S.T.E.M. is an acronym that stands for the four main disciplines known as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. You may have heard the call to push STEM education in schools. Let me let you in on a little secret- putting these four letters together does not do anything magical in education or in schools.

The magic happens when we expose students to great science experiences that allow them to ask questions and design investigations to find answers to their questions (whether through descriptive, historical, or experimental research investigations). In their quest for answers, students will more than likely have to use math to describe their results and guess what-technology will be the tool that either allows them to capture or organize the data. When it naturally fits, engineering design opportunities come off of great science experiences. Engineers take the best of what scientists produce and ask what can it be used for-how can it solve a problem, or need, or desire.

The answer is not in adding more into an already huge list of standards. The answer lies in designing learning experiences that tap into children’s natural curiosities and allow them to become scientists or engineers.

Time Flies!

Wow-has it really been since January since I last wrote? Time flies! This spring has been a busy time for me. In January, I became the President of the Virginia Association of Science Teachers and had our first meeting in February. In late February, I found out the Martinson Center I oversee was awarded a Math/Science Partnership Grant!

Me with medaslOutside of work, I ran three half marathons and two 10k’s! By May 11th, I had earned 7 incredible Run Disney medals! All in all, it has been a busy spring.

This week I have been up at JMU working at the Content Teaching Academy. It has been my pleasure working with 21 of the best physical science teachers from across Virginia! Tomorrow is our last day and I went to go buy supplies to do a couple of science activities with them. Excited to share my love of science with teachers from across Virginia!


A Quick Status Update

The phonograph, also called gramophone or record player, is a device introduced in 1877 for the recording and reproduction of sound recordings. The recordings played on such a device consist of waveforms that are engraved onto a rotating cylinder or disc. As the recorded surface rotates, a playback stylus traces the waveforms and vibrates to reproduce the recorded sound waves.

The phonograph was invented in 1877 by Thomas Edison. While other inventors had produced devices that could record sounds, Edison’s phonograph was the first to be able to reproduce the recorded sound. His phonograph originally recorded sound onto a tinfoil sheet phonograph cylinder, and could both record and reproduce sounds.

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Free Notebook Photos

Several months ago, I ran into a Kickstarter page for Baron Fig notebooks. I was immediately struck by the aesthetic and simplicity that the notebook promised. Although I foolishly didn’t back Baron Fig at the time, I was delighted to see they recently started shipping.

Fast forward to today, when I finally received a few of these notebooks in the mail. The build quality and paper are top-notch, and provide a great writing experience. I couldn’t help but take a few photos of these beautiful notebooks.

Feel free to use these photos on any of your projects, commercial, personal or otherwise. They could make great Featured Images for your WordPress posts and pages, which is hopefully powered by an Array theme. If not, well, you should fix that immediately.

Revisiting Dieter Rams 10 Principles of Design

Rams began studies in architecture and interior decoration at Wiesbaden School of Art in 1947. Soon after in 1948, he took a break from studying to gain practical experience and conclude his carpentry apprenticeship. He resumed studies at Wiesbaden School of Art in 1948 and graduated with honours in 1953 after which he began working for Frankfurt based architect Otto Apel. In 1955, he was recruited to Braun as an architect and an interior designer. In addition, in 1961, he became the Chief Design Officer at Braun until 1995.

Rams introduced the idea of sustainable development and of obsolescence being a crime in design in the 1970s. Accordingly he asked himself the question: is my design good design? The answer formed his now celebrated ten principles.

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Crafting Quality UX

Philosophy of design is the study of assumptions, foundations, and implications of design. The field is defined by an interest in a set of problems, or an interest in central or foundational concerns in design. In addition to these central problems for design as a whole, many philosophers of design consider these problems as they apply to particular disciplines (e.g. philosophy of art).

The History

The field needs more depth, in a sense graphic design needs to find itself, all while evolving at the same time. It’s debatable how the background of graphic design needs to be shared. There’s the discussion of different designers, and their notable works. Portrayals of how the physical art has changed and been inspired by past all while embracing the future.

Graphic Design as a field is young. There is not enough information about how it came to be. There is subtle information about society accepting messages being put in front of them. There’s not enough information given to design students about where the concept for graphic design comes from, or at least an understanding about the original forms of communications that used more than words, or why typography has such a large impact.

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Getting Down and Dirty With CSS Selectors

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is a style sheet language used for describing the presentation semantics (the look and formatting) of a document written in a markup language. Its most common application is to style web pages written in HTML and XHTML, but the language can also be applied to any kind of XML document, including plain XML, SVG and XUL.

CSS is designed primarily to enable the separation of document content from document presentation.

