2010 is a year of hopes, more than the current one. I don’t remember most of my expectations this same day a year before, I’m sure they were important but I just can’t remember them. The only one I remember is that I wanted to go back to university, as a student.

Education On March, I started a BEd and an MEd, both programs separately in the same university, URP in Lima, Peru. I had started the same MEd a in 2008, but for personal reasons it remained inconclusive. I had had a taste of it and I wanted it back. I did my best even though I thought it wasn’t going to be possible to carry on both programs, 50+ hours of work a week, a wife and two kids.

I guess I was lucky and fortunate at the same time. My family has been a tremendous incentive in my new educational stage. My two kids know when I’ll get home late, and they come to the lab and visit me during their recess time, I work at the school where they study. that gave me a different connection, something that didn’t happen before. We talk about the university classes, and I included them in one of my last presentations when i prepared a video of a moment of creativity.

One of them is more into the plastic arts, the other is more into high tech. He downloads games, and chats since he was 5. He handles electronic devices by intuition and my wife requires his assistance to change the ring tone of her cell phone. Does that sound familiar? Digital Native vs Digital immigrant?

We were planning to go camping for 4 days to celebrate the new year, but my friend (the organizer) had to be taken to the ER due to intense chest pain. He was diagnosed with Angina Pectoris, a sign that you might get a heart attack (Click here to see an animation). I saw him yesterday after staying overnight in the ER. He has to take it slow, and so do I. Apart from the fact that the camping with the kids had to be rearranged, it made me think very seriously about myself.

I’ll turn 35 by the end of February, I’ve had that number in my mind for quite some time. That is the mark where I was supposed to start living a serious and organized healthy lifestyle. I guess I’ll have to stick to that deadline, because I don’t want the dead line.

For the rest, I’m very compromised to finish university and pursue a new turn in my career, and the events for the coming year will tell in what direction that turn will be.

Happy New 2010!


Scientific Week

I read yesterday about crashes in the Moon causing water from the Moon rise to the surface. This along is a great discovery, water has always been the main search engine of life in places other than Earth. Who knows what else is on or under the Moon’s surface. Let’s not forget that the Moon was part of our planet sometime around the first forms of life appeared. There’s always room for speculation.


However, I just read something else that sounded very interesting too. Is Teleportation possible? it appears to be, although only for one atom. Nothing shy of impressive and amazing, certainly. I’m not a big fan of tv shows such as Star Trek or others that considered teleportation as a futuristic possibility. However, this report has been a great start, and the computer industry might grab the idea and its potential before the travel industry, that’s for sure.


Podcasting in 6th Grade

I wonder how I would have reacted if my 6th grade Science teacher, Mr. Torres (I think), gave me the chance to participate in a real-time video conference with students half a continent away.

That’s exactly what we did today in class. My 6th grade students from St. George’s College in Lima-Peru, have participated in a video conference, which is not new, but they will start working together with Chelsy Hooper from Ensworth school in Nashville, TN.

They greeted each other and exchanged brief questions and comments, to finally agree on working together in podcasts about forces and motion, and bacteria and viruses.

image            ICT Logo 2


I’ll let you know of the results as soon as we have the audio ready and published in the collaborative wiki.


Interactive Porfolios

cuaderno2 Not even 20 years, when I was a high school student, the use of the notebook was imperative. Notebooks with squares, lines, double lines, etc. Writing, re-writing, using pens in different colors, drawing and more, were regular activities during my school life. I’m sure that millions of students in most parts of the world did the same. We were all used to work that way.In 1991, during my senior year in high school, the Internet was not known in my area. It was only a couple of years later that the Web started its rampant popularity.

Notebooks continue being a significant part of today’s education system. It is undeniable the importance of notebook when kids learn to write. However, a question comes to my mind, how much do we write as adults nowadays? I thought about this last semester when I went back to University to get my MEd and I had to answer an extensive test. My hand became sore after a few minutes, at that point I realized that I hadn’t hand-written so much in years.

I reformulate my previous question, is it necessary to push kids' to have the perfect hand-writing style if they’ll quit it very early in life? As I said at the beginning, it is undenniable that learning hand-writing at an early age is a necessity, but as long as kids write clearly, should we keep pushing them?

