Monday, March 12, 2012

Numberphile - Videos About Curious Number Facts

Numberphile is a neat YouTube channel about fun number facts. There are currently thirty-three videos in the Numberphile collection. The videos cover things like 998,001 and its Mysterious Recurring Decimals, Pi and Bouncing Balls, and 1 and Prime Numbers. I've embedded Pi and Bouncing Balls below.

For some reason these videos reminded me of the old Mathnet show that I used to watch on PBS in the 80's. So of course I had to see if Mathnet was on YouTube, it is! A quick search for Mathnet on YouTube will take you to multiple full-length episodes of Mathnet. Here's the pilot episode.

Applications for Education
Numberphile's videos could be a fun way for students to explore and learn some fun facts about numbers. Perhaps you have a student whose thinks the way I did in high school, I wasn't good at math, but I did like and still do like fun facts about numbers (or any fun fact about anything). A fun number fact could be the "hook" to get that student interested in an aspect of mathematics.

TED Education - It's a Good Start

This morning the TED Blog announced the launch of TED-Ed. I've watched three of the twelve videos in the TED Ed channel on YouTube and would say they're more like thought prompts than they are instructional lessons. I guess when I first saw the headline that I was hoping for a bit more, but this is a good start. I've included one of the videos below.

Applications for Education
The TED-Ed videos could be good for sparking discussion in your classroom about the topics you're teaching. For example, use this video, The Power of Simple, as part of a lesson on writing. Have students watch the video then give them the task of editing wordy passages into succinct messages.

Videos - From Campaign to President

In case you haven't heard, this year the United States is choosing a President. The process started a while ago and we still have almost eight more months of hollow promises to hear campaign activities to go before the election. I've been bookmarking videos related to the election process for a while, here they are. I hope this help you help your students understand the process of choosing a President of the United States.

Let's start with an explanation of how candidates raise campaign funds.

Now that we've raised money, let's spend it.

And why do we have to spend it so early? Because of the primary and caucus season. Here's an explanation of those.

Let's see who helps candidates in those early elections and caucuses.

It's pretty much a given that an incumbent first term President will receive his party's nomination. That's an advantage. There are some disadvantages to being the incumbent. Here's a look at the advantages and disadvantages of campaigning for re-election.

Now that we're down to just two viable candidates remaining, let's pick a victor through the Electoral College. Here's one explanation and here's another.

Interactive Visualization of the Scale of the Universe

I just received an email from a reader, Mary Murphy, who shared with me a fantastic interactive visualization of the scale of the universe. The Scale of the Universe 2 features a huge selection of objects in the universe that are arranged according to size and scale. You can zoom-in on the image to objects as small as neutrinos and quarks or as large as planets, constellations, and galaxies. When you click on an object in The Scale of the Universe 2 a small window of information about that object pops up.

Applications for Education
Trying to wrap their minds around the true size and scale of the universe can be a challenge for some students (I know it was for me). Exploring The Scale of the Universe 2 could be a great way for students to explore the size of the universe by comparing objects they're familiar with to objects that they've only read about.

A Live Virtual Field Trip to Ellis Island

Last week I received an email from Scholastic about a great virtual field trip opportunity. On March 29, 2012 Scholastic is hosting a live virtual field trip to Ellis Island. The field trip, for students in grades three and above, will be held at 1pm ET, 10am PT. The field trip will take the students on a tour of the island and the Ellis Island Museum. You can register for the event here.

Applications for Education
Scholastic has many good resources to help you prepare your students for the Virtual Field Trip to Ellis Island. The Stories of Immigration page includes the personal stories of children immigrating to the United States. On the same page you will also find this Interactive Tour of Ellis Island. For offline activities, Scholastic offers this activity and templates for graphing patterns of immigration.

On a related note, I recommend checking out the Interactive Virtual Tenement Museum.


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