Posts Tagged ‘teacher’
Posted by mattusmaximus on December 31, 2012
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed about 220,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein, it would take about 4 years for that many people to see it. Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe!
Click here to see the complete report.
Posted in internet | Tagged: 2012, blog, skeptic, Skeptical Teacher, statistics, stats, teacher, visitors, visits, year in review | Leave a Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on February 4, 2012
I found this image via a skeptical Facebook friend, and it just screams “skeptical teacher”! I’m just jealous that I didn’t think of it first
Three words: FOR THE WIN!!!
Image source: Reddit
The solutions (pardon the pun) to these questions reveals one glaring fact: homeopathy, there’s nothing in it, except water.
**Update (2/5/12): For those interested, I have calculated the actual answers to these questions. Contact me if you would like to see the math; here are the answers:
a) 3.46 x 10^21 or 3,460,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms
b) 3.46 x 10^15 or 3,460,000,000,000,000 atoms
c) 3.46 x 10^-39 or 0.000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 00346 atoms (a number so stupidly small we can safely say that there are effectively NO arsenic atoms remaining within the solution!)
Posted in education, medical woo | Tagged: alt-med, alternative medicine, chemistry, class, dilution, homeopathy, homework, physics, question, Reddit, skeptic, solution, teacher, teaching, woo | 6 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on January 24, 2012
This past September I attended Dragon*Con in Atlanta, and I participated in many events and interviews, etc. However, in my role as both a skeptic and a teacher, one of the most fruitful things I did was to participate in the Skeptrack discussion of how to approach the question of debunking in the context of education. The panel was an important discussion moderated by JREF President, D.J. Grothe on the topic of Education vs. Debunking, how they are different and when and how each should be used to the greatest effect. The discussion dealt with the issue in the context of the classroom as well as beyond in the broader culture. Below is the video footage of the discussion; I hope you find it useful…
Image and video footage courtesy of the fine folks at Skeptrack.org
Posted in education, skeptical community | Tagged: Barbara Drescher, beliefs, Brian Hart, bunk, critical thinking, D.J. Grothe, DC, debunking, discussion, DJ, Dragon Con, Dragon*Con, education, educator, footage, Grothe, inquiry, James Randi, James Randi Educational Foundation, JREF, Kylie Sturgess, Matt Lowry, method, panel, podcast, school, skeptic, Skeptic Magazine, Skeptic's Society, Skepticality, skepticism, Skeptrack, student, teacher, teaching, video | Leave a Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on October 27, 2011
My favorite time of the year is almost upon us: Halloween!
I love Halloween not just because of the candy, the costumes, and the decorations (when else can you be a complete freak and it be socially acceptable?) but also because of the wonderful potential for promoting skepticism and critical thinking about various paranormal claims. Let’s face it: at this time of the year, ghosts, witchcraft, psychics, and various other kinds of woo are on everyone’s minds, so why not take advantage of that fact and use it to inject the skeptical viewpoint on things? I have found this to be a very effective teaching technique over the years, so that’s why I pass it along to you.
So in the spirit of the season (pardon the pun), allow me to share with you some links to various Halloween-ish skeptical resources that you can use, including a few of my earlier blog posts on the subject…
Posted in aliens & UFOs, education, ghosts & paranormal, humor, magic tricks, physics denial/woo, psychics, skeptical community | Tagged: 1938, AAPT, aliens, American Association of Physics Teachers, broadcast, cartoon, critical thinking, delusion, detectors, education, electromagnetic fields, EMF, equipment, esp, extrasensory perception, Flim Flam, ghost hunter, ghost hunters, ghost hunting, ghost meter, ghosts, Halloween, Haunted Physics Lab, high school, hoax, humor, hysteria, infrared, invaders, invasion, James Randi, Lake Forest, lesson, magic, mars, Martians, mass hysteria, media, Mercury Theater, meters, NOVA, orb, Orson Welles, Ouija, Ouija board, panic, paranoraml, paranormal, PBS, physics, pseudoscience, psychics, radio, Randi, science, Secrets of the Psychics, skeptic, Skeptic's Dictionary, skepticism, Snopes, South Park, spacecraft, spirit, spirits, TAPS, teacher, teaching, temperature, The Amazing One, The Amazing Randi, The Atlantic Paranormal Society, UFO, war, War of the Worlds, waves, woo | 4 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on October 16, 2011
I am happy to report that the James Randi Educational Foundation is now awarding education grants to help educators with the development and implementation of lessons and curriculum related to teaching skepticism and critical thinking skills. Read on for more information…
… Right now, the JREF has a limited number of educator grants (up to $500 each) available to help offset the cost of developing or improving critical thinking and scientific skepticism programs in the classroom. Preference is given to projects aimed at creating educational content related to science or critical thinking through examination of the paranormal and pseudoscience.
