Monday, June 2, 2014

Show Students How Far a Dollar Used to Stretch With this Economics Calculator

Do you remember when ten dollars bought you enough gasoline to drive for a week? Or when a pack of baseball cards cost 25 cents and you got a piece of gum in the pack too? I remember those days. My money seemed to go a lot farther then. Or did it? Now you can figure out the answer to that question and other economics questions by using the Measuring Worth calculators.

Measuring Worth provides an extensive series of data sets and calculation tools that students can use to compare the purchasing power of a dollar over time and around the world. Measuring Worth is available in four currencies. In addition to the calculator tools, Measuring Worth provides a series of customizable graphs of historical economic data. Using these graphs you can generate visuals of changes in purchasing power and GDP over time.

Applications for Education
Measuring Worth provides excellent data sets, calculators, and graphs that students can use in an economics course or a consumer mathematics course. A simple assignment that you could have students do with Measuring Worth is to have students pick their favorite food and figure out how much it would have cost when their parents were the same age. Students could also ask parents how much their first car cost and calculate what that cost would be today.

Literacy Lessons With the Electric Company

The Electric Company has come a long way since I was kid watching it on a black and white TV that had tinfoil on the antennae. The lessons taught by The Electric Company are now found online through PBS Learning Media.

PBS Learning Media offers a huge collection of resources for teaching students of all ages. The Electric Company collection of literacy lessons is designed for students from ages six through nine. The Electric Company literacy lessons are focused on helping students decode sounds and words, build their vocabularies, and improve their reading comprehension skills. The Electric Company's literacy lessons use short instructional videos (some of them are kind of corny) along with some interactive activities to help students toward becoming better readers.

Applications for Education
The videos on their own are not going to mean too much to students unless they're used as part of a larger lesson. PBS Learning Media offers a huge collection of lesson suggestions that you can use in conjunction with the videos from The Electric Company.

Finding Hidden Sugar

Last month I shared a TED-Ed lesson about why we crave sugar. Today, I'd like to share a follow-up lesson about finding sugar that is "hidden" in our food. Sugar: Hiding In Plain Sight is a TED-Ed lesson about the various forms and names given to sugar that is often present in our food.

Applications for Education
After completing the lesson have your students take a look at the ingredients in some of their favorite foods to find the sugars within them. Then have them choose foods that they think might not have sugar and see how much they can find. I did this years ago with the most popular breads in my local grocery store and I was struck my how many of them listed high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient.

Skim vs. Whole Milk and Some Other Lessons on Nutrition

Here's a little lesson that students can take with them to the grocery store, the differences in the types of milk that they find in the dairy case. In the video below Brain Stuff explains the differences between skim, 1%, 2%, and whole milk. The process of creating skim milk is also included in the video.

Applications for Education
After watching the Brain Stuff video on the different types of milk, consider continuing your nutrition lessons with Fat World or one of the resources from Nourish Interactive. .

Fat World is an educational video game funded in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The game isn't designed to tell students what they should or shouldn't eat rather it is designed to get students thinking about the results of food choices. In the game students explore the socioeconomic, geographic, and cultural factors that influence the nutrition choices people make. Students will also explore the roles of the government and interest groups in the marketing of foods. Fat World is available as a free download for Windows and Mac users.

Nourish Interactive is a great resource for elementary school health and nutrition teachers. Nourish Interactive offers lesson plans, printable guides and forms, resources for parents, and games for students. In the printables section teachers will find things like fun coloring pages as well as educational pages like "name the food group" and "exercise tracking sheets." The parents' section of Nourish Interactive offers parents tips on teaching healthy eating habits at home. The parents' section also offers tips and recipes for cooking healthy food with kids. The games section of Nourish Interactive contains ten online games for elementary school students. The games are designed to reinforce the lessons learned from parents and teachers using the teaching resources on Nourish Interactive.

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