Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Scientific American - 60 Second Science Lessons

Scientific American is a staple in school and public libraries. Tonight while reading an article about increasing creativity, I discovered the Scientific American podcasts. There are four series of podcasts created by Scientific American; 60 Second Science, 60 Second Psych, 60 Second Earth, and a longer set of podcasts called Science Talk.

Applications for Education
Scientific American's 60 Second podcasts could be an educational, interesting, and entertaining way to start a science class. You never know when a student's curiousity might be piqued. Offering students quick lessons from a variety of science topics increases the chances that they may hear something that they want to explore further.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
The Why Files - The Science Behind the News
Planet Science - Science Games and Lesson Plans
Great Science Activities from Exploratorium

Collecta, Real-time Search, and Professional Learning

Collecta is a real-time search engine that launched a little over a month ago. I've written about some other real-time search engines recently and you can find those articles here and here. In general all real-time search engines are designed to draw the latest links about any given topic from a variety of sources. Collecta draws its results from Twitter, YouTube, and various blogs and news websites.

Applications for Education
I've written before about using real-time search engines in Social Studies classrooms, you can read that post here.
Real-time search engines could become valuable tools for educators to learn about new research, ideas, and trends in education. In addition to learning about topics in the education field, teachers can also keep up on the latest information regarding their particular content area.

ASCEville - Learning About Civil Engineering

ASCE, the American Society of Civil Engineers, has created a website for students of all ages to learn about various aspects of civil engineering. ASCEville is an interactive website that students can use to find out how civil engineers plan sewer and transportation systems in a city. Students can also learn about the basics of building design. Beyond the front page, students can meet "real civil engineers" and discover their dream job in engineering.

For teachers, ASCEville offers resources and links to lesson plans for all grades K-12.

Applications for Education
ASCEville could be a good resource for teachers of math and science to use to show students the types of jobs done by engineers. ASCEville could also be useful as an introduction to city planning and design.

5 Resources for Creating and Hosting Podcasts

Audacity should be at the top of any list of resources about recording voices and sounds. Audacity is a free, open-source, program that can be used on Mac, Windows, and Linux systems. Audacity gives you the ability to mix tracks, splice tracks, adjust the volume of tracks, create fades, and filter out background noise.

Myna is a free web-based audio track mixer created by Aviary. Using Myna you can mix together up to ten tracks to create your own audio files. The sounds you mix can come from the Myna library, your vocal recordings made with Myna's recorder, or audio tracks that you upload to your Myna account. The video embedded below provides a great overview of the many features offered by Myna. offers a number of free services useful for educators. (Read my previous thoughts about in education here or here). offers a free voice recording service that you can use to create a podcast. With every "drop" you establish on you are supplied with a unique phone number. Simply dial that number and begin recording at the beep. Your voice recording is then hosted and can be played back at your unique url. While you cannot edit the recording or add any kind of music, it is a very simple way to record your voice. You can download the recording to use in another editing service. was bought by Facebook in December 2010 and shut down. is the podcast service that the guys at Wicked Decent Learning used to use to share their awesome podcast with the world. provides free podcast hosting as well as free podcast recording software. (The software is available for PC only). I tested out the software in August and found it to be more than adequate for creating vocal podcasts. For schools that do not use Apple computers (Garage Band is standard on Mac) is a very good, free podcasting tool.

Pod Bean is the free podcast hosting service that I used to host all of my Free Technology For Teachers podcasts (I haven't made any since last fall). Pod Bean is a hosting service, not a recording service so you will have to use a recording program and then upload to PodBean to share your episodes. What I like about Pod Bean is the speed of uploading and the ease of integration with blogging platforms.

Blubrry, like Pod Bean, is a podcast hosting service. To record your podcast you will have to record it using Audacity, Garage Band, or another recording tool. Blubrry has a very detailed guide for first-time podcasters. They also offer Blubrry University which is a forum for finding help with glitches and problems you may run into.