Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dinosaur State Park - Rocky Hill, Connecticut

The big news this week is that two people nominated me for a membership in the American Chemical Society.  I am quite flattered, considering I do not have a chemistry degree like most members.  I will pursue this because it's an opportunity.  It looks good on the resume and the publications/resources will likely be helpful.        

One night this past week, I dreamed that I came to the realization that breaking into "The Club" was simply not possible.  My subconscious had thrown in the towel.  Terrific.  Perhaps deep down, my recent efforts to diversify were interpreted as moving away from the goal.  This reminded me of some lunchtime SCBWI chatter.  Someone brought up the definition of success.  Each of us had our own interpretation.  Someone said if you aren't meeting your goal, make a new goal.  I thought about those words.

What is my goal?  Is it to publish a book, educate children (and adults!) about climate change, break into new markets or something else?  It's all of those.  I have many, many goals, perhaps too many.     

How cool is that!

About a week ago, I brought a bucket filled with supplies to the casting area at Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill.   I made a cast using an actual 200-million-year-old dilophosaurus print.  It took a while for my cast to set, but I was delighted when I lifted it off the rock.  Once it was dry, I lugged all that stuff back to the car.  It was pretty heavy.  Next time, I'll post some photos of a couple of interesting plants in the arboretum.

Friday, October 19, 2012

I've been watching the presidential and vice presidential debates with interest.  Granted, I'm not an expert on many of the topics they discussed, but I do know quite a bit about science and climate change.  The focus seems to be on the cost of energy when, by far, the more important issue is what are we going to do about carbon dioxide levels that impact atmospheric temperature and the health of our oceans.  This has yet to be discussed.

Here is a link to a description of a couple of kid's classes I'll be running in early November.  There will be plenty of interacting and I have lots of fun activities planned.  I hope to see you there!

Speaking of classes, I took one myself.  It was fascinating stuff that I stumbled upon while doing research for one project I'm working on.  The professor and grad students used shrinky dinks (how fun!) to explain how they are doing their work.  We poured goop called PVMS (I think that stands for polyvinylmethylsiloxane) on our designs.  After shrinking, the design was raised slightly because the ink gets denser when it shrinks.   When the plastic hardened, they cut out plastic cubes.  (top photo: butterfly shrinky dink covered in hardened plastic with a square cut out of it) After drilling holes they injected dye into the tiny channels of these reverse images.  (bottom photo: reverse image glued to glass slide with dye injected into holes)   It was a really interesting way to understand the work they are doing.     

Friday, October 12, 2012

This past week I spoke to an editor.  During the phone conversation, some of the things I mentioned got misinterpreted.  Perhaps I didn't explain my thoughts well enough or maybe the conclusions were a stretch?  For example, I may be disappointed when an editor moves out of editing science books, but that doesn't mean I'm pessimistic about the direction of the industry.  Au contraire.  This line of thinking brought me to the subject of climate change.

Often the words of scientists, writers and speakers on this controversial subject are challenged, misinterpreted and distorted.   It is amazing that despite a sinkhole of research by scientists all over the world, there are attempts to convolute the facts by mixing science with religion and politics.  As a writer who writes about climate change, I can expect that some day my words, written or spoken, may be misinterpreted, distorted or challenged.  When that day comes, I want to be ready to fire back an arsenal of proof. 

These photographs were taken at Woods Hole Mass.  One speaker discussed how eel grass was vanishing in the estuaries on the Cape.  David, my partner-in-crime, was studying an old piece of cedar found on a Cape Cod beach.    

Thursday, October 4, 2012

In September, I worked very hard writing eight test passages that utilized new common core standards.  Since I'm not a terribly fast writer, my initial thought was that I would use research from published material to save myself some time.  No.  No.  No.  They didn't want material that the test taker may have read.  So, in a short amount of time, I did a LOT of research for a little bit of writing (less than 250 words) and I learned a tremendous amount.  The majority of my passages involved some aspect of climate change.  This pleased me immensely.

I was disappointed to learn that my ChemMatters article that was originally supposed to be published long ago, has once again been pushed off until February or April of 2013.  It will be a "clipless" year.

Today, I took a watercolor class at the new Vernon Community Arts Center.   I LOVE LOVE LOVE the place!  Yesterday, I spoke at length to the person in charge.  We nailed down some dates for the hands-on children's science classes I'll be teaching.  We decided to offer them at various dates and times to see which would draw the most participants.  These reasonably priced classes will run in November as follows:
Saturday  11/3     1-3pm        Jellyfish
Thursday 11/15   6 -7:30pm   Grizzly bears 
Saturday  11/17  10-12pm     Grizzly bears

I have ideas for a class for adults and I also mentioned a hands-on presentation that I would be quite happy to give, all were met with enthusiasm!

 It was feeding time in one of the labs at Woods Hole.  We got to see these miniscule anemones eating sea monkeys via the scientist's high powered microscope.