Philip Neilson

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Recent Reviews by Philip

Sun Mar 09, 2014 11:45 AM
4 Inferences Lead to Surprising Discoveries
This is a fantastic podcast for those interested in an overview of astronomical discoveries of the twentieth century. Dr. Lochner does a great job at explaining some dense concepts in very accessible language. There is also a great interactive element to the podcast (for those who were participating in the Web Seminar at the time, but also interactive for the podcast viewer). The podcast spans the whole twentieth century, but focuses on a particular thread of discussion that focuses on how scientists came to know what they know. Dr. Lochner extensively focuses on the process of making scientific observations and then creating inferences based on those observations. As a language arts teacher, there are applications here for teaching my students the reading skill of making inferences. I plan to find some grade-level appropriate books about the story of Edwin Hubble and his discoveries, to teach my own students about the power of making inferences. The section of the podcast that discussed the Cepheid Variables and how this development allowed astronomers to calculate distances was particularly fascinating to me. A month or so ago, my wife and I got to actually look at the Andromeda Galaxy through a 20 inch Newtonian reflector telescope, and it was breathtaking. In this podcast, hearing the science history behind the discovery that this is actually a galaxy separate from ours, is incredible. There are some points in the podcast where the presenters had some technical difficulties, so you will have a few places of brief static, but this is in the podcast itself, not in your computer (if you download and listen to the podcast).

Mon Feb 17, 2014 12:45 PM
4 Helpful for Understanding Surface Formation
This Science Object deals with the processes involved in forming the parts of the earth that we can see. For me, this is one of the most interesting parts of geology, because we can observe the effects of these processes just by looking--no microscopes or telescopes needed! This Science Object does a good job at tying together the various factors and processes involved in landscape formation. The study begins by examining the necessary academic vocabulary for discussing the processes at work: for example, physical versus chemical erosion. It then examines common processes by which erosion and land sculpting takes place: flowing water (rivers), wind, ice (glaciation), ocean waves. Finally, the conclusion of the science object is a very interesting comparison of the eroding process of two different rivers: the Mississippi and the Colorado. I found this section to be the most fascinating, because it illustrates the dramatic differences that two rivers, similar in some respects, can have on a landscape due to varying factors (such as whether the surrounding environment is wet or arid, or what the gradient of the the river is). Overall, I gave a high rating to this Science Object because I appreciated the way that it brought together many aspects of earth science (the water cycle, rock cycles) and showed how they fit together into this larger picture of how the landscape of the surface of the planet is sculpted. At several points along the way, there were also various "Common Student Misconceptions" that were offered, which would be helpful were I to incorporate this information into a curriculum (they were also a good check for my own misconceptions!).

Sat Feb 08, 2014 6:15 PM
4 Well-Written Article, Majestic Topic
The Rocky Mountains is a broad topic (quite literally) to tackle in a single article. Yet "Mountains Majesty" does this well. It offers both a broad overview of the ecology of the Rockies, as well as an introduction to some of the management and environmental issues facing this area of the country. Since this article was written by BLM employees, the article's treatment of the management issues has a decidedly neutral tone. It presents some of the topics such as water usage, mining, and energy development without the politically charged quality that one might encounter in other writings on the subject. This article could therefore be a helpful jumping-off point for students to pursue deeper research on management issues in the Rocky Mountains.