Archive for the ‘Teaching Science’ category

Use of Geothermal Energy Expected to Increase Worldwide

September 2, 2014

 

The number of geothermal powerplants worldwide is expected to increase by 73% between 2010 and 2015. Image source: geothermal-energy.org.

Electricity generated by geothermal powerplants is expected to increase by 73% between 2010 and 2015. Image source: geothermal-energy.org.

Most of the world’s electricity is generated using steam. Water is heated, generating high-pressure steam, which blasts out and spins a turbine. The turbine system creates motion of a magnet relative to wires, which in turn generates an electrical current, a phenomena Michael Faraday discovered in the 1830’s.

Powerplants mainly differ in the heat sources they use to generate steam. The most common heat sources are currently coal, natural gas, nuclear, and oil. A schematic of a steam turbine powerplant is shown below, courtesy of the South Texas Nuclear Project.

Schematic of a nuclear power plant. Notice how a closed loop of water is heated, passed over a turbine, cooled, and reheated. Image source: South Texas Nuclear Project.

Schematic of a nuclear power plant. Notice how a closed loop of water is heated, passed over a turbine, cooled, and reheated. Image source: South Texas Nuclear Project.

In the 21st Century, a growing trend is developing towards using geothermal heat sources. The amount of electricity generated by geothermal powerplants is expected to increase by 73% between 2010 and 2015. While geothermal powerplants are less efficient, they do have several advantages. The #1 advantage is they use the Earth’s heat. And beneath our feet lies an almost infinite supply of heat. 

Current geothermal powerplants are located where magma sources rise close to the surface. However, with improvements in technology, we should be able to access deeper and deeper heat sources. And, we can also vastly improve geothermal powerplant efficiency by using supercritical water(high pressure/high temperature) instead of steam. This was the goal of the Iceland Deep Drilling Project. In this first-of-its-kind system, they actually drilled into the magma, creating what is known as a magma-enhanced generating system. While the system is not currently operating, the project showed it is possible to use water near the supercritical phase, resulting in a much more efficient powerplant. 

The search for alternative energy sources continues as people become increasingly aware of the negative environmental impact of covering vast expanses of Earth’s surface with wind turbines and solar reflectors. God commanded us to be good stewards of His creation, and covering the land with windmills and solar reflectors is not a good management solution. Hopefully, cities and states will continue looking more and more at geothermal systems, with their small environmental footprint and low emissions. 

 

 

Jesus Christ, the Common Core of all DIVE courses

May 7, 2014

A Brief History of University

Late in the 12th Century, a phenomenon unique to Europe appeared, the university. University is actually a combination of two words, unity and diversity. Originally, universities were schools that owned no real estate, but were instead an association of teachers or students. Although not always theologically or scholarly accurate, what under girded the university was the unification of all subjects by an all-encompassing worldview. Christianity provided the unity that connected the diversity of courses offered.*

In other words, Jesus Christ was at the core of the worldview of original universities! Unfortunately, in the 21st Century, Christianity is no longer at the core of most educational systems. In the United States, the government’s new Common Core program has a godless, purposeless, evolutionary worldview at its core.

Who Interprets the Facts Matters

Cornelius Van Til (1895-1987), author of Essays on Christian Education, made the wise statement that, in this world, there exists a whole collection of facts. Would you rather have those facts interpreted to your child through a Christian or a non-Christian worldview?

For Christians, the answer should be simple. Jesus Christ is, or should be, the common core of all the subjects we teach our children. To the extent that we are able to, we should try to use curriculum taught from a Christian worldview. But that also doesn’t mean we need to fear books and courses that are taught from a non-Christian, or even anti-Christian worldview. We just need to train our children how to think critically about these things. If we teach them the Truth, they will be more capable of detecting false “philosophy and empty deceit.” (Colossians 2:8)

Pray that more Christian families will realize the problems of sending their children day after day to be taught in schools where Jesus Christ is not the common core. Pray that we can find new and creative ways to help those who, for various reasons, it would be extremely difficult or impossible to home school or attend a private Christian school. Pray for Christian families in countries where homeschooling and Christian schooling is illegal, that they will be able to help their children test everything they are learning, holding onto the good (I Thessalonians 5:21).

If you are interested in learning more about DIVE Math and Science courses, where Jesus Christ is the common core, click here.

*Paraphrased from Mathematics, is God Silent?, by James Nickel.

How to start a homeschool science co-op

February 15, 2013

Here’s a video I made about a typical day at my homeschool co-op science classes. I hope this video will encourage others to start a homeschool co-op in their town. I hope too that it will help skeptics see that Christians are not “anti-science”. And we aren’t against having fun while we do science either!

