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Category Archives: science

4 days away! And according to our 3 Mayan Calendars… it’ll be a Happy Solstice!

Image #16: 20 Days of a Joyful Christmas: Mayan Calendar

Backstory: Our family’s got Portuguese, Spanish, English, French, Mexican, Native American [and who knows what else!] heritage. All into the very same pot… and due to work, we’re bound to the foreign service life(style). That said, we like to ‘collect things along the way’, as we travel, as we move from country to country. And funny enough, we do not not have ONE Mayan Calendar. We have THREE… We like the pieces, and I don’t think they’re any indication of the ‘end of an Era‘- let alone, the end of this world we call home…

And right now, since we were able to get our stuff/household effects from our last post, the calendars are mounted to the wall…. Next to an Elf Stocking (!) and a ‘twinkling plant’, surrounded by tiny colorful Xmas lights. As you may see, we’re a pretty eclectic family… We believe in Christmas Morning Magic, Santa, Elves… and everyone gets along just fine, around the Mayan predictions!

Now, go over for the quick explanation from NASA… Happy Solstice! :o

 

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Posted by on December 21, 2012 in BOLIVIA, humor, I SPY, photography, science

 

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17 days to a ‘possible White Christmas’… Making fun Science with… Snow!!!

Image #4: 20 Days of a Joyful Christmas: Let it snow in school… if [natural] snow doesn’t fall down from the sky, the solution is… let’s make it! [nothing wrong with having fun with school-made artificial snow!]

Makes Fluffy Artificial Snow in Seconds!

Twenty days until Christmas – through twenty images of joy… We’ll get a bit closer each day that goes by… Are we gonna get any snow?! Who knows… maybe! Previous image here.

 

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The La Paz Natural History Museum: an afternoon with the Tyrannosaurus Rex and ‘other friends’…

October Magic – learning through art, history, and now… dinosaurs! A group of friends got to spend an afternoon at the La Paz Natural History Museum, sharing with our children the fantastic lessons learned through investigative work, replicas, stories and, even… tales! Needless to say, everyone had a great time, easy to verify below through the images/photos taken during our trip to the museum.

[Backstory]: Bolivia is known internationally as “The Country of the Altiplano, which has the highest seat of government of the world, highest navigable lake on earth, is known for pre-Columbian ruins Tiahuanaku etc. What is known that two thirds of Bolivia are located in the tropical lowlands of the Amazon and silver, whose average elevation is 300 m. above sea level with an average temperature of 27 º C. La Paz sits in the Andes Mountain range and is the world’s highest capital. The city is the top place to visit in Bolivia. National Museum of Natural History joined the Bolivian Fauna Collection (La Paz), and the Noel Kempff Mercado National History Museum (Santa Cruz) to bring community and scientific expertise together to enable effective local and regional planning for biodiversity conservation. This association was called Conservación de la Biodiversidad para un Manejo Integrado (COBIMI), or Biodiversity Conservation through Integrated Management. Recognizing the urgent need for communities living in and around protected areas to actively participate in and benefit from the conservation of the resources upon which they depend, the COBIMI partners convened workshops to develop dialogue among local stakeholders, provided training for these groups in communication and outreach; and provided financial resources and technical assistance for communities and protected area staff to design and implement, for the first time, their own conservation projects. Several innovative community resource management projects were implemented, including community museums (or “interpretive centers”), ecotourism facilities, trails for tourists that highlight biodiversity, and protected area informational materials.

The T-Rex: The Official Story

“Tyrannosaurus, meaning ‘tyrant lizard’) is a genus of theropod dinosaur. The famous species Tyrannosaurus rex (‘rex’ meaning ‘king’ in Latin), commonly abbreviated to T. rex, is a fixture in popular culture around the world. It lived throughout what is now western North America, with a much wider range than other tyrannosaurids.

Fossils of T. rex are found in a variety of rock formations dating to the last three million years of the Cretaceous Period, approximately 68 to 65 million years ago; it was among the last non-avian dinosaurs to exist prior to the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event.

 

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Snapshots of The Smithsonian Natural History Museum, Washington DC.

Well, we’re in La Paz, Bolivia, now. But before we arrived to our newest work and life adventure, we got to spend some time with family back in the US, sharing our stories and experiences of the past two years living and working in Brazil; do a bit of traveling, spend some great quality time with our kids at parks in Delaware and Virginia… and visit the National Mall in Washington, DC. A lot done during our ‘home leave’, now, being shared with our friends, family and curious readers! :All of that will be presented here… one at a time, though! :o 

Fifth stop: Halls at the Museum of Natural History, Washington DC: Link to the exhibit is here.

 

As a Biologist, mom/teacher and former volunteer at the Natural History Museum (2004), I can say the visit, the explanations, and the teaching/learning combinations are well worthy a day trip with your own children, class students, friends, or simply, a ‘curious soul’… Related articles

 

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Images from an exciting visit to the O. Orkin Insect Zoo, in Washington, DC.

