Thursday, December 1, 2022

The True Costs of Owning a Car - A Lesson Plan for High School Students

I paid $1500 for my first car. That was a hefty sum for me back in the fall of 1996. That car needed a little bit of brake work to pass the state's safety inspection and then it needed about a dozen other little repairs over the next two years. Fortunately, I had someone in my life who taught me a lot about working on cars and saved me lots of money in the process. I made the same mistake that many young people make in believing that saving money to purchase the car was all that I needed. That's why I like EconEdLink's free lesson plan titled Owning a Car.

Owning a Car is a free lesson plan that is designed as a personal finance lesson for high school students. The lesson is based around a video titled What are the True Costs of Car Ownership? The video was produced as a collaboration between Bank of America and Khan Academy. The lesson plan has students first estimate what they think the costs of car ownership are then watch the video while taking notes (template provided) about the actual costs of car ownership. The follow-up activity has students comparing ownership costs for a variety of vehicle types.

To build upon EconEdLink's Owning a Car lesson plan consider showing your students Common Craft's videos about insurance and borrowing money. You can preview both of those videos as embedded below.

Disclosure: I have a long-standing in-kind relationship with Common Craft. 

How Airplanes Fly - And Other Good Resources for Learning About Flying

I'm currently reading Bill Bryson's book, One Summer: America, 1927. The book is centered around significant events of that summer including Charles Lindbergh's crossing of the Atlantic. Airplanes have come a long way since Lindbergh flew in the Spirit of St. Louis, an airplane that he couldn't see out of when looking forward. The physics of how an airplane gets airborne and stays airborne are still the same as they were 1927. A newly released video SciShow Kids uses excellent visuals to explain how an airplane flies today. The video uses both jet-powered airplanes and prop-powered airplanes to show the key concepts. 

How Airplanes Fly is the latest video that I'm adding to my growing list of resources for teaching and learning about airplanes and airlines. Those resources are included below.  

Turbulence: One of the Great Unsolved Mysteries of Physics is a TED-Ed lesson that explains what turbulence is and the forces that create it. The lesson explains that even though we typically associate turbulence with flying in airplanes, turbulence exists in many other places including oceans.

The Wright Brothers - The Invention of the Aerial Age offers timelines for teaching about the developments made by the Wright Brothers. Dig into the Interactive Experiments section of the timeline and you'll find Engineering the Wright WayEngineering the Wright Way offers interactive simulations in which students learn about wing design by joining the Wright Brothers for test flights in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

How Things Fly hosted by the Smithsonian features an interactive module in which students design their own airplanes. The activity starts with a simple and slow airplane that students have to modify until it reaches a target speed and altitude. As students modify the wings, fuselage, and engines of their airplanes they are given instant feedback on the effects of those modifications. In some cases the feedback includes the airplane crashing and the students having to start over again.

TED-Ed offers a lesson about breaking the sound barrier. The lesson is called The Sonic Boom Problem and it explains how a sonic boom is created and how math is used to predict the path of a sonic boom in the atmosphere. 

Here's some archival footage of Yeager's flight in the Bell X-1.

If you have ever wondered why airlines sell more tickets than they have seats on an airplane, the TED-Ed lesson Why Do Airlines Sell Too Many Tickets? is for you. In Why Do Airlines Sell Too Many Tickets? you can learn about the mathematics that airlines use to maximize the revenue that they can generate from each flight. That math includes calculating the probability that everyone who holds a ticket for a flight will actually show up for the flight. The way that probability is calculated is explained in the video. Finally, the lesson asks students to consider the ethics of overbooking flights. Watch the video below or go here to see the entire lesson.

Image source: SDASM Archives, No restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

November's Most Popular Posts on Free Technology for Teachers

Good evening from Maine where the sun has set on the month of November. At this time of year sunset is a rather early 4:04pm and it feels even earlier than that. Ice is forming on the ponds around my home and I hope that we get some more snow soon because my daughters and I are itching to go skiing. 

As I do at the end of every month, I've compiled a list of the most popular posts of the last thirty days. Take a look and see if there is anything interesting that you missed earlier in November. 

These were the most popular posts of the month:
1. Is This the End of the Google Keep Chrome Extension?
2. 30+ Activity Templates to Use in Google Classroom
3. More Than 70,000 Pieces of ClipArt and Pictures for Students
4. C-SPAN Offers a Free Electoral College Poster
5. CollegeLab - A Tool to Help Students Find Colleges They May Like
6. GeoQuiz History Edition - A Fun and Challenging Geography Game
7. How to Add Descriptions to Google Drive Folders
8. Two Good Ways to Create Simple and Focused Websites
9. Math and Geography
10. A New Primary Source Crowd-sourcing Project from the Library of Congress

50 Tech Tuesday Tips!
50 Tech Tuesday Tips is an eBook that I created with busy tech coaches, tech integrators, and media specialists in mind. In it you'll find 50 ideas and tutorials that you can use as the basis of your own short PD sessions. Get a copy today!

Workshops and eBooks
If you'd like to have me speak at your school or conference, please send me an email at richardbyrne (at) or fill out the form on this page. Book me for this school year and I'll include copies of my eBook for all of the teachers in your school. 

Other Places to Follow Me:
  • The Practical Ed Tech Newsletter comes out every Sunday evening/ Monday morning. It features my favorite tip of the week and the week's most popular posts from Free Technology for Teachers.
  • My YouTube channel has more than 43,000 subscribers watching my short tutorial videos on a wide array of educational technology tools. 
  • I've been Tweeting as @rmbyrne for fifteen years. 
  • The Free Technology for Teachers Facebook page features new and old posts from this blog throughout the week. 
  • If you're curious about my life outside of education, you can follow me on Strava.
This post originally appeared on If you see it elsewhere, it has been used without permission. Featured image captured by Richard Byrne.

How to Make Custom QR Codes With Adobe Express

Yesterday afternoon I published a video and blog post about using Canva to create custom QR codes that include your own images and graphic designs. The Adobe Express suite of tools also offers a QR code creation tool. QR code creation tool in Adobe Express doesn't let you use pictures in your codes like Canva does, but you can customize the color scheme and format of your QR codes. It's a nice option for those who are already using the Adobe Express suite and need to quickly create a QR code. Watch my video below to see how it works. 

How to Create Custom QR Codes With Adobe Express

Applications for Education
Read Five Ways QR Codes Can Be Helpful in Your School for some ideas on how you might use the Adobe Express QR code generator in your classroom, library, or school.

Free Webinar Next Wednesday - Best of the Web 2022


Tomorrow the calendar turns to December and many of us will start to think about the year that was. One of the things that I do every December is take a look back at all of the new and updated educational technology tools that I tested throughout the year. I'll put all of my favorite ones into one presentation that I'll share with all of you. 

Join me one week from today for a free webinar titled Best of the Web 2022. I'm hosting it live at 3:30pm ET on December 7th. Register here! Come to the webinar to see my favorite new and updated tools in action. 

The webinar will be recorded for those who cannot attend the live presentation. The recording will be posted on Free Technology for Teachers the next day (December 8th).