Monday, April 12, 2010

Cell Phones and iPods in Education

This Friday I will be brainstorming with a middle school principal the ways and howto's of using iPod touch's in their education. She is buying a class set, and going to use these as a mobile lab. Accordingly I have given this assignment to my Grade 8's.

Cell Phones and iPods in Education

The purpose of this assignment is to figure out ways to use Personally Owned Devices (POD's) in education. They are a powerful tool, many students have them already, and they are becoming more common as time goes by.

Step 1 - Identify all the things you can do with your cell phone / iPod / SmartPhone / Netbook / Laptop

Step 2 - Choose 3 features of your device and figure out a way to use them in education. At least one of these should be a well detailed paragraph that really showcases the cell phone's ability as an educational tool.

Step 3 - Identify and clearly explain ways that students can mis-use with a POD in class. Be prepared if questioned to justify why you consider some acts to be cheating /mis-use, and some are not.

Step 4 - Model one positive way in which a POD can be used in an educational setting. This can be done with a video / audio recording / interpretive dance.

Just kidding about the dance part...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Hey Dad, I Hear Cars - ?

I took my son hiking in a regional park near our home today, Minnekhada Regional Park. It is a marsh with lots of different kinds of duck, it has some beaver, and the Canadian geese have returned from the south as spring has sprung. and the grass is riz. Lots of goose poop on the dykes that cross the marsh.

We were searching for a geocache on one of the higher look outs in the park. On our way up the hill, he said, "Hey Dad, I can hear cars?" I thought this was strange, as we are quite a distance from the highway. I asked if he was sure, and he said, "Yeah, listen - whoooooooosshhhhh..."

I told him what he was hearing was the wind in the trees. Hmmm. My son doesn't recognize the sound of wind in the trees, and mistakes it for cars on a highway. An honest mistake, to be sure, but I think we better keep getting out there.

PS. We found the geocache.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Cheaper Lighter Better Camping Gear

Ok, so there are so many people on youtube who have done it before me, and so many who have done it better, but I had to make my own - pop can camping stove! See the video below of a model similar to mine:

Warning - the blog you are about to read is for entertainment and education only. I do not advise any one try this at home.

I felt I had the necessary qualifications to create this super cheap, super lightweight alternative to my regular camping stove. The fuel I used was methyl hydrate, which I bought at home depot for less than $4 for about 1 liter. I had the pop cans, and I used a cheapo utility knife to etch the can by rotating the can against the blade. I held the blade still by anchoring it with my hand against a stack of boards.

I drilled a series of burner holes in one coke can bottom, with one filler hole. I cut the bottom of that coke can, and then cut the bottom off another can. I fit the two together, and filled with Methyl Hydrate. I had a larger tin can lid that I put the stove on to catch some Methyl Hydrate that I poured over the side of the stove. When I light this small amount of MH, it will help boil the fuel in the stove, so that its fumes come out the jet holes and ignite.

I lit it carefully with a match, bearing in mind that this fuel burns invisibly in daylight. While I had a crack in the can from when I slid the two parts together, it still lit well. It burned a little more on one side, because of the crack in the side of the can, but I still got flames out of the jets.

I put it inside a an ikea stainless steel cutlery container, with one side cut open, like shown in this blog. It is super light, and I cut open the side of the container with some tin snips. I didn't have a dremel tool, so the cuts are kind of rough, but overall it worked ok, and acted like a pretty good windbreak and pot stand.

I boiled about .5L of water in only 4 minutes by my guessing, and I still had enough fuel to keep boiling more.

The only downside is that you can't instantly shut it off easily unless you smother it with sand, which would foul the fuel in the stove (maybe, or maybe not).

- Methyl Hydrate (1L from home depot) - less than $5
- 2 cola cans - free from neighbors recycling bin (with permission of course)
- optional Ikea cutlery drainer $5

Total cost is less than $10 and it is lighter than most other camping stoves. Also, by carrying the Ikea hobo stove, I can switch to burning wood, ( so long as contained flames are allowed where I am travelling). This means it doesn't matter how cold it gets - unlike some backpacking stoves - I can keep cooking.

This project combined my love of science and my love of camping. I can't wait to make another one soon - without a crack in the side.