Funded projects can include (but are not limited to) working with JREF educational modules (and related media) or developing new content to be made available to the educational community through the JREF.
If you’re interested in working with the JREF to share critical thinking tools with your students at a time when it matters most, please reply and let me know. I’m happy to answer any questions you have, discuss your ideas for projects, and explain the simple grant application process. For more information or to apply, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted in education, skeptical community | Tagged: camps, college, community centers, critical thinking, education, educator, elementary, funding, grant, high school, James Randi Educational Foundation, JREF, junior high, Michael Blanford, middle, money, museums, school, skepticism, teacher, teaching, university | Leave a Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on September 17, 2011
While I was at Dragon*Con a couple of weeks ago, one of the things I did was to participate in a very useful panel discussion on the Skeptrack. The title of the panel was “Education vs. Debunking”, and the panel was an important discussion moderated by JREF President, D.J. Grothe on the topic of Education vs. Debunking, how they are different and when and how each should be used to the greatest effect. The discussion dealt with the issue in the context of the classroom as well as beyond in the broader culture. The entire discussion was recorded and is being broadcast on the Skepticality podcast, so if you’re interested check it out…
Posted in education, skeptical community | Tagged: Barbara Drescher, beliefs, Brian Hart, bunk, critical thinking, D.J. Grothe, DC, debunking, discussion, DJ, Dragon Con, Dragon*Con, education, educator, Grothe, inquiry, James Randi, James Randi Educational Foundation, JREF, Kylie Sturgess, Matt Lowry, method, panel, podcast, school, skeptic, Skeptic Magazine, Skeptic's Society, Skepticality, skepticism, Skeptrack, student, teacher, teaching | Leave a Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on August 8, 2011
I had a recent blog post about my presentation at The Amaz!ng Meeting 9′s “Skepticism in the Classroom” workshop, but that was just a warmup, folks! I’m happy to say that this past weekend, while at the American Association of Physics Teachers summer meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, my skeptical physics colleague, Dean Baird, and I presented a more detailed and physics-oriented version of Skepticism in the Classroom
Our workshop was about 4 hours long, and we took turns presenting a wide variety of physics lessons that incorporate some aspect of skepticism and critical thinking into them (what I like to call “guerrilla skepticism”). For reference, all of Dean’s lessons are available at this link over at his Blog of Phyz. I share my lessons with you below, so feel free to use, adapt, and share them as you wish:
1. Astrology Debunking Activity and Solutions – This activity allows you to test out the notion of astrology with your students in a controlled manner. It illustrates pretty clearly that astrology doesn’t really work.
2. Bed of Nails – I’ve made a very detailed blog post already on the subject (at the link). However, at the end of that blog post the Youtube video of the moron cutting his arm with a razor sharp machete doesn’t work – try this one instead [warning: not for the squeamish!]
3. Board Breaking & Karate – This is another subject on which I have written before (click the link). However, included in my blog analysis of the topic are some additional materials: an article about the physics of karate and a notesheet that I use in my classes to illustrate the physical principles behind this not-so-miraculous feat.
4. Einstein Cranks – This is a link to a blog post I wrote earlier about how many physics cranks and pseudoscientists abuse physics and the rules of science in an attempt to promote their nonsense.
5. EMF Woo – These are a collection of blog posts I have made over the years regarding the nonsense and pseudoscience surrounding EMFs (electromagnetic fields). These posts – and the lessons associated with them – range from addressing claims of low-frequency EMFs inducing cancer to ghost-hunting woo (and the companies that promote such nonsense).
6. ESP Claims – Here I have collected a couple of lessons dealing with the claims of ESP and psychics. Most notable are the notesheet for James Randi’s Secrets of the Psychics video and an article from Skeptical Inquirer magazine I have my students read on the issue. You can find Randi’s excellent video for free on Youtube…
7. Glasswalking – This is just a blog post and video of why it is that walking barefoot on broken glass won’t cut you, provided you don’t slide your feet. Hint: nothing paranormal or supernatural is required!
