A Newsletter of Scientific Literacy. Summer 2002

the poetry of computer errors Lisa Woske at California Poly State University enlivened and enlightened my day with an e-mail of Haiku poetry to more than adequately replace those very unhelpful error messages from Microsoft. Haiku poetry is very mathematical in its construction. Each poem has only three lines, five syllable in the first line, seven in the second, and five in the third. Here are some of her samples:

Your file was so big.
It might be very useful.
But now it is gone.

The Website you seek
Cannot be located,
but Countless more exist.

Program aborting:
Close all that you have worked on.
You ask far too much.

Yesterday it worked.
Today it is not working.
Windows is like that.

Three things are certain;
Death, taxes and lost data.
Guess which have occurred.

Stay the patient course.
Of little worth is your ire.
The network is down.

Windows NT crashed.
I am the Blue Screen of Death.
No one hears your screams.

Chaos reigns within,
Reflect, repent, and reboot,
Order shall return.

stem cells in the news

Just about every day there is a new story about stem cells in the newspaper and on the evening news. President Bush set a policy last year of allowing further research on stem cell lines already in existence. In early May Senator Orin Hatch broke ranks with other Republicans to support continued research into cloning and into stem cells. Five of the most sought after lines were originated at James Thomson's lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. If you would like to help your students understand both the scientific facts and the ethical issues involved in stem cell research ask for a preview of our newly released 2002 program Stem Cells. You can learn more about it at our web site: http://www.hawkhill.com or by calling us (608) 251-3934.

cloning, genetic engineering and basic science A group of scientists and educators recently gave an unsatisfactory rating to all 10 biology textbooks it reviewed. The AP reported "they said the books--hundreds of pages long and filled with quizzes and splashy color drawings--miss the big picture. They don't flesh out the four basic ideas driving today's research: how cells work, how matter and energy flow from one source to another, how plants and animals evolve and the molecular basis of heredity." Teachers who want help on this big picture might want to take a look at Hawkhill's growing list of up-to-date videos, CD-ROMs and DVDs. THE GENE on CD-ROM is an electronic textbook that teaches basic facts, concepts and theories about modern genetics in an easy-to-access way. It can provide as much as two weeks of fruitful teaching on an individual or a class level. You can read more about it on our web site: http://www.hawkhill.com or call (608) 251-3934. See also CLONING: HOW AND WHY, THE HUMAN GENOME PROJECT, GENETIC ENGINEERING, GENE GUNS and BIOTECHNOLOGY ON EARTH. We even have a special Biotechnology Package where you can get for a bargain price of $450.
DVDs, the medium of the future--especially for teachers! If you rent movies from your corner video store as I do, you have no doubt noticed that more and more movies are coming out on DVD as well as videotape. My rental store manager says that the DVDs are so popular they may drive videotapes out of business in a few years. Whether that turns out to be true or not, DVDs do offer real advantages over tape for teachers in high schools and colleges. One, a single DVD can hold two or three regular educational video programs in one convenient package. Two, the quality of sound and video is better than tape. Three, you can view the programs on computers as well as DVD players. Many schools now have projection capabilities so the teacher can just slip the disc into a lap-top computer and project the program on a large class-room screen. Four, you can freeze frames with no loss of detail. This is especially useful for diagrams and for focusing and talking about details of any visual in the program. and Five, with Hawkhill's new DVDs the teacher or student can access instantly key sections that explore key concepts in science literacy.

At present we have nine DVDs available, all released in 2002.

* LIFE SCIENCE 1: A DVD that includes two complete videos, THE GENE and EVOLUTION. Each video has two parts.

* LIFE SCIENCE 2: A DVD that includes two complete videos, THE BIOSPHERE and ECOSYSTEMS.

* PHYSICAL SCIENCE 1: A DVD that includes two complete videos, THE ATOM and RADIATION.

* PHYSICAL SCIENCE 2: A DVD that includes two complete videos: ENERGY AND SOCIETY and NUCLEAR POWER.

* ECOSYSTEMS IN ACTION 1: A DVD that includes three complete videos: DESERTS, THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS and A TROPICAL RAIN FOREST.

* ECOSYSTEMS IN ACTION 2: A DVD that includes three complete videos: A NEW ENGLAND POND, THE GREAT LAKES ECOSYSTEM, and THE WEB OF LIFE.

