Google Teacher Academy
May 13th, 2014 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

Google offers a teacher academy program across the country and the world.  I’ve applied for this round in Atlanta.  Part of the application required me to create a short (1 minute) video.  Here’s my submission:

A Crash Course on Creativity
Jun 2nd, 2013 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

I am just completing my first MOOC (Massively Online Open Course) entitled “Crash Course in Creativity” offered by Tina Seelig at Stanford University.  It’s been a pretty amazing experience taking a course with 15,000 others – probably about 5,000 active students in the process.

To me, I’ve had two great experiences:

  1. Taking a course on creativity.  Although I’ve only been able to dedicate limited time to the course – and that’s allowable. I’ve come to realize that time and dedication to a project is necessary for maximum results.  I think I’ve been able to think about creativity and also how to get others to think about it in a meaningful way.  To me, that’s the big take away that makes me happy.  I’m less happy realizing that if I had and/or made more time to participate in the course, I would certainly had a more robust experience. But isn’t that what I’ve written about on this blog for years?  Creativity and problem finding take time.  If you don’t dedicate the time to the creative process, you won’t come up with your best ideas.  Incubation takes time and if you don’t make the time to do it, you won’t generate enough ideas for prioritized selection. I guess in that sense, it’s very self validating
  2. Taking a MOOC.  There’s been a lot of buzz around open courses lately, and professionally, I’m glad I could experience the process.  I really like the way the platform is flexible and the way the professor designed the learning challenges.  I really want to figure out a way to engage Connecticut students from across the state in a MOOC environment.  I have a few ideas about content and think there is incredible potential for breaking down barriers when students can be allowed to collaborate across school and district boundaries.  Learning can truly be anywhere, anytime.
Teachers producing digital media
Nov 24th, 2012 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

My sister-in-law, Jessica Poyer, is a fabulous 2nd grade teacher with the Hamilton Central Schools in Hamilton, NY.  The teachers there recently produced a video for their school spirit week.  It paints the teachers in such a fun, human way for the students.  I also love the fact that the district has its own Youtube Page. Kudos to them!


Jul 30th, 2012 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

We’ve just completed our TEDxLitchfieldED videos and they are now available on YouTube.  Check my talk out if you have a chance!

Other TEDxLitchfieldED talks:

Battlstar Galactica (1978) vs Star Trek Voyager (1995-2001)
Apr 23rd, 2012 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

I’ve recently been hooked on some science fiction series from my earlier years via Netflix.  It is quite amazing to be able to watch an entire series from start to finish over a much shorter period of time.  The streaming feature is really great.  I started my sci-fi adventure with Star Trek Voyager and then moved on to Battlestar Galactica (original series).  Both have a common theme – they are far, far away searching for earth.  In the case of Galactica, they are somewhere else in the universe searching for the elusive 13th colony – Earth, while Voyager is stranded a bit closer, somewhere across the galaxy, and they know how to get back to Earth – it’s just going to take a while.

So I’ve been thinking about which series I thought was better, and just come to the conclusion that Voyager works better for me on so many levels.  Some might think, well the tech from the 70s really isn’t good enough – but I can get by that pretty easily – the constant repeat footage of the vipers and Cylon three passenger vehicles, tube-TV monitors – static when there’s nothing there (instead of the blue screen), keyboards that remind me of Radioshack TRS-80, wired headsets, and all the other “felgercarb.”

What really bothers me in this series is the concept of


They just do such a horrible job in presenting a realistic depiction of distance and time.  For example: Earth is presented as “galaxies” away.

Now if galaxies have huge distances between them – the majority of time would be spend traveling between galaxies.  However, a transition between galaxies seems to happen almost instantaneously in the show.  And don’t forget – these ships all travel at sublight speeds – unlike Voyager that travels at Warp (superlight) speeds.  Voyager (located in the same galaxy as Earth) needs to travel 70,000 light years to get home.  How far do you have to travel at sublight “flank speed” to make it?

In the final Galactica episode, “The Hand of God,” summarized:

Receiving a mysterious radio signal possibly from Earth, Adama and the crew are wary of a Cylon trap, and decide to turn the tables by attacking the Cylons with a stolen Cylon Raider. Apollo and Starbuck, in the series finale’s last scene, narrowly miss receiving Apollo-11 moon-landing transmissions from Earth.

The Cylon trap is a single ship in the current galaxy, positioned within a single solar system that for some reason the Galactica fleet HAS to traverse.  “There’s no way around it.”  How can that possibly be that a single ship, hidden behind a single planet of a single solar system in a single galaxy is the ONLY route to go.  It just gets too unreasonable for me.  The design and thinking is too two-dimensional


This to me is a more interesting comparison.  Cylons are

. . . a cybernetic civilization at war with humanity.  The Cylons of the 1978/1980 series are not the mechanical foils seen throughout the series, but an advanced reptilian race who created the robots (who were referred to as Cylons within the show) to serve them, maintain their vast empire and to man their military forces in the face of a sudden population drop that eventually led to the Cylons’ extinction — seemingly overnight. (wikipedia)

While the Borg are

. . . a fictional pseudo-race of cybernetic organisms depicted in the Star Trek universe.  The Borg manifest as cybernetically-enhanced humanoid drones of multiple species, organized as an interconnected collective, the decisions of which are made by a hive mind, linked by subspace radio frequencies.