 

Before assuming post at our newest work/life assignment in La Paz, Bolivia, like many other foreign service families, we spent our four weeks of home leave in the US. We visited with family in Virginia and Delaware. We reconnected with friends from the past and from the present. We had fun at parks, public libraries, museums and galleries. We learned and shared experiences about history, culture, nature and life, with our kids. A very intense period – and totally worthy! A lot done during our ‘home leave’, now, being shared with our friends, family and curious readers! All of that will be presented here… one at a time! :o 

Fourth stop: The O. Orkin Insect Zoo, part of the Museum of Natural History [Smithsonian], in Washington, DC: Link to the exhibit is here.

At a Glance

The O. Orkin Insect Zoo is a special exhibit hall on the 2nd Floor of the Museum where visitors can observe live insects and their many-legged relatives. Volunteers conduct tarantula feeding demonstrations, work with live insects that visitors may touch and hold, and answer questions about the many-legged creatures that live in the Insect Zoo.

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As a Biologist, mom/teacher and former volunteer at the Natural History Museum, I can say the visit, the explanations, and the teaching/learning combinations are well worthy a day trip with your own children, class students, friends, or simply, a ‘curious soul’… 

 

 
 

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Snapshots from Home Leave: An afternoon at the Clemyjontri Park in McLean, Virginia.

[Backstory: Well, we're in La Paz, Bolivia, now. But before we arrived to our newest work and life adventure, we got to spend some time with family back in the US, sharing our stories and experiences of the past two years living and working in Brazil; do a bit of traveling, spend some great quality time with our kids at parks in Delaware and Virginia... and visit the National Mall in Washington, DC. A lot done during our 'home leave', now, being shared with our friends, family and curious readers! All of that will be presented here... one at a time, though! :o

That said, let's continue with our tales & reporting from our time back in the US, during this year's home leave. Before, I shared here some unique images from an intriguing visit to the Butterfly Garden, hosted by the Smithsonian [Natural History Museum], in Washington, DC. Without question, the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is the United States’ public playground, with loads of open space for tourists, and kids in particular, to roam. There’s not much here in terms of specific play features, but you’ve got leafy areas for picnics, a carousel, paddleboats on the Tidal Basin, and lots of biking and walking trails.

Second stop: The Clemyjontry Park, McLean Virginia: Link to more information about the park, its hours and features, here.

As in, the packaging for a new toy can be as entertaining as the toy itself. I find that traveling with young kids follows a similar logic. You can do all the museums, monuments, churches, and castles in the world, but what kids really want is a place in which to run around like they do at home. So to aid in that quest, here are my recommendations for small-people spaces in big-city places—namely, adventuresome playgrounds that will stand in for that well-worn play area at your neighborhood school or park.

We had the pleasure of being joined by a dear friend, whose patience and care for my children are priceless… Thank you very much, Cherise! ♥

 
 

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Snapshots from Home Leave: A visit to the Butterfly Garden at the Smithsonian Museum, Washington DC.

 

Well, we’re in La Paz, Bolivia, now. But before we arrived to our newest work and life adventure, we got to spend some time with family back in the US, sharing our stories and experiences of the past two years living and working in Brazil; do a bit of traveling, spend some great quality time with our kids at parks in Delaware and Virginia… and visit the National Mall in Washington, DC. A lot done during our ‘home leave’, now, being shared with our friends, family and curious readers! :All of that will be presented here… one at a time, though! :o 

First stop: The Butterfly Garden, Washington DC: Link to the exhibit is here.

We had the pleasure to visit the $3million butterfly exhibit at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. The exhibit “Butterflies + Plants: Partners in Evolution” features a 1,200 square foot tropical butterfly garden with approximately 400 butterflies. In the exhibit’s main hall, visitors learn about the co-evolution of butterflies and plants.

The butterfly garden at the Smithsonian is located on the Ninth Street side of the National Museum of Natural History building. 

Four distinct habitats – wetland, meadow, wood’s edge and urban garden — encourage visitors to observe the partnerships between plants and butterflies.

The garden is a joint project of the Horticulture Services Division and the Museum with partial funding from the Smithsonian Women’s Committee.

The garden, on view at all times, is a perfect complement to a visit to the O. Orkin Insect Zoo on the second floor of the Museum. [Stay tuned for upcoming posts on other visits to the Smithsonian wonders!] :o

As a Biologist, mom/teacher and former volunteer at the Natural History Museum (2004), I can say the visit, the explanations, and the teaching/learning combinations are well worthy a day trip with your own children, class students, friends, or simply, a ‘curious soul’… We had the pleasure of being joined by a dear friend, whose patience and care for my children are priceless… Thank you very much, Cherise! ♥

 

 

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Why Are There So Few Women in Math and Science Professions?

3rdCultureChildren:

A great finding, during one of my weekly ‘blog-hoping’ exercises… Thank you, NewsofTheTimesBlog!

“There is a fascinating story on NPR this week about the lack of women in math and science fields that is worth a read.

It explores the reasons that there are more men than women in these fields and the reasons that many women do not stay in these fields. The article lays the blame on women’s awareness of stereotypes regarding their competency in these areas.

The author makes it clear that the problem is not all in women’s heads, but rather lays the blame at the feet of the pervasive messages that women hear on a daily basis about their abilities, or inabilities, in these areas.

I find this fascinating. When I was in middel school, I was told I was bad at two things – OK, maybe 3 things – math, science and art. Whether the people who told me these things recognized that they sent me this messages as a teenager or not, these messages stuck with me over the years; in fact, these messages have stuck with me to this day.

