Monday, March 22, 2010

NASA Space Place - Where Science is Fun!

NASA Space Place is a sizable collection of fun projects, games, animations, and lessons about Earth, space, and technology. Before playing the games or attempting one of the projects, students should explore the animations and facts sections to gain some background information.

The projects section of NASA Space Place provides teachers, parents, and students with directions for hands-on projects like building a balloon-powered rover, building relief maps, and building a moon habitat. The games section offers thirty games covering all of the subjects in the animations and facts sections.

Applications for Education
NASA Space Place provides elementary school science teachers with a nice collection of hands-on projects that they can use in their classrooms. The projects could also provide good activities for parents and students to do together at home. The games section of NASA Space Place is a good resource to link to your classroom website for students to access at home.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Northern Lights Time Lapse Video
NASA Images - Embed Galleries of Images and Videos
NASA Quests and Challenges

Go Paperless for Earth Day

Earth Day is exactly one month away which makes today a good day to tell you about Shelly Blake-Plock's Earth Day Paperless Classroom Pledge. To date, more than 750 teachers have signed-up and pledged to go paperless on Earth Day. Read more about the Earth Day Paperless Classroom Pledge on Shelly's blog, Teach Paperless.

Here are some ideas to get you started teaching without paper:

1. Get your students using Google Docs to write their essays. Students can share essays with you and you can grade them without printing.
2. Try using the upload widget to collect your students' work online.
3. Compare the articles in your textbooks with articles on Wikipedia about the same topic. Similarly, get your students started building a wiki of reliable articles that can replace your older textbooks and periodicals.
4. If you're in the habit of sending newsletters home, start an email list or better yet a blog to replace that newsletter.
5. If you're teaching in a 1:1 environment, stop printing assignments and just post them online.

Signed Stories - Video Stories in Sign Language

I've seen Signed Stories bouncing around the blogosphere and Twittersphere for a few weeks now, but only recently have I had time to explore it. Signed Stories is a provider of free videos featuring children's stories accompanied by subtitles and sign language. All of the stories feature someone signing the story (in British Sign Language). In addition to sign language many of the stories also offer subtitles.

The videos on Signed Stories are organized into seven themes. With the exception of the Baby and Toddler section the stories are not categorized by age. Although every video is free, because many of the stories and images are copyrighted, Signed Stories videos cannot be downloaded or embedded into other sites.

Applications for Education
As I mentioned above, the videos are signed in British Sign Language which, according to my Wikipedia research, is different from American Sign Language. Fortunately, for those who use ASL many of the videos are also available in subtitles.

Register Soon for Free Bowling All Summer

Just as they did last summer, bowling centers around the country are offering students two free games every day. To bowl for free students (or their parents) need to register on Kids Bowl Free beginning tomorrow. On Kids Bowl Free you can find the bowling alley closest to you. Sorry Mainers there are not any participating bowling alleys in our state.

Applications for Education
As the school year winds down and parents begin looking for summer activities for their children, Kids Bowl Free provides an option that won't break the bank. Kids Bowl Free is the type of non-academic information that I like to pass along to parents at parent-teacher conferences.

Debunking Census Myths and Census History

Debunking Census Myths is a short clip from CNN in which common misunderstandings about the US census are clarified. The clip address questions of citizen obligations and questions about what the government does with the data it collects.

On a related note, I recently stumbled upon a short video about the history of the US census. From Inkwell to Internet traces the history of the US census from 1790 through today.

Applications for Education
Both of these videos could be used for helping students understand why the United States conducts a census every ten years. After watching the videos you could transition into a lesson in which students analyze census data using Google's Public Data Explorer.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Significance of the 2010 Census
The History and the Purpose of the US Census