Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Find Money for Your School - Grant Gopher

Grant Gopher is a service that helps registered users find grants for just about any non-profit organization. The grant search engine is continuously updated to include new grant opportunities and remove expired grant opportunities. There is a free section of Grant Gopher and two "premium" subscription services offered by Grant Gopher. The free service offers access to the search engine, weekly newsletter about grant opportunities, and access to common application forms.

Art, GPS, and Geography Combine

Over the weekend CNET ran a story about a Swedish art student that claims to have created the world's largest self-portrait using GPS and the package delivery service DHL. Whether or not the story is true is highly debatable, but regardless of truth it makes an interesting story and sparks an idea for combining Art, GPS, and Geography. The Swedish art student, Erik Nordenankar, created a world's largest self-portrait by sending a GPS device around the world through DHL. Nordenankar claims that he planned the routes the package would take so that the path of travel would represent a portrait. Embedded below is a video of Nordenankar demonstrating the project.

Applications for Education
Nordenankar's idea represents a great synthesis of technology and art. There isn't a public art teacher or geography teacher that could afford to try what Nordenankar did, but there are some free methods for simulating a similar experience. Students could create drawings using Google Earth or Google Maps by plotting placemarks in artistic shapes. After plotting the placemarks students can play "connect the dots" to complete the drawing. To incorporate an element of Social Studies students can research and report on the places where they plotted their placemarks.
If you have access to GPS units, students could recreate a project like Nordenankar's on a local scale.

Update: Nordenankar has confirmed on his website that the drawing was a hoax. None-the-less it's still a good synthesis of art and geography.

Statetris - Tetris for Maps

Statetris combines the fun of the classic video game Tetris with learning geography. Instead of stacking blocks as quickly as possible, players have to place states or countries in the proper place as quickly as possible. Just like in Tetris as a player's skill improves the speed of the game increases. The games are played using the arrow keys on the keyboard.

Applications for Education
Statetris comes in a variety of forms including games for the United States, Africa, Europe, and the states/provinces of some other selected countries. The games are good for practice and preparation for a geography quiz. Students receive instant feedback from the game and the game levels adjust to meet the progress of the student.

A Quick Reminder from My Students Regarding Data Backup

Just a short reminder from my students for my students and students worldwide (teachers and administrators too) save early and save often. I've been back to work for only 2 hours and I already have heard multiple pleas/whines/requests for help recovering lost files. The upside of all the pleas for file recovery help have presented me with a great opportunity to advocate for the use of Zoho Writer, Google Docs, and Buzz Word.

Reach the World - Interactive Geography Activities

Reach the World produces a great online game for Geography students. The GeoGames from Reach the World feature an interactive map which students drag and drop onto different elements. The beginner level games asks has student place continents and the poles in the correct position. As the games levels progress students have to place countries and capitals in their proper positions. In the Build Planet Earth section students have to place continents, oceans, mountains, and rivers in their proper positions.

Below is a video demonstration of a student using the Geography Games from Reach the World.

Applications for Education
The Geography Games from Reach the World are designed for elementary school students as a way to learn the locations of physical and political geographic features. When students have successfully built their maps the maps can printed and used for review offline.