Tag Archives: May blogathon

Blogathon Haiku day

As part of the WordCount Blogathon, today we’re all embarking on haiku posts. I really should let my inner science poet out a little more often. Today, I decided to riff on the my writing process of taking my research– the papers I’ve read, the experts I’ve talked with– and synthesizing that mix into a science article. It’s a dance: you have to process what you’ve learned, decide what to leave in, what to take out, and wrap the whole thing in an attractive flowing package. Doubt lingers every time I begin this journey, but I’m still swimming on the other side.

My haiku:

drowning in detail

pulling the puzzle apart

story now complete

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Learning by doing: revisiting Epiphanies

Webb of Science needs a breather, so I’ve decided to repost my inaugural post from the 2009 blogathon about problem-solving in both science and writing. I still love what I do, the puzzle of pulling words together. Last year and this year, blogging each day in May reminds me of old lessons and teaches me new ones: learning isn’t just about thinking but doing. And, on a personal side note, it looks like my husband was right.

iStockphoto/James Group Studios
iStockphoto/James Group Studios

I got a phone call from my husband a few weeks ago when he was away doing dissertation research. “Well, I’ve had an epiphany,” he says. “I’ve realized why what I’m doing won’t work.” This explanation was so logical, delightfully simple. I’m sure he’s right, though he now has to rejigger his experiments.

After we got off the phone, I could have been disappointed (Logically, every partner of a Ph.D. student hopes that experiments will move quickly rather than slowly). But I’ve also slogged through PhD-dom myself, so I was actually excited. Why? Because that moment and his clear idea took me back to the joy of research that kept me going through the slog. Strangely the best moments of my Ph.D. were actually when I somehow managed to step back after weeks, months, or years, and had the clarity to look at the problem from a different perspective. Suddenly, after weeks, months or even years of approaching a problem as the same-old, same-old, I’d know exactly where I’d gone wrong.

Of course, each of those moments led to mounds of hard work, but always taught me something new. I learned new purification techniques and found new collaborations with other smart people. And I was suddenly trying to do chemical reactions in water. Mother Nature is a master at water-based chemistry– human beings, well, we have a few million years to catch up on. Continue reading Learning by doing: revisiting Epiphanies

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Blogathon posting partners

As I promised, I’m posting a list of my fellow blogathoners, more than a hundred strong. I’m inspired to be in such a large group, but it’s also a little daunting. (Thanks again to Michelle Rafter, our fearless organizer). Here’s to day 4– More science tomorrow.

  • Rebecca I. Allen – 356 No More, A journey from couch to fit
  • Andi, Misadventures with Andi, Merry musings of a feisty foodie slash lit-chickie slash globe-trotting wannabe Frenchie!
  • Anjuli – bhulbhulaiyan, a complicated entanglement of zigzag pathways
  • Christa Avampato – Christa in New York, Curating a Creative Life
  • Joan Lambert Bailey – PopcornHomestead, Gardening, place and my life in Tokyo
  • Karen Bannan – Natural as Possible Mom, Because natural isn’t always possible — or easy
  • Linda Barnby, TheNEA.org, Taking Entrepreneurs from Where They Are to Where they Want to Be
  • t.a. barnhart – Left Coast Foodie, Damn, that’s good: a foodie blog by someone who knows what he’s doing
  • June Bell – Enough is enough! Advice and support
  • Teresa Bitler – Forty Firsts, A Midlife Crisis in the Making
  • Athena l. Borozon – Altar Valley Daily Orb, The Desert Rat Dialogues
  • Jane Boursaw* – Film Gecko, Cool movie news and reviews
  • Alisa Bowman – Project Happily Ever After, Marriage advice from a recovering divorce daydreamer
  • Carson Brackney – Carson Brackney, Consultant, Copywriter, Content Provider, Factotum
  • Ben BradleyBen’s (Not Quite) First Ever Presence on the Interweb, Blog of an aspiring human being
  • Sheena Brockington – Greenhouse Advertising, Cultivating ideas for small businesses
  • Danielle Buffardi* – Horrible Sanity, Going into the mind of a mother and freelancer
  • Beverly Burmeier – Going on Adventures, Travel stories from near and far
  • Diane Calhoun – Violet is My Color, Life just happens, deal with it
  • Danielle Carter – Live and Love Life VA, Helping you do more of what you love, and less of what you don’t!
  • Fiona Chan – Candy Prison, A typical teenager
  • Joy Choquette – One Year. 156 Fears. Life Changing. One woman tackles her fears
  • Bernard Chung – Green Tea World, It’s more than just a cup of green tea here
  • Caroline Clemmons – A Writer’s Life, Writing tips, interviews and miscellaneous ramblings
  • Shelley Clunie – ShelCluzo’s Blog, Healthy, wealthy and wise at 62
  • Cocotte – Leaping into Life, Uncommon stories to nurture body, mind & soul
  • Christianne Cook – A Day in My Mind, The world through my eyes
  • Continue reading Blogathon posting partners

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    Blogathon time again

    I’m back for the WordCount May Blogathon again this year. Daily blogging each day in May was both challenging and fun last year, and I’m hoping that I’m up to the challenge again this year. More details about my partners in posting soon.

    This time last year I wondered if I’d manage to post each day. This year, follow-up pressure has me nervous. I did it last year, but can I do it again? It’s already a busy May, and I hope I’m up to the task.

    If you’ve visited before or you land here for the first time, feel free to drop me a note and say hello. Or if you have ideas or suggestions for science-y posts, I’d love to hear about them. I’m looking forward to learning and growing this month.

