Teachers, look! Cheaper, fun way to get giant whiteboards

June 30, 2011

It’s a great idea, but I didn’t even dare think it possible

We’ve had blackboard paint for at least a century.  Teachers at our school sometimes paint their closet doors, or part of a wall, to use as a chalkboard.

I prefer whiteboards, though.

Watching Neil deGrasse Tyson on Nova:  Science Now, I caught a reference to a researcher whose lab walls are all painted with “dry-erase” paint.  (The NOVA piece is the episode on how the brain works; this segment deals with researcher David Eagleman.)

Is that even possible?

Quick answer: Yes!

Check out applications ideas at IdeaPaint’s blog.

Lowe’s carries IdeaPaint, the stuff displayed in the graphic above.  It isn’t as cheap as other paint, but compared to the cost of a whiteboard, it’s pretty good.  RustOleum manufactures a version available at Home Depot and other outlets.  It’s advertised as cheap as $20 per kit online, but runs as high as $40.  One kit covers about 49 square feet (7 feet by 7 feet).  I’ve found at least five different manufacturers of the stuff, with different features.

I haven’t calculated prices (at about $3.25/square foot), but there are also dry-erase skins which can be applied to any wall — with the added advantage that the product claims to be erasable for virtually any marker, including Sharpies® and other permanent markers.   One manufacturer offers skins in clear, to allow underlying paint colors to show through, and white, and says it will match colors on a whole-roll basis (pricey, I’ll wager).

Uses for math and writing should be obvious — think about those mural-sized wall maps in a geography or history class, covered with clear, dry-erase paint . . .

Wouldn’t it be great if school districts had architects, or instruction coaches, who knew about this stuff and could help us keep up in the technology and tool wars/sweepstakes?

More, resources:  

  • Dry-erase painting at Charlestown (state? Massachusetts?) schools:
  • Case study from Milford High, Milford, Massachusetts
  • Case study, Dever-McCormack School, Boston school district
  • Evernote software teams with IdeaPaint . . . look at the video

Why is the Texas Chainsaw Massacre so popular?

June 29, 2011

And, why do people so very, very much, want that story to be true and not fictional?

Here’s the list of stories from this blog that were most popular over the past seven days; the top two stories hold about those ranks week in and week out:

Top Posts (the past week)

Based on a true story — except, not Texas. Not a chainsaw. Not a massacre. 530 views

28 poems on living life to the fullest, today 425 views

True story: Yellow Rose of Texas, and the Battle of San Jacinto 167 views

News flash: Texas has a second natural lake! 136 views

Nuclear power plant incident in Nebraska?

“When we’re telling whoppers about Obama and government, please don’t pester us with the facts” Department

Hoaxed Nebraska nuclear plant crisis update

Quote of the moment: John F. Kennedy, “We choose to go to the Moon”

Someone somewhere is discussing whether the story behind the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies is real or fictional.  I can’t find that discussion, alas.

Either that, or we have a lot of prurient interests out there.

Interesting mix of story viewings, otherwise.


PestAway: Exterminator deals with DDT, honestly

June 29, 2011

Here’s a cool breeze:  Pest Away Exterminators in New York explains, patiently, that DDT no longer works against bedbugs, and is otherwise ill-advised in most applications.

Try to find an error in this short post:

DDT

The truth about DDT…

  • It was highly effective when it was first introduced.
  • It nearly wiped out bed bugs in America.
  • It is NO LONGER effective in treating bed bugs.
  • It is more dangerous than people realized.

In 1939, DDT (Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane) was introduced as the “miracle pesticide.” It was effectively used in military and civilian arenas to control lice, malaria, mosquitoes and bed bugs. It nearly wiped out all bed bugs in an allegedly “safe” method, but by the 1960’s, bed bugs had built up a resistance and potential immunity to DDT.

In 1962, Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring, which essentially demonized DDT and helped launch the environmental movement. By 1972, DDT was banned in the USA, but DDT is still used very effectively in other countries to control Malaria. Although there is a public outcry to bring DDT back, it’s very unlikely that it would have any meaningful effect on controlling bed bugs.

Jeff Eisenberg founded the company in 1991, after a career with a large accounting firm.  It appears his training on the importance of accuracy in numbers, and honesty in facing tough situations, carried over to his new business.  Good on him.


Meanwhile, in the evolution debates, where we find the Mother of All Denialism . . .

June 29, 2011

Other fronts in the War on Education may have earned more attention here in the Bathtub, lately — and in state legislatures.  Threats from the dilution and elimination of good, hard science courses continue to pose problems, especially from creationists and their shyer, camouflage troops from the Chapel of Intelligent Design.

We need to stay aware of the creationist/creationism threat.  At its heart, creationism requires adherents to reject the facts of science, to reject the workings of science, and to reject the functions of debate about what is real, and what is not.  It is to me a rather simple discussion of the quality of evidence.

