Collection of Higgs Goodies

I’ve been collecting some Higgs videos and articles since Higgsdependence Day last Wednesday, and I wanted to share them all in one place.

Presenting a crash course in the HIGGS-BOSON, as curated by me!

My new favorite YouTube channel is Minute Physics, which I just discovered. YES. Here’s their Higgs explanation.



Now. I need to be honest with you. I love Vi Hart deeply, but it has come to my attention that her assertion that the Higgs Boson accounts for “missing mass” in critters like us (and pigs) is incorrect. So although I revere her enthusiasm for the discovery, I need to tell you she’s off the mark on this one.



But like I said, her enthusiasm is contagious:


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Another piece that isn’t quite accurate, but IS humorous.


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You can listen to Ira Flatow talk about the Higgs discovery on Science Friday. I met him at MSU. He was kind of a douche.


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I love TED. I love hot scientists. Yesssss.


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And here’s another Brian Cox explanation:



This is my favorite analogy of all time, from John Ellis:



You can see the full announcement of the Higgs discovery here. I originally mentioned that I hadn’t seen any women speaking about the announcement, but Chip pointed out that the decidedly female Fabiola Gionatti is in charge of ATLAS, which along with CMS is analyzing all the detrius that the LHC spits out.



I always can appreciate a good rap. Here’s an overview of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.



And here’s what happens at the LHC. Brought to you by Chip Brock, who as I mentioned yesterday has been a TREMENDOUSLY generous resource.



Chip is also helping me work on my own explanation, as I’ve received feedback from several people that the above explanations aren’t clear/basic enough. Fingers crossed I can create something comprehensible. Although by the time I post it, people probably won’t be excited about the Higgs any more. Which is a shame.

Perceptions of Science

I’ve been thinking a lot these past few days about science and people who consider themselves to be “not science people” or “not math people” and how that winds up playing out in educators and education. The response to the Higgs Boson discovery has been huge and wonderful, but these New York hipsters show us we still have a long way to go.

In my musings, I owe much gratitude to Chip Brock, who has always been willing to answer my random, rapid-fire e-mail questions. My lifetime favorite question is probably when I sent him a message from my internship at The Gazette in Colorado Springs asking how much pressure it would take to blast off a manhole cover. Yessssss.

I owe a lot in advance to Kendra Snyder, who is a science publicist for the American Museum of Natural History. I say “in advance” because I plan on picking her brain plenty in the future, although before yesterday, I hadn’t seen her since we graduated together from MSU in May 2005. Which is an absolutely tragedy, because she is brilliant and wonderful. We didn’t hang out much outside of SNews functions at MSU and our sweet 2003 study abroad, which is a shame.

I was trying to figure out yesterday morning, as I was brain barfing to Kendra, why my passionate interest in lay-person’s science advocacy has been on the sidelines for so long. Maybe it’s because I’ve found science-loving friends in Toby’s coworkers at Cheezburger who made me think that the rest of the world was more into science these days. Maybe I was lulled into a false sense that science was becoming more widely recognized because of popular shows like Mythbusters and Alton Brown’s Good Eats.

But I’m probably really thinking about how most people respond to science because of the reaction most people have when I tell them I’m writing a children’s book about Buckminster Fuller. There are three main forms these reactions take. I am including photos for ease of interpretation.


1) Delight. “OMG Awesome! The geodesic dome! Buckyballs! What are you writing about him?”

2) Dismissiveness. “Oh, SHANNON, you’re such an overachiever. Don’t even tell me, I know I wouldn’t understand.”

3) That Look. “That Look” also goes along with “That Voice,” the tone that people use when they talk about science being beyond their grasp. You’ve heard every single TV and radio personality using “That Voice” when they lead into a story about the Higgs discovery. It’s oftentimes meant as a compliment, I’m sure, like “Now we’ll hear from a brilliant person who understands the mysteries of the universe,” but I actually take it as an insult. When you use That Voice and give me That Look, here’s what I actually think: If I am failing to communicate in a lucid way how certain processes work, you are actually calling me an incomprehensible jerk incapable of communicating clearly.

I don’t want you to tell me I’m smart; I want you to ask me questions so I can help you understand too! I want you to be able to see the beauty and majesty and wonder in how science shows us how the world is put together.

How can we get people to be more comfortable and interested in science, especially in a time when NASA funding is nonexistent, education is floundering, and there’s a gross permeating feeling of anti-intellectual sentiment that I can only seem to shake when I’m with the brilliant educators they keep tucked away in the district office?

Well, I can tell you one strategy that probably WON’T work:


I’ll be continuing to ponder this further. But for now, I’ll leave you with inspiring words from Neil DeGrasse Tyson, who actually works out of the American Natural History Museum and might have been in THE EXACT SAME BUILDING AS I WAS yesterday.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Thanks as always to TeachMentorTexts for hosting this! It’s my first time participating FOR REALSIES.

