Thursday, December 29, 2011

Most Popular Posts of the Year - #7, 11 Science Resources

Like a lot of other people are, I'm taking this week to relax a bit and do some things that I haven't had time for lately. Therefore, all this week I'm rewinding the year by republishing the 25 most-read posts of the year. I hope that those of you who are also on vacation this week, enjoy every moment of it. See you (virtually) in the New Year.

To help you start off the new year on the right foot, each day this week I'm featuring eleven good resources to try in different content areas. Today's list is for science teachers, yesterday's list was for mathematics teachers, and tomorrow's list will feature resources for language arts teachers.

Sumanas is a provider of animations of science and statistics concepts. Their public gallery of animations is divided into ten categories dealing with various topics in biology, chemistry, Earth science, and statistics. Many of the animations are narrated, but even those that aren't are very clear none-the-less. The largest selections of animations are found in the biology categories.

Celestia is a free space exploration simulation program. Celestia is a free download that works on Mac, PC, and Linux systems. The advantage of Celestia over other satellite imagery programs is that in addition to seeing the Earth's surface, students can zoom in on moons, stars, and planets. The user controls what they see. Operating the program is easy enough to be used by students as young as six or seven. The user guides for Celestia are very thorough and available in four languages. There is a companion website to Celestia called the Celestia Motherlode that features add-ons to Celestia and educational activities that teachers can use in their classrooms.

The Chemical Education Digital Library is a large collection of resources for teaching and learning chemistry. The ChemEd DL contains tutorials for students, 3D models, lesson plans, and more. The tutorials include 3D chemical models and explanations of what each part of the models does and how those parts work together. In the lesson plans section you will find downloadable lesson plans organized by subject. ChemEd DL also features a periodic table that links each element to data and explanations about that element.

Hey LHS Kids is a science activities website for kids developed by the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkeley. Hey LHS Kids features some good activities for elementary school students. One of the activities on the site that I think would be fun for elementary use is Measure Yourself. Measure Yourself asks students to measure the size of their ears, feet, and overall height in centimeters. Students then plug those numbers into Measure Yourself and are shown a list of animals that have similar dimensions. I tried it and learned that my ears are almost as big as an armadillo's ears, my feet are longer than a bear's, and I'm taller than a grizzly bear walking on all four feet.

The Periodic Table of Comic Books is a project of the chemistry department at the University of Kentucky. The idea is that for every element in the Periodic Table of Elements there is a comic book reference. Clicking on an element in the periodic table displayed on the homepage will take visitors to a list and images of comic book references to that particular element. After looking at the comic book reference if visitors want more information about a particular element they can find it by using the provided link to Web Elements. 

The University of Pennsylvania Health System provides nearly 200 video animations and explanations of injuries, diseases, and body systems. The animations, like this one of a balloon angioplasty, are concise which makes them good for general reference purposes.

Body Browser gives you a 360 degree view of the human body. You can turn on layers to see bones, muscles, organs, and the nervous system. You can turn on all the layers at the same time and alter the transparency of each layer. Turn on labels to have labels appear each time you click on a part of the body. For example, if I have the bones layer turned on along with the labels, when I click on a bone a label will appear. Watch this video to see the Google Body Browser in use.

Knotebooks is a neat service that allows users to create, customize, and share lessons composed of videos, images, and texts from all over the Internet. Knotebooks uses the term "lesson" to describe what users build, but I think a more appropriate description is "multimedia reference article." Using Knotebooks you can organize information to create a reference article for yourself or to share with others. You can also browse the articles published by others, add them to your account for later reference, and or alter the articles that others have written to suit your needs. For example if I find and article in Knotebooks about Newton's Laws but some parts of the article are too difficult for me to comprehend, I can click the option for "easier content" and Knotebooks will change the article to meet my needs. Knotebooks is a great concept, learn more about it and see it in action in this video.

The WorldWide Telescope makes very detailed, high resolution images (scientific quality) from space available to anyone with access to a computer and an internet connection. The goal of the WorldWide Telescope is to enable users to use their computers as virtual telescopes. The WorldWide Telescope can be downloaded and run on Windows-based computers. Mac users will have to use the web client to access the WorldWide Telescope. The educators page on the WorldWide Telescope site has lesson resources and ideas for middle school and high school use.

Shape It Up is one of many good educational games and activities on Kinetic City. Shape It Up is an activity that would be good for use in an elementary school Earth Science lesson. The activity presents students with "before" and "after" images of a piece of Earth. Students then have to select the force nature and the span of time it took to create the "after" picture. If students choose incorrectly, Shape It Up will tell the student and they can choose again.

The Molecular & Cell Biology department at North Dakota State University hosts a nice collection of virtual cell animations. The collection of virtual cell animations introduces students to seventeen molecular and cellular processes. For each process there is a series of annotated images, a text explanation, and a video explaining the process.