The Easter Bunny Has CoronaVirus!

easterbunnychoc_640_mediumCOVID19pic1Easter in the US is often synonymous with family and Easter Eggs.  In spring 2020, Easter, like everything else, will fundamentally be different because of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, world-wide pandemic.  It also provides a good opportunity for stories and metaphors that can help children better understand basic virology.

If the Easter Bunny has COVID-19, what can he/she do to protect humans from contracting a virus?

How lonMarlonBundoCoverg can COVID-19 remain transmittable and infectious on surfaces? Specifically, the Easter Bunny cares about plastics and egg shells.

Can the Easter Bunny infect his or her friends, like Marlon Bundo?

These are just of few questions that can be posed and explored as a way to engage children to learn more about COVID-19 and practically apply their science and mathematics to a ‘real-world’ project that should interest everyone as we go through a world-wide pandemic.

Jennifer Yarger is publishing a blog post on this website (yarger.blog) entitled “Easter Bunny is cleared to make drop-offs amid pandemic.”  The goal is to engage children in actively learning through current events (Easter and the COVID-19 pandemic).  Hope you find this blog post interesting.

Easter Bunny is cleared to make drop-offs amid pandemic

I will be hopping right along this year despite the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

According to my following letter, the World Health Organization (WHO) has cleared me to make drop-offs on Easter Sunday.

So while the rest of you still need to stay home and practice social distancing, I will be allowed to do my much awaited essential job.


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This year instead of hopping down the bunny trail as usual, I will be shuttled around by my self driving Carrotastic-Car down several less frequented trails, so as not to come into contact with any nearby bunnies.  I have been very diligent about taking every necessary precaution in the making and delivery of all of my Easter goodies.bunnycarrotcar1
 I’m sure that most of you are not aware that I did test positive for COVID-19.  I was not feeling well about a month ago.  I had fevers, chills, sore throat and that darn ever lasting dry cough.  Although I was sick, luckily it only lasted a few days.  In knowing that 5-6 days after the infection, mild respiratory symptoms and fever can range anywhere from 1-14 days, the WHO ( World Health Organization), did come and do a well check on me to make sure that I would be healthy and ready for all Easter deliveries by Easter morning.  Although I was feeling much better by that time, I still had the COVID-19.

As we all know, most of my eggs that I fill up with goodies for all of you are made out of my very special plastic right here at the Easter Bunny Headquarters.   The hairs on my head started to stand straight up as I was getting ready to start the egg making process.  I had to make sure that I was following all of the health standard guidelines as to ensure the safety of others.
I start out by washing my fuzzy little paws with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds prior to putting on my face mask and latex gloves.  I have to wear my face mask just in case droplets come out of my nose or mouth from coughing or sneezing while in the process of making all of my eggs.  In one single sneeze, I could produce up to 3,000 droplets into the air. Droplets can linger in the air for up to 3 hours but the heavier droplets immediately fall onto the floor or any surrounding surfaces.  As we all know, you can be infected by breathing in the virus or by touching a contaminated surface then immediately touching your eyes, nose or mouth with those contaminated hands. As of now, the virus has not been found to be passed onto food items.

Continue reading “Easter Bunny is cleared to make drop-offs amid pandemic”

Actively Learning about COVID-19

The global pandemic that is ‘COVID-19’ has changed the world overnight.  The education systems of K-12 and Higher Ed are ALL being impacted by social distancing, that is requiring remote and/or ‘online’ education to be implemented immediately.  It is my hope that all educators use this upheaval as a opportunity to rewire and reimagine the failing ‘traditional’ education that most of us seem to be stuck in over the past 50+ years.  Standard memorization intensive education needs to be ruthlessly eliminated and replaced with ‘active student-based education’ (inquire-based, project-based, student guided, peer-to-peer emphasis, etc….).  coronavirus_structure_details1

Okay, enough sounding like an academic preaching about the need for change.  I have 5 kids in junior high and high school in Gilbert, AZ (Casteel Junior High and High School), who are now being asked to stay at home for their education.  Hence, maybe this is just what all parents, including myself, need to get off our asses and take a more active role in the education of our kids.

Everyone needs to educate themselves about COVID-19 and its often a huge mistake that people don’t do their own research and actively learn about a topic.  Instead they rely on one source, like their favorite TV show to tell them what to think about a topic.  So, I am challenging my kids to actively learn about COVID-19.  Use ANY and ALL resources to learn about this virus.  Use ANY and ALL resources to gain the background you need to understand what a virus is, how it replicates, how it infects, etc.  Use this research to actively learn!!  How?  A few suggestions are listed below.  However, this is only meant to provide inspiration.  There are a TON of ways to use the research information in an active learning process or project.

