Tuning In the Mind

December 21, 2009

With the multitude of media available now, how do people concentrate on one task? A recent Scientific American article “Portrait of a Multitasking Mind” discussed people who consistently accessed two or more forms of media at a time. While these people are often sought after for job positions, a study from Stanford University found that multitaskers actually have more problems switching quickly between two tasks than other people.

But how do people actually manage to select what to pay attention to? The Kavli Institute for Systems Nueroscience and Centre for the Biology of Memory have been working towards understanding that. By measuring the brain waves of rats and listened to the transmissions. The gamma waves, a subset of brainwaves, proved interesting. They work as a radio system in the brain, imparting information. The hippocampus is able to tune into one of the frequencies, which then tune the others out. This allows the brain to focus on one thing.

Sources: Science Daily, Scientific American

Science Comics and the Classroom

December 18, 2009

Engaging students in science is a frequent topic in this blog, mostly because it is one educators struggle with often. Previously I wrote about integrating music into a science class and using multimedia in automotive education. Today I am going to talk about a visual medium: comics. More specifically, comics related to science. Comics combine text and images to tell a story.

I am not referring to teaching the (inaccuracies) of super heroes, (though that method is also recommended). No, I am talking about comics written explicitly about real life science. These can range from single panel informational images intended as a teaching aide to comics based on the lives of comics, current or historical. Utilizing them in the classroom can be as simple as hanging a print on a classroom wall to generate organic discussion. For more information on science comics check out Science comics as tools for science education and communication: a brief, exploratory study from the Journal of Science Communication.

So what are your favorite science comics?