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Friday, March 15, 2013

5 Resources to Help Students Understand the Size of the Universe

Sometimes when I take my dogs outside on a cold clear night in Maine I look up at the sky and I try to wrap my head around the size of the universe. Tonight was one of those times. Over the last couple of years I've shared some resources that can help viewers understand the scale of things in the universe, here they are.

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.


3D Solar System Web is a neat website that I discovered through the Chrome web store. 3D Solar System Web features a narrated tour of the solar system beginning at the sun and working out through all of the planets. The tour explains the classifications of each planet, how long it takes each planet to orbit the sun, and each planet's unique features.

Magnifying the Universe is an interactive infographic that allows you to see the size of atoms, animals, buildings, mountains, planets, stars, and galaxies in relation to other objects in the universe.

100,000 Stars is a Google Chrome Web GL Experiment that does a good job of helping viewers understand the scale of the universe. 100,000 Stars is a visualization of the 100,000 stars closest to Earth. You can view the stars on your own or take an automated tour of the stars. that also does a good job of helping viewers understand the scale of the universe. 100,000 Stars is a visualization of the 100,000 stars closest to Earth. You can view the stars on your own or take an automated tour of the stars. 

The Known Universe is a six minute video tour of the known universe that starts with Earth's biggest mountains in the Himalaya and zooms out from there. Watch the video below.

Free Courses On Copyright and Creative Commons for Educators

Next week P2PU (Peer 2 Peer University) is starting a few free online courses of interest to educators. On March 18, P2PU will offer Copyright for Educators (US law), Copyright for Educators (AUS law), and Creative Commons for K-12 Educators. Each course runs for seven weeks. You do need to register by March 17 to participate in the courses.

These are some of the key questions addressed in Copyright for Educators:
  • What is the public domain?
  • What does copyright law protect?
  • What is fair use?
  • What other exceptions are there in copyright law?
  • What are open access educational resources?
These are some of the learning objectives of Creative Commons for K-12 Educators:
  • Find educational resources that are open for sharing and remix
  • Remix open educational resources
  • Share remixes on the web
  • Attribute CC licensed materials
  • CC license your work
  • Explain CC licenses and how they work
  • Edit collaboratively
  • Work transparently
  • Advocate openness
 H/T to Open Culture.

Presefy - Let Your Audience Follow Your Slides Remotely

Presefy is a new service that you can use to share your presentations to your students' mobile devices. Through Presefy you can control your slides from your computer or from the browser in your iPad, iPhone, Android phone, or any other mobile device that has a web browser.  When you advance the slides in your presentation the slides also advance on your students' mobile devices. Your students can take notes as they follow along with your slides.

To share your presentations just create a Presefy account and upload a PPTX or PDF file. Your account is given a channel name and URL. Share that URL with your students, have them enter it into their browsers, and they can follow along as you advance your slides. Learn more about Presefy in the video below.


Presefy - Go Mobile with your Presentations from Presefy on Vimeo.


The free version of Presefy allows you to store two presentations at a time. You can delete and re-upload presentations as many times as you want in the free account.

How to Create a Custom Search Engine - Updated

A couple of weeks ago I shared directions on how to create a custom search engine. Shortly after I published those directions Google revamped the layout of the Custom Search Engine tool. This morning I sat down and created a new screencast about how to use Google.com/cse/ to create your own search engine. The video is embedded below.

Applications for Education
Creating a custom search engine is a good way to provide some gentle search assistance to students. You can create search engines that only include websites that are appropriate for your students' reading levels.

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