Friday, May 14, 2010

Physics Central - Learn How Your World Works

Physics Central is produced by the American Physical Society for the purpose of educating the world about physics. Physics Central is divided into four main sections; Discover, Explore, Ask & Experiment, and Physics Buzz. It is the Ask & Experiment section that is probably of most interest to teachers. In Ask & Experiment teachers will find coloring and activities books for students. Ask & Experiment also includes an "ask a physicist" section in which students can ask questions or find the answers to roughly 100 previously answered common questions such as "why do ice cubes sometimes stick to your skin?"

Applications for Education
If you're looking for some good introductory materials for physics lessons, Physics Central would be a good place to start your search. In addition to the materials highlighted above, Physics Central also hosts podcasts about physics. You may also be interested in using some of the images from the Physics Central photo galleries to demonstrate or explain physics

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
10 Sources of Educational Science Games
Ten Problem Solving Games for K-8 Students
Physics Games for Your Blog or Website

Incentives, Rewards, and Motivation

Read Write Web and Wes Fryer both posted an interesting video in which RSAnimate animates a talk given by Daniel Pink. In the talk Pink shares some interesting discoveries about the science of motivation. In the talk Pink explains why larger financial rewards don't always, in fact rarely, equal better performances on tasks. Pink's idea that innovation should be rewarded more than performance on a standard task is the idea that I liked best. That idea will influence my thinking about curriculum design this summer when I'm reworking parts of the courses I teach.

Watch the video below.

Here is a related item that may be of interest to you:
Three Ways the Brain Creates Meaning

Edistorm - Collaborative Brainstorming with Stickies

Edistorm is a web-based service for collaboratively creating and recording brainstorming sessions. Edistorm uses the concept of sticky notes and applies it to brainstorming. You and anyone you invite to your brainstorming session can create a sticky note and place it on the blank canvas you share. If you have a lot of people working on the same brainstorming session, you can vote for your favorite ideas using Edistorm's voting system.

To get started using Edistorm log into your account and click "create a storm." Then a new blank canvas will appear. To the left of your canvas you will see sticky notes. Type on the note and press add note when you're done. The note will then appear on your canvas where you can drag and drop it into place.

Watch the video below to learn more about Edistorm.

Applications for Education
Edistorm makes it easy to host a brainstorming session online. Being able to vote on which ideas are best makes it a good tool for committees or classes that need to evaluate multiple solutions to problems.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Nine Tools for Collaboratively Creating Mind Maps
EyePlorer - Visually Explore Wikipedia
VisWiki - Visual Wikipedia

Teachers Pet - Free Printable Teaching Resources

Teachers Pet is a provider of free printable resources for teachers of three to eleven year old students. On Teachers Pet you will find materials to use in teaching science, mathematics, literacy, and social studies. You will also find printable items such as award certificates and signs for your classroom. Teachers Pet even has stickers that you can print (if you have sticker paper). One the popular items on Teachers Pet is a fractions bingo game. Below is an image of one of the six pages in the fractions bingo game.

There are a lot of websites that offer similar free services, but what I like about Teachers Pet is that it is well designed and free of intrusive advertising. It does have advertising (which I certainly don't begrudge them for), but unlike similar sites in their niche Teachers Pet doesn't put those ads on the worksheets nor do they require you to join a mailing list to access materials.

Applications for Education
One thing for teachers in the US to note before using Teachers Pet is that it is a site based in the UK. This means that some of the resources for literacy may have phrasings or spellings that are different from those with which your students are familiar.

Barnes & Noble Passport to Summer Reading

Just as they did last summer, Barnes & Noble has organized a summer reading program for kids. Passport to Summer Reading awards kids one free book after they have read eight. Kids should keep track of their books using the Passport to Summer Reading provided by Barnes & Noble. When their passports are filled, kids can redeem their passport for a free book at a Barnes & Noble store. Kids up to twelve years old can participate in the Passport for Summer Reading program. Read all of the details here.