Ripper's Chatter

D. Ripollone is a STAR member of the Discovery Educator Network

Ripper's Chatter

SOS: Connect The Dots – DEN Blog Network

November 29th, 2013 · No Comments · Article, Discovery, Teaching Strategies

SOS: Connect The Dots – DEN Blog Network. Two posts in one day.. What is the world coming to. :) Great idea from Ginny Washburne on DEN. I think this would be a great warm-up to a topic. Could be used to find out what the students know?


Using Doceri, iMovie, & Telagami to Make Flipped Videos

November 29th, 2013 · No Comments · Article, Flipping the Classroom, Teacher Ideas, Web 2.0 Tool

Using Doceri, iMovie, & Telagami to Make Flipped Videos –

I know it’s been a while since my last post. It’s coming I promise. Meanwhile I think this would be an interesting addition to my flipped videos. I’ve been fretting recently on how to make my videos more interesting and have planned on redoing them this summer. Hopefully! Enjoy this small blog entry on these tools to help your videos out. Entry is by Jon Bergmann


Discovery Fall VirtCon

October 5th, 2013 · No Comments · Discovery, STEM

DEN Fall VirtCon.  Another VirtCon is upon us and yes Cardinal Gibbons High School is hosting a F2F (Face to Face) event.

Looks to be like an awesome day again, collaborating and getting new ideas for the classroom. If you are in the Raleigh area, feel free to

register for the event at Cardinal Gibbons. We will have breakfast, Lunch and prizes.  Remember this is not only for Science, this crosses the curriculum.

Awesome resource for Elementary and Middle School. High School teachers can also benefit, I change theessons to suit my grade level. But one of my favorites about this day is the new technology tools I learn about.


Literacy Project completed

September 25th, 2013 · 1 Comment · Modeling/Whiteboarding, Project, Teacher Ideas

I finally completed the Literacy project and found it worked out well. I’m thinking of using a principle every day to warm the class up. It could come from any one of the Literacy’s we used in the project. Idea forming, year long project? Maybe? If you have any ideas feel free to post them.

To understand what this blog is about you need to read the Literacy project I posted in one of my other blog entries. No problem just go here.

I did do the Literacy project and I would say it was a success in some ways. While in others it needs to be improved. First the success , students became more informed about the issues facing climate, ocean and the Earth in general. The literacy formats are really easy to use and can be used to cut across topic lines. Pretty much each of the principles the projects use can be linked (correlated, trying to find the proper word here) to Next Gen Standards. Check out the example below of the Ocean Literacy with the National Science Standards.


Each of the literacy has a movie on youtube. The Earth Science Literacy from AGI has a DVD with all the principles on it, but you can get these videos on youtube. Check them out they are pretty good and my students doing the Earth Science Literacy used them as a resource.  After students gathered their information they then could use any format to present. This is where I think I will make changes. Their choice of presentation format was PowerPoint. Don’t get me wrong I think PowerPoint is great for presentations, but I wanted a bit more variety or rather creativity.  Some did do Prezi presentations and they were very good. I think next year we we will do video presentations and Padlet for whiteboards (thanks for the idea Angie). I also think students don’t need a lot of time for this , actually when given class time I found most student groups had finished their presentations early. On another note I also had them set up Google accounts so they could share information. I’m loving the Google documents and other Google resources. Good resource on Google apps is Richard Bryne and his blog. Once students completed their projects they began their presentations.  I do use a rubric to grade students, its very basic, but I think its appropriate for this project in my case. I use points on the project.

Bottom line is the project was a good idea, but needs some tweaking. I will definitely use it next year but with those minor changes in place.  Since Earth Science Week is celebrated every year this might be a good idea for an activity during that week.  I’m also going to do a survey or formative assessment at the end to find out how much students are learning from the project. Feel free to post any questions you might have about the project.








Two Full Weeks in the Bag….NASA MiniGrant

September 22nd, 2013 · No Comments · Assessments, Environment, Flipping the Classroom, Labs, Modeling/Whiteboarding, NASA explorers school, Project, Teacher Ideas

Title says it all, we finally finished two full weeks. And wow, it has been flying by. Every time I look up at the clock at school, the day is almost over and I can never cover everything I want to cover. Oh well!

Let’s see where should I start first…Oh well we had our dedication and my creative video crew did an awesome job covering the Mass. They also did a great job interviewing the Bishop, you can see the interview on Youtube.  After dedication we then had parent/teacher night. The next day we were at the Friday Institute on NC State Campus doing a professional development. Yep I think it was a busy end of the August.

