Monday, January 30, 2012

Magnetic shift

The earth's magnetic field moves around quite a bit, and every so often the polarity switches so that magnetic north becomes south and vice verse.  It's looking like we are approaching one of these shifts, and scientists really don't know what effects this will have on the earth.

So, before researching this more, I have a hypothesis.  I think that the shift will cause a shift in seasons.  It's already happening.  I don't think all the climate changes we're having could be attributed to global warming alone.

In our current polarity, the northern hemisphere has summer May-September ish and at that same time the southern hemisphere is having winter.  October-April it's winter in the northern hemisphere and summer in the south.  So the magnetic shift will cause this to flip-flop.  I feel this has been pretty obvious over the last several years as winter starts later and later and so does summer.  Last year I had a botany class from May to June.  The topic was flowering plants of Utah and we went on a field trip every week.  Even though it was May, we had a very hard time even finding any plants that were flowering at that point because spring was so late.  We even had it snow on one of our field trips.  Last month (December 2011) we had record high temperatures and low precipitation, and January has been much the same.  I've heard some people express worry of a drought because of this, but I don't think that will be an issue, it's just a matter of the seasons being delayed.  So I think this trend correlates with the heightened activity of magnetic shift that's been happening, and both changes will continue until the polarities and the seasons of the hemispheres have swapped.

I'll go research it more and find out if my hypothesis has any possibility of being true or if someone has already established or debunked the same idea.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Dry Canyon

Shortly after I moved in with my sister, as I was driving around close to my new home, I discovered my new favorite place - Dry Canyon.

It's a short drive up 2000 N. in Orem then through a little neighborhood (on Dry Canyon Drive) to the trailhead parking lot.  There's a nice view of the valley from up there (popular lookout at night I've noticed), but more importantly there are several really cool hiking trails up there.

In the picture you can see the stairs that are on the north side of the canyon.  A couple months ago, we hiked up that trail maybe about 3/4 mile until we hit snow.  We saw a rock slide up there (or rather, the evidence of a past one), lots of trees, and some small wildlife (lizards, birds).  The kids also loved the pipe vents along the trail where they could stop and listen to the water flowing and feel the cool air coming out.

Another trail goes around the mountain to the northwest of the canyon so you can see the valley below.  I think this is the north part of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.  And that of course brings me to the trail going off to the south which has a BST marker on it.

We explored that one a little ways recently and it has some nice views, as well as a lot of nice people using the trail for recreation- walkers, joggers, and mountain bikers.  A gentleman told us that this leg of the trail ends up on a road that goes back down into the neighborhood between 1600 and 2000 North (to Skyline Drive, I believe), so that is a convenient loop for people that live down there.  It would be for me as well, just have to add a couple miles to get to that area from my house, which I never have time for, unfortunately, since I don't think my kids would last that far.

We saw an amazing sunset on our way back and of course I didn't have my camera.  But that didn't make it any less awesome.  I wanted to stay there and watch it down to blackness but I had to get back to the car before the dark and cold made it too hard on my kids.  I did get a nice sunset picture later from the road up to Dry Canyon, and of course this doesn't do it justice.  Photos are great but they are nothing compared to seeing it for yourself.

SO, I've been wanting to find out about the Geology of Dry Canyon, and from a preliminary search, looks like info on this subject is very hard to find.  I did find out that you can take a hike - Big Baldy Peak Loop - from Dry Canyon around behind it and connect to Battle Creek Canyon to the north then back around, so that's pretty cool.  Perhaps when I have more time I can attempt to dig more deeply and find out Geological information for this area.  And I also wouldn't mind trying that hike some day when I'm able to handle a 9 mile hike with a rating of difficult.  (Click here for info on the hike.)

Canyons of the Wasatch Front on the east of Utah Valley

I have been exploring the canyons in my area more, so I wanted to create some pictures that label the names for those wanting to know as I was.  I have also tried to label (in the captions) the names of the peaks/ mountains, but I still don't know completely which ones are which yet.  If I find out I will update my pictures.  Hope this is helpful to you.  (I also found a great website listing all the mountains in Utah County with their elevations and latitude/ longitude, check it out.)
Click on each image so you can see it bigger and notice the arrows/labels.