I prepare all my classes using the Notebook software for SMART Board (Interactive Whiteboard), ironic right? And all theses classes are published in my wiki and available to be downloaded at anytime by my students or any person in the world. So, why should they keep using a regular paper notebook?

The immediate answer is because they should be able to take notes in class from the discussions we have about Science topics and the information that is not included in the class files, also supplementing it with additional information, following a constructivist model to build up knowledge and contributing in their own education. As an adult student, it is something implicit for me. However, in school, the implicit is not always evident or practiced.

My classes requested students to work on their paper notebooks the same way. But the results I obtained were not the best. So if the paper notebook as a working or evaluation tool lost its purpose. So, I decided to replace it with something new.

Thinking and browsing information, I found a concept that I liked, Notebooks as Interactive Portfolios. Making a notebook as if it was a web page, a blog, or as Web 2.0 page.

It is kind of difficult to do it on paper, but my first assignment obtained a siginificant gfood response from students. it was going from the darkness of paper notebooks, to the enlightment of Interactive Portfolios, or iPortfolios.Brain sides

As a necessary activity, I’m planning to request it on a regular basis, but without pushing them.

I have designed a format following the sides of the brain, a “classic” left side with analytical parts, and an “Interactive” right side, where creativity and audiovisual aspects are key.

Here are some examples that I found and the formats that I created:




Debating in the 21st Century

Travel and lodging costs are being replaced by teleconfrences, and lately by videoconferences. That’s something that we had been used to hear from the business world. And even though they have developed that to create software to supply the demands of today’s globalized world.

However, the technology development and its applicability is being very well used and exploited in Education. Because it’s free, or very low cost, it’s entertaining and the demands of the audience are as current as they can be. Today’s students as defined by Marc Prensky, are Digital Natives, and we, today’s teachers will aspire only to be Digital Immigrants.

I typically organize debates, group discussions and other teaching-learning strategies. However, it was my desire to organize a bilingual debate between students from different parts of the world.

I’m working on that, and I wanted to share my first experience. I had a Class Discussion between my 8th grade students in Colegio San Jorge de Miraflores in Lima-PERU and 9th grade students from Hunterdon High School, a school in New Jersey-USA. Parents and students gladly received the idea and the possibility of expansion and use of 21st century skills bringing down language and distance barriers, to accomplish speaking in different languages and with people from other realities.

That was the case last week, and even though it was a short discussion, we could only stay connected for 30 minutes, it was the first out a series of discussions to be done for the rest of they year. US students practiced their Spanish and discussion skills, and Peruvian students tested their English and discussion skills as well. While they were talking there was a simultaneous webcast camera broadcasting in this channel.

The topic in discussion helped me introduce them into the biology class of Human Reproductive System, it was: do you agree with natural conception only? Or, assisted reproductive techniques as well?

My special thanks to Jon Pennington who coordinated the event from the NJ side. Here is a little sample of that:

PA070573 PA070574


Perhaps in 10 years we will see the first generations of digital native teachers facing the challenges of the new generaltions of digital natives. How will they be called at that time, Digital Innates?



I've been working in education all my life, and I didn't notice it until I became a teacher. A few months ago, I heard something that gave me professional peace, I felt selfish until that moment, benefiting from educating others while I was learning in the process. "Turning Learning Right Side Up: Putting Education Back on Track", is the title of a book written by Russell Ackoff and Daniel Greenberg, I haven't read the book yet, but I listened to a synopsis via podcast. The book is in my wish list in Amazon, so the next relative coming from the US will bring me a copy of it.
What I rescue more of it is the motto: "The Objective of Education is Learning, not Teaching". no I don't feel as selfish for learning as much, or more, than my own students through my process of teaching.

I've been preparing a lecture on creativity and Joy Paul Guilford's work on the Structure of Intellect and his 3 layered cube, and while preparing it, I've learned a great deal of expertise, creativity is incredible and so magnificent that we must turn to mother nature before we can do something creative.
I found a countless number of extraordinary TED talks about Creativity, here are some of the few ones that made me feel that I want to create something:


It took me 10 years

I finished my biology degree in december 1997 in UPCH in Lima, Peru. A few months later, I started working as an Embryologist in a local fertility clinic. I might have somebody from the other world with a good soul overseeing me, because I’ve felt that in more than occasion that “at the right time and at the right place” situations were there for me.

After a couple months as an apprentice, I was sent to Santiago-Chile to be trained in a top practice by the best people in South america. I was certainly fortunate, and I learned a lot. In the following two years I went on a training tour that took me to places like: La Serena, Viña del Mar, Cartagena de Indias, Buenos Aires, Mexico DF, and Caracas.

After working 3 years in Peru, I decided to move the USA, I was hired by the largest Pennsylvania Health System, and spent 4 years working there as an Embryologist for 4 years.

Working in an IVF lab gives you ann incredible vision of reproductive health and all its low- and high-complexity procedures. Even though is just an expression, sometimes I felt the power of creating life with my hands. It was a very rewarding experience, to help thousands of people achieve the purpose of life, to create new life.

Before I finished working as a lab rat, I started turning my eyes and my interest to a new activity. Medical Interpreting captured my attention and I began training. After a 30-day class, I was invited to participate in the first 2nd stage training provided for Medical Interpreters in Philadelphia, and I was certainly the youngest and, by far the least experienced. I hadn’t been in the field yet. But I felt deeply challenged and I rose to the occasion.

After finishing my job as an Embryologist, I started volunteering in a company that provided training and experience in the interpreting and cultural competence fields, as well as participating in the training of new Medical Interpreters.

I gotta say that it might have been the most challenging and rewarding experience of life, learning astounding life and death experiences in the best children’s hospital in the US, and one of the top three in the world, perhaps the best place a person can work in.

It was during that time when I started experiencing Education. I had to come back to my country because I didn’t want to put me and my family in an unsafe situation remaining in the US after my H1B had expired.

That gave me the opportunity to rethink my professional activity, and started working as an educator in a bilingual school in Lima, Peru. After 6 months working there I decided to work in a another bilingual school, from there on a turn in my career had occurred.

Being part of the Education System brought new challenges that I’m trying to accomplish now by preparing myself in a Teacher Certification Program to obtain a Teaching License, and a Masters in Higher Education.

image It took me 10 years to trace some of traveling steps back. In November 2008, I was invited to offer a workshop in the “ICT for Teaching & Learning Creatively” in Rio de Janeiro. From there, I was also invited to Bogota, Colombia to launch the first social network from the LAHC at their 13th Annual Meeting, it was in that meeting that I received an invitation to participate as a trainer and lecturer in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from where I just came back today.

All these experiences made me think of my professional career so far. In 10 years, I have managed to help babies be born (Embryologist), then I helped them with their health care (Interpreter), and now I’m educating them (bilingual teacher). I guess the natural progression is to continue in the post-secondary education, perhaps the post-graduate degree will help me in that unplanned progression.


Global Communication

Several months ago I recieved an email from somebody, the message included a link to a geek test. I took it, out of curiosity. It turns out I didn’t qualify as a real geek, even though I spend several hours a day in front of a computer. But I guess being a computer geek is more a lifestyle that a job description. Although if we watch the british sitcom The IT Crowd, everything mingles into a crazy success on unreal events and situations, funny for sure.

I mention this because I get many comments from people expressing their concern for how “youth is becoming less and less communicative and deepened in computers”. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I can accept that over the last decades most people tend to work out less or even walk, but less communicative, I don’t think that is true.

I can say this because it seems to me that lots of people are very reluctant to big changes, and considering the fact that global changes can happen in a matter of minutes via YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and many more internet resources.

Since I started working very actively in my school’s ICT Area, I have met lots of people online. Ok, I know, that’s one of the major criticisms and jokes from people with over 10,000 friends in Facebook; but the important part of this is that getting to know my professional contacts online has allowed to meet some of them personally, even though I’m on the opposite side of the continent, bringing new possibilities of collaborative projects, exchange of learning experiences and sharing culturally-competent activities.

My contacts, besides family and friends, are almost all professional contacts. These people help me get information, process it and discuss it so I’m able to learn many new things.

