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Thursday, August 2, 2018

Five Observations Students Can Record With Google's Science Journal App

The new school year will be here soon and I haven't taken a break all summer. I'm taking a short break from the Internet to go fishing at one of my favorite places in the world, Kennebago Lake. I'll be back with new posts on Saturday. While I'm gone I'll be republishing some of the most popular posts of the year so far. 


Google's Science Journal app provides some neat tools for recording data and writing observations. Within the app students create notebooks for recording experiment data and observations. Students can also use those notebooks to simply organize observations by topic. There are sensors built into the app for recording sound, speed, light, direction, and magnetism. Here are five things that students can record with Google's Science Journal app (click here for Android version and here for iOS version).

1. Decibel Levels
Ask your students if a basketball clanging off of a rim is louder in an empty gym or a full gym? Have them make a hyphothesis then test it in your school's gym. (Check with your physical education teacher to make sure it's okay to borrow his or her classroom).

2. Speed. 
Have students record how quickly or slowly they walk down the hallway.

3. Speed and Sound Correlation
Have students record the speed with which they walk down the hallway. Have them record the sound at the same time. Ask them to try to identify a correlation between the speed with which they walk and the amount of noise that they make.

4. Light
Today, whenever I look out of my office window I am nearly blinded by the reflection of the sun off of the frozen snow. It was brighter earlier today when the sun was hitting the snow at a more direct angle. Students can use the Science Journal app to measure and compare the brightness of one place throughout the day.

5. Light and angles correlation
The Science Journal app has an inclinometer function. Have students use that function to measure the angle of the sun to a fixed position throughout the day. Have them use the light meter whenever they use the inclinometer. Then ask them to determine the correlation between the angle of the sun and the brightness at the chosen spot. They might be surprised at the results.

Bonus item:
I plan to use the Science Journal app on my phone to record the cries of my baby in relation to the speed at which I walk and bounce her. Maybe I will find the perfect speed at which she always stops crying.

Ten Free Apps for Elementary School Math Lessons

The new school year will be here soon and I haven't taken a break all summer. I'm taking a short break from the Internet to go fishing at one of my favorite places in the world, Kennebago Lake. I'll be back with new posts on Saturday. While I'm gone I'll be republishing some of the most popular posts of the year so far. 


Math Learning Center offers ten free apps that are designed for teaching elementary school mathematics lessons. All of the apps are available in versions as free iPad apps, as Chrome apps, and for use in the web browser of any computer. With the exception of the flashcards app, all of the Math Learning Center's free apps are designed to provide you and your students with virtual manipulatives. By the way, the flashcard app is available in English and Spanish.

Last week I included Math Learning Center's Geoboard in my round-up of math resources. Geoboard is a good example of how all of the apps are intended to be used. Geoboard is a free app on which students stretch virtual rubber bands over pegboards to create lines and shapes to learn about perimeter, area, and angles. Another app features US currency to help students learn to add and subtract money. The Pattern Shapes app is designed to help students recognize and develop patterns by moving colorful shapes into place.

Applications for Education
It is important to note that except for the flashcard app all of the Math Learning Center apps are really just virtual manipulatives designed to be used as a part of lesson plan not as stand-alone practice apps. You will need to provide your students with feedback when they are using these apps.

Free iPad Apps for Creating Animated Movies

The new school year will be here soon and I haven't taken a break all summer. I'm taking a short break from the Internet to go fishing at one of my favorite places in the world, Kennebago Lake. I'll be back with new posts on Saturday. While I'm gone I'll be republishing some of the most popular posts of the year so far. 
Last night I answered an email from a reader who was looking for a free alternative to Tellagami. Tellagami hasn't been updated to work with iOS 11 so if you've updated your iPad, the app won't work. Tellagami says that an update is coming, but I'm not holding my breath waiting for that. They said the same thing about the Android app and eventually just removed the Android app from Google Play. So if you're looking for a free iPad app to use to create animated videos, try one of the following three options.

PuppetMaster is a free iPad app that kids can use to create animated movies. The app is designed for elementary school students and therefore doesn’t require students to create accounts in order to use it. All movies made with the PuppetMaster app are saved to the camera roll on a student’s iPad. To create an animated movie with PuppetMaster students simply open the app, select a character, and the select a background scene for their movies. PuppetMaster has pre-made characters and background scenes. Students can also add their own background scenes by taking a picture to use as the background.

Toontastic 3D a free app for Android and iOS. To make a video on Toontastic 3D students first select the type of story that they want to create. Their options are "short story" (a three part story), "classic" (a five part story), or "science report." Once they have selected a story type they will be prompted to craft each part of their stories in order. A short description of what each part of the story should do is included before students start each section. Students can pick from a variety of story setting templates or they can create their own within Toontastic 3D. Once they have established a background setting students then select cartoon characters to use in their stories. Students can choose from a wide array of customizable cartoon characters or they can create their own from scratch. Once characters are placed into the story scenes students can begin recording themselves talking while moving the characters around in each scene. Students can swap characters between scenes, change the appearance of characters between scenes, and move characters from one scene to the next.

ChatterPix Kids is a free iPad app that students can use to turn pictures into talking pictures. To create a talking picture just snap a picture with your iPad or import a picture from your iPad’s camera roll. After taking the picture just draw in a face and tap the record button to make your picture talk. Your recording can be up to thirty seconds in length. Before publishing your talking picture you can add fun stickers, text, and frames to your picture. Finished Chatter Pix projects are saved to your camera roll and from there you can export it to a number of services including YouTube. ChatterPix Kids doesn’t require students to create an account in order to use the service. Using the app can be a great way to get students to bring simple stories to life.

Add Science & Math Simulations to Your PowerPoint Slides

The new school year will be here soon and I haven't taken a break all summer. I'm taking a short break from the Internet to go fishing at one of my favorite places in the world, Kennebago Lake. I'll be back with new posts on Saturday. While I'm gone I'll be republishing some of the most popular posts of the year so far. 


PhET is a free resource that has been popular with science and math teachers for many years. PhET provides free interactive math and science simulations covering topics in physics, chemistry, biology, earth science, and mathematics. In the PhET library you'll find simulations appropriate for elementary, middle, high school, and university students. PhET even offers a search tool that will help you find lesson ideas built upon the free simulations.

56 of the PhET simulations are available to insert into PowerPoint presentations through the use of PhET's free PowerPoint Add-in. With the Add-in installed you can browse the available simulations and insert them into your slides. The simulations work in your slide just as they do on the PhET website.

Applications for Education
The PhET PowerPoint Add-in could be time-saver if you are planning to use more than one simulation during a lesson. Rather than clicking through menus or clicking through bookmarks to bring-up the right simulation, you could just create a slideshow that has your PhET simulations arranged in the sequence you plan to use them during your lesson.