Tag Archives: science literacy

Luis Walter Alvarez

“Luis Walter Alvarez: (1911-1988) U.S. experimental physicist. Born in San Francisco, he joined the faculty of UC-Berkeley in 1936, where he would remain until 1978. In 1938 he discovered that some radioactive elements decay when an orbital electron merges with the atom’s nucleus, producing an element with an atomic number smaller by 1, a form of beta decay. In 1939 he and Felix Bloch (1905-1983) made the first measurement of the magnetic movement of the neutron. During World War II he developed a radar guidance system for landing aircraft and participated in the Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb. He later helped construct the first proton linear accelerator and constructed the first liquid hydrogen bubble chamber. With his son, the geologist Walter Alvarez (b. 1940), he helped develop the theory that links the dinosaur’s extinction with a giant asteroid or comet impact. For work that included the discovery of many subatomic particles, he received a Nobel Prize in 1968.”

Excerpted/Adapted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.

Cultural Literacy: Alvarez Hypothesis

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on the Alvarez Hypothesis. This is a half-page worksheet with a three sentence reading and three comprehension questions. For more on Luis Walter Alvarez and his son, Walter Alvarez, see the post immediately above this one.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Cultural Literacy: Green Revolution

Now seems like a good time to post this Cultural Literacy worksheet on the green revolution. This is a half-page worksheet with a reading of two longish sentences and three comprehension questions.

For the record, this document deals with the increase in the 1960s and 1970s in the production of cereals like wheat and rice due to advances in the productivity in seeds and innovations in agricultural technology, and not any kind of political revolution.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Aldous Huxley on Ends and Means

“The end cannot justify the means, for the simple and obvious reason that the means employed determine the nature of the ends produced.”

Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means ch. 1 (1937)

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

Cultural Literacy: Grand Unified Theory

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on the Grand Unified Theory of the origins of the universe, specifically the first fraction of a second after the Big Bang. This is a half-page worksheet with a three-sentence reading and three comprehension questions.

This isn’t really my bailiwick, but I do understand that, as the reading concludes, that the Grand Unified theory “…explains the lack of antimatter in the universe.”

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

States of Matter

Here is a reading on states of matter along with its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet.

Once again from the Intellectual Devotional series, this is a good general introduction to solids, liquids, and gases, and their molecular behavior. The reading and worksheet are in Microsoft Word, so you can edit and manipulate them for your needs. I’m not a science teacher, so I’m not sure why I wrote this. Probably because I had a couple of, uh, free days during the pandemic.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Sex Change Surgery

Here is a reading on sex change surgery along with its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet. Lest you misunderstand, this is not about the medical science or procedure of gender affirmation surgery.

Rather, it is about the infamous John/Joan case. The reading nicely job summarizes the tragic story of David Reimer, whose parents made the mistake of deferring to the New Zealand psychologist John Money. Money, who apparently coined the terms “gender identity” and “gender role,” appears to me to be at least culpable in, if not the direct cause of, the suicides of David Reimer and his twin brother. I wrote this material (using, once again, a reading from the Intellectual Devotional series) during the pandemic; as of this writing, I have not used this material with students. Nonetheless, I have tagged this post’s documents as high-interest material. Unless I miss my guess, students will indeed find these documents of considerable interest.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Louis Pasteur and Pasteurization

Here is a reading on Louis Pasteur and pasteurization along with its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet. Given the current ascendance of germ theory denialism, this reading, from the Intellectual Devotional series, is particularly timely

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Plague (n)

OK, last but not least today, here is a context clues worksheet on the noun plague. It means, in the context in which it is presented on this half-page document, “an epidemic disease causing a high rate of mortality.”

I wrote this, I am sure, to introduce the word to students ahead of a lesson on the European Black Death of the mid-fourteenth century. The context is reasonably strong, but it can always use a little help. So if you rewrite this, I would appreciate seeing your version of it. In fact, I will add it to this post. Incidentally, the bubonic plague, the cause of the Black Death, remains alive and well and occasionally breaks out, as it has intermittently in Madagascar, among other places around the globe.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Sulfa Drugs and World War II

Here is a reading on sulfa drugs and World War II along with its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet.

While this material probably qualifies as minutia in the grand sweep of the history of World War II, it is in fact an important moment in the war. This reading is an exposition of cause and effect: by mass chemoprophylaxis (the act of administering medication in the hopes of preventing disease spread) with sulfa drugs, the US Navy saved an estimated 1 million man days and between $50 million and $100 million in 1944 dollars. Ultimately, penicillin replaced sulfadiazine, or sulfa drugs. It is just this kind of cause-and-effect scenario, in my observation in New York State, that tends to inform questions on high-stakes social studies tests.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.