Sowing DIVE Seeds

October 11, 2012

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“……But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.”  Luke 8:4-8

In the parable of the sower, Jesus used the analogy of a seed to help His disciples understand how the Word of God works in the lives of people. When God’s word falls on the “good ground” of a noble and good heart, the Word is kept and bears fruit with patience (Luke 8:15). It is because Christ is author of both the spiritual and material things that He is able to make such amazing comparisons between His word’s effect on a human, and what happens to a real seed when planted in the right soil.

The parable also applies to other things, including our DIVE math and science instructional materials. When they are planted in the “good ground” of a child and family that are willing to take the instruction and “bear fruit with patience”, the results are sometimes truly remarkable. The following are just two of many examples we hear almost every week.

The Brooks family wrote us on Oct. 8, 2012,

“As a child with autism, my son had an IEP (Individualized Education Program) in the public school system, but somehow, he was left behind. After changing schools in sixth grade, I was informed my son was three years behind his peers and his transcripts didn’t reflect his performance level. Their outlook was bleak, and less than aggressive in working with me to help catch him up. So I removed him from the public school system and started homeschooling.

Making a long story short, I’m proud to share with you, my son is [now] well ahead of his public school peers. He’s currently in his senior year taking AP Calculus, AP Physics, AP Government, AP Macro, AP US History.

While my son did all this work himself, I really owe you a huge piece of recognition for your quality CD’s. My son is proof, even a once diagnosed “low functioning” autistic can gain success. Thank you so very much for your contribution to his success. My son plans to work in the computer animation and engineering field. He too appreciates and recognizes your CD’s to help him achieve success.”

And here is an excerpt from Tiffini, who made a comment recently on my Producer Math post:

“I couldn’t seem to wrap my brain around algebra. Instead of help, I got a transfer to “consumer math”. I was so embarrassed, I couldn’t tell my friends about the class I was in. I had been labeled “dumb”, so therefore I thought that was the case. Unfortunately I didn’t make it through college, but I believe strongly in education, so I worked very hard to put my husband through college, med school, and residency. In 6th grade our son was having trouble in school. I didn’t want the same experience to happen to him. After much prayer and fasting, we decided to homeschool. It is definitely not the easy way out. I’m thrilled that as a freshman this year he’s doing very well in algebra 2 with geometry. I’m so thankful for the dive cd’s.”

Some things to notice from those two stories include:

  • Both are examples of individuals and families who have the “good ground” that is so essential for taking the “DIVE seed” and bearing fruit.
  • Both are examples of government schools failing to properly educate, and that should be a huge warning to you if you currently have a child, especially one who is struggling, in a government school. And for Christians, government schools are really no place to put your children anyways, because the goal is not to help your child become a creative Christian, rich in good works and ready to give, willing to share (I Timothy 6:18).

So what about your family? Is it “good ground” for sowing not just “DIVE seeds”, but any seeds? Is it filled with the thorns (Luke 8:7) of whining, complaining, hopelessness, anger, and laziness? If so, it is never too late to turn your thorny, rocky soil into rich, fertile ground. It may take lots of prayer, patience, and daily repentance and reforming, but with God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). Think about it, if the two families highlighted above can turn impossible things into possible ones, then by God’s grace you can, too!

Adaptation

October 13, 2011

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Life does not evolve, it adapts. Watch my YouTube video, Adaptation, and learn more about what 21st Century science is revealing regarding epigenetics, and what God’s word and works have always revealed. The only reason evolutionism exists is because some people think God is a liar. I say let God be true, and every man a liar (Romans 3:4)!

One thing I mention in Adaptation is that genetic mutations have never been observed to create new information. In this article by Dr. Rob Carter, he states that our increased understanding of cell complexity means “We have to make a distinction between mutation and ‘designed variation’.” Dr. Carter understands cell complexity better than most (including me!), and he argues that our genomes contain some ability to generate “new” information via genetic change. In other words, there is some built-in variation via genetic change that may seem to create “new” information to us, but in reality God designed it in. In my book, Exchange of Truth, I use the word “genoversity” to describe the diversity within a genome. When God said He created different kinds of things, he meant it, and now more than ever our understanding of cell complexity is revealing to us the limited flexibility He programmed into each genome for each original created kind. Diversity within a created kind is an attribute of God (Romans 12:4-5), allowing organisms to adapt, within limits, as their environments change.

Homeschooled Warrior Hobbit’s Flying Dreams Come True

August 18, 2011

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One of America's finest, Ben "Frodo" Broussard, next to a Navy T-45 Trainer.

