Monday, July 7, 2014

The Antarctic Food Web Game

The Antarctic Food Web Game is an online game produced by WGBH to support middle school lessons on food chains and Antarctica. The simple game presents students with charts and tables about animals and plants found around Antarctica. Students have to take the information presented to them to create a correct food web. The key to creating a correct food web is understanding where various animals fit in the food chain.

Applications for Education
The Antarctic Food Web Game can be played online or you can download it from PBS Learning Media. The game itself is rather simple. It is not something I would build a lesson around, but it is something that I would include in a classroom blog post for students to use as a quick test of their understanding.

This NY Times Interactive Compares Renting vs. Buying a Home

A few years ago The New York Times produced an interactive infographic about the costs of renting a home compared to buying the same home. The infographic was recently updated to include more variables. Some of the updated variables include mortgage rates, closing costs, and tax status.

Users of the interactive infographic can enter variable data such as home price, interest rates, rent prices, rental rate increases, and housing market changes to determine when it's best to buy a home rather than rent. Users can also account for information like insurance rates, condo fees, and opportunity costs.

Applications for Education
The big variable in this interactive infographic is the piece that says "if you can rent a similar home for less than.... then renting is better." The challenge then is to find a home to rent at the same monthly cost. Ask students to go on a real estate website to see if it is possible to find similar homes to rent and buy at the same monthly cost. Then ask them to justify if it is better to rent or buy their towns or regions.

The other pieces of this infographic that I like are the glossary and the break-down of the "hidden" costs of home ownership. Students often don't account for hidden costs in determining how much a decision costs in the long run.

Two Good Explanations of Compound Interest

Compound interest can be a wonderful thing if you're saving money. How compound interest works is a concept that every middle school or high school student should learn as it helps them see the value of saving money in a bank account.  The following videos do a nice job of explaining how compound interest works.

The Common Craft video below (click here if you're reading this in email or RSS) does a nice job of explaining the concept in a way that middle school and high school students can understand.

Investopedia offers a slightly different explanation of compound interest vs. simple interest.

Applications for Education
Extend the lessons of these videos by having students look for current interest rates offered by banks and credit unions. Ask them to calculate how much money they could save by the time they finish high school or college if they started saving ten dollars a week right now.

The Story of Frozen Food and Freezer Burn

Where did modern frozen food originate? Why does freezing food make it last longer? And what exactly is freezer burn? The answers to these questions and more are found in the following videos from Minute Earth.

Visits - Create a Flickr & Google Maps Location History Timeline

Visits is a new online tool for creating a location history timeline by using your Flickr images and Google Maps. The service allows you to select a set of your public Flickr images and match them to your Google Maps history. Visits uses the date information in your Flickr images and Google Maps history to create a timeline. The timeline events are represented as sets of circles. Watch the video below to see the process in action.

visits- Explore the Places You Have Visited! from Alice Thudt on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
Visits could be a neat tool for students who have gone on field trips or study abroad trips to use to create digital stories about their trips. I'm also planning to test it to see if I can fake some Flickr data to use public domain pictures that I upload to my Flickr account to then create a mapped timeline about a historical event like the American Revolution or the Civil War.

H/T to Google Maps Mania