Archive for: August, 2008

Friday Sprog Blogging: double trouble.

Aug 29 2008 Published by under Kids and science

Today is "Twin Day" on the last day of daycamp before the new school year.
Of course, the younger Free-Ride offspring was very enthusiastic about the idea of dressing like twins with the elder Free-Ride offspring. The elder Free-Ride offspring, on the other hand ...

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Friday Sprog Blogging (bonus reader participation issue): circus detectives.

Aug 22 2008 Published by under Kids and science

HannahLouise.jpg

Yesterday, the Free-Ride family visited Circus World. It was a full day, and we're still working on digesting the experience, but there were some animal performers that made an impression, including dogs, a pony, a camel, and an elephant.
This put us in mind of our visit with Bora last July to the Circus exhibit at the Lawrence Hall of Science.

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Friday Sprog Blogging: overheard on a (buggy) nature walk.

Aug 22 2008 Published by under Kids and science

The nature walk in question happened mere hours ago, at Kettle Moraine State Forest (Southern Unit), where we had occasion to notice that the local conditions support a much larger population of flying (and biting) insects than the Free-Ride family is accustomed to.
Younger offspring: What happens if a mosquito bites your eye?

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Dispatch from Wisconsin.

Aug 18 2008 Published by under Passing thoughts, Personal

The Free-Ride family is spending a week communing with Free-Ride forebears on neutral turf in Wisconsin. Internet access is spotty, so while I have access to the tubes, a few quick observations:

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Friday Sprog Blogging: preparing for Kids Day at SLAC.

Aug 15 2008 Published by under Kids and science

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Thanks to longtime friend of the Free-Rides LO, the elder Free-Ride offspring will be participating in Kids Day @ SLAC, 2008 today.
Of course, the younger Free-Ride offspring is chagrined to be two years too young to participate as well. "You know, I'm about to start second grade, and I'm going to need to know a lot of science!"
It might have been a persuasive argument ... except for the fact that we've already seen the district's second grade science curriculum.
In any event, in preparation for today's activities, we took some time yesterday evening to review the carefully compiled safety information:

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Objectivity and other people.

Aug 12 2008 Published by under Methodology, Tribe of Science

As a follow-up to my last post, it looks like I should offer a more detailed explanation of why exactly scientific activity is a group activity -- not simply as a matter of convenience, but as a matter of necessity. Helen E. Longino has already made this case very persuasively in her book Science as Social Knowledge (specifically the chapter called "Values and Objectivity"), so I'm going to use this post to give a sketch of her argument.

The upshot of the argument is that objective knowledge requires the involvement of other people in the building. All by yourself, there is no way to move beyond subjective knowledge.
First, what do we mean by "objective"?

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Peer review and science.

Chad Orzel takes a commenter to task for fetishizing peer review:

Saying that only peer-reviewed articles (or peer-reviewable articles) count as science only reinforces the already pervasive notion that science is something beyond the reach of "normal" people. In essence, it's saying that only scientists can do science, and that science is the exclusive province of geeks and nerds.

That attitude is, I think, actively harmful to our society. It's part of why we have a hard time getting students to study math and science, and finding people to teach math and science. We shouldn't be restricting science to refereed journals, we should be trying to spread it as widely as possible.

Peer review and refereed journals are a good check on science, but they do not define the essence of science. Science is, at its core, a matter of attitude and procedure. The essence of science is looking at the world and saying "Huh. I wonder why that happens?" And then taking a systematic approach to figuring it out.

I see what Chad is saying -- and to the extent that science can be said to have an "essence" think he's hit on a nice way to describe it. But I'm going to speak up for peer review here.

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Friday Sprog Blogging: just add water.

Aug 08 2008 Published by under Kids and science

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One afternoon, the Free-Ride offspring were in the mood for some spur of the moment experimentation.
So, we cleared the kitchen table, rummaged through the cupboards, and came up with a plan.
The question we decided to investigate:
What happens to different dry ingredients when you add water to them?

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Garden update: day 18.

Aug 07 2008 Published by under Passing thoughts, Personal

The state of the seedlings in my raised beds, nearly three weeks after the seeds were sown:

ScarletRunner18.jpg

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ScienceBlogs survey, and an invitation to introduce yourself.

First, from the Seed Overlords:

You may have noticed some pretty yellow banner ads around the site this week. They're advertising a huge reader survey that we're conducting right now. Anyone (excepting Seed employees) who fills it out can enter to win an iPod and MacBook Air.
The survey takes about 10 minutes to complete. Here's the survey page:
http://www.erdossurvey.com/sb/survey/

Then, following the lead of Ed, Bora, DrugMonkey, and Alice, I'd like to invite the readers of this blog, from regular commenters to committed lurkers, to check in.
Tell us who you are, what brings you here, and what brings you back. What do you like reading about here? What topics would you like to see more of?
I'm looking forward to hearing from you!

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