I worked in the field of domestic violence for many years and was always interested in the programs that many shelters have for children who have witnessed domestic violence, where they use art therapy to help children heal and cope with their untenable family situation.

As someone who was told that art was not a personal strength, I always felt more stressed by the idea of this type of therapy than soothed. The messages we are told when we are young stick with us.

The story on NPR seems to confirm this and posits the theory that this is one of the main reasons that women, even women in high level math and science professions, do not stay in those positions.

The story points out a fundamental challenge, in which there are not many women in these fields, and women seem less likely to enter these fields because they do not see themselves represented in these professions.

Quite a chicken and the egg conundrum.

What do you think? Have you, or your children, had any personal experiences with being told that you were not good at something? Have you found ways to counter these messages that work for you? Do you have any ideas about how more women could be encouraged to enter the fields of math and science? Or do you think that it is not really a problem to have this field so dominated by men?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading.”

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A fantastic reading, for sure! It’s so good to know there are similar voices/questions/concerns out there! Enjoy the reading!

Originally posted on newsofthetimes:

There is a fascinating story on NPR this week about the lack of women in math and science fields that is worth a read.

It explores the reasons that there are more men than women in these fields and the reasons that many women do not stay in these fields. The article lays the blame on women’s awareness of stereotypes regarding their competency in these areas.

The author makes it clear that the problem is not all in women’s heads, but rather lays the blame at the feet of the pervasive messages that women hear on a daily basis about their abilities, or inabilities, in these areas.

I find this fascinating. When I was in middel school, I was told I was bad at two things – OK, maybe 3 things – math, science and art. Whether the people who told me these things recognized that they sent me this…

View original 276 more words

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2012 in EDUCATION, science

 

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Paraíba, home of the Brazilian blue tourmaline, encloses the Easternmost point of the Americas

Paraíba, home of the Brazilian blue tourmaline, encloses the Easternmost point of the Americas

Family day trip to Cabo Branco, in the State of Paraíba. Hidden in one of the Norteastern Brazilian states, it’s possible to discover this ‘gem‘, the geographic place, corresponding to a cape on the Atlantic coast of Paraíba state, which forms the easternmost point of the American continent, five miles southeast of João Pessoa, the state capital. It is surrounded by beautiful white sand beaches bordered by flat-topped forms of sedimentary strata called “tabuleiros“, which rise sharply above the beaches to heights between 150 and 500 ft, and enjoys abundant rainfall. The name of the State comes from the combination of the Tupi words pa’ra (river) and a’íba (unsuitable for navigation). The Ponta do Seixas, on Cabo Branco beach, where, according to a traditional saying, “the sun rises first” is the land of the sun indeed, and of an enviable shore — but also of other historical, ecological and cultural beauties.

We got to see the famous lighthouse of Ponta Seixas, and enjoy the idea of being by the farthest East of the Continent.

Ponta do Seixas é o ponto mais oriental do Brasil e da América continental, localiza-se na Parte Leste da cidade de João Pessoa, capital do estado da Paraíba, a 14 quilómetros do centro da cidade e 3 quilômetros ao sul do Cabo Branco, que já foi considerado o ponto mais a leste do continente e que devido à erosão marinha que ao longo dos anos fez com que suas ondas desgastassem o Cabo Branco e depositasse estes sedimentos na Ponta Seixas (fazendo-a aumentar) e passando a ser atualmente o ponto mais oriental das américas.

Do alto da Ponta do Seixas, erigido sobre uma falésia, fica o formoso Farol do Cabo Branco, no formato de um pé de sisal, de onde se tem uma bela vista da orla e do oceano Atlântico. Muitas pessoas confundem a Ponta do Seixas com a falésia do Cabo Branco. São duas formações geológicas diferentes. A ponta é que representa o ponto mais a leste da América e não a falésia do Cabo Branco. A ponta do Seixas é uma estreita faixa de terra mais ao sul da barreira que se prolonga para o leste.

Taking advantage of the opportunity to teach the kids a bit of Geography:


 

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Greenpeace in Brazil. Visiting the Rainbow Warrior Ship.

2 biologists

The Greenpeace ship, Rainbow Warrior is in Brazil.

We had the opportunity to go on a guided visit through its compartments, talk with the captain, and learn more about the current projects involving the Greenpeace Initiative and Brazilian NGOs.

The visit also included the solar kitchen installations and the solar panels.

 

The Captain

  

 

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School ‘Babylon Hanging Garden’: hard work pays off!

Great use of a recycled PET bottle!

 
Wordle: herbs

The Recognition 

EcoClub Pizza! Harvest time is approaching for the Hanging Gardens of the EcoClub. We’ve talked the School Canteen into turning the garden’s produce into Pizza (and Salad!) for lunch on June 11.:o Stay tuned!

That said, I’ve been asked to provide updates on our Hanging Garden Project. We’ve got new ORGANIC VEGGIES, all from ‘freshly donated seeds’… Our middle/high school students have been deeply involved in building a system with planters made from recycled PET bottles, as seen on the right. What originally was a school research project, has become a multidisciplinary task (see left), and a passion for all the gardening lovers! Besides that, we’ve discovered a great source of cost-free clean/distilled water for all the watering needs: the several air conditioning devices, spread throughout the school campus.  