Since I was a child I have dreamed about flying. And not daydreams about flying airplanes (although I’ve had plenty of those), but deep dreams where I was actually flying! Just me zipping through the air, or running along the ground and “gliding” down a flight of stairs instead of walking. Fortunately, because of the major safety hazards involved, I have never attempted to turn my flying dreams into reality. However, a former student of mine and U.S. Naval Academy Graduate, Ben “Frodo” Broussard, recently had his dreams of flying (airplanes) come true, along with his dream of landing on an aircraft carrier.

Now, not to make light of the multitude of accomplishments that so many of my former students have had and continue to achieve, but as a former aerospace engineer and lover of all winged things, I hope you can understand my particular excitement about Ben’s recent achievements. And as you will see, it is not just Ben’s flying achievements that I am excited about.

Jump back in time with me to the late 1990’s when Ben was just 10 years old and totally absorbed with a book on airplanes. As his mother, Lisa, told me recently, Ben read the book with a “gleam in his eye,” and it was then that he realized he wanted to land a plane on an aircraft carrier someday. But then, at 13, Ben received the hard news that he needed glasses, which at the time meant you were not eligible to fly Navy planes. Devastated by the news, it did not deter Ben from pursuing the dream.

And this is where it is important to realize that the Broussards are no ordinary family, not because they have roots in Louisiana, but because of their unwavering faith in God’s plan. It is unfortunate that I have to call them “unordinary,” but it’s true. There are a lot of families that simply do not know, or do not care about, trusting God with their lives. But the Broussards are a great example of what it means to walk with Christ, rejoicing in the good times, accepting the trials, working hard and having fun along the way. As the answer to Question 1 of the Westminster Catechism says, the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, and I would say the Broussard family knows how to do that!

Fast-forward now to 2003, when Ben was a student in my homeschool coop AP physics class. In these classes, students do their homework and video lectures at home, at their own pace. We meet once a week for discussion, but mainly to do a hands-on lab activity. One of our lab activities is to build and launch a model rocket. It is actually a competition, where all students get the same Estes Alpha rocket kit, but are allowed to make modifications in an attempt to maximize its speed and minimize its weight. Ben took the modification a little too far though, and forgot to add the onboard computer guidance system that his rocket obviously needed. Upon launch, this future aeronautical engineer’s rocket cartwheeled out of control, and sent more than a few students ducking for cover! Now, there are some students who would have cowered and been extremely embarrassed by such a massive failure, but Ben had the right attitude and took it in stride. And that is part of what Scripture teaches when we read in Hebrews 12:1 about running with perseverance the race marked out for us. And if you are a student, remember this the next time you start whining about having too much schoolwork, or you get mad at God and your parents because you think things are too hard. Instead, honor your parents by doing the things they have asked you to do with a smile on your face and a 100% effort. And don’t beat yourself up when the inevitable failures come, but instead pick yourself up, humble yourself before the Lord, let Him lead you, and try again.

Ben graduated in 2004 in his homeschool class of 1, where he received top honors. A man of many talents, Ben the actor made quite a production out of his graduation, which included, of all things, a rap song he made about my DIVE math and science lessons and my use of the phrase “think about it.” Of course, I had to ruin the fun of the evening with my overly serious graduation charge to Ben, which you can read here: Ben Broussard Graduation Charge, 2004

After high school graduation, the improbability of Ben reaching his dreams seemed more real than ever. You see, Ben did not get into the Naval Academy on his first try. Miraculously though, in the Summer of 2004, he was accepted after Induction Day, which is something that hadn’t happened in 30 years, and hasn’t happened since. Some might say Ben was “lucky”. His mother believes it was Providence, that the “Lord moved a very established institution to accomplish His plans.” I agree with Ben’s mother!

So Ben goes to the Naval Academy, where he is asked by officers how many were in his graduating class, and shocks them when he responds with “ONE, Sir!” Fortunately, U.S. military academies are not so surprised by homeschoolers anymore, and in fact they seem to like them quite a bit.

Ben still had the vision issues though, and was content to settle for a position as a navigator if necessary. But thanks to God allowing the achievements of modern medicine, Ben had PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) surgery his junior year, and now has 20-20 vision. The successful PRK surgery would allow Ben to pass his flight medical his senior year.

