Sunday, July 6, 2014

Credit Unions vs. Banks

A bank and a credit union are directly across the street from the high school in my district. In my civics course students often asked me what the difference is between the two. The following video offers a concise explanation of the differences.

Applications for Education
My local credit union offers teenagers no-fee savings accounts with a minimum $5 deposit. Kids can even get an ATM card for that account with a parent's approval. I tried to find the same offer from banks in the area and failed. Ask students why the credit union offers a better account option for teenagers.

Stats and Facts About UNESCO World Heritage Sites

The people at Silk, one of my preferred digital portfolio tools, recently published a great site about UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  The site contains maps, images, data sets, and data visualizations about all of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, but is focused on the sites added to UNESCO's list in 2014.

Applications for Education
Silk's site about UNESCO World Heritage Sites includes a section on the process of a site becoming recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. I can see developing a project in a geography class around this process. Students could select and propose a site to be added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. As part of the project students would be required to explain how their chosen sites meet the criteria established by UNESCO.

8 Options for Playing or Creating Geography Games for Kids and Adults

After last week's post about Google's new geography game, Smarty Pins, I received a couple of requests for geography games that have a little more focus than the random nature of Smarty Pins. Here are some of the more popular geography games that I have reviewed and used with my own students over the years.

Seterra offers a large collection of free geography quizzes. The there are dozens of quizzes covering everything from country identification to identifying physical geographic features like mountains, rivers, and seas. There are seven categories of quizzes arranged by continent. Seterra's quizzes are available in sixteen languages. Seterra's quizzes available as a free download for Windows computers. The games can also be played in an online version. If you download the quizzes you can keep track of your scores on your computer. The online version of the games do not allow you to keep track of your scores.

GeoGuessr is an addictive geography game that has become quite popular since its launch earlier this year. You can create your own GeoGuessr games by using GeoSettr. When you visit GeoSettr you'll see two screens. A map with a Pegman on your left and the Street View imagery for the Pegman's current location on your right. Move the Pegman around, zoom-in if you like, until you find the location that you want people to guess. When you've found the right location click "set round" to save the location. When you've set five rounds (locations) your game is assigned a URL that you can distribute. Just like any other GeoGuessr game when someone plays your GeoSettr game he or she will try to use the visual clues in the Street View imagery to guess the location. After making a guess GeoGuessr shows you the correct location and how far away from the correct location your guess was.

Place Spotting is a website of geographic riddles. Place Spotting is based on the Google Earth platform. Place Spotting users can create their own geographic riddles or try to solve riddles created by others. The search feature on Place Spotting lets users search for riddles based on level of difficulty, language, region, or creation date.

Capital Toss is a free geography game from ABCya (disclosure: an advertiser on this site). The game has a state capitals mode and a country capitals mode. In both modes of the game works the same way. The name of a state or country appears at the bottom of the screen and three rows of capital names scroll across the top. When the correct capital name appears players virtually toss a ball at it. After ten correct answers players can choose a new ball. Three consecutive incorrect answers ends the game.

Toporopa is a provider of educational and entertaining quiz games about Europe. In all Toporopa offers eighteen games in six languages. The games are primarily interactive identification games. For example, in the Capitals of Europe game players earn points by clicking on a country then entering the name of that country's capital. In Battles of Europe players earn points by dragging the name of a battle to its proper location on the map.

Create Your Own Geography Games
Mission Map Quest, developed by Russel Tarr, is a map-based tool for creating virtual treasure hunts. The concept is simple, you create a series of clues that your students need to follow to identify places around the world. You can add as few or as many clues to your Map Quest as you like. When you're ready to have students try your Quest just give them the web address of the challenge or have them scan the QR code assigned to your Quest.

GeoGuessr was mentioned above. You can create your own GeoGuessr game by using GeoSettr. When you visit GeoSettr you'll see two screens. A map with a Pegman on your left and the Street View imagery for the Pegman's current location on your right. Move the Pegman around, zoom-in if you like, until you find the location that you want people to guess. When you've found the right location click "set round" to save the location. When you've set five rounds (locations) your game is assigned a URL that you can distribute.

On QuizGeo you can browse and play pre-made geography quizzes or create your own quizzes. All of the quizzes operate in the same fashion of presenting you with a place name and requiring you to click on that place on a map before time expires. To create your own games you need to register on QuizGeo. After registering, creating your quiz is easy to do. To create a quiz just name it, click submit, then click "add questions." To add questions just enter a place or address in the search box then outline that place using the pointer provided and click "save question." You can add as many places to your quiz as you like.

An Interactive Look at the History and Distribution of Baby Names in the U.S.

How Baby Names Spread Across the U.S. is an interactive map that showcases the history and distribution of baby names. The map draws on data from the U.S. Census Bureau to show the popularity of baby names since 1911 through 2012. Enter a baby name into the search box and click "go" to see the distribution of that name. You can place your cursor over a state to watch the data for just that state change. I did this with the name Michael and the state of Wyoming to learn that from 1926 to 1930 none of the babies born in Wyoming were named Michael.

The map was developed by Brian Rowe and published on The Guardian's Data Store.

Applications for Education
How Baby Names Spread Across the U.S. could be the start of an interesting research exercise for social studies students. You could have students pick a name, perhaps their own names, and try to determine why that name is more popular in one state or region compared with another.

The Tour de France Animated

On Saturday I shared a couple of resources (here and here) related to the Tour de France. If you or your students are wondering what the Tour de France is all about, check out The Tour de France Explained in Animation. Through the video you can learn about the tactics of the race (what's the peloton all about?), the logistics of the race, the physiology of riding in the race, and many other interesting facts about the world's most famous bicycle race.