Some teachers are pricks, and then some

12 09 2010

A simple investigation experiment looking at the pH of blood at a Tasmanian high school has turned into a biohazard scare after teacher somehow thought sharing needles would be totally fine for adolescent boys. In some muddled form of defence the teacher did “attempt to sterilise the needle with methylated spirits between tests.” (Methylated spirits its not really suitable for sterilizing).

Pretty much any official is saying that this was a major balls up by the teacher, and I’m finding hard to believe that with all the red tape (in the for of occupational health and safety) present in Australian workplaces these days, that this investigation was ever approved. I have no problem with hands on experiments. In fact, I think these should be encouraged. On top of that, if we expect to have smart and scientifically literate graduates from high school, experiments involving potential biohazards should be allowed. However (or even because of that) it still very important to recognise that risks are involved and the appropriate precautions be taken.

Do read the comments on The Mercury article too.

There seems to be some sections of the world who are somehow thinking that the teacher has not done anything wrong, because there are no schoolboys in Tasmania with bloodborne infectious disease. Perhaps they could do well to investigate the Health and Ageing website which show that historically (prior to vaccinations) they have been one of the highest risk groups for Hepatitis (which is probably the largest worry in this instance, rather than HIV). Blood-borne transmission is probably the number one risk that health organisations try to minimize to prevent the spread of disease.

Reality Boats

20 08 2010

I sort of wish Get up would spend their funds putting non-partisan and worthy public education advertisements like this one on TV rather than random Abbott quotes.

(That said, this one was pretty good too)

It could the premise of a good movie…

5 07 2010
…or even a good book.

Bringing back into existence extinct animals through the use of genetic and reproductive technologies. I wonder where that idea came from, researchers at Scripps & San Diego Zoo?

Well, okay, it’s not quite extinct, but the Drill Monkey from equatorial Africa is pretty darn endangered, which might be a redeeming factor for this story. Instead of creating a whole range of new endangered species, we should be working on protecting the ones we already have. And we definitely should be trying to avoid resurrecting giant reptilian predators that will eat all our goats.

Clown science

18 05 2010

Misconceptions and wonder can be a great way to teach science.

Last year I had a thirteen year-old doubt me when I said that grasses were plants, which was surprising, but was a good place to start a discussion.

It’s all about asking questions, rather than making statements. The student didn’t tell me I was wrong, and I didn’t do the same for that. I was asked  something like “Is grass really a plant?” and I responded, “Well, what have we discussed plants are? Does grass match the description? If it’s not a plant what is it?” Perhaps to many questions at once, but I was only starting out.

Problems can happen when the questions are treated as the answer. “What is up with that?” is treated as “Whatever.” It’s enough to make a clown’s head hurt.

If this doesn’t make sense you may have to check the ICP original.

Jim’s Story: Engine bodies and body engines

15 05 2010

This is taken from my Science Education textbook, The Art of Teaching Science. Is this a science lesson gone wrong? or a science lesson gone right?

Snapshot 10.1

Jim (not his real name) was explaining homeostasis to his Year 12 biology class. Homeostasis is the process where bodily inputs and outputs are balanced to maintain a constant internal environment. To model body temperature regulation, Jim used a car engine’s cooling system to show how heat input and output are balanced. Read the rest of this entry »

Is this anti-racism comic being racist?

9 05 2010

Take a look at this comic:

This is clearly a comic against racism, but is this particular page racist?

Click the image for the complete comic.

Read the rest of this entry »

Suspected zombie outbreak in Melbourne

1 05 2010

Warning: We have a possible patient zero

(Image: xkcd)

I hope this new-fangled national health reform has some sort of measures that prevent the dead just up and walking out into the streets and cause the zombie apocalypse.

To be fair, Mr. Thornton is still speaking, however may be deluded as he still professes disbelief in his death despite documents clearly stating otherwise. He may not be a zombie, perhaps a vampire or post-mortem deity?