Blog for Scifest?

Philippa and Georgina are in Second Year and have a wonderful idea for their Scifest competition. Philippa’s family have a number of horses and it has come to her attention that there is a large amount of heat generted in the manure heap. It may not be the cleanest job in the world but Philippa reckons she might be able to feed pipes through the manure heap and use it as a method to heat water.
They’re not so interested in whether or not this has commercial applications, merely in the science of how to get the most heat energy out.
I think it’s a wonderful idea – lots of variables to investigate- and has great potential.

We’re hoping to get quite a few students involved, and it occurred to me that this could be a really cool way to use blogs. Imagine if each group had their own blog, and could comment on each others’ projects. Serious potential for learning.

If anyone wants to advise on how best to approach this I would love to hear from you.

It would also bring them closer to how real science works. When I mentioned the possibility of blogging to the girls they were a little apprehensive of others stealing their ideas. Welcome to the world of science. Science has worked well in the past precisely because scientists were forced to publish their works in order to establish priority, yet they too had to be careful not to give away all their ideas.

One of the more well-known examples of this was the discovery of the structure of DNA by Crick and Watson. Watson wrote a wonderful book detailing his work at the time; this book – called The Double Helix – was highly controversial at the time because it turned out to be a warts-and-all approach, and many of the characters involved were not impressed with their portrayal.

Scifest 2008

The Double Helix on wikipedia

James Watson on

I need a Blog Go-To guy (or gal)

I try to engage with new technology, but I know I’m no computer whizz-kid. For instance I would like assistance in some of the following. I may well figure these out myself over time, but it would be a lot more painless if there was a go-to person.

  1. Knock off the ‘Moderate Comments’ option. I wouldn’t comment on a blog if I thought that the comment wouldn’t appear for 24 hours.
  2. Put up a ‘Subscribe by email’ option, or with a feedburner.
  3. Improve overall presentation

Hopefully this will be raised at the CESI conference next month.

Ideas and Thoughts

Came across this blog indirectly through Ewan McIntoshes (see blogroll).

Some interesting recent posts include Lesson #1 – Share;

I get really frustrated when someone tells me about an outstanding teacher and I can’t find hide nor hair of their work online. What a waste. If they are as good as others say they are, why not share that with others?  They’ll tell me their kids made a great video, learned something great from an experiment or gave a great presentation but it means very little to me unless I can be part of it too. But even those who have the means and understanding aren’t sharing like they ought to. Some even offline don’t share much. Part of it is culture.

Couldn’t agree more. Peter O’Boyle is the most inspirational teacher I know (of). I know he is inspirational because his students tell me. I have never seen him in action. We are pretty close – I was honored to have him as my Best Man at my wedding. We often meet up for a few pints, and conversation covers all the usual bases. But I reckon on any given evening 75% of the time is related to our classes. To say he is passionate would be putting it mildly.

PO is going to retire sometime over the next few years, and all that knowledge and experience is going to retire with him. Unless we can somehow figure out how to record his classes. And persuade him that we should be allowed do so.

Why so few blogs from teachers?

I have been searching for Irish educational blogs lately and there seem to be very few about.

Matt Reville is a Primary School resource teacher and has an interesting blog here, while is a wonderful diary of primary school teachers and their experiences. is a blog from Seoghan Moriarty about, as he says himself, “An eclectic collection of articles, links and remarks about the potential of ICT to enhance education.”

St Columba’s College in Dublin have a wonderful blog which exemplifies all that is good about this technology..

There are other forums where teachers talk to each other, like dictat, which again is for Primary schools with ICT queries, or the Physics teachers’ forum here.

And there are various forums like, but all in all it’s a little sparse.