 

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Participando da Rede do Saber com o Infantil III do Colégio Madre de Deus.

Imagens de uma mamãe super orgulhosa, conversando e demonstrando “experiências científicas” com a turminha do Infantil III, da minha filhota! Vou sentir muita saudade desta escola

Muito grata pela oportunidade, Profa. Suzy!

Na hora de despedir, minha “assistente” resolveu lembrar-se que, apesar de todo do ‘glamour’ da ciência, queria mesmo era colo de mãe… Pode uma dessas??! :o :o

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Sustainable energy in Brazil: Wind Power Park in the Northeast.

Today I decided to have fun writing, revisiting my long-lost past in research and natural sciences, as well as, a result of the ongoing inspiration (or should I call it “daily challenges”? :o) my current Physical Science students offer… The topic I chose to revisit, showcases one of the family’s trips to Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, while husband went to visit the Wind Power Park.

A little bit of background: A few years back, a drought in Brazil that cut water to the country’s hydroelectric plants, prompted severe energy shortages. The crisis underscored Brazil’s pressing need to diversify away from water power.

Brazil’s first wind-energy turbine was installed in Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, in 1992. Later, the government created programs to encourage the use of other renewable sources, such as wind power, biomass, and Small Hydroelectric Power Stations (PCHs). Such stations use hydropower, the flagship of Brazil’s energy matrix, which comprises around three-quarters of Brazil’s installed energy capacity.

High energy production costs, coupled with the advantages of wind power as a renewable, widely available energy source, have led several countries to establish regulatory incentives and direct financial investments to stimulate wind power generation. Brazil held its first wind-only energy auction in 2009, in a move to diversify its energy portfolio.

The Brazilian Wind Energy Association and the government have set a goal of achieving 10 gigawatts of wind energy capacity by 2020. Let’s just hope. Renewable resources: the greener and cleaner, the better!

The visiting team Recife and local experts


O Parque eólico Alegria é um complexo de propriedade da Multiner, localizado no munícipio de Guamaré, no Rio Grande do Norte (RN). O complexo refere-se aos parques Alegria I e Alegria II.

 

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‘Checkmate, Mom!’ A visit to the chess class.

Learning Math and having fun while doing it? Humm…

The heart on the wall saying: “MOM”…

School all decorated for the ‘mom-players’

Another activity for children, organized by our kids’ school. And why this? A different way to honor and motherhood, celebrating Mother’s Day, showing the children’s appreciation for all the heartfelt work and effort every mom offers freely… This time, all the moms were involved, as well! First graders had the opportunity to enjoy quality time with their moms (it was Mother´s Day Week at the School!), show their knowledge of the ´strategy game´, creating links with real mathematical situations… all that while playing with their classmates! Could it be any better? :o

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2012 in ART, post a day, science

 

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Update: Taking antique photographs in the streets of Olinda, Brazil.

“Foto Lambe-Lambe”: calling in customers

We’re on countdown mode. Soon, our family’ll be heading out of Recife, towards our new assignment… Now, it’s time to organize our photos, and begin sorting to the memories we’ve built during our time here. One of our favorites, the city of Olinda, another UNESCO heritage site

Any traveller loves to take pictures! We are no different.
Imagine our surprise and joy when we discovered this Argentinean “street photographer” during one of our walks along the many historical streets in Olinda, Pernambuco.

street in Olinda

“Daniel the Argentinean” lives and works in Olinda. Before, lived in Paraty (RJ) and Ouro Preto (MG)

The man responds to the name of “Daniel the Argentinean“, and with his original equipment, offers the by-passers a unique opportunity to have an antique-style picture taken. He’s got it all: the chemical mixtures, developers, films, and once done, surprises you with a nostalgic impression – reminding me from when I was a child growing up in Brazil, and my mom would take my brother and I for the 2×2 photographs, for school’s documents…

Boy, am I that old???

“the man behind the machine”


“…and they lived happily ever after…”

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2012 in photography, science, TRAVEL

 

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Snapshots of blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus), from northeastern Brazil.

There has been an ongoing interest in blue crab fisheries in the northeast of Brazil since the 1960′s, when the state of Alagoas recorded an average annual yield of 57 tons. Being a Biologist and a teacher, I became curious to find out a bit more of this intriguing wild population…  official or unofficial literature on the activities of blue crab fisheries in Brazil are scarce, but this resource is known to be the bycatch of several fisheries. There is great fishing potential for the species of the genus Callinectes, since blue crab fisheries are still mostly artisanal, located in small fishing communities scattered along the Brazilian coast. :o Now worries… there’ll be no Science over here, though, only interesting snapshots of these beautiful creatures!

Due to blue crabs’ productivity and socioeconomic importance, they’ve been constantly monitored and evaluated, with the purpose of maintaining sustainability, ensuring the continuing existence of the fisheries. Here, a quick sample of their “protected homes” :o

Related articles

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2012 in photography, science, wildlife

 

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The ‘post-supermoon’, May 7th 2012, Brazil.