Of course, Ben still needed to graduate, which he did, and he still needed to be accepted to flight school, which he was. Somewhere along the way during The Basic School for Marine Officers (TBS), he aquired the nickname of the “Warrior Hobbit.” And then, in July 2011, Ben “Frodo” Broussard’s 15-year dream of landing on an aircraft carrier came true. The video below was produced by Ben, and the footage from the cockpit is what he saw. The other footage was shot by Ben as well. Watch as Ben and other USMC pilots make one of the world’s most awesome, and most difficult jobs look easy:

In Ephesians 2 we are reminded that we are saved by the gift of faith God gives us, not by works. But if you keep reading, you see that as Christians we are also called in Christ Jesus to do the works He has prepared beforehand for us to do. Ben did not achieve his personal dream because he focused only on it at the expense of everything else. Quite the contrary, Ben was blessed with this incredible accomplishment while walking humbly with his God, enjoying life, loving others and making them laugh along the way. It is good and important for us to dream and plan and let our children do the same, but it is more important to commit to His plan and seek His will every second of the day. Thank you Broussards for setting a great example of what a Christian homeschooling family should look like!

UPDATE!!! March 28, 2012: “Frodo” received his “wings”, and is now flying Harriers for the United States Marines! Harriers are amazing aircraft that can take off and land vertically! Watch this video by Frodo, he’s flying Harrier #27:

DIVE Earth Science is here!

July 20, 2011

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Unlike our lineup of High School Science products, DIVE Earth Science is a standalone curriculum. No extra book(s) are required, although a list of optional materials is provided for those who want to go above and beyond the basic curriculum.

DIVE Earth Science will change the way you think about the Earth! God gave us the Earth to use and manage wisely (Genesis 1:26-28). DIVE Earth Science teaches students how to use Earth’s abundant resources, while avoiding the “ditches” of overuse and overprotection.

DIVE Earth Science consists of four sections: Earth Science Basics, Flood Geology, Limnology and Oceanography, and Meteorology and Astronomy. In Earth Science Basics, students are presented with foundational ideas that are developed further in the other three sections. This method is similar to John Saxon’s successful mathematics teaching format of introducing a foundational topic early on, and reviewing and building on it later.

In many Earth Science courses, students are taught misleading arguments that withhold many facts, such as “the Big Bang is the only explanation for how the Universe was created”, “fossil fuel burning is the only cause of global warming”, “fertilizer runoff from farms is causing the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico”, “all oil is formed from dead dinosaurs”, and many others. Possibly more than any other curriculum before it, DIVE Earth Science brings clarity to these arguments, and strives to tell “the rest of the story”.

In any Earth Science course, the subject of Earth history will inevitably arise. The subject has become highly politicized, mainly by the liberal left, who falsely equate the study of history with testable, repeatable science. Today, only one creation story is dogmatically taught in most government schools and universities, and it is not the story found in Scripture. DIVE Earth Science treats the study of history honestly, which means we treat it like history, not science. And that means historical documents like Scripture are helpful and necessary.

With DIVE Earth Science, students will learn to discern between unverifiable natural history research and verifiable scientific investigation. Also, students are presented with a variety of ideas about how the Earth and Universe formed, not just one “consensus” view! The goal of DIVE Earth Science is not to support a consensus view, but to teach students how to search for truth. Christian or non-Christian, “old” earth or “young” earth, I would hope that is something we would all want to help our children do!

We have a CD-ROM version for $80, and an online subscription for $50, plus $10 for each additional family member. The online version has many advantages including access anywhere you have a computer and Internet, no CD to damage and/or lose, and maybe most importantly, automated scoring and grade tracking. Click here to learn how the online version can make grading a breeze for busy homeschool parents! DIVE Online works on Windows and Mac computers, and even though it is Flash-based, it will also work on an iPad if you use the Photon browser.

Here is a sample pdf file of the laboratory manual, which includes the yearly schedule:

Sample Earth Science Workbook and Table of Contents

Here’s a pdf file containing a list of all laboratory supplies. Many items can be purchased locally, and Internet links are provided for other supplies. There is also a list of optional reading materials, both Internet links/videos, and books/DVDs to purchase:

DIVE Earth Science Lab Instructions and Supplies List

Here’s a demo of the Getting Started lesson, plus the video lectures, lab activities, computer-based homework and facts practice for Week 3:

DIVE Earth Science Demo

DIVE Earth Science will change the way science is taught. It will give your child a 21st Century Earth Science education, while strengthening their faith in the absolute truth of Scripture as a God-inspired work that is a true account of the history of Earth and the Universe.

Here is a link to our Facebook page, where I have a description of DIVE Earth Science topics covered each week. Just click on the photos, and the descriptions are attached to them.

To purchase, click here for the CD or here for the online version. Here’s a short commercial about DIVE Earth Science:

Do you have a question or comment about the new DIVE Earth Science? Post it below: