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Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Algorithms Explained by Common Craft

This week in my ninth grade computer science principles class we started talking about big data and algorithms. One of the resources that I used in introducing this topic was Common Craft's explanation of algorithms. The two and a half minute video explains what an algorithm is and the roles that algorithms can play in our lives, particularly in our online lives.


After they watched the video I had my students list some other ways they could think of that algorithms are or could be used in their lives. The most common example in my classroom was in the videos that are suggested to them on YouTube. 

Disclosure: I have a long-standing in-kind relationship with Common Craft. 

Dozens of Fun, Hands-on Science Lessons

Science Snacks from Exploratorium is a great collection of hands-on science lessons for elementary school, middle school, and high school students. I've been recommending it for years and recently revisited it to discover that more activities have been added. 

Science Snacks features activities that can be conducted with inexpensive and readily available materials. Each Science Snack comes with a materials list and step-by-step directions. Science Snacks are also accompanied by a written explanation of the science at work in the activity. Many Science Snacks, like Penny Battery, include video demonstrations and explanations.

You can search for Science Snacks alphabetically or you can search by subject. The subject search is the best way to search if you are looking for an activity to match a lesson plan or curriculum standard that you already have in mind.

Applications for Education

Many of the Science Snacks activities could be conducted by students at home with the help/ supervision of parents. Using the Science Snacks in that way could be a good alternative to typical homework assignments. Have students do one of the activities for homework and report their observations in Google Documents or as comments in Google Classroom.