  • Reporting or Journalism is about researching the facts from as many angles and perspectives and sources as possible and then distilling the information and communicating it clearly and unbiasedly.  So, research some aspect of this complex and multifaceted topic and report your findings as either a blog post or a video/screencast that can be posted on YouTube.  For example, two of my children are type 1 diabetics.  I have encouraged them to research and report on the question: “Does the ‘underlying medical condition’ of being a Type 1 Diabetic Impact a Child’s Risk of Contracting COVID-19 or its Severity.”  Report your unbias fact-based findings in a blog post or 5-10 min YouTube video.  As an example, see the CNBC report below from a diabetic.
  • Most people rely on others to ‘crunch the numbers’ for them and explain the statistics in simple terms with simple interpretations.  This is often oversimplified and leads to most people having opinions that are based on information that they really have no direct knowledge on.  Its really just parroting the opinion and knowledge of someone else.  All the data and tools to ‘crunch the numbers’ yourself are freely available and ‘relatively’ easy to use.  Especially, if you use this as an active way to learn some data science.  So, lets do it!! Crunch your own numbers from the freely available data on COVID-19 and use it to predict the number of infections and health issues in your specific area.  In the case of my children, this should be Arizona or maybe even more specifically the great Phoenix metropolitan area in which we reside.   There are lots of different ways to ‘crunch the numbers’ and even more ways to communication your finds to the rest of us.  Be creative!!  As a starting place, some of my favorite examples of people who have crunched or simulated data on COVID-19 and presented it in really compelling ways are provided below.
  • South Korea and the USA reported their first case of COVID-19 on the same day.  However, these two countries handled all aspects of the pandemic much differently.  Use the freely available data over the past 3+ months from these two countries to communicate something factual and significant about COVID-19 and ‘what works’ and ‘what doesn’t work’ with regards to ___________________________ (filling the blank with whatever most interests you.  For example, ‘mitigating the spread of the virus’).

I think three example ‘project assignments’ is enough to give people the notice that there are lots of different active learning projects that could be based on COVID-19 and most educational subject areas.  I am just excited to see what my 5 kids actively learn and communicate to us about the COVID-19 pandemic.  Getting the perspective from the younger generation and their concerns are something I feel we need more of.

Below are some good resources for data, graphs and general information about the Coronavirus Pandemic in Spring 2020:

Coronavirus is Changing Higher Education – Ready or Not?

Just watched the CNBC video on ‘How Coronavirus Changed College Overnight‘.  I have been a University Professor for over 20 years and watched the slow integration and adoption of ‘online’ and internet based technologies as they make a small but noticeable change to University (Higher Education).  Will the world-wide coronavirus pandemic be the event that accelerates change to the higher education system and the primary institution associated with higher ed, Colleges and/or Universities?  or will everything go back to normal after the pandemic subsides?

The common higher education experience is well-documented to be basically unchanged over the past 500+ years.  There is mounting evidence that our modern world needs a modern education system and major rewiring of the entire education system.  Before we can enact changes, we first need to research what we need to change and why we need to change it.  To this ends, I provide a list below of some of the articles, books, etc that I have found very thought provoking.

The internet has fundamentally changed communication.  Will it fundamentally change the communication we use to educate?

More to come….  Dr. Jeffery L. Yarger (Arizona State University, School of Molecular Sciences, Professor of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Physics).

Molecular Sciences – Software / Apps

Chemistry is at the heart of molecular sciences and involves the study of matter and thebiochem_BallStick_Logo1 changes it undergoes. Chemistry deals with a molecular scale and atomic interpretation of the world we live in, helping us to understand that world. Chemistry is regarded as the central science, given its close links with physics and engineering, with biology and medicine, and with geology and earth science.

 At a fundamental level we are all chemists

(or molecular scientists)

Each time we breathe, boil water, start a fire, a chemical reaction takes place. We develop and function as a consequence of chemical processes taking place in our body. Chemistry therefore plays a significant role in everyone’s lives.atomic33

This blog post focuses on selecting the best open source software for chemistry and the general field of molecular science. Hopefully there will be something for interest here for all budding chemists.

VMD Molecular visualization program for displaying, animating, and analyzing large biomolecular systems using 3-D graphics and built-in scripting.
Tomviz Process, visualize, and analyze 3D tomographic data
GROMACS Versatile package to perform molecular dynamics
Psi4 Ab initio quantum chemistry software
GAMESS General ab initio quantum chemistry package
MPQC Computes the properties of molecules, ab initio
NWChem Ab initio computational chemistry software package
Avogadro Advanced molecular editor
PyMOL OpenGL molecular graphics system written in Python
CP2K Atomistic simulations of solid state, liquid, molecular and biological systems
Open Babel Converts and manipulates chemical data files
Gabedit Graphical user interface to computational chemistry packages
Jmol Viewer for three-dimensional chemical structures
Kalzium Full-featured chemistry application for KDE 5 (Linux) – Periodic Table
XDrawChem 2D editor for chemical structures and reactions
MoleQueue Abstract, manage, and coordinate the execution of tasks
BKChem 2D molecule editor written in Python
Chemissian Analysis tool of molecules electronic structure and spectra.
ORCA (Alt) General-purpose quantum chemistry program package.
NAMD Molecular dynamics code designed for high-performance simulation of large biomolecular systems.
CHIMERA Program for interactive visualization and analysis of molecular structures.
Tinker Suite of Molecular modeling software tools
NMRdb NMR spectroscopy prediction tool.