Friday, January 30, 2015

I'm All About the Snow

If you live in the U.S. unless you've ignored the national news entirely, you're probably tired of hearing about the big snow storms that have hit New England this week. As as much as I dislike the hyped-up news reports about it, I love snow. Whether or not your students love the snow, hate the snow, or have no opinion about snow it provides an opportunity for a timely science lesson. Here are a few resources for learning about snow.

Scholastic's Interactive Weather Maker is an online activity in which students adjust temperatures and humidity levels to create rain and snow storms. Students simply move the temperature and humidity sliders until rain or snow begins to show up in the scene on their screens. Adjusting the settings in the Interactive Weather Maker could be a good way for students to see the correlation between humidity and temperature as it relates to creating rain and snow storms.

The episode of Bytesize Science embedded below explains how snowflakes are created.

The ski resort near my house hosts a full moon hike and ski event every month of the winter. The full moon appears brighter in the winter. The video embedded below explains why. (And if you're in Maine looking for something to do tomorrow night, Mt. Abram's full moon hike is a blast. I'll be there).

How to Find Other Educators on Google+

A couple of days ago I received an email from someone who was looking for help finding other teachers to connect with around the topic of leading a STEM or engineering club at his school. My suggestion was to take a look at some of the Google+ communities related to the topic of STEM. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to go about finding a Google+ community related to a topic that you are interested in.

Design and Launch Virtual Rockets in Your Web Browser

Ten days ago I published a post about NASA's Rocket Science 101 iPad app. What I didn't realize at the time was that the app is also available in an Android version an in an online version. Thanks to email from David Beaver I now know better.

All three versions of Rocket Science 101 work the same way. The app is designed to help students understand how rockets work. The app also helps students understand the differences between the four types of rockets most frequently used by NASA. In Rocket Science 101 students can build all four rockets in a jigsaw-like activity then virtually launch their rockets. When the rockets are launched students see the timing of each stage of the launch from surface to orbit.

After testing all of the rocket types students can try their hands at matching rockets to real NASA missions. In the challenges students read about a NASA mission then have to select the rocket that can carry the payload and travel the distance required to complete the mission.

Applications for Education
Rocket Science 101 could be a good app for students in grades five through eight to use to begin to understand some basic physics concepts associated with space exploration.

A Free Course on Developing iOS 8 Apps

In the past Stanford has offered free online courses on developing iPhone and iPad apps. Their latest offering is a free iTunes U course on developing iOS 8 apps.

Before you get too excited about the course, note that it is not for people who don't have any prior programming experience. The prerequisites for the course require that you have experience with C language and object-oriented programming. If you're up for the challenge, this course could be a good opportunity to learn to develop iOS 8 apps.

H/T to Open Culture - Create Short Audio Recordings Online, on iOS, or Android

Earlier this week Larry Ferlazzo wrote a good post about how he is using to have his ELL students create and share short audio recordings. His post even includes an example from a student. I had not heard of prior to reading Larry's post so I had to try it out. is the second easiest-to-use audio recording tool that I've used. The easiest to use is still Vocaroo. To record on you simply go to the website and click the big record button (you may have to allow pop-ups in your browser in order for to access your microphone). When you're done recording click the share button and you'll be taken to a page on which you can download your recording or grab an embed code to post the recording on a blog. In the video embedded below I provide a demonstration of how to use in your web browser. is also available to use as a free iOS app or as a free Android app.

Applications for Education
I encourage you to read Larry Ferlazzo's post about how he is using with his ELL students. In that post he explains how his students are using to post audio comments on a classroom blog.

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