Archive for November 9th, 2008

November 9, 2008

You Want Change? Put It In Writing

I don’t aspire to be a political pundit.  In fact whenever politics surface in conversation I typically hesitate to debate the finer points unless the topic is an environmental issue I know intimately.  Despite my political shyness, I can confidently say I’m excited by the election of Obama and Biden and heartened to see that this new administration is already reaching out to the public through social media, a blog, and a brand new website with opportunities for Americans to directly share their stories, hopes, and dreams before they officially take office in January.

Also worthy of mention, and of particular interest to an environmental educator like myself, Obama plans to create a Classroom Corps and a Clean Energy Corps – in the tradition of AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps – to encourage Americans to serve their communities in order to address some of our nation’s most pressing problems.  One can only hope that, while strengthening our communities, we can also work towards a more green future.

Have something on your mind that you want the President-Elect and the VP-Elect to hear?  Now is your chance.  I’ll be sending letters about environmental education and marine conservation; what will your cause be?

November 9, 2008

How Does Smell Work? Umm.

I’m fond of stumping students with the following question: “Dolphins are well known for having a supersense called echolocation, but believe it or not they can’t do something that you and I can.  We can hear, see, taste, touch, and smell.  Which one are dolphins entirely missing out on?”

Answer: Smell.  Yep.  Dolphins lack olfactory lobes and nerves leading researchers to believe that dolphins possess no real sense of smell.  The trouble with this question is that some kids are bright enough to turn it around and stump me.  “Miss Sarah, how does smell work?”

To which I say: “Ummmmmm.”  Thankfully, I’ve been studying up and the brilliant minds over at TED have an interesting talk from Luca Turin that elegantly goes about discussing some of the current ideas on just how smell works.