It’s been a while, but I’m back at it! I’ll be sharing Edugifs each month, illustrating projects my students and I are currently making in the classroom. This month’s Edugif is inspired by the Earth science inquiry project my students are currently working on. Making crystals was a lot of fun, and gave my students a chance to observe how Earth’s systems can change over time.  

Crystals are more than just beautiful jewels. A crystal is really just a solid with molecules arranged in an ordered, repeating pattern. Experimenting with crystallization can be as simple as a salty solution. A basic solution is as easy as two parts boiling water mixed with 1.5 parts sodium borate (AKA Borax). Once you’ve got your solution, you can play around with pipe cleaners to make different shapes for the crystals to form on. 




Tour a mineral collection. From the creator of the video, here are the groups featured in order:

The minerals are divided into some compositional classes:
00:08 Native elements;
00:30 Sulfides;
02:46 Halides;
03:17 Oxides;
06:09 Carbonates;
07:40 Borates;
07:45 Sulfates;
09:05 Chromates, molybdates and tungstates;
09:29 Phosphates, arsenates and vanadates;
10:16 Nesosilicates;
11:27 Sorosilicates
12:01 Cyclosilicates
12:27 Inosilicates
12:34 Phyllosilicates
12:41 Tektosilicates
The complete lyrics to the infectious 'USA Freedom Kids' song from the Donald Trump rally
Lyrics from the USA Freedom kids — singing a ditty to the tune of "Over There," the World War I standard.

I am now officially convinced that this entire Trump Presidential campaign is the greatest Borat-style comedy bit that anybody has pulled off. Because it just can’t be real. At some point, Donald Trump is going to reveal himself as Andy Kaufman.

But if this is all legit, can somebody please keep an eye on those “USA Freedom kids” – for their own sake, of course, but also for our own safety just in case that frightening, murderous, The Shining vibe that they give off isn’t just for the stage.

It’s just magnificently horrible! 😀

I’m laughing because I know Ylvis, but if I didn’t, I probably wouldn’t find this that funny. There’s lots of good stuff here, but it feels the comedy is not taken far enough.

I think it’s hilarious that Ylvis are trying to act like idiot douches. But they should have turned it up a notch. Like at the brewery, if they had made it clear to the audience that this was a real situation, that the other people there didn’t know that they were only pretending to get drunk, it would have been funnier. I’m sure everyone knew what was going on though, I’m just saying it would have been funnier if they shot that scene “Borat style”.

Also I’m pretty sure that they are capable of way better acting than that. Feels like it was shot in a hurry, with too few takes or not good enough a director.

And the bit where they showed the video in the board room, the reactions from the people should have been more exaggerated OR even more toned down.

I think the funniest bit was Vegard showing his “Josh Groban”. 😀 I also really liked Magnus and the fact that he had shirts saying “I am Magnus” in several colours. And the boys did look extra cute in this!

I think the idea wasn’t bad and this could work if executed better! But to be honest, Ylvis’ ideas are usually more creative than this.

5 things you didn’t know about…boron

1. In 1808, Thênard and Gay-Lussac, two French chemists, found a new way to separate boron from its compounds. They heated boracic acid with potassium metal to produce impure boron. In 1892, Henri Moissan, also a French Chemist produced boron that was 98% pure.

2. Boron in its crystalline form is very unreactive. Amorphous boron is reactive.

3. All forms of boron have a melting point of 2,200 to 2,300°C.

4. The abundance of boron in the Earth’s crust is estimated to be around 10 parts per million.

5. One of the most important of boron compounds is sodium borate, or borax, which is used in the borosilicate glass, glass fibre insulation, and textile glass fibre. The addition of sodium borate makes the glass easier to work while it is molten. The resulting glass is very strong and resistant to acids, water and thermal shock. 

To read about the exciting possibilities of boron nitride, read Simon Frost’s special report in our February issue.


Sharon Stallone in no panties. Nobby is in for a treat. Sacha Baron Cohen and Rebel Wilson star in the latest clip from #GrimsbyMovie – At Cinemas Weds Feb 24.

50 Best Movies of the 21st Century... So Far (20-11)

Somewhere among the endless superhero blockbusters, franchise reboots, and sequels, some really great movies came out in the last 15 years. So in honor of the weeks leading up to the Academy Awards for 2015, I figured I’d rank the best of the lot. Of course, this is all subjective.

For this list, I chose my favorite 5 movies from each year, 2000 to 2015, ranked them, then narrowed those entries down to 50. I’ll be posting lists by 10 a week. To check out last week’s list:

Here we go…

20. SUPERBAD (2007)
Director: Greg Mottola
Starring: Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Seth Rogen, Bill Hader, Christopher Mintz- Plasse
The Plot: Y Tu Mama Tambien, but with dick jokes.
Why it’s great: Proof that the best ideas of your life come when you’re 13 years old, this is the pinnacle of the Judd Apatow-Seth Rogen comedy streak. It’s hands down one of the funniest movies of the last 15 years, with an inspired cast and a shocking amount of heart which gives the film an inherent sweetness despite its genre tendencies.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%
Academy Awards: 0 nominations, 0 wins

