Volcano Report, The Kilauea Edition

What’s more hot than an erupting volcano?

While vacationing on the Big Island of Hawaii, I visited the active lava fields of Kilauea to witness the birth of new land as lava meets the Pacific Ocean. The incredible plume that rises into the air is created from the instantaneous vaporization of water into steam as the hot lava hits the ocean water. Learn more about Kilauea at the United States Geological Survey’s website. http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/kilauea/
I used a digital SLR camera and a small pocket-sized FlipVideo camera to capture the action.

Slide show images of the approach to the Kilauea lava flow. Watch a time lapse view of the violent interaction of lava and water. Look carefully and you can see rock exploding out of the ocean.

Watch a two minute video from the “safe” viewing area looking out to where the lava meets the ocean.

Kilauea Lava Meets the Ocean from Robert Simpson on Vimeo

Reflections on Film to Digital Photography 1983-2008

My Simpson3 psx galleryHow many of your students own a digital camera?  Is a digital camera a toy or a tool?  If your students own a cell phone, is it equipped with a camera?  Teachers should welcome the digital camera as a learning tool.  Time to hop in the way back machine… remember when pictures were taken with film cartridges, sent to the photo lab, and half the printed photos were rejects after waiting a week?  OK, fair enough you can still use film and receive your photos in an hour.  My fascination with photography began in 1983 while attending Frisbee Middle School in Kittery, Maine as an 8th grader, when I learned the entire film processing workflow.  Snap, develop, and print.

Understanding the true wonders of film photography can only be experienced by breaking a film canister open in a darkroom, rolling the film onto a spool, inserting the spool into a canister, and then turning the lights on to add developer.  Pay attention to the time now — rinse, and then the moment of truth… unfurl your negative.  Simpson photographic film negative 1983If you are successful, you can immediately see the negative image of your shots.  Once the negative is dry, cut into workable strips, and then the fun really begins.  Turn the overhead lights off, turn on the funky darkroom light, and insert your negative into an enlarger.  Open the baffle to shine light through the negative and adjust the focus.  Close the baffle, align a piece of photographic paper on the base of the enlarger, open baffle — timings everything – let’s try 10 seconds.  No picture yet… immerse the paper in developer solution rocking the tray back and forth and watch as the ghostly image appears.  Another chemical bath, rinse, and it’s off to the drying rack.

While this was quite a time consuming process, each step provided ample opportunity to make adjustments by carefully monitoring each step.  For example, if I shot in bright sunlight, I would leave my negative in developer for additional 15 seconds.   The extra time would result in more silver depositing onto the negative increasing contrast.  The real artistry entered the process at the enlarger, masking parts of the photographic paper burned in sections of the image resulting in greater contrast.  The benefits to abandoning this somewhat ancient process to the digital domain is two-fold, (1) elimination of toxic chemicals into the environment and (2) increased time devoted to creativity and innovation.  Students can now spend time in the virtual darkroom using desktop programs such as Adobe Photoshop or its Web 2.0 cousin, Express to perfect their images.

Thoughts on Creativity vs. Email

Summer vacation is usually regarded as a time to rest, relax and push the reset button for most school teachers and administrators.  The Sunday edition of the Boston Globe article in the Money & Careers section, Creativity can thrive, if you keep the e-mail in check, reminded me that one ritual that most teachers are probably engaged in this summer is sorting through thousands of emails as they purge their in-boxes for the start of another school year.  Maggie Jackson cites the statistic that workers get an average of 156 emails a day.  The article presents the idea that workers trying to deal with the onslaught of emails results in an overloaded state that negatively effects the person’s ability to focus and create.  Of course good teaching requires creativity and focus in order to positively engage students.  Since email has become the principle means of administration in schools, teachers should apply the same strategies that businesses are adopting to deal with email overload.  Teachers should set aside a daily block of time to organize and file their emails instead of attempting to respond between class periods.  Teachers should also avoid the use of reply all to everyone in the school when responding to an email sent from the principal to the entire staff.

The Information Overload Research Group is holding its inaugural conference today. Since the IORG just became an organization, it will be interesting to monitor how their website evolves as the group grows and the information spicket flows.  Some tips for dealing with email Information Overload.