September came like a flash, I’m still trying to figure out where it all went. A couple of things that have happened, number one on the list is we received a mini grant from NES (NASA explorers school). Totally unexpected didn’t think it would happen. We applied knowing that eventually the cuts were coming and there would be no money left. (Which might still happen with gov’t shut down).  Hopefully, I say this because of the gov’t situation right now, we will be able to get our EV3’s and other Lego equipment. This year we have a room dedicated to Robotics and Science Olympiad. Its pretty awesome and at some point I will post pictures. In the room I’m hoping to have the Lego’s set up so they can be used during lunch periods etc.. With the purchase we are hoping to build an outreach with middle school children. We are incorporating the Green City sets into our Earth Day/Sustainability Day celebration and our Science Festival in January ( more on that in a later blog entry). Can’t wait to start getting this going and begin our little outreach endeavor.

I have pretty much decided to flip all of my Forensic class. It allows me to cover more material in class by doing different activities. The students are loving it. They said they like that class is made up of doing various activities and less lecture. They did however ask me to to make sure that there were worksheets to go along with the vodcasts.  And students haven’t been doing to bad on their assessments. Cool internet tool to use in Forensics is the CSI Web Adventure, it shows a variety of instruments used in the lab to analyze evidence. I gave students a work sheet that I created for the website and they dived into investigating the website.

I’ve been doing a good deal of whiteboarding in class and it has been successful. I still have to get it to a point that students are participating and getting something out of it.  I started using an exit tool, like a parking garage. Students posted their questions on post its and then posted them on poster paper. I had students do this just before the test, and went over all their questions at the beginning of class. Scores were pretty good, some did really well while others need improvement. I’m going to do this again but try a different format, maybe Padlet.

Another idea for class, is doing the Earth Science Week Photograph contest.  Still working on how I’m going to implement this. Meanwhile, this week is spirit week so we decided to do a scavenger hunt at school on Friday. We hope to have Physics and Earth Science students working together to find solutions to questions using GPS. Should be fun!

Hopefully, I have caught up on some of the happenings around my class. I haven’t done a parent newsletter in a while but hopefully that will come. Look for futures blogs on the Literacy Project, Science Festival and other happenings.






Summer Experiences

September 1st, 2013 · No Comments · Advanced Space Camp, Discovery, Siemens Research, Siemens STEM Academy, STEM

RALEIGH: Cardinal Gibbons science teacher brings research experience to classroom | Raleigh | It’s amazing that this occurred a month ago. I’m still trying digest what I did this summer. I already started showing the students my experiences.


Here we go….

August 9th, 2013 · No Comments · Advanced Space Camp, Discovery, NASA, NASA explorers school, Project, Space Camp, STEM, Teacher Workshop

Well two weeks to go and another year begins at my school. Changes have occurred throughout the school. Not bad changes. Just new changes. Mostly building changes which I know I’m excited about. New science rooms, office, lobby and media room. Yep definitely exciting this year.


science                lobby

Other then the changes in the building we have new faculty and technology this year. Again really exciting.  With cuts across the board in education we are very lucky to have had this plan approved early on. I think this really is the result of our principal and his hard work. Others also played a role in the project, but he was non stop with getting funding and the plans implemented.  Our vice principal and facilities/accountant person were really the ones getting all of this done on time.

So with all this new stuff I now have to think about all the things I learned during the summer experiences. I’m finally getting a chance to digest everything I did this summer. What I have brought back from all my experiences has been an asset to my classroom. Now its looking at how to implement this in the classroom.  I’ve already know that my experience with 2013 Siemens STARs research will fit perfectly in my geology section of class. I’m in the process of putting together a presentation using the pictures and research I did this summer. (see other posts for information) Using research information I can integrate everything into the  geological history and rock cycle sections.  Some of the websites we used during our research were excellent resources for geological history. If you are interested here is a google document with the websites. 

The other experiences will be great for electromagnetic spectrum and meteorology. Where we were at Langley we got a chance to talk to people about lasers and how they were used on satellites. In my other posts you can find all the resources I gained from this experience.  Last experience, Advanced Space Academy for Educators, and this experience showed me how I can overcome my fears with the help of others( go Team Marshall). This will be more of a story to tell students and maybe have them write something about how they have overcame some form of obstacle.

