The Economic Impact of Hurricane Sandy

In this lesson, students think about the economic impact of a natural disaster such as Hurricane Sandy, learn the difference between macro- and micro-level effects of natural disasters, and allocate funds to recovery efforts following Sandy.

Who Do You Think You Are? Tracing Your Familial Roots

The objective of this lesson is to have students conduct an interview with a family member as well as learn about their family history.

Exploring and tracing family history – also known as genealogy – is the most personalized form of history. It passes from one generation to the next, allowing us to connect with our ancestors as well as providing us with knowledge of our culture or how we fit into the grander scheme of society. It is exceptionally self-gratifying to be able to trace our ancestral roots.

The Physics of Superman

This lesson provides a scientific look at the physics of Superman’s powers and discusses the principles of atomic energy levels, X-rays, forces, and the theoretical principle of negative matter.


The Science of Daredevil: 5 Scientific Explanations for Daredevil’s Abilities

While he can no longer see, the radioactive exposure heightens his remaining senses beyond normal human ability and gives him a type of radar or sonar which acts as his vision. There is another theory that the toxic waste didn’t enhance his senses at all, and his abilities are just a natural response to the loss of one of his 5 key senses.  

The Man Without Fear:

Daredevil is a comic book superhero created by Stan Lee and Bill Everett for Marvel comics.  He first appeared in 1964.  Living in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of New York City, Matt Murdock is blinded by a radioactive substance that falls from an oncoming vehicle. While he can no longer see, the radioactive exposure heightens his remaining senses beyond normal human ability and gives him a type of radar or sonar which acts as his vision. There is another theory that the toxic waste didn’t enhance his senses at all, and his abilities are just a natural response to the loss of one of his 5 key senses.  He fights crime in the streets, seemingly fearless in the face of his visual limits. He’s a master martial artist, trained from his youth, and is a genius lawyer to boot. Here are 5 very real scientific explanations for Daredevil’s not so super-human powers.

1. Blindness Hacks your Visual Cortex:

Daredevil’s powers and abilities include a radar sense, similar to echolocation and sonar, and sensitive touch, hearing, and balance. You are born with a Visual Cortex – the part of your brain that processes all of the visual information you take in.  If you are born blind, or become blind, your brain’s visual cortex will actually rewire itself to make use of the visual processing center in different ways – otherwise known as cross-modal neuroplasticity.  This means that the brain uses the other senses more efficiently, increasing their performance. This rewiring can also lead to acquiring synesthesia – where input from one sense triggers another sense automatically – like hearing a color, or tasting a sound.

2. Radar Sense:  

Daredevil’s “radar” has been very inconsistent over the years within the comic, with many different renditions and qualities being noted. Sometimes he sees extreme details and other times he sees basic outlines and shapes. Sometimes its linked to his sense of hearing like a form of echolocation.  In Daredevil #167 it is described like that of a bat.  It says “he emits probing, high frequency waves.” Waves which break against any solid object and breaking send back signals only audible to Daredevil.  From these signals, his brain forms silhouette images of everything around him.  In this manner he “sees” in every direction.

3. Human Echolocation is Real:

Human echolocation has been known and formally studied since at least the 1950s.  It is the ability of humans to detect objects in their environment by sensing echoes from those objects. By actively creating sounds – for example, by tapping their canes, lightly stomping their foot, snapping their fingers, or making clicking noises with their mouths – people trained to orient by echolocation can interpret the sound waves reflected by nearby objects, accurately identifying their location and size. This ability is used by some blind people for acoustic wayfinding, or navigating within their environment using auditory rather than visual cues. It is similar in principle to active sonar and to animal echolocation, which is employed by bats, dolphins and toothed whales to find prey.

4. Our Perception of Reality:

We might assume how we perceive the world through our eyes and ears and other senses is the only objective reality, but that’s not really true.  Your senses actually limit your perception of reality.  Our eyes can detect only a tiny sliver of the electromagnetic spectrum.  Our ears have a very finite set of frequencies it can pick up, and our sense of smell is extremely limited compared to other animals, like dogs, for example.  So perhaps by removing one sense, the other senses get center stage in our brains, enabling them to acquire more input, and ultimately sense reality differently than others.

5. Realities of Radioactive Substances:

Matt Murdock lost his vision because of an accident involving a radioactive substance.  A radioactive substance is unstable and produces dangerous kinds of radiation. It is unstable because the strong nuclear force that holds the nucleus of the atom together is not balanced with the electric force that wants to push it apart.  Radioactive substances actual effect on humans are much more dire than that proposed in the Marvel Universe.  The degree of damage to the human body depends on the amount of radiation absorbed by the body, the type of radiation, the route of exposure and the length of time a person is exposed.  Exposure to very large doses of radiation may cause death within a few days or months. Exposure to lower doses of radiation may lead to an increased risk of cancer, cataracts or decreased fertility.  Regardless of the effects of radiation and the magical effects of radioactive substances in fictional stories, the brain is a master at adapting to sensory changes.  Being blind doesn’t mean you are truly unable to “see” your surroundings.

Exploring Social, Cultural, and Familial Differences through Adventure Time

In this lesson, students will analyze the Adventure Time episode “Her Parents” for its themes of social, cultural, and familial differences, they will discuss the ways the episode represents such differences in relation to real-life experiences, and they will think about the ways real-life social, cultural, and family differences can be resolved or avoided.

Regular Show Scientific Method

By using the popular comedy Regular Show, students learn about the scientific method as a problem solving strategy.
This lesson shows students that the scientific method is not only something used by scientists but something that can be used in their everyday lives. It also drives home the idea that the scientific method is, first and foremost, a method of asking questions and problem solving.

Watermark Mania! Hashtags and Social Media Marketing Campaigns

In this lesson, students learn about the different social media marketing strategies that television networks implement and discuss what their benefits might be. At the end of the lesson, students produce their own social media marketing campaigns for a specific television show in efforts to boost the network’s ratings.

Social networks have their throne on the Internet, but over the last couple of months, they have made their way to television screens everywhere. On popular shows such as Glee, The Voice, X Factor, and 106 & Park, the network staff includes a hashtag watermark (#AmericanIdol, #Glee, #TheVoice, #XFactor, etc.) on the lower sides of the screen to promote discussion about the shows on Twitter and other social networks. Also, the news and talk shows let viewers know that they have Facebook and Twitter pages that they can access.

Law & Order, Evidence, and Persuasive Essay Writing

This lesson uses scenes of closing arguments from the popular television show Law & Order to help students understand the importance of using evidence to support stances and arguments in their writing. Students then participate in mock court case to better understand the significance of using evidence to support arguments in writing.