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The EU Erasmus project for primary, vidubiology, has made a number of teacher tutorial videos available. These explain further the resources we have produced to facilitate and improve retention of Biology themes

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Learn how to find indefinite #integration of sin³x with respect to x in #Calculus #Mathematics #MathProblem
Find ∫sin³x dx
Find ∫sin³x dx

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#Astro-Calendar: Jan. / Pix of NASA Fly-By of #UltimaThule

#Blog: Photos from NASA's #NewHorizons' New Year's Day fly-by of Ultima Thule.
Link >>>


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Technical Writing: Needless Linguistic Complexity Burdens Everyone
T. R. Girill
Society for Technical Communication/Lawrence Livermore National Lab.

Technical Writing: Needless Linguistic Complexity Burdens Everyone

All high-school classes, especially science classes, devote much effort
to expanding student vocabulary--so that students can...
* more easily read and understand the technical work of others,
* accurately explain and share their own technical work, and
* meet Common Core State Standards for appropriate word use
whenever they communicate.

However, learning to write using relatively rare, complex terminology
has negative as well as positive consequences, which recent empirical
research has clarified. Two linguistic issues have emerged.

Big Words Don't Really Impress

An earlier note in this series ("The paradox of complex words")
summarized the studies that have shown how purely social, unnecessary
use of complex terminology does not impress readers of nonfiction text.

About 10 years ago, Princeton psychologist David Oppenheimer performed
a series of carefully designed and controlled experiments that revealed
how much needlessly complex vocabulary frustrated serious readers:

Simple texts were given higher ratings [for both author
intelligence and understandabilty] that moderately complex
texts, which were, in turn, given better ratings than
highly complex texts....[vocabulary] complexity neither
disguised the shortcomings of poor essays, nor enhanced
the appeal of high-quality essays [Oppenheimer, "Consequences
of erudite vernacular utilized irrespective of necessity:
problems with using long words needlessly," Applied Cognitive
Psychology, 20(2), 139-156, May, 2006].

Big Words Boost Cognitive Load

More recent studies have uncovered a second problem with needlessly
using complex words--reader burden. Research now shows that common
words and rare words are processed differently by the human brain--
sometimes called the dual-process or type-1/type-2 theory of cognitive
work. One mental process is fast and cognitively economical, while the
other is slow and cognitively intensive. David Kahneman, who won the
2002 Nobel Prize in economics for developing this dual-process
approach, summarized it in his 2011 book Thinking Fast and Slow.

For reading, this means that common "function" words, like 'the' or
'and', which tend to appear across all written genres, are mostly
processed with little cognitive work--"type-1 process[ing] features
promptness, effortlessness, [and] freedom from conscious attention"
[Shuiyan Yu, Chunshan Xu, and Haitao Liu, "Zipf's law in 50 languages,"
arXiv:1807.01855, July 5, 2018, p. 12]. Most "content" words, on the
other hand, which drive linguistic complexity, vary from one genre
to another and demand much more cognitive effort to decode. They are
scarce enough that it is "inefficient to constantly store these words
in mind as independent units...more economical to provisionally
assemble a low-frequency word when needed, an operation calling for
conscious attention and effort" (Yu, p. 14).

The Zipf's Law Symptom

One striking empirical regularity that reflects this very different
cognitive impact on readers of common and rare words is Zipf's Law.
If we count how often different words occur in ordinary usage and
rank them by frequency, then it turns out that the frequency of a
word is inversely proportional to its ranking, presenting readers
with a very steep usage slope (for instance, even the second most
frequent English word--'and'--is used only half as much as the most
frequent word--'the').

Zipf's Law now has broad empirical support: Yu, Xu, and Liu have
confirmed it across 50 natural languages, strongly suggesting that
it is "motivated by common cognitive mechanisms" (p. 1), namely the
dual-process scheme. The consequences for the burden imposed for
processing rare words are severe. Only about 130 to 200 words account
for fully half of ALL word occurrences (these are the words that get
fast, intuitive processing). Every other word falls into the other
half (and so demands slow, analytical processing). This explains why
scientific and engineering text, especially if carelessly constructed
with extra, unnecessary rare (complex) words, can quickly become so
cognitively demanding for all readers to process.

Cost/Benefit Lessons For Student Writers

The big take-away from these empirical studies of human language
processing for students learning to write effective nonfiction prose
is that such research reinforces another facet of every writer's
responsibility to their audience. Students need to deploy appropriate
terminology to clearly convey technical content. But they also need
to responsibly attend to its costs along with its benefits. On
the one hand, "showing off" by using unnecessary rare/complex words
does not actually gain prestige or reader respect. On the other hand,
it cognitively burdens every reader, not just ELLs or undereducated
ones, and this burden cuts across virtually all language communities.

So your students should approach complex vocabulary use as they would
spices in cooking--some is vital for a flavorful result, but one can
easily to go overboard and ruin an otherwise well-constructed meal/text
with careless excess.

[Want more background on technical writing in science class? See

Want to help students see their writing as another case of
engineering design--as "text engineering"? See ]

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Check out BoomBit - Music Player for Micro:Bit by SB Components Ltd on +Kickstarter. Back it to have your own.

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Check out NSTA's Best STEM Books for 2019. NSTA has chosen titles that provoke readers to examine the "thinking stance" of characters- not simply to look at actions and results. The best STEM books might represent the practices of science and engineering by 1. Asking questions 2. Integrating STEM disciplines 3. Showing the progressive changes that characterize inventions and/or engineering 4. Demonstrating designing or redesigning, improving, building, or repairing a product or idea. 5. Showing the process of working the trial and error 6. Progressively developing better engineering solutions. 7. Analyzing efforts and making necessary modifications along the way. 8. Illustrating that, at points, failure might happen and is acceptable- provided reflection and learning occur. Check out the books @ #NSTA #STEMbooks #STEMliterature #bestSTEMbooksfor2019 #NSTAbestSTEMbooks2019 #literacy #scienceandliterature

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This world is much bigger than the problems that confront you or me on a daily basis, and a #progressive #person recognizes this. Have you ever heard the argument, “I am not voting to increase funding to my #local #public #schools because I do not have a child in public school.
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