I’ve already decided to start class this year a little different, I ‘m going to continue to use the team building activities I did last year. Because as I found out this summer on all my experiences, collaboration and communication play a major role in real life STEM jobs. So I think this is important for the beginning of school. Plus this is when I put everyone into their groups, randomly.  But after this I’m going to have students do a project on the literacy principles.  Groups will be given two principles in one of the literacy components. I’m hoping to have enough groups to do all the principles so no one group is doing the same.



Ocean Literacy











I’m going to allow my students to choose how they want to present the information. I’ll give them some basics to guide them at the beginning but I want them to pretty much figure it out for themselves and be creative.  I’ll also suggest some tools such as Prezi, WeVideo,  etc.  I would use glogster but it costs money now. Actually I think students could use Microsoft publisher if need be, it would just be saved to a USB and not the cloud. I’ve found that they can pretty much create the similar presentations using word or publisher. I think you get the idea by now. Why am I doing this project is because at the NSTA I didn’t realize how important it is for our students to be aware of the different components of Earth Science and Earth Systems. I mean I knew but just didn’t know there were resources out there to help teach these topics. Plus it fits the Next Generation Standards.

I could go on with all the ideas I have for the beginning of school. But then this post would be a mile long. So I’m going to stop here and continue to discuss all the new classroom tools I obtained this summer in other posts. Since it is the beginning of school , I’m hoping to keep up with everything. So bear with me, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the experiences I had during the summer. I know my PLN really got a boost.Winking smile


Great Ending to a wonderful Experience

July 29th, 2013 · No Comments · Discovery, Siemens Research, Siemens STEM Academy, STEM, Teacher Ideas, Teacher Workshop


The final night proved to be amazing. During the day we had a luncheon with our sponsors. The two main sponsors were Siemens and the College Board. We meet both and introduced ourselves to them. It seems the College Board are the ones who pick the teachers to go to these experiences.  I guess I made an impression with my video to get picked. Actually I really don’t know why they picked me this year. But what I do know, is that this experience was amazing and wonderful.

That night we presented our research project before other STAR researchers, Siemens, College Board and PNNL. Nervous at first we did a good job and our mentor seemed very happy with our presentation. The certificate or diploma given is amazing, it’s framed and will be shipped to us.


My lab jacket is really cool, can’t wait to show that off this year. The experience was one I will never forget. Just talking to our mentors was enlightening, I learned a tremendous amount information and loved every minute of the work I did in the lab. When the night finished I know I was relieved the presentation was over with. I can’t wait to see the pictures from the presentation night. I have some already but the others should be better since we took group pictures.

The final day was Friday and we finalized our paper work. I handed in my mini-grant, I’m hoping to get the new EV3 from Lego. Vernier has a new probe called Radiation Monitor, I hope to use this and EV3 to go over climate factors. Once we handed in all our paperwork and got our lunch we were off to the airport.

So, how can I use this experience in class. Well, there are many ways that I can integrate the information I learned on this experience into my classroom. Especially the research steps. Using the STEM Student Research Handbook from NSTA and what I learned on my experience, I hope to implement the correct procedure for research projects.  Following the proper steps is very important in real life science, so it should be in class research. Another component I can use is the Geology of the Mammoth site, it fits in perfectly with the Geological Time Scale. A project that I’m thinking about is having students look over geological history of the mammoth site. There are plenty of ideas in my head right now, but I need time to digest everything we saw. It was amazing all the information I digested on this trip.


Teacher’s experience continues day 11 and counting

July 28th, 2013 · No Comments · Discovery, Project, Siemens Research, STEM, Teacher Ideas, Teacher Workshop


I’m writing this after we had finished the experience, just a bit behind. But it will have to due, I was really busy on the experience so keeping up with the entries was tough.

On Monday, we went back to the lab to finish our samples. And during that time we received data from our mentor. Using this data we started to put our presentation together for Thursday night. A very important night and I will discuss that in another entry. Once we finished our samples we had a total of 18 samples to go into the XRF (explained in an earlier blog entry). We had hoped to see it happen on Tuesday. However, bad news came our way, the XRF had to be fixed. They needed to order a part to fix it. So we ended up not getting the data from the Lab XRF to compare to the portable XRF. Our lab mentor Eirik e-mailed us to let us know he had fixed the machine on Friday, and hoped to get our samples taken care of. He worked hard to fix the machine and I know he probably worked long hours to get it done. So a big thanks to him. He said he would send the results to us, since we had leave on Friday. A teaching moment here, research does not always go the way you want it. Great point to make to the students.


Well on Tuesday and Wednesday we had tours to go on. One was to Atmospheric Lab where we meet up with scientists working on Cloud detection. We were given a tour of the facilities and learned about their projects.


