Monday, February 26, 2018

Truss Me - Design and Test Weight-bearing Structures

Truss Me is an app that students can use to design and test simple weight-bearing structures. Truss Me can be used in “challenge” mode or in “free play” mode. The challenge mode contains fifteen activities in which students are awarded points for strength and efficiency of their structures. For example, if a structure holds the weight but uses too many parts it doesn’t receive as many points as a structure using fewer parts while supporting the same weight. Structures that won’t work at all fall apart.

Applications for Education
Truss Me is a nice app that could be used as part of a simple physics lesson. I would like to see the app offer more instruction to students in terms of why a particular structure design is better or worse than another.

Truss Me is free on Android devices, but is $1.99 on iPads.

Rocket Science 101 - Build and Launch Virtual Rockets

Update, January 2021: This app is no longer available. 

Rocket Science 101 is a free app offered by NASA that helps 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 playing with the four types of rockets 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.

Rocket Science 101 is available as a free Android app and as a free iPad app. 

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.

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Ancient Rome 101 and Life as a Roman Teenager

National Geographic has a great series of YouTube videos called National Geographic 101. The most recent addition to that series is Ancient Rome 101. The video provides an excellent introduction to the origin, rise, and fall of the Roman Empire. The length and substance of the video makes it an ideal candidate for inclusion in an EDpuzzle lesson.

TED-Ed has a good lesson that you can use as a follow-up to Ancient Rome 101. A Glimpse of Teenage Life in Ancient Rome is a TED-Ed lesson developed by Ray Laurence from the University of Kent. The video and its associated questions feature the story of seventeen year old Lucius Popidius Secundus.

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