Anyway, I’m glad that distances, are virtual, and virtually tiny, because VOIP, video conferences and else, help us reduce distances, time and costs. Important ingredients in any professional stting or business area.

How could I teach my students about technological impact on education if I am not a clear example that learning through global connections is not possible, but necessary nowadays.

Let’s take a look at an interesting journey to technological possibilities in the future, the merchantilistic view is impressive, although hollow.


Technology to meet people

A few weeks ago I received an email from a teacher from the US, her name is Alecia Berman-Dry, she was requesting help to contact schools in Cusco,Peru to connect and carry out social projects, she's a member of World Leadership School, an association that promotes these projects in different parts of the world.
I constantly hear from people that are not tech-driven, that using computers takes people away from "real" friendships and contact with people. I truly find hard to believe that such opinion can be given, and the only reason that comes to my mind is that those people do not embrace new ways to communicate, those ways that eliminate time differences, language barriers and geographical distances.
Alecia and I had a great meeting until an hour ago, agreeing on a series of projects to engage our students in collaborative work, because the real world works through collaboration, and if not, it should.
Looking forward to get more of those connections.


Classroom Access

HP Pavilion zv6115EA.Image via Wikipedia

I've been trying to obtain permission, budget and quorum to start a pilot on using laptops in the classroom. Even though laptops are part of an expansion plan for the Technological Innovation Program in my school, I think my 8th grade students are ready. We're starting a double Voicethread project this week, to answer teachers in Cincinnati and New York. We're doing videos to show the evolution of education, we´re starting a twitter project, etc.
However, I got a comment in one of my Issuu documents from Peter Hill (Australia) that threw me off. He informed me of a nationwide project to implement laptops for 9th graders and up, supported by his government. That's some major project, 267,00 laptops for senior students and teachers.
Different countries have different policies in education, but the most successful countries in this area are the ones that invest the most in their nation's most important human capital, students.
Initiatives like the one from Australia's premier, Nathan Rees is something to remark.
I would be delighted to see that my country's government starts an initiative with at least 50% that initiative. After all, money in education is always well invested.

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Interactive Classrooms

I finished my lecture about Interactive Classrooms and that made me think a lot. How much has my teaching style changed in the last 12 months?
A year ago, I recall using the SMART Board only. But that took me to the Web 2.0 world. From there on it was all a snowball reaction: bloglines, gmail, delicious, reader, blogger, wikispaces, twitter, tweetdeck, etc, etc.
My students are far more technologically driven and demanding than 12 months ago. However, there is something that Sir Ken Robinson said in a 2006 TED conference, "Are schools killing creativity?". Believe me, I fight with that thought everytime I start a class. My hope is to engage students in dialogue, interactive and collaborative work, with somebody next to them, or a continent away. Distances are no longer an impediment. Is our personal creativity and effort as educators our sword against the killing of creativity?



I’ve declared myself as a technology fan. I use many tools of current technology every single day, at work (twitter, yammer, blogger, wikispaces, skype, Notebook for SMART Boards, etc.), and despite the fact that I spend hours in front of the computer, I would have never thought to integrate technology in such a physical way, yes physical, like really!!

However you can’t help what people can do. regardless of practicality, inserting a USB 2 Gb fingertip is something that deserves a comment. How far are we going to get?

There is a computer programmer from Finland that lost part of one of his fingers, and replaced the tip with a USB flash memory. You can visit his blog at this link.

That is shocking, at least, practical maybe, but couldn’t he get a larger capacity? I mean, come on…..2 Gb? They sell 8 and 16 Gb devices for less than a friday night dinner price.

Anyway, I know it has practically nothing to do but I read a story a few weeks ago about a frenchman who discovered in his 40s that the size of his brain was significantly smaller than any other human being, living an average and quiet life.

Extremes are not good, I guess my mother was right when she used to tell me that. Judge for yourself.

