL, but you get the idea.


Civics for All of US is a new education initiative that promotes civic literacy and engagement.

Folger Shakespeare Library Opportunity

The Folger Shakespeare Library is seeking 25 middle and high school teachers eager to participate in a two-week institute centered around explorations of and conversations between The Taming of the Shrew and Othello.

Web Spotlight: 

Crip Camp

Crip Camp shares with insight, humor, and joy the experiences of a group of disabled teenagers and their journey to adulthood and activism, and in doing so, provides an opportunity to delve into this rich and powerful story of disability activism, culture, and history. The curriculum deepens the knowledge and understanding of disability and of disabled people offered in the film.

“Evidence Based” Does Not Mean What You Think It Does

Evidence-based means:

1) Shows a statistically significant effect on student outcomes via strong evidence from at least one well-designed and well-done study. You’ve got at least one study, and it seems like a decent study, and it gives solid evidence.

2) Shows a statistically significant effect on student outcomes via moderate evidence from at least one well-designed and well-done study. Your decent study shows some meh evidence.

3)  Shows a statistically significant effect on student outcomes via promising evidence from at least one well-designed and well-done study. Your study evidence is not great, but it can be massaged into looking like maybe better things are coming.

It can also mean (ii) something you kind of think probably could work. Maybe a shade better than an educated guess.

They looked at 1359 programs. Of the programs rated by more than one clearinghouse, only about 30% got similar ratings. In other words, the answer to “Is this program effective,” depends pretty much on who you’re asking.

Japanese Manhole Covers

School Lunches Around the World

Restaurant of Mistaken Orders

In Japan, known as a super-aging society, dementia is predicted to affect one in five people by 2025. [1] In such circumstances, an innovative social experiment has caught the attention of Japan and the world.

“The restaurant is not about whether orders are executed incorrectly or not,” notes Oguni. “The important thing is the interaction with people who have dementia.”

Although succeeding as a “restaurant of never-ending laughter,” Oguni was initially concerned about possible criticisms, such as, “Don’t treat dementia like a carnival sideshow!” and “Don’t make a laughingstock out of them!” But actually, when guests see the smiles of the staffers with dementia, and the joy that motivates their work, some feel a spirit of courage, while others are moved to tears. And invariably, the servers say such things as “I’m still capable. This has gaven me confidence.” The negative image of dementia was replaced by a fun, positive one.

Snowplow Parents

AXIS:  The Culture Translator

Zyn Trouble

What it is: Oral nicotine pouches are being advertised to teens through influencers. They are far from harmless. 

What’s happening here? Zyn pouches contain nicotine powder, not tobacco leaf. Other brand names include On! and Velo. That means the FDA can’t classify them as a “smokeless tobacco product” the way it would with dip or e-cigarettes. This classification wrinkle has meant marketing regulations of this product are more lax than they are for similar products. Zyn’s other qualities make it an easy habit to conceal: the pouches dissolve under the lip, so they don’t require spitting. Reporting in the New York Times discusses an entire class of meme-driven accounts on social media, dubbed “Zynfluencers,” who are advertising Zyn products. Hundreds of thousands of young followers seem at least aware of what tobacco pouches are, with sales figures skyrocketing. Many parents, on the other hand, remain still blissfully unaware that Zyn pouches even exist.

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