Today one of my classmates asked me over Facebook about how to start a Storify about a Twitter chat, so I made this brief tutorial using screenshots:
I coordinated a French Immersion student-teacher rendezvous for today. Twitter was tremendously helpful in making it happen. These mind maps give a glimpse of what was discussed:
— Britney Allen (@MlleBallen) March 17, 2015
After seeing what my #edci336 colleagues have been doing with it, I have decided to switch to using Evernote instead of Google Keep. I got the web clipper for Firefox, and I am really excited about my new organization tool!
I have been listening to an audiobook of Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts this week. I found out about the book through @RileyPaton‘s podcast: Are You Listening? I have really been enjoying it. It discusses personality dynamics in some interesting societal and historical contexts. This has given me a better sense of some of the influencing forces experienced by my grandparents’, parents’, and own generation.
The mention of The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock was particularly meaningful to me. I enjoyed this poem in English 12, but this perspective brought a new connection and understanding when I revisited it. In high school, I did not reflect much on the theme of cultivating a persona (preparing a face) and social demands (“eyes that fix you”). Cain describes how “it’s dutifully memorized and then forgotten by teens increasingly skilled at shaping their online and offline personae.” That really resonated. As an introverted learner, I have found Twitter and other backchannels very helpful. Here is a blog post I wrote about Twitter and Anxiety. The idea of cultivating a persona is an important one to consider. What is your online persona?
Schwarzschild of Mine
I created this comic as part of my Science Education Aesthetics assignment. I got to choose a question to explore, and then create an art piece to represent it. I decided to explore a cosmic question: how do black holes work? During the course of my research, I wondered: how do you make thinking visible, and avoid being an intellectual black hole? Science communication needs a revolution. The myth of the all-knowing educator seems to be disappearing, but the myth of the all-knowing scientist needs to be cleared away.
Recently I have become interested in how comics can be used to make science education more accessible. I am particularly interested in webcomics, and I started my own webcomic in January: STEM Puns. In the interest of accessibility and sharing knowledge, I wanted to make my research process visible, so I curated it using Storify.
When I read about the Schwarzschild radius, I immediately thought of “Sweet Child of Mine” by Guns N’ Roses. I have always loved writing parodies, so that is what I did. I then used Comic Life software to create the Rock Star cartoon, featuring this song. As I was assembling the story of the star singing to black holes in a part of space where starlight looks like musical notes, I puzzled over the ending. Encountering an event horizon seemed like the logical conclusion.
The Hole Story
When stars run out of light elements (such as hydrogen) to burn and fuse into heavier elements (such as iron), a source of outward pressure is lost (National Geographic Documentary, 2014). The star then starts shrinking (National Geographic Documentary, 2014). At this point, the star can be blown apart by matter knocking into its core, creating a shockwave, resulting in a supernova (National Geographic Documentary, 2014). The remainder of the molecules from the core collapse down to their nuclei, and come together as a neutron star (National Geographic Documentary, 2014). If there is more matter than the neutron star can withstand, they can be crushed down to nothing, forming a black hole (National Geographic Documentary, 2014).
A common misconception about black holes is that they “are giant vacuum cleaners that will pull in everything in the universe” (Seeds, 2008, p. 301). In reality, a black hole is “an object so dense that nothing can escape its gravitational pull, even light” (National Geographic Documentary, 2014). All of its mass is contained in a point called the singularity (National Geographic Documentary, 2014). The extremely dense point creates a deep puncture in space-time (National Geographic Documentary, 2014). The singularity is surrounded by a spherical event horizon, also known as “the point of no return,” because any matter to reach it disappears forever (National Geographic Documentary, 2014). The radius of the event horizon is called the Schwarzschild radius (Seeds, 2008, p. 301). Everything with mass has a Schwarzschild radius: “for example, Earth has a Schwarzschild radius of about 1cm, so it could become a black hole only if you squeezed it inside that radius” (Seeds, 2008, p. 301).
The nature of black holes leads to an important question: “How do you study something that by nature evades detection?” (National Geographic Documentary, 2014). Black holes cannot be directly observed with technology that detects x-rays, light, or other forms of electromagnetic radiation (NASA, 2015). They are detected by inference – by observing how nearby matter is affected (NASA, 2015). Black holes “draw matter inward in a process known as accretion” (NASA, 2015). Black holes can go into orbit, and one black hole can combine with another and grow larger (National Geographic Documentary, 2014).
It was once thought that black holes were rare, but here are billions of them in the universe (HubbleSite, n.d.; National Geographic Documentary, 2014). They have been found at the centre of nearly every large galaxy that has been discovered (National Geographic Documentary, 2014). Black hole size seems to be proportional to galaxy size, which is thought to be a clue that they have co-evolved (National Geographic Documentary, 2014). Contrary common misconceptions, black holes obey the laws of physics, and they do not last forever; they evaporate, returning their energy to the universe (HubbleSite, n.d.). Black holes are now seen as fundamental to how the universe works (National Geographic Documentary, 2014).
Aesthetics and Emotions in Science Education
I have been engaged in science education for a few years now, so it is important for me to find ways to keep things fresh and exciting for myself. This inquiry project re-invigorated my sense of wonder about natural phenomena, and increased my awareness of some of the thoughts and feelings that young learners have when examining a topic in-depth for the first time. This illustrates the importance of lifelong learning. Through this process, I felt the power of being given the opportunity to explore a topic that I was interested in learning more about. The universe is full of exciting mysteries, and we can use science to explore them. New discoveries are being made all the time.
It is important to honour learners’ sensory and emotional experiences. It is equally important to recognize your own experiences, and reflect on what sorts of biases you might bring. As educators, we must be cognizant that learners will not always have the words to express their experiences, so other means of expression should be available to them. We must facilitate their learning in a way that values the entirety of what they are experiencing. Through emotions and aesthetics, learners can gain a much deeper connection to what they are learning, which can be an incredible catalyst to exploration and discovery.
HubbleSite (n.d.). Black Holes: Gravity’s Relentless Pull. Retrieved from http://hubblesite.org/explore_astronomy/black_holes/home.html
Lemonick, M. (2015, Feb 25). Gigantic black hole discovered from the dawn of time. National Geographic. Retrieved from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/02/140225-black-hole-big-science-space/
NASA. (2015, Jan 21). Black Holes. Retrieved from http://science.nasa.gov/astrophysics/focus-areas/black-holes/
National Geographic Documentary (Official). (2014, Jul 18). Monster Black Holes-National Geographic . Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRCFm1GVm88
Seeds, M. A. (2008). Foundations of astronomy (10th ed.). Canada: Thomson Brooks/Cole.
I listened to the audiobook of Thich Nhat Hanh’s (@thichnhathanh) The Art of Mindful Living this week.
It made me feel much better about many things. I feel more calm, more aware of my breathing, and more aware of the present moment. Mindfulness is there for our pain. It’s an act of taking care. It’s the best part of us.
I found this quote particularly poignant, as my cohort is currently preparing for our first practicum placements: “When a cloud is about to rain, it does not panic like us.”
|Some notes in my Bullet Journal from The Art of Mindful Living
(and a reminder to return library books)
|Flowers to remind myself of the Flower Fresh meditation|
— Britney Allen (@MlleBallen) March 13, 2015
— Britney Allen (@MlleBallen) March 13, 2015
It will take a little bit of getting used to, but so far I am enjoying this new platform. I am impressed by the options for tags, categories, and widgets. (In honour of @cogdog, I hereby pledge to leave no post uncategorized!) I will conclude this post with a quote from today’s workshop: