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"Easy" A


Above is a picture of myself (the frog) and my cousin (the otter) at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta - it was amazing!!

Hello Everyone! I hope everybody had an awesome summer! I know mine went by way too fast & I was definitely not ready to head back to school, reading, and homework! But oh well.

As I'm sure you've heard, I am one of your TA's for SC200! There are a few pointers I'd like to share with all of you as you get started with this class.

  1. Go to class! I cannot tell you how important it is to not only go to class, but pay attention. You will learn so much just by being in class, and taking notes on what is going on will definitely help you when exams come up.

  2. Don't procrastinate on your blogs! Writing a blog can seem like a daunting assignment. But I promise, if you start writing them early and put some thought into what you are writing about, you will be fine. Blogs are a big part of your overall grade, so don't brush them off until the last minute. Just remember to be thoughtful about what you're writing & of course don't forget to comment!

  3. Be sure to speak up in class! This was one thing that I didn't catch on to until later in the semester, but interacting in class can really help you understand better what Andrew is saying. Even if you're not confused, stating opinions or giving your thoughts on a certain topic will help you to more fully understand and relate to what Andrew has to say. This will definitely be useful in the future for exams!

  4. Don't be afraid to talk to us! And that goes for any of us. I promise, if you have a question there is going to be at least one other person who was thinking or wondering the same thing. So don't be afraid to email the TA's, or approach Andrew (he's really not scary at all... I promise!)
    On a side note, I definitely encourage taking Andrew up on the "free" lunch offer from Eberly College of Science. It was a great chance for him to get to know me & it was nice to talk with him outside of the regular classroom... plus it's free food :)

If you have any questions, feel free to ask! We're here to help you, but keep in mind you have to work for the grade that you want. So if you put in the time & effort, you will be fine! I can't wait to start working with this class & I know you guys will really enjoy this class! See you on Thursday :-)




As we approach the final blog period, I am sure many of you want to receive better grades!  So it is time for many of you to step up your game.  Although many of you are doing exceptionally well, keep up the good work.  You never know if you could do even better than the last time!

In honor of this new and final marking period, here are some tips for improvements.

I.  Thoroughly read the syllabus.  And in case you haven't yet I will outline the criteria for an "Excellent A" mark. 

    1. More than 1 entry per week, more than 3 comments per week.
      1. Try to exceed these!  Last year, I would try to leave a comment or two every night before I went to bed.  I also tried to post at least 3 times a week.
    2. Entries should be "conceptually sophisticated, engaged in a substantive way with the material."
    3. Comments:  Analyze the posts of others and extend the discussion in a new direction.  You should also try to relate these comments to previous discussions in the classroom and online.
    4. Post should pertain to the material but should make a creative and meaningful point that extends beyond the material.
    5. The post should be organized around a central point, concise, and express striking theories/ ideas  
    6. Clear and easy to read style
    7. Reference reading, personal experiences/ stories, experts, etc. These references should strongly support the main idea or position you are taking. 
    8. Draw course material into connection with relevant issues of the day.  You can do this by referencing blogs, websites, articles, etc.
      1. My best advice for this is scan the newspaper/ online website daily and look until you stumble upon an interest that pertains to the course material.  

  1. Do not just focus on QUANTITY, focus on the QUALITY of your posts.  If you just try to bang out numerous blogs, you will most likely forget about all the other criteria and sound superficial.  
  2. In both your posts and comments, make it a goal to start a discussion.  You could ask though provoking questions to make people think critically.  Then, they could answer or share their opinions through commenting.  Make a point about the topic/ material.  Maybe share personal stories that relate or your opinion on the subject matter.  
  3. Do not be so superficial in explaining/ critiquing/ etc. your articles and sources.  Do not stay so much on the surface of the topic. Dive into it. Critique it, This could lead to devising questions others can answer.  
  4.   PICTURES.  VIDEOS.  ETC.  Draw people in to read your posts! 


This is your last marking period to receive your desired grade and make yourself stand out.  DO NOT wait until the last few days, even weeks.  Start now, and consistently work throughout the whole marking period.  Make it count! 


dance your PhD.jpg

I can not decide if this is great outreach, or barking mad. My gut instinct as a New Zealand bloke is that its deeply sad. The new age man in me thinks I need to get in touch with my artistic side. Thoughts?

It's easy as 1,2,3...9.


  1.  ATTENTION PEOPLE NOT BLOGGING- and you know who you are.  I urge you to not wait until the last marking period to begin blogging.  The point is to improve each marking period, not to wait until the last one.  If you don't get your desired grade, you'll only have yourself to blame....
  2. Comments- Do not just comment for the sake of commenting.  The difference between a sporadic comment and well thought out comment are very clear.  Take the time to make a meaningful one.  Try to start a conversation.  
    1. Some examples of thoughtful comments I made are:
      1. ZooAmerica Flooding
      2. Not My Puppy
      3. So are ghosts scientific or do we make this stuff up?
      4. See also Andrew and Suzanne's comments on comments
  3. URL- Some people are still simply copying and pasting the URL in.  DO NOT DO THIS.  Take the 30 seconds that it takes to add the live link.  If you do not know how to do this, email me. Also with this, incorporate the live link into a sentence.  Or name the livelink something creative that will entice individuals to click on it to further explore.  
  4. Don't make your font bigger to make your post look longer (!!!) 
  5. Media-Try to post a picture or video (or both) into EVERY post.  IT adds depth and attracts people to read your posts which deserve to be read.  Do not put your hare work to waste-make people want to stop at your post to explore!  In honor of the season premiere of my favorite show, Grey's Anatomy, here is a picture of the cast.greys_anatomy1.jpg
  6. Catchy titles will also help draw people in!
  7. We are getting a lot of duplicate comments.  Be patient!  Wait a little while to see if your comment posted and if it did not (which should not be the case) then go re-post it.  Do not panic if it doesn't show up in the first thirty seconds of hitting submit and re-post it automatically.  You can delete duplicates if you make them by accident >Manage>Comments
  8. Uniform font-Make sure everyone is in the same font format.   
  9. Tagging-  Make sure you guys are PROPERLY tagging your posts.  Do not tag every word that it has to deal with.  Just tag the words that portray what the blog is about.  For example, it it is about a cancer vaccine, tag "cancer" and/or "vaccines."  Try and tag the tags that already exist!   

If anyone needs help with anything (i.e, can't figure something out, can't think of topics, other issues), do not hesitate to email me or Suzanne.  We are here to help.  

Four Tips for a Classy Comment

Posting an entry and posting a comment are almost two separate spheres.  One introduces a discussion topic, while another delves further into the discussion, through either personal reflection or additional/contradicting information.  So here are a few tips aimed at making your comments as probative and effective as possible.

1.  This is not Facebook.  So a comment that says, "Lol, cool beans," is not going to cut it.

2.  Don't be afraid to disagree!  Question and critically look at the posts. 

3.  Links, links, links.  These make a comment that much more effective as they make your information readily available to be referenced.

4.  Further the discussion.  Personal reactions are great, but it's effective to back these reactions with additional information or questions.

Good comment:  I see what you mean about carrots.  It's interesting that it isn't the carrot specifically that improves the eyesight, but rather the Vitamin A within the carrot.  This Duke Health article reinforces that point.  However, as this Web MD article says, carrots will not improve your vision if you are not deficient in Vitamin A.  Why do you think carrots have always been linked to improved vision?  What role do "Old Wives' Tales" play into our nation's stereotypes and science?

Bad comment:  Carrots...yummy!  I like them with hummus.
Picking topics to blog about.  I know stressful, right?  But as long as you put a little effort into it it's a piece of cake.
Piece-Of-Cake-3.jpg1) For starters, designate a page in your notebook to jot down ideas as they come to you.  Allow your mind to wander to anything and everything science and write them down.  Literally, write down EVERYTHING that comes to mind.  Who knows what you will piece together or where it can take you.  I got a lot of ideas when Andrew would lecture.  One thing he said would make me think of other various topics. 
2)  Think about science in everyday life and write it all down.  I mean, this course is called "Science in Our World." It is ALL around us.  I would get ideas from my favorite show, Grey's Anatomy.  I would also get inspiration from the TLC specials that are always on.   
3)  Search online: National Geographic, science section of The New York Times.  Find one article that interests you> search for more that pertain to it> collaborate the info and start writing.
4)  Don't force yourself to write about something you don't care about.  Write about things you truly have passion for.  (Personally, I had a passion for writing about cancer area since it has affected so many of my family members).  
5)  Pick topic/theme you could do a series/provide updates on.  (Example-I did one blog on the disappearance on Honeybees which the news provides updates on quite frequently).
6)  Be creative and take risks!  

First off, welcome to SC200 everyone.  I know it seems extremely stressful at the beginning but I truly hope you all learn to love this class as much as I did.  When I first started in this course I almost threw in the towel during the second week (I was just incredibly overwhelmed by the whole blogging concept).  But, my roommate who also was in it forced me to stay.  So much to my dismay, I did.  So if anyone is feeling the way I was at this time I beg you to STICK WITH IT.  Because trust me, it is worth it.  I grew an appreciation for science when I opened my eyes to everything around me.  I also discovered new things about myself: I actually enjoyed writing and sharing my thoughts with others.

a-plus-visiondecor.jpgSo here are some pointers on how to be a successful blogger and SC200 student.  If you have any questions, do not be afraid to email myself or Suzanne.  That's what we are here for. 

  1. Do not wait until the last day of the blog period to frantically fulfill all the requirements.  When I took this course, my 2 friends would wait until the last day and rush through 5 or so blogs.  BAD IDEA...The carelessness will be blatantly obvious in your posts.
  2. Stay Organized.  I bookmarked both the class blog website and the site where you physically create posts.  I set them next to the PSU webmail bookmark.  Just place it somewhere will you will often be tempted to click on it.
  3. Get in a habit.  Set aside a time each day to read through posts, comment, search for topics, and create posts.  Personally, I would try to do a post a few nights a week before I went to bed.  Also, every time I would log onto my computer I would browse through recent posts and comment on the ones that caught my eye.
  4. Speaking of catching ones eye...CATCHY TITLES AND FLASHY PICTURES are a must.  Videos are also very helpful in getting your point across and attracting someone's attention while adding depth to your post.
  5. Comments comments and more comments.  Comment on anything and everything that interests you.  You never know where the conversation you could strike up may end up.  Share personal experiences and ask questions.  Open up to people-if you do, chances are others will follow your lead. 
  6. Read Andrew's instructor blog and see the posts he selected as exceptional.  They were obviously selected for a reason and can provide an outstanding example.   
  7. Go to class.  This is not a science class where you can simply survive on memorization.  It is thought provoking and analytical.  It is essential you are present in class for the discussions.  The powerpoint notes nor the internet will get you very far on the tests.   
  8. If there are guest speakers do not miss them!  Number 1: they are very interesting and you get different perspectives on subject matter.  Number 2: you may miss a great opportunity (Last year we got to meet and take pictures with Nobel Prize winner Barry Marshall).
  9. And whatever you do, NO COPY AND PASTING.  It is blatantly obvious when one does this.  You could also get yourself as well as the school into legal trouble.
  10. Do not be afraid to ask questions-in class or via email.   
Hello, SC200 students!  My name is Suzanne Zakaria, and I will be one of your TA's this semester.  I am providing a sample blog entry so that you can get an idea of what an "A" grade blog should look like.  Notice the pictures, live links, font consistency, and utilization of multiple sources.  Feel free to send me an email with any questions!

Malaria Microwave

23MICR-articleLarge.jpgAfter just having spent a month in Southern India, I've got malaria on my mind.  For the past month and a half, I've been on Malarone, an anti-malarial medication, whilst simultaneously dousing myself with DEET.  The precautions were necessary; malaria is contracted from a  parasite that lives in Anopheles mosquitoes, and trust me, mosquitoes were always around us, ready to bite.  Malaria can be deadly, since the parasites from the mosquito enter the bloodstream and then attack and infect the red blood cells (the cells that help humans breathe). 

However, scientists have recently taken significant steps in how to treat this often deadly disease.  The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donated $100,000 to a Penn State microbiologist, Dr. José A. Stoute, as a result of a proposal suggesting that microwaves have the potential to safely eradicate malaria parasites in the blood.

Sounds crazy, right?  But your dorm room microwave won't do the trick.  Stoute's proposed model microwave is built out of commercially available parts, but it emits less than one-thousandth of the power of your standard Kenmore. The frequency of these electromagnetic fields have to be  tuned so precisely that it focuses on solely the parasites.

Here's how it works: the malaria parasites invade the red blood cells and eat the hemoglobin (which carries oxygen to the rest of the body) inside of the formerly healthy cells.  When these parasites eat the hemoglobin, they produce hemozoin crystals.  Hemozoin production is essential to the survival of these parasites.

So basically, the microwave targets the hemozoin.  The goal is that the heated hemozoin crystals will swell and pop.  Then, theoretically, they will unleash an acid bath on the parasite's innards.  And voila, the malarial parasite is dead! 

This research is ground-breaking, especially since malaria parasites all inevitably become resistant to new drugs.  With a non-invasive treatment, the hypothesis is that the parasites will be incapable of resisting this microwave.

For now, research has only been conducted on mice.  But think of the possibilities!  Imagine if in the future, an airport scanner, based on this same microwave theory, could cure malaria as immigrants walked through it, without any testing or anyone noticing.  That is the power of science.

But for the time being, I have to keep taking my Malarone.  To learn more about this, check out this New York Times Article!

Hi everyone! My name is Carolyn (Cally) Prutting and I will be one of you TA's this semester.  Here is a sample blog post just so you can get the gist of what they should look like: 

Last year when I was an SC 200 student I wrote a blog called "What's All the Buzzzzz About?" regarding the worldwide disapearance of the vital honey bees.   My fascination with this issue began when I first learned of it in high school science.  However, I have not looked it up for quite some time, so I decided to provide an update to this pressing issue.  

Whether you personally have heard it or not, the phrase "Colony Collapse Disorder" has taken the world by storm.  While searching through the news articles on this topic, I discovered that it surfaces in the news nearly everyday.  So why do you think individuals are not making this more of a hard pressed issue?  I mean, in a way, our existence depends on these honey bees.  According to this video produced by the ever popular brand Burt's Bees, more than 1/3 of the food we consume depends on these bees. 

Honey_Bees-300x300.jpgThe last time I checked, scientists believed that the mysterious CCD had something to do with a viral fungus combination.  But according to this recent article, we can blame this tragedy on ourselves.  Scientists now reason that a combination of issues is at fault.  They concluded that we can blame the "the increasing commercialization of farming -- where farmers raise just a single crop, use pesticides or import bees long distances."  Honey Bees are very suscpetible to high stress and can not overcome the disease and pesticides.  Honeybee expert, Evan Sugden from the biology department at the University of Washington, stated his concerns: "The issue has been going on the last 20 years; the onslaught of the problem is large due to transporting bees to farms.  Bees are vulnerable to parasite mites they come in contact with when transported; micro diseases and other factors stress the bees."


The article also suggest ways YOU can help.  If you're interested in reading more on this topic or finding ways to do your part, visit Pollinator Pathway.

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