From North to South:
American Fork Canyon, Lone Peak behind (Timpanogos in foreground)

Grove Creek Canyon, Battle Creek Canyon, Dry Canyon, Provo Canyon
Mount Timpanogos behind
Big Baldy Mountain between Dry Canyon & Battle Creek Canyon

Provo Canyon, Little Rock Canyon, Rock Canyon, Slate Canyon
Cascade Mountain, Squaw Peak jutting up in the middle, Y Mountain, Maple Mountain, (behind, may not be visible - Provo Peak, Freedom Peak)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Science Fair Judge

Wahoo, I got to help judge a middle school science fair today.  It was way fun.  And I think I will get to do it for a Regional level on Valentine's Day.  Awww, how sweet, I can spend the afternoon with my true love - science and a bunch of teenagers! :D

In March I'm going to volunteer for a science/math/etc conference for 6th-12th grade girls, and a kids' science fair.  It's nice to finally find some volunteering opportunities that actually have something to do with science. :)

I've also enjoyed joining some new clubs this week- the Wildlife Club, and the Science Association of Women (SAW). It was SO nice to get to talk to a bunch of ladies who were geeks like me and several in my same major.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Global Objective

In my Curriculum class today we discussed what our "global objective" is - the motivation for wanting to be a teacher and being willing to put up with all the crap of teaching (bratty kids, discipline issues, annoying parents, politics, crappy pay, etc).

So, my global objective is curiosity.

I want to help my students be curious about the world around them.  I want to teach them to ask questions and to know how to explore (and sometimes find) answers.  The world is too dang amazing to go through it without ever noticing the awe to be found in insects, birds, plants, animals, oceans, water, mountains, a sunset, or the stars.  I want to help my students learn to notice things and start to wonder about what they see- how did it get that way?  Where did it come from?  Why is it behaving that way?  What will happen in the future to it?  What will happen / how will it respond if ____ changes?  How does this affect other things in the environment?  Etc...

There's so much to learn and explore, and I hope to make a difference in the lives of some students to instill in them the desire to seek out that learning and exploration.  And the rest of them I hope will at least realize that science is NOT boring or hard, and they are all capable of succeeding.

And the other motive of a person who has little kids and loves to travel...summers off. :)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Quote of the Month

"It would be COOL if Paleontologists
  dug up  Dinosaur bones


 Mario and Luigi."

-My 4-year-old Paleontologist-in-the-making (and brother of a video game junkie)

Fossil from Super NES

Saturday, January 21, 2012


So apparently I like being around any age of people.  I've worked with infants, toddlers, preschoolers, Kindergarteners, 1st graders, 5th and 6th graders, Jr. High kids, High School sophomores, and adults.  Obviously I've chosen Secondary Education so that narrows it to 7th through 12th grade.  I'm just not sure if I should focus on Junior High or High School for teaching.  Of course I'll end up where the jobs are available, and I'll be licensed to teach any of them.  But I'd like to figure out a focus so as I'm creating lesson plans, assessments, etc, I know which Core Curriculum to base it all on.
I'm volunteering right now with 10th graders and so far I like them.  I did a little volunteering at a summer camp last year with Junior High age kids and I liked them too.  Just need to get more exposures I guess, and practice with actually teaching them myself.  I did a little bit of that with the summer camp - I led a couple of the activities which I had created.  But that was very limited and in a very different setting than a public school.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


I had an aha moment yesterday while attempting to study Human Physiology when my brain was too tired.  I was studying pH and buffers.  In the body, calcium bicarbonate is in the blood to act as a buffer to prevent rapid or extreme changes in pH which can be hazardous to your overall health or status as a living person.

Bicarbonate mixed with something acidic which "donates" Hydrogen ions to the solution (H+), ends up with water and carbon dioxide:

(HCO3)+ H ---> CO2 + H2O
Limestone & acid - notice all the bubbles.   Photo source

Trying to wrap my tired brain around this buffer thing was annoying.  But then I applied some Geology and Chemistry knowledge and it all came together.  This "buffer" reaction is the same thing that happens with calcite when you put hydrochloric acid on it.

Ca(HCO3)+ H ---> CO2 + H2O + Ca

That's why it bubbles- it's creating CO2 gas.  I'm sure I've been taught this already but it's just clicking again in a new context.

In the blood, if it gets too acidic (high H+ concentration), then the bicarbonate turns it into CO2 and water.  But if the CO2 gets too high, the reaction can go the other direction and form bicarbonate.  In lab we did some experiments with changing the pH and having the bicarbonate in the solution really evened out the pH changes.  The solution without buffer jumped from a pH of 8 down to 1.8 with the addition of just 5 mL HCl.  But the solution with buffer in it only went from 8 down to about 6.5.

Okay but here is one caveat.  I just learned today that there is an intermediate step in this process -  carbonic acid.  And my Phys teacher said that the carbonic acid can't be turned into CO2 and water without the enzyme carbonic anhydrase.  Sooo that might throw a wrench into things...but maybe not.  Maybe this is why putting HCl identifies limestone so well which has a biological basis.  Perhaps the fossils in it do actually contain that enzyme?  Need to try to find out.  Trouble is finding someone who knows stuff about Geology, Chemistry, and Human Physiology.  I can find experts in each single field but I don't think I know anyone who knows all 3 to be able to tie this all together for me.  Hmmm...
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