Science Helpdesk

Class Assignments

Read and Review

Life's Little Mysteries
ESO 1

Life's Little Mysteries is a great collection of over 250 interesting questions briefly explained. Read as many as you can, choose your favourite twenty, and write a short comment on them (the title and 3-4 lines might be enough).

Live Science Top News
ESO 2, ESO 3

Live Science Top News is a great collection of over 50 articles on a fair variety of scientific topics. Read as many as you can, choose your favourite ten, and write a brief summary on them (the title and 10-15 lines might be enough).

BBC News, Discovery Channel, Science Daily
ESO 3, ESO 4

BBC News, Discovery Channel and Science Daily provide a daily wealth of scientific news. Read as many as you can, choose your favourite twelve, and write a short comment on them (the title and 6-9 lines might be enough). You can stay up to date by subscribing to the RSS feeds using Google Reader or your favourite RSS reader.

Listen and Review

Scientific American - 60 Second Science
ESO 4

Scientific American - 60 Second Science provides information on all sorts of scientific topics, from genetics to psicology, in a just 60-second-long daily podcast. Listen to as many as you can, choose your favourite ten, and write a short comment on them (the title and 3-5 lines might be enough). You can stay up to date by subscribing to the RSS feed using Google Reader or your favourite RSS reader.

Presentations

Hey teach', where's my A+?
ESO 1, ESO 2, ESO 3, ESO 4

Write a Report

Questions & Answers Based Report
ESO 3, ESO 4
About what

Write a report on some topic related to those covered in the units that are being studied in the current term. Be original and do not repeat any topic that you have studied in class or are going to study. And do not forget to tell your teacher which is the topic that you have chosen before starting to write on it.

Parts

The report must have the following sections:

  1. A cover page.
  2. An index (optional).
  3. A brief introduction. This is not a summary of the report's contents, but the place where you should tell about your points of view or the relevance of the chosen topic. This part should not take up more than one page.
  4. The contents that you want to transmit, composed of a series of at least 30 questions written by yourself, followed by their answers, which should have between two and four lines each. Always use your own sentences and avoid copying literally any text found in any source (book, magazine, Internet, etc.). Also, try not to use technical words without the need to do so. As a rule of thumb, don't write anything that you don't understand.
  5. A mind map that should summarise the main facts and ideas you have written in the previous section. It should consist of around 30 key-concepts.
  6. A glossary with the list of technical and scientific words that you have used in the contents section, where they should have been marked with an asterisk. For each of the words in the glossary you must write its definition and its Spanish translation.
  7. The list of bibliographic sources (books, magazine articles, CD-Roms, web pages...) you have used to gather the information for your report. In the case of books and CD-Roms you should indicate the title, the author(s), the publishing house and the publishing year (if available); for web pages you should write the whole address (e.g.: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth) and not simply the site's address or title.
How to do it

You can add some handmade or printed drawings, photos or pictures related to the topic you covered (optional).

Leave margins in the four sides of each page and avoid using other colours than black and blue in the texts.

You can choose whether to hand-write the report, type it or print it from a PC. Your choice will not affect the final assessment.

You may need to go to some public library to borrow or consult books, magazines or Internet pages: in this case, en.wikipedia.org is a good source of information on most topics. Also, www.sciencehelpdesk.com will provide you with a wide set of good-quality links to help you find ideas and useful information.

Create a Mind Map

Mind42
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Getting an account

Go to Mind42.com and click on the "Sign in / Sign up" button to the right of the navigation bar.

Fill-in the "Sign up" form to the right. Don't forget to tick the box that says "I have read the terms of use, and I accept them". Also, if you don't want to receive regular emails from Mind42.com, uncheck the box that says "Subscribe to the Mind42 newsletter".

Click "Sign up" to submit the form and when you see a message saying that a confirmation e-mail has been sent to you, close the current page, open you email application, wait a few seconds for the message to arrive, and when it does, open it and click on the confirmation link.

A new tab in your browser will open with the "Sign in / Sign up" forms. This time you'll have to sign in, so fill-in the one to the left with the username and password you used in the sign up process.

On the dialog box that shows up, choose "New mind map" and you are ready to start creating your first one.

Tips on using Mind.42

By default, Mind42.com saves your mind maps automatically every 5 minutes. You may want to change this to, say, 3 minutes, by accessing the "Settings" dialog box (second icon to the right in the top bar).

Mind42.com map elements are called "nodes". And you cannot outline them as in a "normal" mind map. Be careful, as this shortcoming might invite you to write long sentences instead of just key-concepts..

Another small weakness of Mind42.com is that, due to the absence of node outlining, it is difficult to build "linking texts" between the key-concepts when necessary. To overcome this flaw, you may change the colour of the "linking nodes" to something dimmer than your regular colour (black by default). Make sure to uncheck the "Pass on style" box if you don't want every child node to inherit the new colour.

You can create two types of nodes whenever a node is focused (except for the main central one): child nodes and sibling nodes. You can do this more comfortably with your keyboard: use the "Tab" key for a child node and the "Shift + Tab" combination for a sibling node. You can also delete the focused node by hitting the "Del" key on your keyboard.

If you want to create a hidden note with extended information on any node, don't use the paper-clip icon and "create a note" route. Choose text editor instead (big icon to the top of the right side).