19. GRAVITY (2013)
Director: Alfonso Cuaron
Starring: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney
The Plot: Sandra Bullock’s terrible, no good, very bad day… in space.
Why it’s great: It’s a shame this may never again be seen in IMAX 3D, as it remains to this day the only time I’ve found that format justified. Even without it, it’s a full-body experience with jaw-dropping visuals and a strong central performance from Bullock. Cuaron again proves why he’s a master of film, ratcheting up the tension to almost unbearable levels and delivering a movie that promises so much for the future of the medium.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%
Academy Awards: 10 nominations, 7 wins (Director, Cinematography, Visual Effects, Editing, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Score)

18. SPIRITED AWAY (2001)
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Starring: Rumi Hiiragi, Miyu Irino, Mari Natsuki
The Plot: A little girl tries to help her parents not be pigs anymore.
Why it’s great: Spirited Away possesses the best of both worlds of Miyazaki’s singular body of work, with all the whimsy of My Neighbor Totoro and the high fantasy of Princess Mononoke. Through its display of immense imagination, it combines elements of Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio, and other staples of fantasy to say something powerful about being in a new place and coming of age.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%
Academy Awards: 1 nomination, 1 win (Best Animated Feature)

Director: David Fincher
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake
The Plot: Two guys have the most intense Facebook fight ever.
Why it’s great: The Fincher-Sorkin collaboration turns out to benefit both, as this is one of the finest films by either. Sorkin’s screenplay is among his tightest, eschewing biopic conventions and his usual talkiness for a taut narrative; and Fincher’s usual exploration of the darker side of humanity is offset by Sorkin’s wit. The result is a fascinating encapsulation of the “me” generation, laced with all the love, friendship, humor, and betrayal that make the best of movies.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%
Academy Awards: 8 nominations, 3 wins (Adapted Screenplay, Original Score, Editing)

16. BEST IN SHOW (2000)
Director: Christopher Guest
Starring: Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, John Michael Higgins, Michael McKean, Michael Hitchcock, Parker Posey, Jennifer Coolidge, Jane Lynch
The Plot: It’s about people with dogs.
Why it’s great: The middle of Christopher Guest’s holy trinity of mockumentaries also comprised of Waiting For Guffman and A Mighty Wind is perhaps the greatest (although it usually depends on which one I just watched). With not a weak link in the cast, it shows that comedy is truly at its best when it deals with people in as truthful a manner as possible, and is a testament to Guest’s comedic sensibility and uncompromising humanity.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%
Academy Awards: 0 nominations, 0 wins

15. FINDING NEMO (2003)
Director: Andrew Stanton
Starring: Albert Brooks, Ellen Degeneres
The Plot: A single father and an amnesiac have to find a boy who was abducted when he touched some guy’s butt.
Why it’s great: My personal favorite Pixar movie is as good as anything Disney ever did, with some of the most beautiful animation ever done. That its arresting visuals become secondhand to its emotional and funny story, populated by fresh, funny, and ultimately human characters, is a testament to its almost instantly apparent timelessness.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%
Academy Awards: 4 nominations, 1 win (Best Animated Feature)

14. MEAN GIRLS (2004)
Director: Mark Waters
Starring: Lindsaw Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Tim Meadows, Tina Fey, Ana Gasteyer, Amy Poehler
The Plot: Girls are mean.
Why it’s great: Perhaps no other movie on this list has infiltrated pop culture in the last 15 years as much as this hysterically funny and dead-on expose on young female cliques. Endlessly quotable thanks to a sharp script by Tina Fey, it’s transcended films even this century and become one of the best high school movies of all time.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%
Academy Awards: 0 nominations, 0 wins

13. BORAT (2006)
Director: Larry Charles
Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen
The Plot: A vaguely foreign man makes us all look like total assholes.
Why it’s great: Now one of the funniest movies of all time, Borat sees Sacha Baron Cohen balancing shock value and biting satire perfectly, with a tour de force performance that is as brave as it is hilarious.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%
Academy Awards: 1 nomination, 0 wins

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Diane Kruger
The Plot: Brad Pitt and a lady who runs a movie theater try and kill Hitler.
Why it’s great: Tarantino’s best film since Pulp Fiction and the last (so far) before he really just started goofing off, Inglourious Basterds is an ambitious masterpiece of genre-bending. Tension blends seamlessly into comedy and back again, and anchoring it all is one of those iconically delicious screen performances by the then-newcomer Christoph Waltz, who commands the screen in every second he’s on it.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%
Academy Awards: 8 nominations, 1 win (Supporting Actor)

Director: Michel Gondry
Starring: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood, Tom Wilkinson
The Plot: Jim Carrey erases Kate Winslet from his mind and instantly regrets it.
Why it’s great: Charlie Kaufman’s best-written film has the perfect combination of high concept smarts and humanity. Combined with Gondry’s direction and inspired casting, it’s a film that is nothing less than powerful in its likening of love to amnesia, conjuring up a combination of humor, sadness, and romance that is haunting even years later.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%
Academy Awards: 2 nominations, 1 win (Original Screenplay)

NEXT WEEK: Three Best Pictures, two climactic dance numbers, and a Chastain in a life tree.