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    Daily blogging like daily exercise

    So, it’s day 31, and I made it! I’ve decided that daily blogging is  like daily exercise– it’s much easier to keep going when you’re supported by a group of other people with the same goals and mission. So, I’m grateful for the support of my fellow bloggers and the new friends I’ve made along the way.

    It took me a long time to start blogging, in part because I thought I needed a plan mapped out before I started. I was also worried about time– keeping up with my other work while I also maintained my blog. But I underestimated myself.

    1. Blogging has kept me focused. Having that daily deadline along with my other assignments was stressful, but it also forced me to be as productive as possible.
    2. I’m playing more with language. Over the last few days, I’ve been reflecting on a blog post that I wrote in the middle of the month about creativity, science and blogging. This structured sense of play, on a schedule, has forced me to put words on a page. Some of my favorite posts have come out of not having a plan, out of taking a topic and letting myself run with it. It’s a good reminder that I have to throw words around first before I’ll know where they fit and what they mean.
    3. Blogging has improved my other writing. That’s the corollary to having a creative outlet. I’m finding ways to infuse the ideas and creative flow that has been moving here into the words that I write in other places. I don’t know why I didn’t expect that synergy.

    I still have a lot to learn about the interactive piece of blogging. I want to spend more time reading and commenting on other blogs and trading ideas. That process will take more time.

    I still feel conflicted about trying to blog about scientific topics because it’s so easy to unintentionally smudge factual accuracy. I do my best to present careful, correct information, but it’s a huge challenge to be literate, accurate and engaging in a short time and space.

    Thanks to all of you who’ve been reading me this month! I’d love to hear your feedback about the May experiment. Do you like the Molecule of the Week? Any favorite posts?

    I’ve had fun, but I’m also glad to be able to step off the treadmill of daily posting. It’s been a fantastic jumpstart, and I’ll be figuring out a regular (though not daily) posting schedule. Like finding time for a walk, a jog or a yoga class, blogging provides a healthy writing workout.

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    Guest Post by Kate Reilly: Five ways of channeling your kid-scientist

    For the May Blogathon Official Guest Post Day, I’m excited to host Kate Reilly of The Polka Dot Suitcase. In addition to managing the fun in that corner of her writing life, Kate’s written for  magazines including Parents, FamilyFun, Family Circle, Better Homes & Gardens, American Baby, National Geographic Kids, and Woman’s Day. She’s also written science activity books for kids. Welcome to Webb of Science, Kate.

    When I started out in the world of freelance writing, I had a general inkling that my kids would give me ideas for stories. I was right — I’ve written many parenting articles over the years. But when the kids got to be interactive (say, past the feedme-feedme-feedme stage), that’s when I realized they were really a lot more than story fodder. They were fun. They gave me a reason to flop in the middle of the backyard with a magnifying glass and study bugs. I looked less weird as an adult wading through streams, turning over stones, when I had kids with me. And the projects — oh, the projects! I’ve been able to squish, squash, mix, mash, build, and tear down all kinds of stuff — all in the name of parenting. And I even got to write science books for kids because of where my guys have led me. (Oh, and the kids have learned a thing or two, also.) Now that they’re older, they’ve started leading me on adventures in scientific discovery. My little grasshoppers are teaching me. Cool. Want to shape your own little scientist? My thoughts:

    1. Let them figure stuff out. Ever since my kids were little, I’d usually answer their questions with one of my own: “Well, what do you think?” Come to think of it, this probably made me sound like a very clueless adult. No wonder they’d look at me with pity in their little eyes. (“Poor, poor, Mom. She has to ask a three-year old why the sky is blue.”). But after the initial shock at their mother’s lack of knowledge, they’d get their little brains cranking and toss out a couple possibilities (“God colored it with blue crayons?” or “Because it’s sad?”). And eventually, they’d hit upon some little nugget that approximated the answer. And we’d build on it from there. Young scientists, grow!

    2. Blow some stuff up. Aw, you know I’m just kidding. Certainly not advocating anything dangerous. But any science teacher worth her salt will tell you nothing gets kids’ attention like some scientific kaboom!  The old staple — the vinegar-and-baking soda volcano — is a classic for a reason: It’s pretty darn cool. Truth is, you don’t always have to do really dramatic science stuff — sometimes subtle works just fine. Like putting an uncooked egg in a bowl of vinegar for a day and letting the kids see what happens. No, really. Try it.

    3. Be curious yourself. You’re never too old to ask, “Why?” When you’re at the zoo, and a question pops in your head — ask away. (Try to find someone who works there, unless you happen to know you’re standing next to a very smart stranger.) Let your kids see you questioning stuff and trying to find the answers. Who knows? You may ignite your inner scientist, too.

    4. Go shopping. When I was a kid, we had the coolest chemistry set. There was stuff in there that is probably illegal now. Today’s science toys are probably 100 percent safe, non-toxic, non-explosive…but surprisingly, still pretty darn fun. My kids got science kits that let them make fake snot and even build little radios. Fun!

    5. Don’t go shopping. Sometimes things that come with instructions can be a little…limiting. Trust your kid to find things to explore and follow him. You know, like when the kid ignores the $50 toy at Christmas and spends three hours playing with the box instead? At our place, we’ve made geodesic spheres (uh…eggs, really, but the potential for spherical shapes is definitely there) out of drinking straws and snowflake crystals out of cleaning products. Explore, raid the pantry, create — and your little scientist will amaze you.

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