critical thinking

Brain Freeze

This experiment comes from a question that I got from a subscriber. As I researched the question, it was even more interesting than I expected. It also seemed like a good excuse to eat lots of ice cream.

What is a Higgs boson, and why should I care?

The Higgs boson is one of the particles that have been predicted, but has only recently been detected. It was predicted by several physicists, including theoretical physicist Peter Higgs. That is where the first part of the name came from.

OK, so what is a boson? That huge number of elementary particles is divided into two major groups: fermions and bosons. Fermions are sometimes called matter particles because they are the particles that take up space. Two fermions cannot be in the same spot at the same time.

Why don't I wear a white lab coat?

During the years I was on the road, doing science performances at schools and museums, I could count on being asked that question at least once a week. After all, isn't that the official uniform for all "real" scientists?

To understand why not all scientists wear white lab coats, lets start by thinking about why some scientists WOULD wear one. After all, the standard, white, lab coat is not the most stylish outfit, so there must be other reasons.

Thoughts on a Science Fair Project, part 1

“Science Fair Project!”

Ahh, those three special words that can strike terror into the hearts of students, parents, and teachers. I have already begun to get emails requesting fun, quick, easy projects that no one has ever done before, and that will win the science fair. I wish I had a few hundred thousand projects that fit those requirements, but even that would not take the frustration out of this annual ordeal.

A Class Science Project

“I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I do and I understand.”

Confucius, Chinese philosopher

Many of the things that students struggle with in the process of doing a science fair project are the result of not fully understanding unfamiliar tasks. If they have never written an abstract, or even read one, the challenge of composing one for their project can be truly daunting. The same is true for selecting a good topic for their project, properly stating their hypothesis, controlling variables, etc.