Monday, January 8, 2018

Space Camp Scholarships

The Mars Generation Space Camp Scholarship is a great opportunity for U.S. high school students to receive an all-expenses paid trip to space camp in Huntsville, Alabama.

Applying for and receiving this scholarship will take some significant effort on the part of students who apply for it. Students must propose an outreach project that they can complete as a result of attending space camp. They must also create a video to include in the application. Finally, students will need to have a letter of recommendation from a teacher or mentor.

The Mars Generation Space Camp Scholarship applications are due by January 15, 2018. Complete rules and eligibility requirements are available here.

Doodle 4 Google is Back for 2018

Google's annual drawing contest is back again for 2018. This year's Doodle 4 Google theme is inspiration. The contest is open to students in grades K through 12 in the United States. To enter the contest students should create a drawing that represents something that inspires them. The drawing, of course, must include the word Google somewhere within it. The artwork must be submitted on this official entry form.

This year's national Doodle 4 Google winner will receive a $30,000 college scholarship and a $50,000 technology prize package for his or her school.

If you're thinking about using some classroom time to have your students draw for the Doodle 4 Google contest, take a look at the free lesson plans that Google offers. Making drawings for the Doodle 4 Google contest might also be a good indoor recess activity during the cold days we're having here in New England.

Tutorials on Organizing OneNote

To most outside observers my notebooks, both digital and physical, are a hot mess. That's because I rarely employ tags, folders, or any of the other traditional methods used to organize a notebook. The only time I do use tags and folders is when I am working on specific research project. The rest of the time I just jot things down and then search for them later, if I need them. For me the processes of note-taking and bookmarking are largely exercises in triggering mental notes (plus, I usually write a blog post about whatever it is I bookmark or make a note about).

I know that my process doesn't work for most people and in some cases triggers anxiety when viewed by people who like structure in their notebooks. Most people need tags and folders to make their digital notebooks work for them. If that's you, might benefit from using folders in Microsoft OneNote. The following two videos provide excellent overviews of how to create and organize notebooks in OneNote.

Part 1

Part 2

The 2018 Practical Ed Tech Coaching Group Begins Tomorrow

The 2018 Practical Ed Tech Coaching Group kicks off tomorrow afternoon (4pm Eastern Time). It would be great to have you join us. This small group of teachers, librarians, and technology coaches will participate in three live meetings every month of the year. And between meetings we'll connect through a private Slack group to talk about how we're using technology in our schools.

If you have been thinking about joining, but have a question that you need answered first, feel free send me a question at richard (at) I also made this short video in which I answer a handful of FAQs about group membership.

The question that is most frequently asked about the Practical Ed Tech Coaching Group is, "what are the webinars about?" The first six webinar topics are:

Building Digital Portfolios – January 9th
AR & VR in the Classroom – January 23rd
Social Media for Teachers & Principals – February 6th
Video Creation as Assessment – February 20th
Copyright for Teachers – March 6th
Programming Simple Apps – March 20th

I hope that you will join us in the 2018 Practical Ed Tech Coaching Group.

formRecycler - Easy Reuse of Google Forms Questions

formRecycler is a free Google Forms Add-on that makes it easy to reuse questions from one Google Form into another form. When you have the formRecycler Add-on installed you can access all of your existing Google Forms and then pick questions from one of those existing Forms to use in a new form. You can use formRecycler multiple times on the same form and thereby include questions from multiple existing forms in your new form.

Applications for Education
formRecycler provides a great way to quickly assemble a review quiz by selecting questions from prior quizzes given through Google Forms. For example, at the end of the semester I often would give students a practice quiz that featured the most difficult questions from quizzes given earlier in the semester. formRecyler makes that process much easier than rewriting each question.

If you're not familiar with how to use Google Forms, take a look at my on-demand webinar titled Google Forms & Sheets for Beginners

Fire Forensics: Claims and Evidence - A Detailed Lesson in Forensic Science

Fire Forensics: Claims and Evidence is a detailed, interactive lesson in the forensics of fire investigations. The free module is part of Xplorlabs produced by UL (Underwriters Laboratories), the global safety science company responsible for the "UL listed" labels on things like extension cords, microwaves, and just about every other appliance in your house.

The Xplorlabs Fire Forensics module is an in-depth investigation into how fire investigators determine the cause of a fire in a home. Students begin the Fire Lab investigation by first learning about the elements necessary to create and sustain a fire. From there students will see videos and animations that illustrate how fires spread in a section called "live burns." In that section you will find a detailed lesson plan that includes data on temperature, pressure, and oxygen levels that students need to apply to their forensic investigations.

After learning about how fires start and spread in the Xplorlabs Fire Lab, students then move on to a guided investigation with expert investigators. When the guided investigation is complete students are ready to conduct independent virtual investigations. In the independent virtual investigation section, students will be presented with 360 degree images of post-fire scenes. From those images and a few other clues, students will create a hypothesis and submit a claim as to the cause of the fire.

Applications for Education
Xplorlabs' Fire Forensics: Claims and Evidence is not an activity that students will or should complete in one sitting. It is designed to be completed over the course of a few days in a middle school setting.

While it is an obvious fit for middle school science classrooms, the Fire Forensics module could also be used in other classrooms to help students develop their skills in making observations and developing hypotheses based upon the information available to them combined with their prior knowledge. Check out the Teacher Guide for a road map to implement the module in your classroom and supporting content for the lesson.

One quick reminder before you begin using Xplorlabs Fire Forensics: Claims and Evidence with your students: please review all animations and videos before having students use the site. While there is nothing offensive, some scenes of home fires are detailed and could be frightening to younger students. In other words, if you have a student who was upset by a scene during fire prevention week at school, he or she might be upset by some of the scenes in the Fire Forensics module.

Disclosure: UL Xplorlabs is an advertiser on