What level of taxonomic detail is best?

Creating resources about field science is always difficult. What bits do you include? What do you leave out? Will some of the information distract from the point you are trying to make.

The past couple of days have been spent thinking about how to described zooxanthellae-coral symbiosis for younger teens, without getting all caught up in issues like, ‘Well they’re plant-like, but not a plant…’

Today is all about taxonomic detail and the difficulty of getting it right for a broad age range, say 10-16.

The above image is of the mantle of a giant clam. As a science teacher, which of the following levels would you want including in a resource sheet about the coral ecosystem:

  • Kingdom
  • Phylum
  • Class
  • Order
  • Family
  • Genus
  • Species

Is there a ‘right’ level of detail?

Google Earth and the iPad

Lagging behind the curve slightly, we have recently been playing with Google Earth on the new Digital Explorer iPad and it’s a great tool and fun to use.

Of course, some things don’t work. Most of the nice styling that we put into the description balloons gets wiped and some of the formatting goes. YouTube videos that are formatted for HTML5 work but if they’re old and flash-based, then they don’t. We haven’t been able to get screen overlays to work either.

Quick note… if you are looking to download kml files from the web, then you need to do this using the Safari browser rather than any other browser you have installed e.g. Chrome. You’ll then be given the option to open the kml file in Google Earth.

We’ll be looking to develop desktop and mobile/tablet versions of our new sets of Google Earth resources for the coming academic year and hope to find time to spruce up some of the old ones as well.

Sea level rise and Google Earth / Maps

A great day with Priory School yesterday, examining the issue of sea level rise  in the Portsmouth area. We trialled a number of hands-on sessions, which were great fun and will write about these when we have media releases completed to use the photos of students working on the beach.

For now, here are some ideas that were jogged by looking at how ipads might be used to inform a walking tour of a coastal area.

The image below is of a map overlay created in Google Earth, showing the flood cells and sub-cells delineated by the council. Image overlays are fairly easy to create.

The Google Earth file was then saved and uploaded online. Pasting the url of the online file into the search box of Google Maps, allows you to see it as above. Note that you can use Google Maps in Earth mode so that 3D buildings show up and you can tilt the map.

We also created some polygons in Google Earth, again an easy thing to do. The different polygons were given colours and made opaque so that you could see the layers and the underlying imagery. You can see the key to the left below as well.

The ordnance datum in Google Earth and the altitude of the different layers is not quite nuanced enough to show localised flooding predictions on a 25, 50, 100 year timeline and looking to finesse these techniques before sharing more fully, but hope you get the idea.

Gove’s yacht idea, a good one…

This isn’t likely to be the most popular blog post I’ve written, but I believe that in amongst Gove’s idea to buy the Queen a yacht are some genuinely good ideas.

Here’s what happens in my mind…

Before the much scorned memo is circulated, someone at the Department for Education gets hold of it and makes a few minor amendments.

1. The ship is named RV QE2 – yep that’s right, it’s a research vessel

2. The cost of the vessel – proposed £60 million is split between the cost of a research vessel (£30 million) and a national endowment of the other half to run the good ship RV QE2

3. The RV QE2 circumnavigates Britain on an ongoing basis with a rotating crew of scientists, teachers and pupils learning about the oceans

4. The UK becomes the most-aware nation on this blue planet – spinning out great research, ideas and technologies for more sustainable seas

5. HM Queen Elizabeth II launches the ship on behalf of the country for her Diamond Jubilee and calls for a renewed sense of ourselves as an island nation and the value of our marine resources and the importance of the oceans to humanity

In terms of funding, reckon we could get a good lot of private money behind this – not a bad PR opportunity.

But that’s just in my mind. Not a bad idea in itself, just not quite the right focus. Who knows, this idea could have made this country the first in the world to have a floating academy.

Great video on marine plastics

Chris Jordan: Polluting Plastics from PopTech on Vimeo.

A very moving account of the issue of marine plastics by the photographer Chris Jordan. If you haven’t seen his work, take a look at the Running the Numbers series, a emotive take on our attitude to ‘stuff’.

Oceans advice to GCSE boards

We are the Blue Planet. The Oceans are the earth’s life-support system, producing most of our oxyg¬en and capturing more than two-thirds of carbon dioxide. The oceans drive climate and weather, regulate temperature, shape Earth chemistry, and hold 97% of the Earth’s water. Covering 71% of the surface of our planet, an estimated 97% of all life on earth is found under the ocean surface, and less than 5% of that area has ever been explored.

So as the oceans are so important, we’ve been through every GCSE specification for science and geography searching for the terms fish, marine, sea and ocean. They should be well represented. This is what we found out.

Top prize for a great section on the urgent issue of ocean acidification goes to the AQA Science team and their new Chemistry GCSE. Loving your work and hope that the rest of the exam boards follow suit. There’s also a nice reference to the issues of over-fishing, but no mention of marine case studies for species adaptation, mutualism, etc. It would also have been nice to connect in the chemistry of ocean acidification with some more on biological impacts say on zooplankton. (more…)

Explore the Oceans with Sylvia Earle

Have fun exploring the oceans in 3D with Google Earth, narrated by the ever amazing Sylvia Earle.

New ocean floor data in Google Oceans

From the Google Lat Long blog – exciting developments…

Only a tiny fraction of our oceans have ever been explored. As a matter of fact, we know more about the surfaces of Mars and the Moon than we do about our own ocean floor. So in honor of World Oceans Day, we collaborated with Columbia University to add more ocean seafloor terrain to Google Earth than has ever been available before. With the addition of Columbia’s Global Multi-Resolution Topography (GMRT) synthesis data, you can explore half the ocean area that has ever been mapped, an area larger than North America.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.