Mind42.com also offers a great integration with Wikipedia, Delicious and Google Images if you want to find links or images related to any of your nodes. Adding some images to your nodes will help to highlight your message better, but don't overuse the links, especially to the Wikipedia articles; everybody knows how to find them.

Mind42.com is great organising the spatial distribution of your nodes. But sometimes it messes things up after you drag nodes from one place to another. You can try to fix this by opening the "Settings" dialog box and clicking on the "Reset" button.

Letting others collaborate on your mind map

Just click on any of the two "Manage collaborators" icons in the top bar and enter the email addresses of the people you want to share the map with. Normally, you'll do this to allow others to edit your mind map, so keep the "Allow users to edit the map?" box ticked.

Your invitees will receive an email with a link to your mind map. They'll need to sign up for an account first if the don't have one.

Mind42.com offers a nifty way to communicate with your collaborators when you are working at the same time in the same mind map. You'll need an Skype account (you have Skype installed on your computer, don't you?) and entering your Skype username in the "Settings" dialog box.

Letting others view your mind map

Click on the "Publish Mindmap" icon in the top bar (the third one to the left).

Tick the box that says "Publish the map".

The first of the three text areas that show up contains the public address of your mind map. If all you want to do is letting someone else to view your mind map in his/her browser, just copy this link and send it to your friends or teacher by email. But if you need to write it on a piece of paper, you'd better shorten the address with, for instance, bit.ly.

Repeat the process above every time you want to guess the public address of your mind map.

Use the text in the second or third boxes to paste it in the HTML code of any web page of yours and link to or embed the mind map on it.

Google Drive

Create a Google Account
Gmail and Google accounts

Gmail is the email service provided by Google. If you already own a Gmail account, you can use it as your Google account to log into Google Drive, Google Reader, Google Sites and several other Google services.

A Google account without Gmail will allow you to use Google Drive and other Google services. You will only not be able to use Google Mail (Gmail).

This means that you do not need to create a Gmail account to use Google Drive if you do not want to. You can simply create a Google account without Gmail.

Creating a Google account without a Gmail account

Go to Google and click on the "Sign in" link to the top right corner.

Click on "Create an account now".

Fill-in the form. Your username is going to be an email account that you already own, but it does not necessarily have to be a Gmail account. If you use an email account provided by any service other than Google (Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, etc.) you do not need to enter the same password that you use to log in to your webmail panel, although you will remind it better if you always use the same username/password combination.

Creating a Gmail account

Go to Google and click on the "Gmail" link in the top left navigation bar.

Click on "Create an account".

Fill-in the form.

When your Gmail account is created, you can use as your Google account to access Google Drive.

Creating and Editing a Document

Go to drive.google.com and sign in.

Click on "Create new" and choose the type of document you want to create. Select "Document" to create a text document similar to a MS Word document. Select "Presentation" to create a slideshow similar to a MS Powerpoint presentation. Select "Folder" to organise your documents.

Click on the name of the document with the secondary button of your mouse to see the available options for that document (such as "Rename", "Delete", "Export", "Publish", "Share"...).

Google Drive automatically saves your document every few minutes. But you can use "Control + S" to save your document at any time.

Use "Control + Z" to undo any changes; you can undo any action performed during the current session. Use "Control + Y" to redo any undone action.

Use "Revisions" to revert your document to any previous saved version (even of different editing sessions!) or to view when and what changes your collaborators have done to the document. This is a very handy tool that will save you in case of catastrophe.

Collaborating and Publishing
Letting others collaborate on your documents

With your document open or selected in the documents panel, click on "Share" and select "Invite people".

In the dialog box, enter the email addresses of the people you want to grant access permissions to your document. Normally you will use this to allow others to edit your document, so keep the "To edit" radio box checked. In the "Advanced Permissions" tab, you may want to uncheck both boxes if you want to keep control on who is invited to edit your document.

When two or more persons are editing simultaneously the same document, the changes made by one may overwrite the changes made by others, so you'll want to avoid working at the same time as others. You will see a message when any other person is editing the document at the same time. One of you should quit until the other has finished.

Letting others view your documents

With your document open click on "Share" and select "Publish as web page" or "Publish/embed". Or in the documents panel, click on the document with the secondary button of the mouse and select "Publish" or "View the published version".

If it is a presentation, click on "Publish document". If it is a text document, click on "Automatically re-publish when changes are made".

You will see now the public address of your document. Anyone that knows this address can view your document. Copy this link and send it to your friends or teacher by email. But if you need to write it on a piece of paper, you'd better shorten the address with, for instance, bit.ly.

Write a Scientific Report with Google Drive

Read the instructions in the "Questions & Answers Based Report" section that can be found in this same page.

Create a text document and write your report according to those instructions, skipping the following sections: "cover", "index" and "mind map". You can also start from this template.

Create a presentation of no less than 12 slides summarising the contents of your text document. Try to insert one relevant image in every slide and use few words.

Both documents will have to be edited in pairs, so you will have to share them with your partner and grant him/her editing permissions.

Publish both documents.

Once you have finished, invite your teacher as a collaborator with editing permissions to both documents. He/she might want to insert comments on the text document and view the revision history of both.