Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Free Scientific Calculator for Your Website

Web2.0calc is a free online scientific calculator. While it won't replace the TI-84 Plus, it can do what your average high school student needs it to do. The best part is, you don't have to use it on the Web2.0calc site because they offer three widgets that you can use to embed the calculator into your own blog or website. You can see one of those widgets in action below (if you're reading this in RSS you might need to click through to see the widget).

Web 2.0 scientific calculator

Thanks to Ann Gregson for sharing the link on Twitter.

Applications for Education
One of the problems the mathematics department in my school faces every year is "disappearing" scientific calculators. Web2.0calc could solve that problem by being placed into teachers' websites where students can use them anytime they like without having to sign-out a calculator for use outside of the classroom.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Who Wants To Be A Mathionaire?
Computational Thinking Lessons from Google
Math Live - Animated Mathematics Lessons

Capturing the Atom Bomb on Film

Capturing the Atom Bomb on Film is an audio slideshow from The New York Times. The slideshow features the voice of George Yoshitake who is one of the few remaining photographers who attempted to capture on film the atomic bomb tests run by the US Government between 1945 and 1962. The slideshow contains twenty-two images in all.

Applications for Education
There is a set of seven images in Capturing the Atom Bomb on Film that really demonstrate the power of nuclear bombs. In those seven images (slides 14-20) show how a nuclear explosion produces enough heat to almost instantly incinerate a school bus. Some of the other images in the slideshow along with Mr. Yoshitake's narration demonstrate how little was known about the effects of atomic bombs in the early days of their development.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Create Audio Slideshows with Shwup
Audio Slideshow - Kenya's Drought
Bush's Eight Years in Office - Audio Slideshow

Google Apps Terminology Explanation

Someone asked me today for clarification on the differences between Google Apps. This is not an uncommon question because the terminology can sometimes be confusing. Hopefully, the following explanations will offer some clarity.

The term Google Apps generally refers to the suite of Google services (Gmail, Docs, Sites, etc) that a person or organization uses under their own registered domain. For example, I have a Google Apps account for Free Technology for Teachers through which I access Gmail, Google Sites, Docs, Voice, Alerts, and other Google services. This is slightly different than a standard Google account because all of my services are linked together under the banner of Free Technology for Teachers which is why my email is richardbyrne (at) freetech4teachers (dot) com even though it's powered by Gmail.

There are four different versions of Google Apps. Here's how Google explains them on their official blog.

  • Google Apps is our free service geared towards families, entrepreneurs and other groups up to 50 users.
  • Google Apps for Business offers 25GB of email storage per user, a 99.9% uptime guarantee, data migration capabilities, advanced management tools, telephone support, added security features and more, all for $50 per user per year.
  • Google Apps for Government is FISMA certified and designed with local, state and federal agencies in mind.
  • Google Apps for Education offers many benefits of Google Apps for Business, but at no cost to schools, universities and qualifying non-profits.

An Easy Way to Make Online Booklets

There are some good services on the web that will turn PDFs into books and booklets and some services that will even allow you to create embeddable booklets online, yet few are quite as simple to use as Simple Booklet. Simple Booklet is a new service offering free online booklet creation and publishing.

To create a book using Simple Booklet just sign-up for a free account and click create. Select the layout template that suits your needs. To add content click anywhere on the blank canvas and a menu of options will appear. You can add text, images, audio files, videos, and links to each page of your booklet.

Each page of your Simple Booklet can have multiple elements on it. To include videos you can upload your own files or select from a variety of provides including SchoolTube, TeacherTube, YouTube, and others. To add audio to your pages you can upload your own files or again select from the online hosts, Sound Cloud, or Mix Cloud. When you're done building pages in your Simple Booklet you can share it online by embedding it into a webpage or you can share the unique link generated for your booklet. (In my testing, when embedding Simple Booklet you cannot resize it and have it still display correctly. You need to have a large online canvas like that found in Wikispaces to display your booklet correctly). You can see my short story here.

Thanks to Vicki Davis for the link.

Applications for Education
Simple Booklet could be a good tool for students to use to publish multimedia stories. Students could use Simple Booklet to create a small portfolio of their work using videos, images, sounds, and text. Lately, I've been thinking a lot about having students create more in-depth research analysis by combining critique of written and audio/visual content they find online. Simple Booklet could be used for that purpose.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Youblisher - Publish PDFs as Online Magazines
Booklet Creator - Turn Any PDF Into a Booklet
Yudu - Publish Your PDFs as Online Magazines

You've Got Monkey Feet! - Fun Science Activities

Hey LHS Kids is a science activities website for kids developed by the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkeley. Hey LHS Kids features some good activities for elementary school students. The activity that inspired the title of this post is Measure Yourself. Measure Yourself asks students to measure the size of their ears, feet, and overall height in centimeters. Students then plug those numbers into Measure Yourself and are shown a list of animals that have similar dimensions. I tried it and learned that my ears are almost as big as an armadillo's ears, my feet are longer than a bear's, and I'm taller than a grizzly bear walking on all four feet.

Thanks to Kristen Swanson for the link.

Applications for Education
Measure Yourself could be a fun way to introduce students to measurement using the metric system. The activity give students some familiar animals by which to gauge metric measurements. Overall, Hey LHS Kids offers a variety of similar activities that can be useful for introducing some basic science and math concepts to elementary school students.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Activity TV - Kids Activities with Video Directions
Interactive Exploration of the Galapagos Islands
Wild Sanctuary - Sounds of Nature on Google Earth

Buzz Dash Dashes Out of Business - Get Your Data

I just received an email from Buzz Dash, a polling service that has been mentioned a couple of times on Free Technology for Teachers, informing me that they are shutting down their services effective tomorrow. It's very short notice, but at least they sent out a notice. If you have a poll running through Buzz Dash, you're going to have to find another solution. Most blogging platforms have some type of polling widget available for easy integration into your blog. You might also want to investigate the eight other options available here.