Friday, August 14, 2015

A Quick Way to Access a Countdown Timer on Your Computer

This morning on my Facebook page someone asked for a recommendation for a countdown timer. The first thing that came to my mind was to suggest using the timer function built into You can simply type into Google search "set timer" followed by an amount of time and a countdown timer is displayed. An alarm beeps when time is up. You can make the timer appear full screen without advertisements by clicking a little box icon to the right of the timer. You can see this feature in action in the video below.

If you're looking for a timer that has a few more features, take a look at Russel Tarr's Classtools Countdown Timer which has two slick features. You can create and set multiple timers on the same page. This means that if you had students sharing in rapid succession you wouldn't have to reset the timer for each student, you simply move onto using the next timer on the page. The second feature of note in the Classtools Countdown Timer is the option to add music to your timers. You can have your countdown timers set to music. Mission Impossible, The Apprentice, and Countdown are the standard music options. You can add other music by using the YouTube search tool built into the timer.

Back to School With BoomWriter Activity Packs

Disclosure: BoomWriter is an advertiser on this blog. 

Every month BoomWriter publishes a new writing lesson plan related to the season or current events. BoomWriter calls these lesson plans activity packs. Each activity pack includes directions for using BoomWriter and a set of vocabulary words for students to use in a writing activity. This month's BoomWriter activity pack contains back-to-school vocabulary words.

If this month's BoomWriter activity pack doesn't offer quite what you're looking for, the gallery of previous activity packs is always available to you.

The idea behind using BoomWriter for this lesson is to have students practice using vocabulary terms in context. Through BoomWriter you can assign word lists to students then monitor their progress as they work toward using each word correctly. You can provide feedback to students through your teacher dashboard on BoomWriter.

If you haven't tried BoomWriter or WordWriter before, check out my demonstration videos embedded below. The first video shows just the perspective of the teacher. The second video shows the perspective of a student receiving an assignment.

Build a Solar Oven - A Hands-on Science Lesson

Following up on my previous post about the science of BBQ, here's another cooking-related science lesson. Making a Solar Oven (link opens a PDF) is a nice hands-on learning activity that I found on I think elementary, middle, and high school students could enjoy making a solar oven (link opens a PDF). The Making a Solar Oven PDF includes directions for building your solar oven and tips for cooking in it. You and your students can build a solar oven using materials that are commonly found in schools, homes, and grocery stores.

Applications for Education
Making a solar oven and baking some cookies in it could be a great way to get students excited to learn about solar energy. At the middle school and high school levels you could have students experiment with modifications of the original design to see if they can increase or decrease temperatures and cooking times in their solar ovens.

If you haven't explored it before, take some time to search for teaching resources on On the site you can find videos, interactive activities, and lesson plans for teaching about climates and climate change.

The Science of BBQ

As we head into a nice summer weekend in Maine, here's a fun lesson from It's Okay to be Smart.  In the video we'll see graphics that explain the process of hydrolysis and its role in the cooking process. In other words, The Science of BBQ explains why cooking meat at a relatively low temperature for a long time tenderizes it and what happens when it is cooked too quickly.

Texas A&M's website on barbecue science is one of the resources consulted in the creation of The Science of BBQ. That site will provide you with many more resources to share with students.