All About Science

14 Posts authored by: maria_sosa

Brood II is coming; in fact it’s already here in some parts of the country. This group of periodical cicadas has not seen the light of day for 17 years and most K-12 students weren’t even alive the last time they came around.


There are three distinct species of periodical cicadas, all part of the genus Magicicada. Though most have 17-year cycles, some have a shorter life cycle of 13 years. All periodical cicadas of the same life cycle type that emerge in a given year are known collectively as a brood, which is designated by a roman numeral. There are 12 broods of 17 year cicadas and three broods of 13 year cicadas.




These harmless bugs have an unusual life cycle that is fascinating to both children and adults. When they emerge from the ground they are impossible to ignore because they do so in large numbers and their time above ground is not spent quietly. If you are fortunate enough to live in an area in which the will emerge, be sure to take advantage of this opportunity to experience and explore one of nature’s quirkiest happenings.


When Brood X emerged in 2004, Science NetLinks created a set of resources to help educators take advantage of the marvelous learning opportunities provided by this natural phenomenon. Brood X, as you may recall, is the largest of the 17-year-cicada broods. We have updated this collection with some of the latest information about periodical cicadas.




We also added a video that we produced featuring an interview with University of Maryland entomologist Michael Raupp. With an enthusiasm that is highly contagious, Dr. Raupp and Science Update host Bob Hirshon reveal some of the amazing science behind these fabulous bugs. We hope that it encourages youngsters to get out there and investigate cicada science firsthand. After all, we won’t be seeing this brood again until 2030!


And if you'd like to add your own cicada experiences, please join the discussion here.


Please join our All About Science Group to connect with the Science NetLinks team and other educators interested in science.


This post was also published on the Science NetLinks Educator Blog.

Images courtesy of Michael Raupp, University of MD. of the 2012 AAAS Mass Media Fellows Program (MMF) would like to announce the launch of Figure One, a new blog created and maintained by alumni.

The highly competitive program MMF Program strengthens the connections between scientists and journalists by placing advanced science, mathematics and engineering students in newsrooms across the country. The AAAS Fellows use their academic training in the sciences as they research, write and report today's headlines, sharpening their abilities to communicate complex scientific issues to non-specialists.

Figure One provides a fresh voice on contemporary science, addressing topics from research and policy to ethics and the craft of science writing. Alumni of the MMF Program are leaders in academia, industry, medicine, and media organizations around the world. Figure One takes advantage of this diversity, providing a common ground for information, thought and discussion. If you share a passion for science communication,  join then online, as they build a unique new community.



While SB&F regularly releases a list of the year’s top choices in its January issue, this year we decided to publish a special issue with full text of reviews and make it available to everyone. The SB&F special issue, available for a limited time to the public, contains the full reviews for all books and films that received the publication’s two-star rating in 2011. The rating indicates that the book or video was “highly recommended,” with no serious errors and excellent content and presentation.


Published by AAAS, SB&F is an online global critical review journal devoted exclusively to print and nonprint materials in all of the sciences for all age groups (K-college, teaching and general audience). Since 1965, SB&F has been the authoritative guide to science resources, bringing librarians and other educators expert information they need to make the best decisions when choosing science materials for their libraries, classrooms, or institutions.


You can read more about the Special Issue at the AAAS site or download the PDF file here. The recommended resources represented all the STEM disciplines and include choices for all age groups from primary grades through adult.

Sometimes I find something so good I just have to share. :-) 


Along with the Summer Olympics, there is something else really cool happening in London this summer. The Wellcome Collection has just opened a new exhibit called Superhuman that explores human enhancement. This is a topic that is a science fiction staple. In fact, two of the best new sci fi books of the year, David Brin's Existence and Kim Stanley Robinson's 2312 both are set in near futures in which human enhancements play a prominent role.


But as Superhuman points out, human enhancements have been with us for a very long time in things such as glasses, contact lenses, makeup, and procedures such as in vitro fertilization. And what is viagra, if not a human enhancement? However, what we have done so far pales in comparison to what we might yet accomplish. And with those possibilities come scores of ethical questions. All of that is also touched upon in this exhibit.


The Wellcome Collection has produced a very substantive and fascinating website to accompany the exhibit which expands the reach of Superhuman to people all over the world. I highly recommend a virtual visit and if you happen to be in London through October 16th of this year, do consider putting it on your itinerary.