I have to confess: I was a bit disappointed with the whole ‘lack of a glorious super moon‘ this past May 5th… Where was it??

At least,  from my very own point of view. Last year we got amazing views and unique snapshots from La Luna, but this year… not so much. Last night, after having all three kids in bed, their morning school backpacks ready, I was doing my regular ‘night round’, going around the house, checking windows, locking doors… when, while checking the sliding glass doors [which lead into our apartment's veranda], there it was – Miss Luna, again, prettier than this past Saturday… I hope I was able to get a few good shots [had to use an old camera, since husband is out of town with our "good camera"]. Pictures taken, off to bed: “Good night, Moon…”

through the safe net…

 

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The Supermoon and Cinco de Mayo

In case you missed it, yesterday was Super Moon night. And it was also Cinco de Mayo
At the end of the afternoon, a very shy, though gigantic moon, kept hiding behind the dark clouds, refusing to come out and share with us its full glory… and we kept waiting, but no success… we then realized, there would be no super moon over the northeastern coast of Brazil,like what we were able to witness last year, from our beachfront setting… Disappointment? Maybe, but then plan B kicked in: its Cinco de Mayo, with or without the magnificent moon! Let the party begin, and, if the moon is too shy to show us it’s grace, the party could continue until the other star – the sun! – would greet all the party people!
And so, enjoying good food, good music and great conversation, a Brazilian-Mexican Celebration went through the night… Happy Cinco & Happy 2012 SuperMoon!

A 'super Lua' e o Cristo Redentor, no Rio de Janeiro, na madrugada deste domingoA ‘super Lua’ e o Cristo Redentor, no Rio de Janeiro, na madrugada deste domingo (Ricardo Moraes/Reuters)

:o :o :o :o :o

Here, from last year’s unique impressions:

Just wanted to share a few pictures with you all. The Supermoon, seen from our apartment, in Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil, on March 20, 2011.

Feel free to use and/or share the photographs, just remembering to indicate the source! Thanks!



 

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Hanging Garden: Making good use of (free!) 6,000 liters of water/year

Wordle: herbsI’ve been asked to provide updates on our Hanging Garden Project. We’ve got new planters, ‘freshly donated seeds’… and a cost-free watering system. For the ones not (yet!) familiar with the ‘mathematics behind getting cost-free water‘, here’s how it works: Our middle/high school students have been deeply involved in building a system with planters made from recycled PET bottles, as seen on the right.

Besides that, we’ve discovered a great source of clean/distilled water for all the watering needs: the several air conditioning devices, spread throughout the school campus. So, the students began collecting the not-before-managed water… But, how could they find out how much water would be “released” by the AC devices?


The answer to that question morphed into a mini-mathematical project: Math students were asked to develop a strategy to evaluate the volume of water released by the AC equipments, write their assumptions down (hourly rate, number of school days, etc), and today presented their results: on average, an AC device is capable of releasing over 6,000 liters of water during the course of a regular school year.

 

 

Way more than enough for keeping the Hanging Garden alive and growing! :o

Having fun with graduated cylinders & Math!

Let’s see… once more, science and math can definitely be fun (and rewarding!) :o

So far, we’ve got seedlings of:
Arugula, rocket (Diplotaxis arucoides) [Rúcula, in Portuguese)
Basil (Ocimum basilicum) [Manjericão]
Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) [Camomila]
Cherry tomato (Lycopersicom esculentum var.) [Tomate-cajá]
Anise (Agstache foeniculum) [Erva-doce] 
French onion 

Salvia
Spinach
Pepper
Bell Pepper

 
 

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16 meters deep: Investigating marine life without getting wet! Projeto Navi in Fernando de Noronha.

Projeto Navi - The Navi Project: seeing 16 meters deep!

It’s finally here: the last post on our trip/expedition to the Fernando de Noronha Archipelago.

The husband, an avid and passionate amateur photographer. His wife, yours truly, always being reminded of her background as a Biologist and forever researcher… The perfect combination for venturing with Eng. Leonardo Veras through a private investigation trip along the open ocean waters in Fernando de Noronha.

Eng. Leo Veras takes responsibility for the Navi Project (Projeto Navi), a pioneer experiment at the archipelago – unique, and wonderful!

We were taken to observe the marine life, 16 meters deep, thanks to the ship’s glass bottom, resistant to pressure, high volume and speed. Talk about biology, math, physics, all at once! Lovely and fantastic! We were able to snap several shots, as well as, a couple of videos during our expedition. All 3 images from the Project’s Website (above) are used with permission from the Project’s Coordinator. [We are very thankful to Mr Leonardo Veras for his attention, kindness and, obviously, for the private tour!] All other photographs, (including all the videos to come!) presented below, are part of our family’s personal collection (feel free to use or share them, just remembering to mention the original source!) :o Thanks for the interest! 

Fernando de Noronha has caught the imagination of travelers for centuries and many urban myths are associated with this gloriously surreal island. The archipelago is made up of one 11-square-mile chunk of volcanic rock and 20 smaller islands, three degrees south of the equator, 220 miles from Brazil’s north-eastern coast. Fernando de Noronha’s claim to fame is its diverse and rich ecosystem.