The Cylons are certainly a reflection of 70s technology. Each unit is independent and there is a hierarchy of unit type.  The silver Centurion is the lowest level and has a seriously computer-processed voice.  For a race of “robots,” they are seriously unsophisticated and seem to have pretty poor processors and data nodes.  Likely because the technology didn’t exist (in real-time, 1978), it is surprising to see that these cyborgs have no networking capability – there is no data sharing between units, unless communicated orally.  The Cylons are unlike the Borg which are all interconnected and simultaneously processing all knowledge and data between units – now that’s sophisticated technology.  The Borg are composed of both organic and computer components.

In a battle, who wins? I think the Borg have it hands down – just in ship alone, the Borg cubes have electronic field generating shields – the Cylon Basestars don’t have any shielding.

So thanks for enjoying my SciFi rants.  Resistance is futile!

Digital Learning Day
Feb 7th, 2012 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

dig learn day, a set on Flickr.

Here’s a summary of my exciting day on February 1, 2012

Frank LaBanca visited Sandy Hook School in Newtown for digital learning day.  There he joined a fourth grade and second grade class.  Using iPod touches and the StoryKit app, Frank, Ted Varga, teacher, and the fourth grade students created riddles that modeled the literary device personification.  Students selected an inanimate object in the room to personify.  Some examples of their work include:

sample | sample | sample | sample | sample

Frank also visited second grade teacher Robin Walker’s class.  Using the same app, students recorded observations of growth patterns of their Wisconsin Fast Plants that they are growing as part of a science unit.  Some examples include:

sample | sample | sample | sample

The Qualitative Report Annual Conference
Jan 6th, 2012 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

I am presenting my research on both problem finding and reflexivity at The Qualitative Report Annual Conference, in Ft. Laduerdale, FL. Here are the resources for the presentation:


Reflexivity Paper |
Reflexivity Presentation |
Creative Student Scientists Paper |
Creative Student Scientists Presentation


Brine shrimp
Dec 26th, 2011 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.


My children and I had an exciting visit to the Norwalk Maritime Aquarium today. The girls enjoyed the seal feeding, shark tank, jellyfish tank (on of my personal favorites), and, of course, the festival of lights – lighthouse exhibit. However, I was drawn to the jellyfish work room. The room is equipped with a number of customized gear made of PVC pipes, customized tanks, and pump systems. I was drawn to a 5-gallon blue Crystal Rock water cooler bottle that was modified with a cut-off top and a huge air stone set upon a PVC structure/table. This “tank” was growing brine shrimp, sometimes in the common vernacular referred to as sea monkeys. These small macroscopic shrimp are used as planktonic food for the jellies.

I was excited to see this set up, because about 10 years ago when I was teaching marine biology, I had a similar setup in my classroom. The students and I used to construct devices and strategize ways to take care of our 55-gallon tanks. It was experiential learning at its best. We did our regular “curricular” things in that semester class, but my fondest memories were working side-by-side with the students finding ways to make our catches from Long Island Sound – our crabs, snails, mummichog fish, mussels, clams, and even the red beard sponge come alive in our classroom environment.

What was important was that we created the environment and made the tools to keep it running. Sure, we had pre-purchased some materials, but the art of the process was determining how we could build devices that made it our own.

Edublog Awards 2011
Dec 18th, 2011 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

I am pleased to report that this blog, “In Search of Scientific Creativity” was recognized as one of the top 5 finalists in the 2011 Edublog Awards.

I also want to congratulate the other finalists in my category:

. Brunswick Acres Art Blog 665http://baart.weebly.com/
. allatc 343http://allatc.wordpress.com/
. Teacher Tom 315http://teachertomsblog.blogspot.com/
. Ms Mac’s Website 185http://kmcfadzen.wordpress.com/
. In Search of Scientific Creativity 155http://problemfinding.labanca.net/
Learning Knowledge and Skills
Dec 12th, 2011 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

I was recently listening to a presentation by one of my students on the topic of implementing a 21st century skill-based instructional philosophy.  It was a very thought provoking presentation; one of the most interesting comments was that in order to achieve success, there needs to be “a corporate change of disposition.”  How poignant.  When we look at examples of 21st century skills we quickly realize that we’re not talking about technology skills – we are talking about job ready skills:

  • Information literacy
  • Communication (spoken and written)
  • Self-Directed and Collaborative Work Ethic
  • Problem Solving
  • Innovation/Creativity
  • Responsible Citizenship

How we teach and measure these skills is the essence of high quality education.  They don’t exist in isolation, and they can’t exist without foundational knowledge and skills in literacy (reading/writing) and numeracy (mathematics).  The 3 “R”s are the bedrock while 21st century skills are the authentic application of them.

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