Sunday, April 15, 2012

Go On an Alien Safari and Plan an Interstellar Trip

Last summer I wrote about NASA's Planet Quest website. At the time I was focused on the interactive timeline of space exploration that they were featuring. This evening I took another look at the site and tried out a couple of the other interactive features that are now available on Planet Quest.

Alien Safari is a small interactive map that students can click on to discover the homes of the "most extreme" organisms on our planet. Students will discover organisms that live at the coldest temperatures, hottest temperatures, deepest depths, and highest elevations. There is a short audio lesson about each of the organisms.

The Interstellar Trip Planner is a simple interactive module in which students learn how long it would take to arrive at destination inside and outside of our solar system. Students can choose to travel by plane, car, or rocket.

Applications for Education
I mentioned just a few of the excellent resources that Planet Quest offers to teachers and students. Visit the educators' page on Planet Quest for a full list of activities.

One thing that you could do to extend the Interstellar Trip Planner activity is ask students to choose other destinations to travel to in the solar system. Then have them calculate on their own how long it would take to reach those destinations by plane, train, or automobile.

Teaching Mom Twitter

So I'm not actually trying to teach my mom to use Twitter, but it makes for a nice title to this post. Mom, This Is How Twitter Works is an excellent explanation with visuals and text of how Twitter works. The post, written by Jessica Hische, explains everything you need to know about Twitter. Want to know what a reTweet is? That's covered. Do you want to know which things on your timeline can or can't be seen by others? That's explained. And just how does Twitter compare to Facebook? Jessica has that covered too.

Applications for Education
If you have ever tried Twitter, but just didn't "get it" Mom, This Is How Twitter Works is for you. If you're trying to get your colleagues to try Twitter to build their own personal learning networks online, Mom, This Is How Twitter Works could be a good primer to have them read and or reference.

Thanks to Steven Anderson for sharing this resource last week on Twitter, of course.

Where Should Waste Go? An Interactive Lesson on Recycling

My Garbology, produced by Nature Bridge, is an interactive game that teaches students about sorting garbage for recycling, reusing, and composting. Students sort garbage into four bins according to where they think each piece of garbage should go. When a piece of garbage is sorted correctly a series of short animations explains why it should be there.  For example, a banana peel should be sorted into the compost bin. When the banana peel is placed into the compost bin students watch and hear a series of animations explaining how composting works.

Sort the used tee shirt into the reuse bin and you can learn how much water is used to produce one cotton tee shirt, how far that tee shirt could travel to get to market, and how long the average American keeps clothing before disposing of it.

Applications for Education
In addition to the interactive game and animations, My Garbology offers a series of lesson plans for all grade levels. These lesson plans encourage students to explore their own impact on the environment and to take action to reduce the amount of garbage that they produce. My Garbology also offers some activities that parents and their children can do at home to learn about recycling and reducing waste.