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Snapshots from the Shark Museum, Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, Brazil

The "Two Brothers" hill - Morro Dois Irmãos, viewed from the Praia da Cacimba do Padre, FN. All images from 3rdculturechildren.com

This post was promised a long time ago…It’s already been a month we came back from the archipelago, and finally, got through the last photos – the last two posts, a bit on the “scientific side”, but still, very enjoyable. Sharks and Marine investigation. Today, it’s all about the sharks. Backstory: Just like the AtlantisFernando de Noronha has caught the imagination of travelers for centuries and many urban myths are associated with this gloriously surreal island.

The archipelago is made up of one 11-square-mile chunk of volcanic rock and 20 smaller islands, three degrees south of the equator, 220 miles from Brazil’s north-eastern coast.

In Atalaia Beach, we were able to snorkel with fishes and juvenile sharks, checking out the swarms of hawksbill and green turtles, and also, witness rare island species like iguanas. Other adventure seekers like us, engaged in underwater activities, diving and snorkeling to experience the prolific marine life including albacore, barracuda, snappers, cangulos (fish)… Continuing with our experiences in Noronha, we reserved some time to visit and enjoy the company of Leonardo Veras, the curator for Fernando de Noronha’s Shark Museum (“Museu dos Tubarões”). Leo, as he prefers to be called, is a passionate engineer who lives and works at the main island, and was kind enough to take us on an unforgettable trip through the marine world! An upcoming post will share our adventures with Leo Veras and his Navi Project, investigating the deep open ocean waters. For now, you’ll be left with images we snapped while visiting the “Museu dos Tubarões” – current residence of Leo Veras, his own sculpture garden and his “front yard view”. Check them all out! :o 

Our host, Eng. Leonardo Veras

 

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Fernando de Noronha’s claim to fame is its diverse and rich ecosystem. And while nature lovers throng to this eco-paradise, the volcanic island with its splendid marine life, dramatic rock formations and long lazy stretches of beaches is the perfect romantic destination as well… We’ll miss it!

 

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Snapshots of fun science!

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Scientific investigation during Carnaval 2012…

All for Science… good investigation! I for one, just watching and taking notes of the results!

The Materials & Methods

The Conclusion: [science can definitely be fun!]

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2012 in CARNAVAL, photography, post a day, science

 

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The Manatee Project (Projeto Peixe-Boi), Itamaraca Island, Brazil

The Manatee Project (Projeto Peixe-Boi), Itamaraca Island, Brazil

What we do if we’ve got a holiday/day off right in the middle of the week? We get out of the house, hauling the 3 kids around! This time, our family decided to take a day trip to a nearby island, named Itamaraca (“rock that sings” in Tupi-Guarany language – there’ll be a later post about it!)

The island of Itamaracá, located 40 km from Recife, is separated from the continent by the Jaguaribe River. It has calm beach waters, with coconut trees, natural swimming pools, reefs, sandbanks and a fort (originally built during the Dutch Colonization Period), Besides the cultural and historical features, its ecological reservations with native forests, the island shelters the Manatee Preservation Center.

The native name for the manatee is “peixe-boi“, an enormous creature that intrigues any curious souls – especially, our toddlers’ curious eyes and minds!

Centro de Preservação do Peixe-Boi” (Manatee Preservation Center) – is open for visitors from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 am to 4 pm, it is an excellent opportunity to see the manatee so closely, this exotic sea mammal..

 

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2011 in ecology, science, wildlife

 

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“We’ve got the power!” Women scientists in Brazil punching above their weight, in technology.

Resultado do edital Futuras Cientistas

FU TU RE SCI EN TIS TS

The original idea for this project came from the joint interest of the Brazilian government to establish innovative ways to stimulate the participation of young adult women in Science and Technology. Different partnerships have been established since then, and now, high school students, and teachers from public schools in Brazil are having an unique opportunity. They’re the pioneers of an age (thanks, Giovanna Machado!) – women coming from limited-resorces settings are been offered the chance to learn and work in science, thanks to the largest Center for Technology in the North-Northeastern regions of Brazil, CETENE. CETENE is a research centre developing technological innovations for the development of the North-Eastern region of Brazil. It is the North-Eastern branch of the National Institute of Science and Technology of the Ministry of Science and Technology. They have an institutional network in the North East and rest of the country. They have a biofactory (Biofabrica) of scaled up production of sugar cane, pine-apple, banana, orchids, flowers and new development of other materials. The biodiesel unit is operational and a new, larger one is under construction. The network Rede NanoCETENE is linked to the nanotechnology and electron microscopy lab (LAMM). Research fields include nanobiotechnology and nanostructured materials. This network is open to anyone who is interested in cooperation, also with Europe. The focus is on applying natural resources of the North-Eastern region of Brazil.

Get ready: we're coming!

