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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Six Resources for Learning About the Science of Flight

Yesterday marked the 115th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' first successful airplane flight. That reminded me that I have a bunch of interesting resources for learning about the development of and science of flight.

The Wright Brothers - The Invention of the Aerial Age is another good timeline for teaching about the developments made by the Wright Brothers. Dig into the Interactive Experiments section of the timeline and you'll find Engineering the Wright WayEngineering the Wright Way offers interactive simulations in which students learn about wing design by joining the Wright Brothers for test flights in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

How Things Fly features an interactive module in which students design their own airplanes. The activity starts with a simple and slow airplane that students have to modify until it reaches a target speed and altitude. As students modify the wings, fuselage, and engines of their airplanes they are given instant feedback on the effects of those modifications. In some cases the feedback includes the airplane crashing and the students having to start over again.

VR Hangar is a virtual reality app produced by the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. This free virtual reality app is available to use on Android phones and on iPhones. VR Hangar contains three virtual reality tours that feature landmark moments in aviation history. Those moments are the Wright Brothers' first flight, Chuck Yeager's record-breaking flight in the Bell X-1, and the Apollo 11 mission. Each of these tours incorporates artifacts from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

The National Park Service's timeline of the Wright brothers timeline is part of a larger timeline about inventions and innovation in the United States.

After looking at the National Park Service's timeline of the Wright brothers I looked for some more resources about the history of aviation. Scholastic offers a small set of activities for students to complete to learn about the Wright brothers, Amelia Earhart, and NASA missions.

You can find plenty of videos about aviation on YouTube. This is one playlist that you might find appropriate for your lessons. The first video in the playlist is short and direct which is what makes it my first choice for classroom use.


Coming Soon - PIN Access to Google Drive Files

Sharing Google Drive files with people who don't have Google accounts is possible if you set the file to "anyone with the link can view." However, that's not a great option if the file contains information that you don't want the entire world to be able to access. Google has announced a potential remedy to that problem in the form of PIN access for Google Drive files.

PIN access for Google Drive files is a beta feature and your G Suite domain administrator needs to apply to participate in the beta. The PIN feature will let you invite people who don't have Google accounts to collaborate on a document, slideshow, or spreadsheet by entering a PIN. Just like when you share files with G Suite users, you will be able revoke access for those who access files through a PIN.
Applications for Education
I can see this PIN feature being useful for administrators who need to share documents or spreadsheets with contractors and consultants who work with your school district but are not employees who have G Suite accounts. PIN access could be a more secure option than downloading a document and sending it as an attachment.

Vote for Your Favorite Ed Tech Tools of 2018

Last week I asked you to nominate your favorite educational technology tools of the year. The nominations are in and the final voting is now open. You can vote for your favorites in the form embedded below. (I removed the categories of favorite iPad and Android apps because there weren't any apps that received more than one nomination).

The Physical Tech Products I Own and Recommend

This blog is all about digital products that teachers and students can use for free. That said, I do get requests for physical product recommendations on a fairly regular basis. These are the products that I own and recommend.

iPad - 32 GB - Current Version
I finally updated my updated this month after using the same one for four years. Amazon has them on sale right now for $249!

Blue Snowball Microphone
I've been using these microphones for years. They're durable, easy to use, and affordable. Just plug it into a USB port on a Mac, Windows, or Chrome laptop and it's ready to use. They're on sale for $39 right now. You can use them with an iPad if you use a 3.5mm to USB converter like this one

No-name Lapel Microphones
Purchasing a Snowball microphone isn't an option for everyone. An alternative that I test this fall came in the form of these no-name lapel microphones that I found on Amazon. For $7 I got a three pack of lapel microphones that worked perfectly well on my iPad.

Elegoo UNO Super Starter Kit for Arduino
If you're thinking about trying your hand at Arduino programming, this kit has everything that you need to get started. It even includes a comprehensive tutorial and suggested first projects. It's a good deal at $34.99 (less if you have Amazon Prime). I've purchased more than a dozen of these kits for use in some of my workshops.

Targus Laser Presentation Remote
I've been using the same Targus presentation remote for many years. It has worked equally well on Mac, Windows, and Chrome laptops over the years. There's nothing fancy about it, it just works. And at $35 it's cheaper than a lot of other remotes.

Acer R11 Touchscreen Chromebook
Today, I do most of my daily work on a Lenovo T470s Windows 10 laptop. But for a while I was using my Chromebook for the bulk of my work and the Acer R11 is the Chromebook that I still use whenever I host workshops geared toward Chromebook-using teachers. The Acer R11 is an affordable and durable touchscreen Chromebook. If I was buying a Chromebook for one of my kids today, the Acer R11 is the one that I'd go for. You can buy this new for $299 or refurbished for $222.

Lenovo Thinkpad T470s
This has been my workhorse for the last 18 months. I bought it knowing that it would be my primary computer. I love the keyboard and the tech specs are outstanding too. I've never had to worry about slowdown even when running video editors on it. It's not cheap (Amazon lists it at $1399), but has been worth every penny for me.

A tech purchase that I wish I could do over!
This fall I bought a new iMac. I went the relatively cheap route and purchased the base model. It works fine, but it's not fast and is noticeably slow when trying to multitask with a video editor running. If I could do it over, I would have spent a little more to get this one with a 3.4GHz quad-core processor.