By the way, the Superhuman webiste and exhibit are definitely fun but but some of the content is definitely adult in nature so be careful sharing it with the kids!



The Lorrie Otto Seeds for Education Grant Program gives small monetary award to schools, nature centers, or other non-profit educational organizations to help establish outdoor learning centers. Project goals should focus on enhancement and development of an appreciation for nature using native plants. Projects must emphasize involvement of students and volunteers in all phases of development, and increase the educational value of the site. The use of, and teaching about, native plants and the native-plant community is mandatory, and the native plants must be appropriate to the local region and the conditions of the selected site (soil, water, sunlight). Funds will be provided only for the purchase of native plants and seed. Schools, nature centers, and other nonprofit and not-for-profit places of learning, including faith based organizations are eligible to apply. The deadline to apply is October 15, 2012. On the website you can download an application and even see an example of a successful application, which is helpful for first time applicants.

For more information visit

Ready-Set-Go Resource Guide: Increasing Capacity to Engage Youth & Family Volunteers is a guide to ideas, best practices, and strategies on building an organization's capacity to engage youth and family volunteers. The strategies are the result of a five-city Ready-Set-Go! pilot and bring together the expertise of more than 20 volunteer managers. The guide contains strategies that are informed by research, such as the chapter that summarizes what research tells us about how youth become engaged citizens written by developmental psychologist Marilyn Price-Mitchell. The examples and strategies provided from the volunteer managers represented in the rest of the book bring the research to life.


For more information visit where you can download the full guide or individual sections on such topics as building effective community partnerships, increasing staff capacity, and managing risks.


Albert Einstein Archives

Posted by maria_sosa Mar 22, 2012

Recently we told you about Cambridge University Library making Sir Issaac Newton's papers available online.  Now, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem has launched a new online resource containing a complete catalog of more than 80,000 documents in the University's Albert Einstein Archives.


The Einstein Archives Online Website provides the first online access to Albert Einstein's scientific and non-scientific manuscripts held by the Albert Einstein Archives at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, constituting the material record of one of the most influential intellects in the modern era. It also enables access to the Einstein Archive Database, a comprehensive source of information on all items in the Albert Einstein Archives.


A good way to preview the variety and flavor of the items in the collection is to browse the gallery section.  There you can view copies of manuscripts and lecture notes handwritten by Einstein as well as personal memorabilia such as his high school graduation certificate. (You can also find a lovely selection of images of Albert Einstein and his family in Genius: A Photobiography of Albert Einstein, by Marfe Ferguson Delano.)


Princeton University Press and the Einstein Papers Project at the California Institute of Technology have collaborated with the Hebrew University in this long-term project to publish The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein. Thanks to the these two institutions' ongoing participation, the enhanced website makes it possible to link each document to its printed and annotated version as it appears in the ''Collected Papers,'' and to its English translation, (since most of Einstein's papers were originally written in German).


Electronic Music

Posted by maria_sosa Mar 9, 2012

As part of an exhibition that celebrates music, inventiveness and the search for new sounds, London's Science Museum held a competition to remix samples from the Daphne Oram Archive to create a soundtrack for the 1967 TV program Our World. Daphne Oram was an electronic music pioneer who developed the Oramics technique for creating electronic sounds. Learn more about her and listen to the winning submissions here.


Judges included musicians and producers Brian Eno and DJ Spooky, and their comments are featured in this blog post.


The exhibit is called Oramics to Electronica: Revealing Histories of Electronic Music and the Science Museum's website posted wealth of information, including videos with great archival footage, to accompany it. I know that when my daughter was in high school she was fascinated by electronic music and even toyed with the idea of building a theremin for a science fair project.


Another female pioneer in electronic music is Laurie Spiegel, musician and computer programmer whose song Sediment will be featured in the highly anticipated film adaptation of The Hunger Games.


The National Science Foundation is inviting people to participate in a live online chat on January 19 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. EST with two eminent scientists about cutting-edge research currently being conducted by the U.S. Antarctic Program in Antarctica--the coldest, windiest and driest place on Earth.