This month, the Center of Technology received the visit of 8 US women scientists, who came as part of this project for “Future Scientists”, which offered me the opportunity to get to know a bit more about the innovative work that’s been carried out at CETENE. See below some of the images from our visit, as well as the guest participants, from different research institutes in the USA, with different backgrounds, but all of us sharing the same goal: improving the participation of women in Science & Technology; recognizing the work that’s already been done, and preparing the future generations for an equal and fair tomorrow… :o

Guests/Visitors:

1-Lauren Armstrong – PhD candidate in chemical engineering
Nanotechnology for the United States Army, New Jersey

2- Candace Caroll, PhD – Postdoctoral fellow
Biochemistry at St. Jude’s Hospital, Tennessee

3-Parinaz Massoumzadeh, PhD – Researcher
Radiology at Washington University, Missouri

4-Ofelia Olivero, PhD – Associate Scientist
Cancer biology and genetics at (NIH), National Institute of Health, Maryland

5-Amelia Patrick, MS – Structural and civil engineer for Walter P Moore, Texas

6-Erin Pettit, PhD – Assistant Professor
Geophysics and glaciology at University of Alaska, Alaska

7-Donnette Sturdivant, MS – Environmental Engineer
Air quality monitoring at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), North Carolina

8-Diane Wray-Cahen, PhD – Science Advisor
Animal biotechnology at (USDA)United StatesDepartment of Agriculture Washington, DC

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Posted by on December 16, 2011 in science, technology

 

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Photography: Exploring the mangrove biome on Itamaraca Island, Brazil.

Photography: Exploring the mangrove biome on Itamaraca Island, Brazil.

Our family went on a day trip to the Itamaraca Island, located in northern coast of Pernambuco. There, we had the opportunity to go an boat expedition through the the mud flats (mangue) area. The name of the island, Itamaraca, comes from the Tupi-Guarany language, and means “rock that sings“. The tropical holiday Island of Itamaracá is connected to the main land by a 400 meter long road bridge and is situated just 45-minute drive from the city of Recife and the international airport. It has an area of round 65 km² and rises to an altitude of about 20 meters.

The island was annexed for the Portuguese crown in 1526 by Francisco Garcia and in that year the first settler was Duarte Coelho from Portuguese Pernambuco. In 1631 the large fortification Forte Orange was built by the Dutch under Frederico Henrique de Orange, who at one time lived on Mauritius Island. In 1866 a lighthouse was erected on the island. Nature in abundance, cultural and historical sites are to be found on this island which is separated from the mainland by the “Canal de Santa Cruz“. The “mangue” or mangrove is a type of vegetation found in areas where the waters from the sea and from rivers are mixed, adapted to the high salinity and to the muddy soil – an unique experience to a biologist mom, a passionate photographer dad and, our delighted and curious children… See below some of the images taken during the the “Miranda Family expedition” – hope you all enjoy them, as much as we have!

View from the island

Getting ready for some good shots

Entering the “mangue jungle”

oyster colonies growing along the tree branches

deeper into the 'mangue'

'aquatic jungle'

closer look at the populations of oysters and mangrove crabs

tree roots make the best shelter for mangrove crabs

Getting “stuck”… our boat got trapped!

nowhere to go... :o

We're stuck! Great opportunity for pictures!

intriguing roots and branches...

budding oysters all over the place!

Thrilled “explorers”

family back from 'manguetown'

lots of green on our way back to the island

a fantastic experience!

one happy explorer!

 
12 Comments

Posted by on December 10, 2011 in ecology, photography, science, TRAVEL

 

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Why Science is Hard to Learn.

At the same time, it begs the question:

“why is Science hard to teach”?

Got two words for that:

misleading concepts

The other day, when I found myself mentioning to students ‘I’d been teaching for longer than they’d been breathing’, I realized that, despite the long time, the challenges of teaching Science were always there…

I could list here various reasons for those difficulties: perhaps students have persistent preconceptions (especially misconceptions); lack previous life experiences (including those they might have missed in school) that would have provided valuable background information on the topic; maybe even a limited ability in the math skills needed for a particular subject; difficulty understanding abstract ideas; all that together requires a lot of extra strategic teaching skills from the teacher. If the majority of these difficulties are not addressed, in one way or another, students may end up developing even more misconceptions and more gaps in their learning…

So, maybe, teaching Science is harder than learning it? Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer to this question, and would gladly accept suggestions and/or guidance… Teaching is already hard enough by itself. When we add to the pot a series of misleading concepts, which aren’t all untrue in their nature, but extremely challenging to explain and to be understood, then, the boiling conclusion teachers have to face are serious instructional dilemmas

But, hey! Although hard to admit, some concepts are not as easy to teachers as we may try to sell them to students! [guilty smiles!]

One common fact is that the more abstract a Science topic is, the harder it is to learn for many people, including us, teachers! Telling Science to students is not teaching Science.

These images all show an aspect of science, but a complete view of science is more than any particular instance.

image from University of California Berkley (ucberkley.edu)

We all, students or not, learn by “doing” Science, and abstract topics need to be made concrete. The question is: ‘How?” How to transform concepts such as “the flow of matter and energy in ecosystems“, “matter and its transformations“, “Earth’s shape and gravity“, and understanding changes in motion – into something more concrete? Luckily, for these questions in particular, if you are curious, feel free to visit the “Hard-to-teach Science Concepts“, a great discussion-book for teachers and committed parents. Students are better able to face their misconceptions and preconceptions when they are engaged in instructional activities, placing Science into a context they are capable of understanding…

If learning Science is considered to be difficult, the reverse activity, the act of passing on your life and academic experiences, your knowledge, your discussion points, through teaching sessions, is also challenging! And as Carl Sagan once stated (see box above), offering our students and our children a “shrug” as a possible answer, could just be the path of least resistance, but definitely, may not work in the long run when attempting to raise intellectually motivated students – that being in Science or in any other academic field.

