Intro to Nanoscience, with Screensavers :-)

This National Science Foundation overview explains what nanoscience is, how it is used, and what it means for  society.  Did you know how individual atoms and molecules can be manipulated to create tiny machines the size of human cells?  Find out how nanoscience could change the design of many products, from car tires to vaccines to objects yet to be imagined.

Empowered Parenting

James Lehman’s website features articles and advice for achieving what he calls Empowered Parenting. The article currently at the top of his page offers answers to the top five concerns his subscribers had about their offspring going back to school. This website focuses on tweens and teens, and offers some insight into youth’s perspectives. Lehman seems to me to be very accepting of social constructions that probably create some of the reactions and behaviors parents don’t like. Still, because of that, the advice tends to be very pragmatic and immediately useable.

The main philosophy, that “you have to parent the child you have, not the child you wish you had,” is spot on.

National Gallery’s Painting Applet

The National Gallery offers, Brushter, an interactive program designed to let you make abstract art online. It offers more than 40 brushes and textures, a full palette of colors, and effects that blur, ripple, and fragment your designs. Click “auto” to see the computer generate screen designs.

If you use a Mac browser like Safari or Camino, you’ll have to open your browser in Rosetta mode, but the site explains how to do that.

Birthdays Without Pressure

Marking Runspotrun’s birthday got me thinking about birthday celebrations in general. If you have experienced almost competitive birthday parties among your children’s friends, you are not alone. Linda Zwicky apparently mentioned the problem at a parenting class she attended and the teacher put her in touch with a University of Minnesota professor, Bill Doherty, who was studying the problem. Last January they launched the helpful site Birthdays Without Pressure. You can get ideas, share your experiences, or let’s see, maybe just feel assured that other places have it worse. 🙂

An Arctic Tale

From National Geographic Films, the makers of March of the Penguins, comes An Arctic Tale. Told by Queen Latifah, An Arctic Tale is the story of two artic animals, Nanu the polar bear and Seela the walrus, and their journey from adolescence to maturity.

Go to to learn more about this film which very palatably highlights some of the environmental consequences of climate change in the Arctic. The web site is itself a great learning tool. Click on the “go green” tab to take a virtual tour of a house full of hotspots that show how everyone can help cut down on his or her carbon footprint at home.

Child Development Podcast

A new monthly podcast series, produced by FPG Child Development Institute (FPG) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will provide parents, child care providers, policymakers, and early childhood professionals with the latest research findings in early childhood development. Each episode will feature an interview with a researcher to learn more about a study recently published in a peer-reviewed journal. For more information and the current issue go to

Study skills and techniques

Some coaching towards a positive philosophy of learning and some explicit techniques about how to study and get organized can go a long way toward success in school. Many learning difficulties stem from differences in executive function (problem solving and planning skills). Youth with or without learning difficulties  don’t necessarily want to take direction from their own parents, but they might listen to Dr. Tim McGee of Worland High School. His DVD course How to Become a SuperStar Student is on sale for about a quarter of the usual price from The Teaching Company this month. Or you might find it at your public library.