Archive for the ‘teacher’ tag

Know your numbers

By January 14th, 2013 at 7:44 am | Comment

Do you know your numbers?

Do you just “get” numbers? Or have they always left you a little baffled? Now you can test this observation and quantify your number sense.

Number sense is our “gut knowledge” of numbers’ magnitude, their relationships, and even basic arithmetic. Number sense is thought to be innate, potently present as early as infancy. But while we all have it, we are not made equal. Individuals vary in the accuracy of their number sense. In other words, some people are better at guessing than others. Scientists think that such differences could relate to an individual’s mathematical aptitude.

To explore this further, researchers at John Hopkins University developed a number discrimination test, available for free online. The 10 minute test is straightforward. Yellow and blue dots flash onto a screen and you have to guess if there were more yellow or blue dots. After, the program provides a report of your performance and a comparison to others in your demographic.

Already researchers around the world have used this tool to explore different aspects of and factors relating to number sense. The John Hopkins developers have also created a package for educators that includes instructions for administering the test and guides for data analysis.

Curious to learn more? Test yourself!

Photo: USAF

Citizen Paleontologists Are Making History

By July 28th, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Comment 1

This year's Snowmastodon Project got citizen scientists and researchers working together to uncover a wealth of fossils near Aspen, CO.

This year’s Snowmastodon Project got citizen scientists and researchers working together to uncover a wealth of fossils near Aspen, CO.

During the last Ice Age, mammoths and mastodons roamed Florida. Today, fossil hunters like James Kennedy of Vero Beach, Florida find their bones.

“I’m not a scientist,” said James in a recent interview for National Public Radio. “I just go out and dig up bones good. I’m good at finding them.”

But I’d contend that James is a scientist – a citizen scientist.

Many people collect fossils. I like to think of these fossil hunters as “citizen paleontologists” and they can play important roles in scientific discovery.

For example, one of the bones James collected is more than just a fossil. It’s also prehistoric art. An image of a mammoth is engraved on the bone. Scientists estimate that the engraving was made at least 13,000 years ago. It’s an important clue to how humans lived at the time.

Several research projects are combining the skills and interests of citizen paleontologists with those of scientists in order to help us understand more about earth’s history and evolution.  Here are a few examples of projects that are getting citizens and researchers working together and leading to scientific discoveries.

The Snowmastodon Project:

This summer, high in the Rocky Mountains, not far from the town of Aspen, Colorado, local teachers and college students worked side-by-side dozens of scientists and museum staff to uncover a multitude of fossils of Ice Age animals like mastodons out of the rock. The project scientists got much needed help with the dig. The volunteers got real‐world experience with the science happening right in their own backyard.

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