Monday, May 11, 2009

Fresh Brain - Fresh Ideas for Student Projects

Fresh Brain, a non-profit funded in part by Sun Microsystems, provides teachers and students with ideas for technology projects. On Fresh Brain students and teachers can find projects in which they build games, build iPhone and Facebook apps, make web pages, and mash-up videos. Fresh Brain provides space and a forum for students to connect and collaborate. To complete each project, Fresh Brain provides a list of suggested tools and getting started guides for completing each task.

Some of the popular projects on Fresh Brain right now are a project in which students create a webpage about cultures and a graphic design competition.

Applications for Education
There is no shortage of project and activity ideas on Fresh Brain. Teachers looking for creative ways to bring digital content creation into the classroom should explore Fresh Brain. The projects and tools suggested on Fresh Brain are intended for middle school and high school use.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Story Top Story Maker
Create a Free Website
Photovisi - Simple, Quick Collage Builder

Spezify - Visual Search Engine

Spezify is a new attempt at creating an easy-to-browse visual search engine. I'm not sure where I first saw it last week, I think it was on Mashable, but Larry Ferlazzo also wrote a short piece about it last week.

To use Spezify, type a word or phrase at the top of the page where it reads "enter any word here." There is not a clearly defined search box so hopefully they fix that in the next phase of beta development. After typing your search word, Spezify searches Google and Yahoo for results. Results are displayed visually with small screen captures, images, and text boxes. You can browse the search results using the arrow keys on your keyboard or using your mouse.

Applications for Education
Spezify may have potential for use as a general search tool as it does provide more results per page than a typical list format of results. Students searching for a broad topic may be able to browse results faster than they can when search results are in list form. The search refinement options are fairly limited right now so it wouldn't be a good tool for much more than general searches.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Links You Might Have Missed - Internet Search Tools
Refine Google Searches With Cloudlet
Triplify - Three Search Engines in One

Charging for News Content? Is Anything Free?

Today's episode of CNN Student News includes a segment about the debate over whether or not newspapers and other news providers should charge people to read the news online. The reporter in the video takes an informal poll and finds (not surprisingly) that most people won't pay for news content online.

Applications for Education
The video segment raises a question that may be worth discussing with in the context of personal finance. The question is, "what will people pay for? And why?"

The video also has a short segment about NASA's trip to perform maintenance on the Hubble Telescope. The video would go well with the interactive tour of telescope that I posted a link to early today.

Social Studies Central Gets a Face Lift

Glenn Wiebe who writes the History Tech blog has given his other site, Social Studies Central, a face lift. Social Studies Central is a compilation of Glenn's favorite resources for social studies teachers. The resources are categorized by topic and resource type. Each category starts with a list of Glenn's five favorite resources. You can also find Glenn's presentation handouts on Social Studies Central and in the future he plans to add video examples of best practices.

I have subscribed to History Tech for a while now and have found it to be a valuable resource. If you're a social studies teacher, I highly recommend visiting Social Studies Central and History Tech.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
GeoCommons Map Maker
Students of the World
History Links You Might Have Missed

Interactive Tour of the Hubble Telescope

Here is another great teaching resource from NASA. Students can now explore NASA's final visit to the Hubble Telescope. In this interactive tour, students can meet the team of astronauts, explore various parts of the telescope, learn about the servicing tasks of the mission, and view images taken by the telescope. After completing the virtual tour of the mission, students can explore additional links about the Hubble Telescope.

Clif Mims has information about how your students can ask astronauts questions through Twitter about the international space station.

Applications for Education
The interactive tour of the Hubble Telescope is a great way for students to individually explore and learn about the telescope. The tour is created in such a way that there components which can be applied to most settings above the third grade level.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
NASA Quests and Challenges
Star Child - Learning for Young Astronomers
Send Your Students to the Moon