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Species, genus, family, order. Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars. H is hydrogen, He is helium.

If you’re being flooded with bad memories now, maybe science teachers left you cold — shivering at absolute zero, perhaps? — with all their talk of formulas and rote memorization. But what if the teachers let you figure out science yourself?

That’s the idea behind an education strategy called “inquiry,” which a handful of local educators are embracing as a way to inspire kids to love science.

But it’s not clear if it will work in elementary schools, where many teachers are uncomfortable with biology, chemistry and physics. Perhaps they had to memorize things back in the day, too.

In other news:

  • Former Councilman Michael Zucchet was the big winner in this week’s federal court ruling in the San Diego City Hall corruption case. But the judge who initially threw out Zucchet’s guilty verdict got some long-delayed validation of his own.

    Federal court Judge Jeffrey T. Miller’s 2005 move was rare, but a three-judge appeals panel backed him without dissent.

    The jury foreman still doesn’t understand why the group of Zucchet’s peers was overruled.

  • A moratorium and a suspension may sound like the same thing, but not in the halls of power. We explain the difference in a follow-up to our report on San Diego’s decision to temporarily stop giving permits to medical marijuana stores.
  • City officials say they’re ready for wildfires thanks to a second firefighting helicopter, new reserve fire trucks and boosted efforts to remove brush.
  • New test scores are out, offering the usual mix of good and bad news.
  • It was a slow day for real-estate columnist Rich Toscano: He only came up with two tables and a graph to show us. (Slacker!)

    But they do reveal the evolving contrast between expensive homes and cheap homes when it comes to shrinking values and rising sales.

  • The NCT says SDG&E doesn’t plan to take “no” for an answer, or even “yes with conditions,” when it comes to its plan to prevent wildfires by cutting off power to the backcountry when conditions are dangerous.

    SDG&E doesn’t want to have to give customers 12 hours notice before a blackout, nor does it like the idea of having to turn the power back on after 24 hours.

    As for 902 special-needs customers, SDG&E says it’s reached all but 80 of them, who have apparently ignored letters, phone messages and “someone” who knocked on their doors. (We checked in with special-needs customers last month, and some said they’d heard nothing.)

    Maybe SDG&E needs to start telling them they won the lottery.

  • Local hotelier and Prop. 8 supporter Doug Manchester will never again give a dime to an anti-gay cause, his spokesman tells The Advocate magazine. But the boycott of Manchester’s Grand Hyatt Hotel continues, and the spokesman says it’s “now reeking of something that is very mean, vindictive, and inappropriate.”
  • Oh, and the cost of a proposed downtown library has gone up, again, the U-T reports.

— RANDY DOTINGA

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