Teaching Science

Feb 2019

Storm World

A decade old now, this book by Chris Mooney is a decent introduction to hurricanes, the politics of (American) weather prediction, and the link between global climate change and hurricanes.

From the Kirkus review:

In his preface, Mooney states that global warming did not directly cause Katrina, or any other hurricane. He devotes the rest of the book to explaining why and how climate change intensifies and increases storms. No fan of the Bush Administration, the author also reveals the ways in which political interests keep crucial data from reaching public attention or, failing that, work to make sure it is skewed and/or misconstrued. He humanizes scientific disputes, and he takes care to draw vivid portraits of the scientists spearheading debate. One camp, “the empiricists,” led by famed hurricane forecaster William Gray, denies that hurricane fluctuations are anything but natural and periodic. The second group, which Mooney dubs “the modelers,” uses computer forecasting techniques to show that as the earth’s temperature increases, so does storm frequency and intensity. Into nitty-gritty details of the science behind these arguments, the author weaves tales of political intrigue and media hype. For example, although the climatologists portrayed in the book disagree primarily about global warming’s effects on hurricanes, the media twists their disputes into clashes over whether global warming exists at all, or is human-influenced. Unsurprisingly, hurricane wars have recently become highly politicized.

Science has moved on (and politics changed a bit) since this book was written, but it's still relevant today — and well worth the time spent reading it.

Linked in the grade 10 climate unit.

In Our Time: Pheremones

In Our Time is a wonderful series on BBC Radio 4.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss how members of the same species send each other invisible chemical signals to influence the way they behave. Pheromones are used by species across the animal kingdom in a variety of ways, such as laying trails to be followed, to raise the alarm, to scatter from predators, to signal dominance and to enhance attractiveness and, in honey bees, even direct development into queen or worker.

Linked in the grade 11 biology page.

In Our Time: Artistole’s Biology

In Our Time is a wonderful series on BBC Radio 4.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the remarkable achievement of Aristotle (384-322BC) in the realm of biological investigation, for which he has been called the originator of the scientific study of life. Known mainly as a philosopher and the tutor for Alexander the Great, who reportedly sent him animal specimens from his conquests, Aristotle examined a wide range of life forms while by the Sea of Marmara and then on the island of Lesbos. Some ideas, such as the the spontaneous generation of flies, did not survive later scrutiny, yet his influence was extraordinary and his work was unequalled until the early modern period.

Linked in the grade 11 biology page.

Updated Cell Cycle Game

Added new card backs to the Cell Cycle Game, so that a classroom set can be easily sorted into separate decks.

Linked in the grade 10 biology unit.