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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Sights, Sounds, and Science of Autumn

This morning I woke up to a chill in the air. As I walked my dogs I spotted a bunch of fallen, red leaves. In just over a week from now the autumnal equinox will be here in the northern hemisphere. Here are some resources for teaching and learning about the sights and sounds of autumn.

Sixty Symbols offers an eleven minute video about equinoxes and solstices. It's not a video that most kids will find engaging, but I'm including it because in it you can see a demonstration of how you can use the free Stellarium software in your lessons.

To help students understand why the leaves change colors in the fall, the Maine Forest Service has an animated video explaining why leaves change colors. The video is titled Maine's Autumn Magic and you can watch it here. To help students understand some of the terms in the video, the Maine Forest Service has a glossary of tree terms.

Although they're not as informative as the two resources above, National Geographic has a couple of nice photo galleries of fall foliage. Click here for a small gallery of images from Acadia National Park. Click here for a gallery of images from the Adirondack Park.

Untamed Science offers a good, partially animated, explanation of why leaves change colors, what produces the colors, and why bright and sunny days are best for viewing red leaves. The video is embedded below.


Autumnal Colors is a short video produced by Thomas Rasel. The two minute video highlights the sights and sounds of autumn. A bugling elk and a squirrel preparing for winter are a couple of the sights and sounds included in the video.


Autumn from Thomas Rasel on Vimeo.


Autumn Stars and Planets is a short PBS video that explains why the stars and planets that we see from Earth change with the seasons. The video is embedded below.


Reactions, a great YouTube channel from the American Chemical Society, offers a nice video about the chemistry involved in the process of leaves changing color. The videos explains how chlorophyll and the glucose stored inside trees help reveal the reds, yellows and, browns of fall foliage.

Symbolab - An Online Graphing Calculator and More

Symbolab is a service that launched four years ago. When I tried it then I described as a cross between Google and Wolfram Alpha. I described it that way because Symbolab would conduct a search for answers to math problems and also display the steps needed to complete the problem. Additionally, Symbolab provides links to blog posts that explain how various equations and functions help to solve problems.

Recently, a Symbolab developer contacted me about some new features of the service. First, Symbolab is now more than just a search tool. It includes a free graphing calculator and a free integrals calculator. Symbolab has also added a neat chemical reactions calculator. Finally, students can now find practice problems on Symbolab. The practice problems cover a wide array of topics in math. Most topics cover in the practice problems are accompanied by helpful videos for students to review if they get stuck on a problem.


Applications for Education
There are other sites and apps that provide similar services to those of Symbolab. Not being a math teacher myself, I can't say that Symbolab is inherently better than its competitors. I will point out that it's nice to have multiple options for students to choose from when looking for free scientific calculators.

Help Me Choose My Next Video Topic

Every week I make new video tutorials that I publish on my YouTube channel. The topics of most of those tutorial videos comes from questions that people email to me or ask me on Twitter. I'd love to read more of your suggestions for video tutorials. If you have a tutorial request, please complete the form embedded below.