Good luck to us all, Science teachers or not, and I’m wrapping this ‘brainstorming’ post up, with a very optimistic smile… :o

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Posted by on September 5, 2011 in EDUCATION, resources, science

 

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Pumping for the future – thoughts on life and work balance in the Foreign Service

This past weekend I finally got my way around the Foreign Service Journal. As most of us already know, the Journal, including the AFSA News section, is published monthly, with each issue covering foreign affairs from an insider’s perspective. Well, this last edition was entirely focused on Foreign Service Work-Life Balance.

One article in particular, from Elizabeth Power, really caught my attention and triggered me to write down some personal thoughts and comments regarding the issues related to get back to work after having a baby, having to balance the need to keeping a healthy baby home, away from his nursing mother, breast pumping techniques and challenges, work flexibility and the social perception of a breastfeeding mother in the expatriate/foreign service scenario.

Regarding the scope of this particular post, I believe it’s unnecessary to list out the countless benefits of breastfeeding, for both mom and baby, as well as for employees’ improved evaluations of their work-life balance. Many women have made sacrifices to continue breastfeeding after they return to work. We do this despite the inconvenience of hooking ourselves up to a milking machine three times a day, because the health benefits for our babies and ourselves abound.  For the past six years, I’ve been a nursing, breast pumping, bottle-feeding mom. Any technique that would seem possible, realistic, and why not say, loving, I’d adopt!

At first, with some guilt, especially when you’re having your first baby, not so sure about how you’re supposed to manage a new baby, riding the Metro to work, surviving the extended hours away from the baby… With my first child, I knew very little about alternative feeding techniques. Traditional breastfeeding seemed to be my only route, and my obligation as a new mom, especially considering I come from a Latino family, where women are brought up to become loving caretakers… Visits to the lactation consultant helped immensely, but did not diminish my (uncalled for) guilt. My husband and I asked for help. Friends, family. We had both sets of baby’s grandparents living with us for the initial 9 months. I needed to get back to work and perform accordingly, while husband kept his regular working hours. In the best of circumstances, expressing milk at work can bring lactating women a new kind of camaraderie with their colleagues, not to mention management support as they carve out break times, find private accommodations and use sinks to clean equipment. But pumping can also be inconvenient, awkward and downright impossible at worst, depending on the job and the workplace.

Life was challenging, but we managed. The experience made me learn how to use and benefit from an electric breast pump, how to store and transport breast milk. Unfortunately, I’d started to learn a little too late in the process, and by the end of the third month, my firstborn was fully dependent on baby formula. But we learnt, with our actions, our attempts, our mistakes. We learnt.

The lessons learnt proved to be extremely helpful when baby #2 came along. As soon as I found out about the pregnancy, began visiting the La Leche League websites, acquiring information, reviews, opinions from other parents… Before we welcomed our baby girl, I’d already gotten a modern electric breast pump, with replacement parts, storage bags, and a “back up/safety” shipment (thanks to the Pouch!) of the pediatricians’ most-recommended baby formula (one never knows, right?). We, as second-time parents, seemed to be good to go.

And things were way easier that time. Breastfeeding was a breeze, and kept both mom and baby as happy as they could be. The practice made the perfection. When it was time to bring our 28-day old baby girl from South Africa back to Mozambique, her mom comfortably used the electric pump in the car, during the 2-plus car drive, stopping to rest, feed and cross the border. Batteries were key, and they make for an extraordinary accessory for breast-pumping moms! Always have them handy – no electricity? no problem!

Once I had to return full-time to work - an USAID contractor – my boss, who by coincidence happened to be a mother, and somebody who understands the challenges a new mom has, was very sympathetic to the cause, and allowed me to use one of her offices, as well as the office’s kitchenette fridge for storage. Probably, the most difficult part was dealing with the skeptic looks I got from my local co-workers, not used to that practice. That flexibility allowed me to attend meetings with PEPFAR partners, and to travel to the provinces, always carrying my pumping gear, bottles and cooler! The balance between work and life had been achieved!

Now we’re on baby #3. Still nursing and still pumping. I’m not a full-time worker anymore, but expressing milk enables me to get back into the “workforce“, as a part-timer. I spend more time with my baby, and I know we both benefit from that. I also have support: the patience and help from my dear husband, who watches the kids while I “disappear“; I’ve got help from a wonderful nanny, who learnt first-hand how to manipulate the milk and prepare the bottles; and I’ve got help from my 2 toddlers, who have seen their mom pumping-and-feeding in recent years. They understand the importance and are respectful to the process: “Shhhh, be quiet. Mommy needs to feed to the baby…

Once more, we seem to be achieving the balance between work and family life…

Bonus: Tip

Have you ever melted pump or bottle parts when boiling them? (be honest!)

Try this: When boiling items such as pump or bottle parts, put a couple of glass marbles into the pot and stay within earshot. If the water level gets low and the pot is about to boil dry, the marbles will start bouncing and clattering in the pan and alert you in time.

 

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