I’ve been mentally busy this week. My mind is racing and it’s really hard to stay focused on school stuff. So here’s what I’ve been reading. Each image links to my GoodReads review.

Picture Books

Magritte's Marvelous Hat: A Picture Book CoverHow Many Jelly Beans? CoverThe Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy) CoverMonday Is One Day CoverImogene's Last Stand CoverSadie and Ratz Cover

Middle Grade/YA Novels

See You at Harry's Cover

I need to read the Colby/Jen discussion of the book — I’d been waiting to finish reading it first… Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

Grown-Up Books

Classroom Discussions: Using Math Talk To Help Students Learn, Grades K-6 (2ND 09 Edition) CoverTraveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith Cover

I’m in the middle of reading The Hobbit with my husband, and my class and I are right at the GOOD part of The Mysterious Howling, so I hope to finish those this week. ALSO, I got my copy of Squish 3 when I met Jenni Holm yesterdayyyyy, so I need to read that too!

The Hobbit: Or There and Back Again CoverIncorrigible Children of Ashton Place #01: The Mysterious Howling CoverSquish #03: Squish #3: The Power of the Parasite Cover

It seems like more and more publishers are releasing their new books right to OverDrive, the Seattle Public Library’s eBook service, and I’ve been able to snag some new titles faster than I would if I placed a regular hold. Here’s my partial bookshelf:

#Bookstack, of sorts, featuring @KateMessner, Candace Fleming, etc.

But some titles I apparently need to still see in person, as Mr. Schu mentioned on my review of How Many Jelly Beans?.

This weekend, I also updated my NetGalley account, so I have a bunch of goodies there that I’m saving for my travels to Michigan this Thursday night. Yessss.

All images are from the best bookstore on the planet, Powell’s.

Spartan Scholar-Athletes

I know many of you are bummed that our Spartans aren’t heading to the Rose Bowl, but here’s something to celebrate!

Potsy Ross Award (Top Scholar-Athletes)
P Mike Sadler – 4.0 Applied Engineering Science
LB Max Bullough – 3.93 Finance
QB Andrew Maxwell – 3.76 Supply Chain Management
OL Nate Klatt – 3.78 Accounting

This is highly impressive. Although I still hold Chris Hill as my favorite scholar-athlete.

P.S. I learned this information from my fellow alum Stephanie Simpson, who is charming and brilliant and who makes me miss HSTAR.

Clipboard Prospects

The summer is time for reflection. Unfortunately, I reflect an awful lot during the school year too, which means I often wind up reflecting on absolutely frivolous things. Enjoy this example.

I know that one day soon, my beloved pink-and-black fleur-de-lis clipboard will bite the dust. It’s served me well the past four years, and the only real panic I’ve ever had over losing it was when I left it in the cafeteria on top of the piano during a family math night.

Lalala, Miz Houghton misplaced something again.


I wish I could share a picture of it with you, but I can’t because it’s nestled on my (SIGNIFICANTLY CLEANER) countertop at school where it always stays (when I’m organized). I bought it at some exorbitant price at City People’s Mercantile shortly into my first year of teaching because I was feeling disorganized and wanted a pick-me-up. When you tap it, it sounds like metal, but a corner of it has chipped, revealing that it’s actually wood.

Important people use clipboards.


I’ve been pondering my clipboard’s untimely demise for several years now (“hope for the best, but plan for the worst,” my daddy taught me), but most of the options I’ve seen have this inferior shove-it-open-with-your-thumb closure rather than the alligator clip style. I’ve had clipboards in the former style in my classroom clipboard stock, and they’re always the first to break.

Lovely, but short-lived


I’ve noticed that Etsy has started to carry more alligator-style clipboards, but I fret the acrylic ones will crack (this also happens to a lot of my students) and that the paper-covered ones will become sticky or disintegrate with use.

Acrylic Clipboard
Paper-and-Mod-Podged Clipboard


So what’s a super-picky girl to do? Goodness knows I’ve a bit of a thing for vintage…

But I feel like vintage for clipboards just means "old."


Having whipped myself up into a totally unjustifiable fit of frustration, I finally happened upon THE PERFECT CLIPBOARD.



ISN’T IT AMAZING? Feel free to send it to me posthaste.


Weather Site AND Potential Field Trip!!!

Hey there!

I’ve been continuing to plan our first science unit, and I’m uncovering some neat stuff!

Take a look at this website! In addition to great information on weather, it actually tells you how you can improve your skills at predicting the weather!

I’ve also discovered there’s an atmospheric research department at the University of Washington, and I’ve contacted them for information on perhaps visiting them this October! Ahhh, so exciting! The trip should be about $5 to cover the cost of the bus. Start saving!