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Lifting a ban on progress

About 8 years ago I moved to the US to work on science-related fields. It came as a very cold shower to hear the president Bush announce the world that the US government was cutting federal funding to Embryonic Stem Cell Research, and would only award funding for the atrins already obtained. time proved that those strains didn't produce major scientific breakthroughs.
It is well known that the US is no longer the major contributor of scientific breakthroughs in the world. That has several causes and implications, decreased number of undergraduate and graduate scientific research projects, ultra expensive college and university tuition costs, etc.
It is in Europe and Asia, where science has been bubbling for the last decade. Well, not all has been true, as is the case of some asian scientists reporting false information, but apart from that, research in stem cells has been in a better position in those latitudes.
Banning Stem Cell research funding was a religious-motivated decision, and let's not summon up all the backwards effects that the church has had over science and knowledge in human history.
It is not the dangers of the evil characters investigating and designing negative effects over stem cell research or any other scientific endeavor, it is the great advancement in knowledge and understanding in life and its origins that should prompt us to promote investigation in science.
Any activity has goods and bads, and banning an activity because it mat have negative effects, may have banned thousands of current and legal activities in our daily lives.
Stem cell research is not the panacea, but it's a great way to determine what we can get from the understanding of timing and programming.
I salute President Obama's decision on lifting the ban, as a citizen of the world and as a biologist.

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Can child diabetes be prevented with a vaccine?

A few weeks ago a friend of mine came from Monterrey, Mexico. We were having dinner with him and other friends from university. We're all biologists graduated from the same class. We were talking about many things in general, and one of them mentioned the fact that obesity could be caused by a virus. As interesting as it sounded, it didn't seem plausible to the rest of us.

It actually became a good reason to mock his comment, due to the overweight that many of us on that table carry. Although obesity has not been proved to be directly related to a viral infection, I just found out a report that indicates that a virus may trigger child diabetes.

Diabetes type 2, no longer referred to as late-onset diabetes because the onset age has been reduced from 40s to the teen years or less, is a serious public health concern in many countries arounf the world, especially in the 1st world countries, where that is becoming as common as a common cold.

Diabetes type 1, insulin-dependent, or juvenile insulin is also quite common around the world. And it is said that three-quarters of diabetes' cases are type 2.

But, what does this have to do with a virus, which is not alive or dead, however is a pre-life complex form of macromolecules perfectly structured and organized?

Well, it appears that enteroviruses have been found in 60% of pancreatic samples from type 1-diabetes patients and 40% of type 2-diabetes. This article was published in March, in the Diabetologia journal.

This is a great story to tell my students when teaching them about the way science funstions, and how sicientists' work is validated, cross-referenced, proved right or wrong, somtimes without any direct connection.

it appears that enteroviruses affects both types of diabetic patients intervening in immune reactions causing the disfunctionality of the insulin-producing machinery in the beta-cells of pancreas.

Another separate report in Science magazine mentions mutations in a gene that reduces the risk of diabetes, it just so happens that the gene is involved in the immune reaction to enteroviruses.

As in many cases of the intricate nature of our human physiology, no single-reason, single-effect is the cause of a major disease or condition. Multifactorial pathologies are immensely common.

The good news is that it could be possible to prepare an inactive form of the enteroviruses (one they're identified) and use it in a vaccination campaign to reduce the incidence of diabetes cases.

For more information, visit this link.


Happy Birthday Mr. Darwin!!!

On february 12th, 1809 Charles Darwin was born, and so was Abraham Lincoln, the former in Shrewsbury-England, ans the latter in Spring Farm, Ketucky-USA. They both had significant work and imprtance in World History in the case of Darwin; and US History in the case of Lincoln.
But let's focus on Darwin. I was fascinated by his theory when I started reading about it, and even though many scientists have tried to prove him right or wrong, it is undeniable that his theory clarified the way we approached to changes of living organisms. This comment is like a double-edge sword because Charles Darwin's ideas have been criticized and disputed since the publication of The Origin of Species, his masterpiece. And even though it is the book that marked his evolutionary theory, he only mentions the term Evolution only once in his book.
Many have psychiologically analyzed Charles Darwin's ideas, work and life in general. Most of his work was a direct and indirect influence of his grandfather Erasmus Darwin, nothing less than one of the leading minds in the 19th century England.
Darwinists and NeoDarwinists, such as Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene) and Stephen Jay Gould (Ontogeny and Phylogeny) have had a hard work critizicing but maintaining Charles Darwin's ideas fresh, current and far from any expiration date.
I recommend to see the series of Darwin's life as part of an english production.. There are also a good number of video lectures by Standford University. Check them out.
Of course, speaking of evolution and Darwin I just cannot let pass the new concept in evolution mentioned by Juan Enriquez in his 2009 TED lecture, the Homo Evolutis. this is a very current, dynamic and entertaining presentation of today's crisis reality, robotics, scientific advances and evolution.

