Friday, January 21, 2011

What is the Flu? What is a Cold?

If the pharmaceutical commercials on television are any indication, we're right in the middle of cold and flu season. What is the difference between having a cold and having the flu? Explania has the answer in the video below.

What is ‘flu? - Explania

Applications for Education
When I saw this video I immediately thought of our school nurse who reminds at nearly every staff meeting to wash our hands and stay home if we're sick with a cold or the flu. This video won't replace her messages to us, but it could be a nice supplement to her message. The video is also a good resource for a health class.

Fines for Disruptive Behavior - A Discussion Prompt

Today's episode of CNN Student News ends with a quick story about some schools in Texas issuing fines of up to 500 dollars for poor conduct in school. As you might guess, some parents and students are not happy about this at all. The video is embedded below.

Applications for Education
This is a current events story that students can really relate to. If you're having a current events discussion in your classroom today, bring this story up and let your students share their thoughts about the idea of paying fines for misbehavior in school.

Wind and Solar Power Estimation Tools

My post earlier today about using Google Earth to estimate potential solar energy in California reminded me of a similar resource that I discovered a couple of years ago. The following is an updated version of a post from 2009.

SEREF, the Solar Energy Research and Education Foundation, has built a couple of tools that could be of interest to science teachers. SEREF has an energy estimation tool that allows you to estimate the potential solar and wind energy of any location. To use the estimation tool you have to enter your location using on the map and input the size of the solar panels or wind turbine structure. You can also draw out the dimensions of your solar panels on the map. The potential energy is then calculated based on climate, latitude, and typical weather patterns. 

Applications for Education 
The SEREF energy estimator offers teachers and opportunity to create a lesson using science, mathematics, and geography concepts. Students can use the estimation tool to discover the solar and wind energy potential of their location then make and test a hypothesis about other locations. Students can also experiment with the size of solar panels and the angle to the sun to see what the potential change in energy would be.

Estimating Solar Power Using Google Earth

Whenever I introduce Google Earth to teachers, I like to point out that it can be used for far more than just Social Studies lessons. A new KMZ file (link will launch Google Earth) from the University of California - San Diego illustrates that point well.

The California Solar Irradiance Map is a Google Earth file that illustrates how much solar energy could be generated in one year from a horizontally oriented solar panel. The file can be used to see how much energy could be generated from the entire state. The file also includes thousands of individual data points showing how much energy could come from each individual place. Turn on the "placemark data" layer to view individual points.

H/T to the Google Earth Blog.

Doodle 4 Google is Back for 2011

As announced earlier this week by Google, Doodle 4 Google is back again this year. Doodle 4 Google is a student drawing contest open to all K-12 students in the U.S. The contest asks students to create drawings, on 8.5" x 11" paper, that redesign the Google homepage logo while responding to the prompt "what I'd like to do someday."

This year Google is increasing the opportunities to participate in the contest by allowing parents to register their children if they're not registered through school. Students involved in The Boys & Girls Clubs of America and The Girl Scouts will also be able to register for Doodle 4 Google.

This year's winner will receive a $15,000 college scholarship and a $25,000 technology grant for his or her school. Registration is open now and closes on March 2nd. All drawings must be submitted by March 16.

Applications for Education
Other than being an opportunity for students to win a scholarship, this year's contest prompt is a good one for getting students to think about and envision their futures.

Stop Waiting for Superman, He's Been Found!

As I've mentioned before I rarely weigh-in on the political aspects of school reform because that doesn't help fulfill the purpose of this blog. However, there are some times when something jumps out at me that I just have to share. This is one of those times. 

My friend Ken Shelton is a middle school computer science teacher in Los Angeles. He's also a fantastic photographer (see his whole Flickr collection). The story behind this photo that he just posted to his Flickr account is one that every teacher should read. The short version, you are Superman or Superwoman.
Image credit: Ken Shelton
This week the parent teacher student association insisted on showing Waiting for Superman at Ken's school. One of the parents in the PTSA is friends with a producer of the film. The producer was on hand for a Q&A after the screening. As Ken said, the teachers were "left to defend the very core of what they do everyday." This image and the rest of Ken's story are his response to that screening.

I know it is Friday morning and it may have been a long and stressful week, but remember, even if the "experts" outside of education don't agree, you are doing good important work.