CSS is designed primarily to enable the separation of document content (written in HTML or a similar markup language) from document presentation, including elements such as the layout, colors, and fonts. This separation can improve content accessibility, provide more flexibility and control in the specification of presentation characteristics, enable multiple pages to share formatting, and reduce complexity and repetition in the structural content (such as by allowing for tableless web design).

.post code {
	background: #90979F;
	color: #fff;
	padding: 40px;

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Using Typekit To Step Up Your Web Typography

In traditional typography, a font is a particular size, weight and style of a typeface. Each font was a matched set of metal type, one piece (called a “sort”) for each glyph, and a typeface comprised a range of fonts that shared an overall design.

In modern usage, with the advent of digital typography, font is frequently synonymous with typeface. In particular, the use of “vector” or “outline” fonts means that different sizes of a typeface can be dynamically generated from one design.

Font Characteristics

In addition to the character height, when using the mechanical sense of the term, there are several characteristics which may distinguish fonts, though they would also depend on the script(s) that the typeface supports. In European alphabetic scripts, i.e. Latin, Cyrillic and Greek, the main such properties are the stroke width, called weight, the style or angle and the character width.

Different fonts of the same typeface may be used in the same work for various degrees of readability and emphasis.

The regular or standard font is sometimes labeled roman, both to distinguish it from bold or thin and from italic or oblique. The keyword for the default, regular case is often omitted for variants and never repeated, otherwise it would be Bulmer regular italic, Bulmer bold regular and even Bulmer regular regular. Roman can also refer to the language coverage of a font, acting as a shorthand for “Western European.”

Time Travel and You: A Beginner’s Guide

Time travel is the concept of moving between different points in time in a manner analogous to moving between different points in space. Time travel could hypothetically involve moving backward in time to a moment earlier than the starting point, or forward to the future of that point without the need for the traveler to experience the intervening period (at least not at the normal rate). Any technological device – whether fictional, hypothetical or actual – that would be used to achieve time travel is commonly known as a time machine.

Time Travel Methods

In technical papers, physicists generally avoid the commonplace language of “moving” or “traveling” through time, and instead discuss the possibility of closed timelike curves, which are worldlines that form closed loops in spacetime, allowing objects to return to their own past. There are known to be solutions to the equations of general relativity that describe spacetimes which contain closed timelike curves (such as Gödel spacetime), but the physical plausibility of these solutions is uncertain.

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Happy New Year 2015-Time to Inspire!

Happy 2015! I cannot believe another year has come and gone! It seems each year gets faster and faster.

This morning as I was stalking, I mean reading all the posts on Facebook, I came across one that intrigued me. Instead of writing down resolutions, come up with with one word that becomes your “theme” for the year. Simple and something I can do!

In thinking about a concept that could be my theme for 2015, I kept coming back to this word-inspire.

Inspire is defined by our good friend Webster to mean the following:

  • to make (someone) want to do something: to give (someone) an idea about what to do or create
  • to cause (something) to happen or be created
  • to cause someone to have (a feeling or emotion)

Researching a little more, I found the word comes from Middle English from Anglo-French and Latin.  The Anglo-French word of inspirer and from Latin inspirare. Break the word apart and you have in + spirare (which means to breathe).

In essence, when we inspire someone, we can think of it as causing him or her to breathe in an idea triggering something to happen.

Let me take a moment and share what inspired my theme. My inspiration came from my own children. Last night we binge watched our favorite show-Mythbusters! Hour after hour we were glued to the TV. The longer we watched, the more curious I became. What was it about the show that kept my children from playing their brand new Xbox? When inquiring minds want to find an answer, they just have to ask the question!

Their answer really didn’t surprise me. As my 14 year old daughter so elegantly put it, “Because they take real world problems or questions and they find answers to them in fun and creative ways!”

BAM! Finding answers in fun and creative ways! No one lecturing to you; no one handing out a worksheet; just really interesting questions like do the 20 minute cat naps we see on the seasons of Deadliest Catch really help?

Now I know you may be reading this and going I can’t make my classroom like Mythbusters. They have an unlimited budget and don’t have those darn end of year tests!

I believe classrooms around this country can be inspired by science. Those darn state tests are based on standards. Standards simply outline what we must teach. What we must teach is based, at least in science, on what students need to know and understand in order to go to college or to be literate in the world. We have to stop thinking about standards as isolated pieces and bits of knowledge. Facts like heat can cause objects and materials to change is important for students to know, but if they never have a chance to apply it to something, it means nothing.

Teaching science does not have to be a major production either. Sure there is some work involved in gathering the necessary materials. But in the end, the engagement and excitement from the students makes it all worth it.

To change, we have to be willing to do something different. Hopefully this blog will become a place to find inspiration this year. To get you to step out of your comfortable place. I am excited about this year. Excited about the possibilities.  Time to INSPIRE my friends!