Friday, March 30, 2012

Kikutext - Keep Parents Updated About Your School Through Text Messages

Kikutext is a new service for keeping parents informed about your classroom and or school through text messages. The service is an opt-in service for parents. When you create a Kikutext account you're assigned an opt-in code to distribute to parents. Parents then send that code in a text message to register to receive messages from you. Kikutext keeps the phone numbers of parents and those of teachers and principals hidden from each other.

Applications for Education
The preferred method of communication for many people today is text messaging. Text messages are quick and easy to work with when compared with emails or phone calls. Using Kikutext could be a great way to take advantage of that communication preference to keep parents informed about important information from your school.

A couple of services to look at are Class Pager and gText. And through Google Voice you can do something similar to what all three of these services offer. Click here to read about how I have used Google Voice.

Win a $3000 Scholarship from Shmoop and Zinch

Shmoop and Zinch have combined to offer a $3000 scholarship to US students. To enter the contest students simply need to complete this form by May 31st.

Zinch is a service that helps match students to scholarship opportunities. I don't have much experience with it, but it looks promising. Shmoop provides many fantastic online study guides for high school students. I've written about Shmoop since their launch and they've continued to improve their offerings ever since.

Seven Resources for Teaching & Learning About Electricity

Last night I came home and discovered that my furnace had died. My house was about 45F so I got out my down-filled sleeping bag and my electric space heater. I can't plug in that space heater without thinking about two things; the increase in my electric bill and the possibility of starting an electrical fire. Then almost as if on cue this morning I saw a Tweet from Jen Deyenberg about Electrocity.

Electrocity is an online game that students can play to learn about electricity production and consumption. In the game students take on the role of mayor of a fictitious town. As the mayor the student has to manage the consumption and production of electricity for the town. At each turn the student is informed of whether or not you have successfully balanced consumption and production.

Squishy Circuits is a project developed at the University of St. Thomas for the purpose of creating tools that students can use to create circuits and explore electronics. Squishy Circuits uses Playdough-like to enable hands-on learning about conducting and insulating currents as well as creating circuits. The Squishy Circuits website provides directions for creating the dough and offers ideas for lessons using the dough. Watch this TED Talk for an explanation and demonstration of Squishy Circuits.

Hydro to Home is an interactive story of hydro-electric power from raindrops to homes. The story walks visitors through each step of the process of generating hydro-electric power and delivering to consumers' homes. The story is narrated and along the way there are interactive images that visitors can click on to learn even more information about hydro-electric power.

Engineering Interact is a site for elementary school students designed by the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge. Engineering Interact offers five games designed to teach students physics concepts. The games address concepts related to light, sound, motion, electricity, and space travel. Each of the five games presents students with a scenario in which they have to "help" someone solve a problem. The games require students to learn and analyze the information presented to them.

The Blobz Guide to Electric Circuits is a neat series of interactive animations designed to help students of elementary and middle school age learn how electric circuits work. There are five sections to the series. Each sections builds upon the lessons of the previous section. The series starts with the basics of what makes a circuit complete and concludes with diagramming and building circuits. Each section in the series has a few short lessons and is followed by an animated interactive activity to which students can apply what they have just learned.

The Great Energy Challenge is a National Geographic feature that offers some nice interactive posters for evaluating personal and global energy consumption. Global Electricity Outlook is an interactive display of electricity consumption across the globe. You can view the global picture or click on the map to view regional consumption. The display shows the means of electricity production globally and regionally. To see how shifting production sources would impact the world or a region use the sliders below the map. Read more about the Great Energy Challenge posters here.

The Physics Classroom is a great resource for high school Physics teachers and high school Physics students. The Physics Classroom was developed by Tom Henderson, a high school physics teacher since 1989. The Physics Classroom offers detailed tutorials on thirteen different physics topics including waves, electricity, Newton's laws, and vectors. In addition to the written tutorials, The Physics Classroom also offers more than 50 animations and 6 videos demonstrating physics concepts.

Make Interactive Images on ThingLink Education

Last month I published a short tutorial on creating interactive images by using ThingLink. That is one of the most popular posts of the first quarter of the year. And everywhere that I have shown it to teachers, it has been very well received.

Yesterday, I received an email from ThingLink's CMO informing me of their new offerings for educators. Now educators and students can create up to 50 interactive images for free on ThingLink. Upgrades to the paid plan for 500 images are available to educators at 67% off the regular price which works out to $1.65/month (very reasonable if you ask me).

Applications for Education
ThingLink could be used by art students to identify and tag important elements of a painting, drawing, or photography. ThingLink could also be used in history classrooms to have students identify important places in a battlefield like Gettysburg.

Here's my short demonstration of ThingLink.

Unseen Titanic - An Interactive Image Gallery

Next month will mark 100 years since the sinking of the Titanic. That's why National Geographic is featuring the Titanic this month. One of the neat resources that they've put online is Unseen Titanic. Unseen Titanic has two galleries of interactive images of where the Titanic now rests under the Atlantic Ocean.

The Crash Scene interactive gallery is a collection of artifacts found on the seafloor. Zoomified is the other gallery that National Geographic is featuring this month. The Zoomified gallery has four views of the submerged wreckage of the Titanic.

Applications for Education
The Unseen Titanic galleries offer the possibility for a combined history and science lesson. As the sinking of the Titanic is one of the most notable peace-time news story, you can use the galleries in a history lesson. The aging of the artifacts underwater provides an opportunity for a short lesson on how salt water affects objects that rest in it.