Eugenie Scott and her colleagues from the National Center for Science Education provide a great update in what is going on, with a great video, and an informative and troubling explanation of the links between creationism and the “unbelievers” in climate change.

Be sure to watch the first ten minutes, to see the video update on the fight to keep good science education in schools, especially the teaching of evolution.


Memphis Public Library assembling history of 2011 floods

June 28, 2011

Here’s a good idea:  The Memphis Public Library is putting together an archive on the 2011 floods in the area, we learn from the Memphis Daily News:

St. Mary’s Senior Helps Library Build Flood Archive

St. Mary’s Episcopal School student Ellery Ammons is devoting her summer break to helping the Memphis Public Library & Information Center build an archive documenting the Mid-South floods of 2011.

Ammons, an employee of the Shelby Forest General Store owned by her parents, is also a Girl Scout, working toward her Gold Award.

Recognizing the need to document this year’s historic deluge, the high school senior decided to take on the tasks of soliciting, cataloging and archiving community photos to create the 2011 Flood Collection.

She plans to create a digital archive of flood photographs to provide future generations with an accurate record of the floods that ensued when the Mississippi and its tributaries overflowed in Memphis and the surrounding areas this past spring.

Library digital projects manager Sarah Frierson said she’s delighted to have the extra hands in the history department, saying the collection “will be a wonderful complement to the library’s existing Mid-South Flood Collection, which documents the floods of 1927 and 1937.”

The Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library, 3030 Poplar Ave., is seeking photo donations to add to the 2011 Flood Collection. Donations, which will become part of the library’s permanent collection, can be brought to the history department on the main library’s fourth floor or e-mailed to Flood2011.Photography@gmail.com.

– Aisling Maki


UFOs? Obama-ordered news blackouts? No: Brain failures

June 28, 2011

Come on, you can figure out how this applies to those stories about Obama’s secret orders — or more accurately, the lack of those orders.  From Neil deGrasse Tyson and the argument from ignorance, presented at St. Petersburg College, Florida, 2007:

Tip of the old scrub brush to Neil deGrasse Tyson, and his Tweet.


Dragon fly on a Saturday walk in the park

June 28, 2011

Lions Park in Duncanville, Texas, to be more precise.  The dragon fly appears to me to be Neurothemis tullia, a Pied Paddy Skimmer, though I believe that is considered an Asian species.  [But see note at the end of the post.]

Closely related?   An exotic introduced to Texas?  Here we had cotton fields, not rice paddies.  The wings look like those of a Pied Paddy Skimmer, but most of the photos I’ve found show a black body, and this one is definitely gray.  Hmmmm.

Dragon fly, Pied Paddy Skimmer, Neurothemis tullia - photo by Ed Darrell copyright 2011, use permitted with attribution

Dragon fly, Pied Paddy Skimmer, Neurothemis tullia - photo by Ed Darrell; copyright 2011, use permitted with attribution

Dragon flies look mean.  As a very young child I was terrified of them, growing up on the banks of the Snake River in Idaho.  My mother, a farm-raised girl, took me out for a walk among the diving, softly-humming aerobats, and explained they had no stingers, they ate other insects, and they seemed to like humans, if we’d watch them.  As we watched, she held out her hand and a dragon fly landed, as if to say, “Hello!  Listen to your mother.  She knows us.”

Dragon fly in Duncanville Lions Park, photo by Ed Darrell - use permitted with attribution

Dragon fly takes a higher vantage point. Is this species exotic in Texas?

Up Payson Canyon, in Utah, at Scout Lake I passed many early morning hours, and many noon siestas, in the reeds watching the dragon flies.  When we were in our canoes or rowboats they’d fly at us like rockets, appearing to think they were torpedo planes, then fly up, or right or left, at the last possible second, to avoid colliding with our craft.  Through July they’d fly tandem, mating.  This intrigued Scouts, and delighted them beyond measure when the nature merit badge counselor explained they were having sex.  Red ones, blue ones, yellow, brown and black ones.  Big ones, little ones.

Shortly after we moved to Texas, we discovered that a swarm of dragon flies probably meant a local colony of fire ants was casting off females, to mate and start a new mound of exotic, stinging terror.  The dragon flies would catch and eat the queens-to-be.  I had to use a broom to shoo off a neighbor with a can of insecticide, trying to kill the dragon flies in their work to keep us safe and happy.  “But they look so mean,” she explained.

Judge no book by its cover (except Jaws); judge no insect by its eye apparel, or human eye appeal.

Dragon fly, Neurothemis Tullia (perhaps), Duncanville Lions Park, 6-25-2011 - Photo by Ed Darrell, use permitted with attribution

Pied Paddy Skimmer rests from hunting

_____________

Update:  In comments below, Roused Bear wonders if this isn’t the Widow Skimmer, which is native to Texas.  That would make a lot more sense, wouldn’t it?  What do you think, Dear Reader:  Widow Skimmer, Libellula luctuosa?


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