Next on the list of tours was a tour of the Glass labs. This was interesting and two of the STARS researchers were assigned to this lab. This is where they are trying to experiment with different mixtures of glass to add to radioactive toxic waste and safely store this waste. Hanford site is currently holding barrels of radioactive waste from 70 years ago. So the clean up process is being improved for future use. The glass lab is playing a major role in this project. It was great to see different components of the lab.


The next two days were visiting different parts of PNNL and talking to different people. We meet with our mentor George for the last time before our presentation. This was a brief meeting talking about the results and what we had accomplished for future research. George did a great job explaining some of the data and reviewing the research. Overall, we had prepared everything for future research and hope to see some of the data at a later date. That day we went to the planetarium for dinner and a show. Saturn was viewable that night, and some people stayed to look through the awesome telescopes they had. That ended our day on the Tuesday.

Our last night for tours took place at the LIGO Hanford Observatory, here scientists are using sensitive optical equipment to search for gravitational waves from black holes.

Ultimately, LIGO is the largest sustained ultra-high vacuum in the world (8x the vacuum of space) keeping 300,000 cubic feet (about 8,500 cubic meters) at one-trillionth the pressure of Earth’s atmosphere.-obtained from LIGO website






The 4 km (a little less than 2.5 miles) of tunnel seemed to never end when we viewed it. The site was amazing and we had a brief lecture on theory of general relativity before the tour.

Well by Wednesday most research groups had finalized their projects and were preparing for the next night. This would be one of the most important nights for the STARS group.


Lab and Dig Site

July 23rd, 2013 · No Comments · Article, Discovery, Labs, Project, Siemens STEM Academy, Teacher Ideas, Teacher Workshop


On Friday we ended up in the lab for the whole day. Here we worked with Eirik Krogstad and Ian. The work started with us drying our samples in an oven for an hour. While that was taking place we measured out a recipe of flux and oxidizer (flux material was made of Lithium Borates and Lithium Bromide. Oxidizer was Ammonium Nitrate). The flux is used to bind the the sample and prepare it for fluxer (Fluxer used to prepare samples for Xray Fluorescence analysis).

DSC_0188    DSC_0191DSC_0181

Our sample was mixed with the recipe to create a material that would be inserted into a “fluxer” instrument. Here the mixture would be melted into a disc which could be used in a lab XRF. Before we could do this, we had to grind the samples into fine powder. We used a SPEX  mixer/miller. The sample was placed into a tungsten carbide mixing vial and then grinded down to a powder. There was a lot more to the procedure, but for this entry I’ll only cover the basics. In the fluxer the mixture would be melted at high temperatures. The eventual product was a clear disc that would be placed in the XRF unit for analysis. DSC_0216


DSC_0266    DSC_0392

Our research was based on the assumption that we would see an elemental change among the strata. Which we could plot in detail through use of the XRF. Our mentor hoped we would find a pattern between layers and a correlation to the pre-service teacher’s results.  I’m really trying to write this as simple as possible. I will post our presentation at a later date. We didn’t finish all our samples and had to come back on Monday to complete them. I think one of the most important things I’m learning is that there are fun and not so fun jobs (sound like a kid here), but the bottom line is you have to follow all the steps to reach a conclusion. Something many students would rather not do and skip steps. Also you need to work as a team, one person can’t do everything and it’s important that you work together to seek an answer. Collaboration! Nothing new about this, very similar to my other experiences.

The weekend came upon us a bit too fast since we had not finished every thing. On Saturday we took a tour of the Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility in Ellensberg WA and the Gingko Petrified Forest. The wind farm was very interesting, we had a chance to go inside the tower of one of the wind turbines. The improvement on the wind power is amazing. There was hardly any noise from the turbines, a definite improvement on the technology. One the most amazing things was the view of the cascades and Mount Rainier.

DSC_0300            DSC_0323


The Gingko forest had some interesting species.


Sunday morning we went to the dig site to help out for a little while. It was really interesting learning how to properly dig and wash the soil. We ended up staying for a few hours and leaving the site later in the morning. DSC_0367DSC_0368


The end of the day was ours to do whatever we wanted.  To relax a group of teachers went boating on the Columbia River and it was great. We went swimming and boating on the river for about two hours. This ended the weekend and another week was upon us. 7 days down and 7 more to go. Friday the 26th we would leave so this was the last week. So the next entries would be the last.


Keep an eye on the blog for conclusion to our Siemens experience.