Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Science of Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

One of my favorite blogs is called Science For Raising Happy Kids, by Christine Carter, Ph.D. She offers parenting advice based on actual scientific research!

One of Christine's recurring themes is gratitude. Practicing gratitude actually makes you a happier person. Last summer, inspired by her teachings, the Harper family instituted a new tradition. When we sit down to dinner together we hold hands and go round the circle twice, each telling something for which we are grateful. It's simple, but I do think it's had a positive effect. Christine offers more ideas for stretching the gratitude muscle on her most recent post.

Anyhow, I thought I'd take the opportunity, this being Thanksgiving, to show a little gratitude here on the Born to Do Science blog. I'd like to thank...
  • My wife Lisa, for her support of this project which takes up lots of time and brings us no income, at least not yet.
  • Sue Busch and the Stillwater Public Library for hosting this season's events and providing the publicity.
  • All the parents for bringing their kids to the events.
  • All the kids for showing up, having fun, and asking lots of good questions.
  • All the other folks who have supported, encouraged, and promoted the idea.
  • And of course, my guest scientists, who take time out from their busy schedules to prepare and share their research with my audiences, but mostly I want to thank them for the incredible work they do growing our body of scientific knowledge, which improves and enriches all our lives!!
Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

Roundy Round Video

Check out this amazing fan-made video of my song, "Roundy Round"!

Here's the story behind it, from my friend Laurie: "I've been volunteering at my daughter's school, teaching science lessons. I want to expose her classmates to "Roundy Round," and I mentioned it to my husband, and lamented that I didn't have anything to show them while they are listening to it. So, my talented husband made a video with all sorts of video clips of planets and things going roundy round to the music. It is awesome."

I'll say! Check it out! Pass it on!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Super Wheat!

Last Thursday was our first "Born to Do Science" event at the library, and it went very well! Many thanks to Sue Busch for setting up the series with the library, to our guest scientist, Cheryl Baker, and to Lisa for taking all these great photos!

By the way, there is no photo of me performing because... Cheryl put together a slide show to go with my song, so we just played it on the projector. Stay tuned; you're going to get to see it too, soon!

Here's what the room looks like. A lot of people came in late, due to traffic from the football game (who knew?), so we ended up with a somewhat bigger crowd than you see here.

Cheryl was awesome - she brought vials of wheat for every kid to observe (and taste!), plus several kinds of live aphids and magnifying glasses to view them with!

My neighbor from down the street just happened to be growing wheat in his back yard (he's in the entomology / plant pathology department at OSU) - and he sent a bucket of it for us to look at. Here we're examining some insect damage.

Checking out the live Aphids that Cheryl brought! Can you tell the different species apart?

Amazing Lisa took this photo through a magnifying glass. The green oval shapes are aphids. The little ones are babies. They are born live, and come out as miniature copies (clones) of their mamas.

Here's Cheryl, explaining...

Cheryl also brought these little sprigs of wheat to show the difference between the resistant variety and the vulnerable variety, when infested with Russian wheat aphids. The ones in the photos look pretty healthy, but the non-resistant wheat was obviously not happy at all.

Don't forget, our next event is December 17, at the Stillwater Public Library at 6:00 PM. I hope to see you there!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cultivating Super Wheat

As our first "Born to Do Science" event of the season approaches, I'm getting very excited!

I have a new song ready to share. Then our guest geneticist, Cheryl Baker and I will ask the question, what can you do when Russian wheat aphids attack your crops? We'll explore the process of creating "super wheat" that can resist the aphids' attack. There will be wheat and aphids on hand to examine.

The program is Thursday, Nov. 19, at 6:00 PM at the Stillwater Public Library. Children in 3rd-5th grade are invited, along with their parents. Please call ahead to RSVP: (405) 372 3633

If you'd like to get a leg up on understanding the science, see the links provided below!

This clearly written article provides some really great background information for our topic!

Check out the lab where Cheryl works!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Press Release and Flyer


Nov. 5, 2009

Contact: Sherry Fletcher, Director of Marketing and Public Relations

Phone: 405.742.8362



Contact: Stacy DeLano, Stillwater Public Library

Phone: 405-372-3633 x124



'Born to do Science': Stillwater Public Library and local entertainer launch science series for kids; Program features working scientists and fun hand-on activities; first program is slated for Nov. 19

(STILLWATER, OKLA. / Nov. 5, 2009) –– The Stillwater Public Library and Monty Harper, a local family entertainer and science enthusiast, are pleased to announce a fun, new program called "Born to Do Science" for area children.

This monthly program, intended for third through fifth graders, allows kids to speak directly with working scientists and to see first-hand how the process of science works.

"My goal is to give kids a chance to talk to real working scientists about their research," said Harper. "I want kids to come away feeling that they talked to a scientist who's doing important work and I want them to picture themselves doing similar work in their own lives."

The series will be presented on the third Thursday of each month, except March, at 6 p.m. in Room 119 and will include interactive presentations by local scientists, fun and wacky science songs by Harper, and hands-on activities.

"These programs are more interactive than just listening to a talk or presentation," said Harper. "The audience has an important roll to play."

The first program is "Cultivating Super Wheat" on Thursday, Nov. 19 and features geneticist Cheryl Baker, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Baker will explain how her groundbreaking research on wheat varieties led to their natural resistance to pests such as Russian aphids.

The series continues on Thursday, Dec. 17 with Dr. Marianna Patrauchan, OSU assistant professor in microbiology and molecular genetics. Patrauchan will present "Breaking Up Bad Bacterial Biofilms" and speak about her research on biofilm, a group of microorganisms surrounded by the slime they secrete. She will also explain how her research on these slippery slime cities may one day lead to a cure for cystic fibrosis.

Additional programs will be scheduled for 2010.

Registration for each program in "Born to Do Science" series is required. The registration deadline is one week prior to each program. Participants are limited to third through fifth graders and their families. Parents are asked to make separate child care arrangements for family members in second grade or younger.

For more information, visit the library's web site at, contact the library Help Desk at 405-372-3633 or email or visit

The Stillwater Public Library is located at 1107 S. Duck St. (the corner of Duck and 12th Ave.). Library hours are Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. This event is co-sponsored by KOSU.