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Monday, January 13, 2014

Create Your Own Wolfram Alpha Widgets

The computational search service Wolfram Alpha offers a neat widget building tool. The Wolfram Alpha widget builder will allow anyone to create a computational search widget. Once created the widgets can easily be embedded into Blogger, WordPress, and just about any other website or blog service. Published widgets appear in a gallery that is accessible to anyone that registers with Wolfram Alpha. I recommend that before you create your own widget you take a look at the gallery of widgets to get a sense of the possibilities and to see if a widget already exists for the task you have in mind.

Creating a Wolfram Alpha Widget is a fairly straight-forward process. To get started, enter a search phrase such as "distance from Boston to New York in inches." In the second step you define the variables for your widget. This second step is the crucial step that I had to try a few times before I got it right. After completing step two, the rest of the process is a simple matter of selecting the output format, widget theme, and writing a description of the widget.

Applications for Education
The Wolfram Alpha Widget Builder could be a great tool for teachers and students to build custom conversion widgets and other data-based search widgets. Teachers can place the widgets into their blogs for students to use to check their computations or to simply access computational information from one site.

Free Webinar - Digital Storytelling With Comics

In a previous post I featured my new ebook Digital Storytelling Projects With Comics. In that post I included a mention of a free webinar that I'm hosting this week. I'm sharing the news again to make sure it didn't get lost in shuffle.

On Wednesday, January 15th at 7pm EST I will be hosting a free webinar about digital storytelling with comics. You can register for the webinar here. If you're interested in this topic but you cannot make the live session, please register anyway to have the recording emailed to you. The webinar is sponsored by Storyboard That, but will not be limited to only using Storyboard That. You will also see WeVideo and Widbook in use.

Registration is limited to the first 100 people. 

Sprinter vs. Marathoner - A Quick Science Lesson

I'm neither a sprinter nor a marathoner (I run only if chased), but I still found the following short video to be interesting. Sprinter vs. Marathoner is a short video that explains the roles of fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibers in determining speed, endurance, and physique.


H/T to Martin Warlick for the above video.

As the creators of Sprinters vs. Marathoners noted on their YouTube page, they did make one mistake in which they mixed up the metric and imperial system once. Overall, the video could be a good introduction to an anatomy and physiology lesson that students can relate to.

Speaking of sprinters, the Minute Physics video Usain Bolt vs. Gravity offers a short lesson on gravity and acceleration. In Usain Bolt vs. Gravity viewers learn why Usain Bolt could run ten meters faster than a diver can fall ten meters, but after that the diver wins. The video is embedded below.

Free Ebook - Digital Storytelling With Comics

Disclosure: Storyboard That is currently an advertiser on Free Technology for Teachers. 

From creating simple comic strips to planning long stories, Storyboard That is a tool that has a bunch of potential uses in the classroom. I recently put together a PDF of five projects that your students can complete with Storyboard That. The projects outlined include creative storytelling, retelling of history, using comics in videos, crafting book reviews with comics, and creating multimedia ebooks. In addition to directions for using Storyboard That, the following PDF includes screenshots with directions for using WeVideo and WidBook.

Click here to download Digital Storytelling With Comics.

On Wednesday, January 15th at 7pm EST I will be hosting a free webinar about this same topic. You can register for the webinar here. If you're interested in this topic but you cannot make the live session, please register anyway to have the recording emailed to you. The webinar is sponsored by Storyboard That, but will not be limited to only using Storyboard That.

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