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Thursday, December 21, 2017

5 Observations Students Can Record With Google's Science Journal App

Google's Science Journal app provides some neat tools for recording data and writing observations. Within the app students create notebooks for recording experiment data and observations. Students can also use those notebooks to simply organize observations by topic. There are sensors built into the app for recording sound, speed, light, direction, and magnetism. Here are five things that students can record with Google's Science Journal app (click here for Android version and here for iOS version).

1. Decibel Levels
Ask your students if a basketball clanging off of a rim is louder in an empty gym or a full gym? Have them make a hyphothesis then test it in your school's gym. (Check with your physical education teacher to make sure it's okay to borrow his or her classroom).

2. Speed. 
Have students record how quickly or slowly they walk down the hallway.

3. Speed and Sound Correlation
Have students record the speed with which they walk down the hallway. Have them record the sound at the same time. Ask them to try to identify a correlation between the speed with which they walk and the amount of noise that they make.

4. Light
Today, whenever I look out of my office window I am nearly blinded by the reflection of the sun off of the frozen snow. It was brighter earlier today when the sun was hitting the snow at a more direct angle. Students can use the Science Journal app to measure and compare the brightness of one place throughout the day.

5. Light and angles correlation
The Science Journal app has an inclinometer function. Have students use that function to measure the angle of the sun to a fixed position throughout the day. Have them use the light meter whenever they use the inclinometer. Then ask them to determine the correlation between the angle of the sun and the brightness at the chosen spot. They might be surprised at the results.

Bonus item:
I plan to use the Science Journal app on my phone to record the cries of my baby in relation to the speed at which I walk and bounce her. Maybe I will find the perfect speed at which she always stops crying.

ESPN's Golic & Wingo Fall for Fake News Story - Provide Reminder to Check Your Sources

ESPN Radio's morning show, Golic and Wingo, recently provided listeners with a great reminder to check your news sources. They read on air this story from New Maine News (Maine's version of The Onion) about a basketball game being called off because the ball got stuck behind the wood stove in the gym. Of course, it was a fake story because any good Mainer knows that the last high school gym that had a wood stove burned down three year ago.

Here's the audio from Golic and Wingo reading the story on air without realizing that it was a fake story.

The Shortest Day of the Year

Good morning from chilly Paris Hill, Maine where my thermometer reads 11F, but it feels more like 0F. Not only is it going to be cold all day, it's also going to be the day that we have the least sunlight all year. That is because today is the winter solstice.

Here's a small collection of resources for teaching and learning about the winter solstice.

PBS Kids Nature Cat has a cute video that explains the basic concept of winter and summer solstice.


TIME recently published a video featuring "four things you probably didn't know about the winter solstice." Spoiler alert! You probably knew them, but the video will remind you about those things.


Mechanism Of The Seasons is a six minute video about why the length of daylight we receive in a location changes throughout the year. This video could be helpful in a flipped classroom environment.

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.

Although it is not about the winter solstice, Why the Full Moon Is Better In Winter is a good companion resource to go with those featured above.

Three Good Sources of Fun and Interesting Math Challenges

"When are we ever going to use this?" Raise your hand if you have ever heard that question from a student in the middle of a math lesson or any other lesson. Giving students some clever math problems that tie-in a "real world" situation can go a long way toward helping them see how math skills are skills they'll use for a lifetime. The following three websites all provide good math challenges to use with your students. 

Would You Rather? is a website maintained by John Stevens for the purpose of sharing quick and fun math challenges for students.  Would You Rather? presents a picture with a mathematics problem that asks "would you rather?" Most of the questions have a financial aspect to them. One of my favorite examples is this challenge that asks "would you rather go on a 5 minute shopping spree in the store of your choice or get a $2,000 gift card to the store of your choice?" Would You Rather? offers a simple worksheet that your students can use to analyze the choices presented to them in the challenges.

Math Pickle is a free site that offers dozens of fun and challenging math puzzles for students of all ages. The puzzles are designed to foster collaborative problem solving over the course of 45 to 60 minutes. Almost all of the puzzles are presented as a series of small, connected problems that students need to solve to complete the puzzle presented to them. The puzzles can be viewed as slides and or downloaded as PDFs.

Expii Solve is a series of more than fifty sets of mathematics word problems. Within each set there are five problems aligned to a theme. For example, there was recently a set of Thanksgiving themed problems. The problems within each set on Expii Solve vary in difficulty so that you can pick the one(s) that best suit your students. Or you can let your students register on the site and self-select the problems that they want to tackle. In fact, that is how the site is intended to be used. Students can get instant feedback on their answers to the problems that they try to solve. Students who need a bit of help solving a problem can avail themselves of tutorials linked at the bottom of each problem page.