8. Haunted Lab – Every year around Halloween I do a special, exploration-based lab that incorporates a lot of cool physics concepts in with some debunking of paranormal claims. It’s great fun!
9. Hot Stuff! – In this collection of lessons I address pseudoscientific claims from the standpoint of thermal physics. Specifically, I have my students learn about how firewalking isn’t paranormal, and I also have them look at the claims that a man uses his “chi” to avoid getting burned when he puts molten lead into his mouth!
10. Magnetic Therapy – This lesson is an article and notesheet regarding this time-honored classic of alternative “medicine” woo.
11. Mega-Woosh Water Slide – A couple of years ago, this Internet video went viral, supposedly showing a man making a near-impossible jump across a valley using a huge water slide. Well, it wasn’t real, but a basic analysis of physics also shows it is highly implausible as well.
12. Neat Tricks – These include some nice, off-the-cuff critical thinking exercises for your students: my “Uncle Harry” card trick, and my self-tying knot trick (the solution is here). Enjoy!
13. Optical Illusions – This is a really broad category: it includes a PowerPoint I give on illusions and pareidolia, an article I have my students read on so-called “mystery lights”, and some stuff about how spirit orbs are not what New Agers claim.
14. Ouija Board – At the link is a blog post I wrote on a lesson I use involving magnetic fields to get students to question the claims behind Ouija boards.
15. Pyramids & Aliens – These lessons focus on addressing claims by various UFOologists that aliens built the Egyptian pyramids. I have my students read an article from Skeptical Inquirer on the subject, then I give them a lecture on the physics of how humans (using simple technology) can build a pyramid, given time and a large workforce.
16. Movie Physics – In this end-of-the-year lesson, I get my students to think a bit skeptically regarding the physics presented in various movies.
It is our hope that through these workshops we can get more and more teachers to consider pursuing these skeptically-oriented topics in their own classrooms. We have plans to try doing workshops at future teacher conferences, such as the upcoming National Science Teachers’ Association meeting in 2012. Stay tuned!
Posted in education, physics denial/woo, skeptical community | Tagged: AAPT, American Association of Physics Teachers, Blog of Phyz, children, critical thinking, Critical Thinking Education Group, CTEG, Dean Baird, education, educators, kids, Matt Lowry, National Science Teachers Association, NSTA, physics, phyz, public school, resources, school, skeptical community, skepticism, students, TAM, TAM9, teacher, teachers, The Amaz!ng Meeting, The Amazing Meeting | Leave a Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on July 24, 2011
This is the solution to the puzzle presented in my previous blog post – Self-Tying Knot Trick from TAM9 – wherein I show you how to supposedly tie a knot in a length of rope without releasing the ends. Of course, it is a trick, so watch the video carefully to see just how the trick is done. And have fun with some friends, family, or (if you’re a teacher) students with this puzzle. It is a wonderful exercise in critical thinking!
Check out the Youtube video for the answer…
One last thing: I cannot claim credit for inventing this trick. I learned about it from Penn & Teller’s old book “Cruel Tricks for Dear Friends”, so credit should go to them
Posted in education, magic tricks | Tagged: critical thinking, education, fun, illusion, james, James Randi Educational Foundation, JREF, Las Vegas, magic, math, mystery, puzzle, Randi, rope, skepticism, string, TAM, TAM9, teacher, teaching, The Amazing Meeting, topology, trick | 1 Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on July 18, 2011
Well, I’m back from The Amaz!ng Meeting 9 in Las Vegas, and I’m slowly but surely getting caught up on things. I just wanted to take a moment to share with everyone a trick I showed off during my “Skepticism in the Classroom” lecture at TAM9. In this video, I show how to use a simple nylon rope to perform a *seemingly* mathematically impossible feat: having the rope tie a knot in itself without releasing either end of the rope. I show this to my students as a lesson in skepticism and critical thinking, and it never ceases to catch their interest.
Can you figure out the trick? Stay tuned to my Youtube channel for the solution
Posted in education, magic tricks, mathematics | Tagged: critical thinking, education, fun, illusion, james, James Randi Educational Foundation, JREF, Las Vegas, magic, math, mystery, puzzle, Randi, rope, skepticism, string, TAM, TAM9, teacher, teaching, The Amazing Meeting, topology, trick | 2 Comments »