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Such a Degenerate!!!

Don't worry, I'm not going to talk about the 90,000 sex offenders kicked out of MySpace. I'm actually going to mention something that puzzled me when I was in my undergrad years. The Degenerated Genetic Code.
Our genetic code, or set of instructions coded in the DNA, is what alllows each cell in our body to synthesize proteins. Proteins are molecules of life formed by a chain of aminoacids that acquire a specific shape and function by folding its components into intricate 3d structures.
DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) is composed of nucleotides, or genetic "letters": A (Adenine), T(Thymine), C(Cytosine), G(Guanine). Three of these letters together form a codon (triplet), or "genetic word". The meaning of each of those words is an aminoacid. When a long string of "genetic words" are read, a long chain of aminoacids is produced. This is done making a usable copy of DNA, called RNA (Ribonucleic Acid), a template made from DNA that can be read and then destroyed. The differences between DNA and RNA are: DNA is a double chain molecule, whereas RNA is a single chain molecule. DNA contains the nucleotides: A, T, C, G. in RNA, the nucleotides are: A, C, G and U (Uracil). Uracil replaces T in RNA.
It was well known that the positioning of each genetic letter (A, T, C, G) in the triplet or codon, would determine a different type of aminoacid. However, it had been found that when the first two letter positions remained constant, and only the third letter was changed, it could be observed that the aminoacid produced was the same. This is called Degenration of the Genetic Code.
However when the first or second letters were replaced or changed, a different aminoacid was produced, and the resulting protein usually was defective, or misfolded, useless for its original purpose in any case.
This is something like genetic synonimity, if the term can hold the analogy. Because more than one triplet could "mean" or produce the same aminoacid.
I just came across a report from the American Journal of Human Genetics that takes this degeneration to a research study that found that 1 in 200 genes can be superfluous or dispensable.
Here is the link to the article, take a look at it.

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Class Management - January 29th, 2009

Most people think that the teaching profession is not as honorable as it is. It is a very common thought that long vacation periods during the summer were an attractive portion of the profession. However, vacation periods for teachers are usually less than regular professionals in other areas. Teachers don't stay still during the time off, because they keep finding resources, new tools, best and more suitable lesson plans, etc.
In a world were globalization is our daily bread we can only think of the teaching profession as one of the more demanding of all. Because the available amount information is immense, and is growing exponentially. Those who choose to continue teaching the same contents from the previous year without any updates, will fall into the less visited or solicited teachers.
Kids demand a lot of attention, patience and respect. Most of what they are not willing to reciprocate until further their adulthood.
The following video is about class management and was produced in 1947, amazing.

And in this more "current" video made by students and teacher, you can see that the approach is significantly different from that used 60 years before.

How should we conduct our classes? Is there one masterplan? Can we simply extrapolate techniques to handle classroom behavior? The answer is simply NO!!!

Even though there are general guidelines and classroom behaviors that are universal, it is the student population what makes a customized adjustment necessary in order to succeed as a teacher and as a learner. Moreover, student population must be seriously polled to learn about the cultural differences and the nationalities from our students. I learned about CUltural Competency when I was trained to be a Medical Interpreter. And at this point in time, I think every profession should have a mandatory Cultural Competency course to be able to notiuce that different cultures have specific and vital differences within their own cultures.
It is very important to consider the mother language of most of the majority of the student population, but also consider that minority mother languages. this is important at the time of reviewing difficult concepts in subjects such as Science, History and Geography, as well as others. Private Bilingual Schools are a great example of that. But more important, is the public schools in certain countries such as: Canada, USA and England, where immigration is a serious issue to consider in public education.

For now, I must read a lot about teaching in bilingual environments, and I have to read that in more than one language as well.

I finish this post with a question: Should teachers in the future be proactive, facilitators, multiculturally-competent bilingual professionals?

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