* PLANET EARTH 1: A DVD that includes ENERGY ON EARTH, RESOURCES ON EARTH and ECOSYSTEMS ON EARTH.

* PLANET EARTH 2: A DVD that includes POPULATIONS ON EARTH, GOVERNMENTS ON EARTH and BIOTECHNOLOGY ON EARTH.

* ECOSYSTEM CYCLES: A DVD that includes three videos, CHEMICAL CYCLES ON EARTH, FOOD CHAINS ON EARTH and ECOSYSTEMS ON EARTH.

Read more about these new DVDs on our web site catalog: http://www.hawkhill.com/catalog.html

a new survival show? Ann Landers often has a column useful for teachers. I liked a recent letter to her from a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania reader that provides a good antidote to the new survival show craze.

"Dear Ann Landers. I'm sure your readers have seen the reality TV shows that are currently popular. Most of them involve some sort of physical and mental challenge. I have a game for them.

"Drop three businessmen and three businesswomen into an elementary school classroom for six weeks. Each contestant will be provided with a class of 28 students and a copy of the school district's curriculum. Each class will have five learning-disabled children, three with Attention Deficit Disorder, one gifted child, two who speak limited English and three labeled as having severe behavioral problems.

"Each contestant must complete lesson plans at least three days in advance with curriculum objectives, and modify, organize and create materials to match. They will be required to teach students, handle misconduct, implement technology, document attendance, write referrals, correct homework, make bulletin boards, compute grades, complete report cards, communicate with parents and arrange conferences. They must also supervise recess and monitor the hallways, and complete drills in case of fire, tornadoes or shooting attacks. They must attend workshops, faculty meeting, and curriculum development meetings. They must also tutor students who are behind.

"The winner of the contest will be allowed to return to his or her job."

As Ann replied: "I doubt any TV producers will go for your idea, but I'm sure every teacher in my reading audience will appreciate your version of reality."

wisdom from kids From Samuel Dykema in Kiev, Ukraine comes a few choice answers to eternal questions according to kids.

Question: "How do you decide who to marry?" Answer: "You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming." Alan, age 10.

"No person really decides before they grow up who they're going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you're stuck with." Kirsten, age 10.

Question: "How can a stranger tell if two people are married" Answer: "You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids." Derrick, age 8.

Question: "When it is ok to kiss someone?" Answers: "When they're rich." Pam, age 7. "The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn't want to mess with that." Curt, age 7. "The rule goes like this: if you kiss someone, then you should marry them and have kids with them. It's the right thing to do." Howard, age 8.

Question: "How could you make a marriage work?" Answer: "Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a truck." Ricky, age 10.

Overpopulation--a myth? This spring the big environmental news is the downfall of the overpopulation myth. The headlines in the NY Times read "Population Estimates Fall as Poor Women Assert Control. In India, Brazil, Egypt and Mexico, a dip in birthrates defies old theories." Thirty years ago the old theories were vigorously promoted by biologist Paul Ehrlich who led the way in predicting a "Population Bomb" catastrophe would destroy human civilization in the 21st century if not sooner.

Today it is the decline in birth rates around the world, and the rapid aging of the world's population that is causing concern. "After four days of heated debate in Madrid," reported Reuters News Agency, " a United Nations Second World Assembly on Aging agreed unanimously to a 44-page plan of action" to cope with a birth dearth and a "slow reduction in the world's population!" That's right reduction!!! The delegates from 160 nations noted that "the world's population of people 60 and over was expected to triple to two billion by 2050." They "vowed to defend the health and rights of the old, with special focus on poor countries, where the increase will be the fastest."

populations in the classroom Here's one suggestion to bring some of the population issues to the classroom. All of the people in the world could gather in a square 20 miles on a side and be as crowded as at a rock concert. (Have students check this out using powers of ten computation.) Suppose they are here and you have ten minutes to teach them something. What will you teach them? Plan your lesson.

A second suggestion for science and social studies teachers who want to bring more scientific fact and reasoned debate to this population issue check out our new program POPULATIONS ON EARTH, available in videotape or on DVD. See: http://www.hawkhill.com/764.html

One final suggestion for this second on-line Newsletter. Give me your ideas by e-mail. My address is: hawkhill@charter.net .



Editor: Bill Stonebarger
Hawkhill Associates, Inc.
125 East Gilman St.
Madison, WI 53703
billjane@hawkhill.com