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Friday, May 11, 2018

A Fun Game for Learning About Physics

Simple Machines is a fun game from the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago. Simple Machines is a game that is designed to help students learn about the basic physics principles involved in the use of levels, pulleys, planes, axles, and wheels. The object of the game is to help a robot character named Twitch gather the pieces needed to make a simple machine. In order to gather the pieces students have to help Twitch climb over objects using inclined planes, roll to objects as efficiently as possible, and lift objects by using pulleys and levers.

Applications for Education
Simple Machines could be a fun game to use as the introduction to an elementary school lesson about levers, pulleys, and basic physics principles. At the end of each section of the game students can read a short lesson about the planes, levers, pulleys, wheels, and axles.

A Google Maps and Earth Activity for Art Classes

When I conduct workshops on Google Maps and Google Earth I always point out that the uses for those tools extend beyond the realm of geography and history. One example of using Google Maps and Earth outside of the typical geography setting is using Google Maps and Earth to have students place art and artists on an interactive map.

Students can map the locations of where a piece of art is housed, where it was created, where the artist lived, and the places that inspired the artist. Each placemark on a student's map could include a picture of the artwork, a picture of the artist, and or a video about the art and artist. To provide a complete picture a student can include text and links to more information about the art and artist.

This project can be accomplished by using either Google's My Maps (formerly Maps Engine Lite), Google Earth Tour Builder, or Google Earth. My recommendation for teachers and students who are new to creating multimedia maps is to start out with either Google My Maps on a Chromebook or Google Earth Tour Builder on a Mac or PC. Click here for a tutorial on Google's My Maps service.

Video Guides to Common Fallacies

The Guide to Common Fallacies is a resource that I wish I had back when I was teaching ninth grade students to recognize bias, propaganda, and logical fallacies. The Guide to Common Fallacies is a series of nine short videos from the PBS Idea Channel. Each video covers a different common fallacy. Some of the fallacies explained in the series are Straw Man, Ad Hominem, and No True Scotsman.



Applications for Education
I always found that once my students were able to recognize fallacies they started to create stronger arguments of their own which in turn produced better classroom discussions. These videos could help certainly help high school students understand and recognize common fallacies when they see and hear them.

Dozens of Online Games Kids Can Play to Learn About Engineering

Try Engineering is a site that hosts lesson plans and games designed to get students interested in engineering. The lesson plans are arranged according age and engineering topic. The lesson plans can be downloaded as PDFs.

The games section of Try Engineering features dozens of online games. Some of the games were developed specifically for Try Engineering while others are hosted on other educational sites like those of NASA and PBS. Like the lesson plans, the games collection cover a variety of topics including solar energy, space science, and bio-engineering.

The games section of Try Engineering also includes links to a dozen iPad apps that students can use to learn about engineering and programming.

Applications for Education
The games found on Try Engineering are appropriate for middle school and elementary school use. The games could be good activities for students to try after you have used one of the Try Engineering lesson plans addressing a game topic.

Some of the lesson plans address concepts that are appropriate for high school students.