This chat will be hosted by ScienceNOW, the daily news site of the journal Science and will feature:

  • Scott Borg, the director of the Division of Antarctic Sciences in NSF's Office of Polar Programs.
  • Gretchen Hofmann, a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who specializes in the ecological physiology of marine organisms, including polar organisms.

This online chat will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Royal Navy officer Robert Falcon Scott and Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen race to the South Pole, which ended with Amundsen's arrival at the Pole on Dec. 14, 1911, and Scott's arrival on Jan. 17, 1912. The race lay the foundation for today's research in Antarctica.For more information visit the NSF Office of Polar Programs website.

Cambridge University Library has made available online many of the notebooks and papers of Isaac Newton (1642-1727) to launch the new Cambridge Digital Library.Newton's own annotated copy of his Principia Mathematica is among the notebooks and manuscripts made available by the Library, which holds the world's largest and most significant collection of the scientific works of Isaac Newton. In the three-part Principia, Newton lays out in mathematical terms his laws of motion and account of universal gravitation. Newton's laws of motion formed the foundation of classical mechanics, and Newton's law of universal gravitation.


Newton's manuscripts are part of Cambridge's Foundations of Science Collection, which will focus on original scientific manuscripts, beginning with the papers of Isaac Newton and his contemporaries. Cambridge University Library has very strong collections in the history of science. In addition to our Newton collections, the Library holds the papers of, among many other famous scientists, Charles Darwin, Lord Kelvin, Adam Sedgwick, J.J. Thomson, Ernest Rutherford, James Clerk Maxwell and Sir George Gabriel Stokes. The Library holds the archives of Cambridge's famous Cavendish Laboratory and is also the repository of the Royal Greenwich Observatory archives, which includes the papers of the Astronomers Royal and the Board of Longitude.


(Crossposted at SB&F Online, the AAAS Online Review Journal.)


Science Filmmaking 101

Posted by maria_sosa Dec 13, 2011

Check out a new blog post on SB&F Online to find out about a great resouce (Untamed Science) that not only shares terrific science videos for free, but also includes a hefty primer on making your own nature and wildlife films that should be of great interest to aspiring filmmakers in middle and high school.


New Astronomy Resources

Posted by maria_sosa Sep 29, 2011

Andrew Franknoi, of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, brought the following resources to our attention and we wanted to share them with you.


As the fall semester or quarter begins, here are

a few new educational resources from the nonprofit

Astronomical Society of the Pacific that may help

you if you are teaching or explaining astronomy:


1. Frank Drake Tells How He Came Up with the Drake Equation:

2. A New  Classroom Activity: How High Up is Space:

3. An "Astronomy Behind the Headlines" podcast on "Science

from the Moon" (on current and future Moon missions, with

guest Dr. Jack Burns, University of Colorado):

4. An Astronomer Looks at Astrology (an information sheet for

both students and instructors):


5. A new issue of "The Universe in the Classroom" with

information and activities for the 2012 Transit of Venus:

6. The Universe at Your Fingertips 2.0

(a DVD-ROM with 133 hands-on classroom activities,

and lots of articles, resources, images, and how-to videos

for teaching astronomy at many levels and in many settings):

The importance of eating breakfast has been drummed into us since  childhood. In spite of this, teens often skip breakfast for a variety of  reasons. New research from the University of Missouri demonstrates  exactly why this is not a good idea. The twist with this research is  that using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) the  researchers found that eating a protein-rich breakfast reduces the   brain signals controlling food motivation and reward-driven eating   behavior. This article explains how it works. Try sharing the video with teens. Maybe a little science can convince them to follow the advice that their moms have been giving them for years!


Science in a Minute!

Posted by maria_sosa Mar 17, 2011

The winner of the first AAAS-sponsored “Science in a Minute” video contest was announced recently.  For the contest, AAAS invited young researchers to represent science in a fun and educational 90-second video. Reviewers representing a range of science fields selected four finalists from the 20 videos submitted to the competition.


The four finalists’ videos were viewed and voted on during the AAAS Public Science Days Film Festival held just before the AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.  And the winner was Newton’s Universal Law of Gravitation, produced by Nick Hanlon and Ken Maxwell of the University of Cincinnati.


The three other finalists were:


As one of the viewers who voted, I can tell you that all four of the films were funny and fun and substantive at the same time! In fact, you can view all the four finalists’ films and let us know if you agree with the viewers’ choice.

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