Showing posts with label Math. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Math. Show all posts

Monday, April 24, 2023

Ten Google Earth and Maps Activities for Math Lessons

Last week I shared directions for measuring perimeter and area in Google Earth. Doing that is one of many ways to incorporate Google Earth into mathematics lessons. Making that video prompted me to make a list of ways to use Google Earth and Maps (which has similar measuring tools) in mathematics lessons. 

Here's my list of ideas for using Google Earth and Maps in mathematics lessons. The list is in no particular order other than how the ideas came into my mind. 

  • Measuring perimeter of square, rectangular, and triangular pieces of land or buildings.
  • Measuring and calculating area.
  • Calculating land use for farming activities.
  • Calculating the area of a crop circle.
  • Identifying landing strips where airplanes of various sizes can safely land.
  • Planning a hiking trail and calculating elevation gain over the trail.
  • Planning a mountain biking trail.
  • Calculating the difference in walking time in real life versus what Google Maps calculates.
  • Mapping fire hydrant placement for a city.
  • Designing the spacing of houses in a sub development. 
Obviously, I haven't filled in the details of all of these ideas. I'll do that in a future post. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

How to Measure Perimeter and Area in Google Earth

As I mentioned in this week's Practical Ed Tech Newsletter, Google Earth and digital mapping is an area of ed tech that I still get excited about after all these years

Google Earth is a tool that people often think of as being something that's only useful for social studies lessons. However, there are many areas in which Google Earth is useful. One of those areas is in elementary school and middle school math lessons. 

Within the web version of Google Earth there is an easy-to-use tool for measuring distances long and short. You can use this tool to quickly measure a distance between two places, to measure perimeter, and to measure area. In the short video that is embedded below I demonstrate how to measure perimeter and area in Google Earth. 

Video - How to Measure Perimeter and Area in Google Earth

On a related note, completing my Around the World With Google Earth activity is a great way for students to learn how to use Google Earth and to create Google Earth projects.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Math, Science, and Search Baseball Lessons

Today is the home opener for my beloved Boston Red Sox. Hope springs eternal for a great season. So until at least the first pitch is thrown I'll set aside the pessimistic New Englander in me and get excited because this is the year! On that note, here are some baseball-themed lesson ideas and resources. 

Just this week I finished reading Odd Man Out. It's a great story about a Yale graduate who spent a year pitching in the minor leagues before going to medical school. It's a book I'd recommend to any adult interested in baseball and to any high school student who has aspirations of playing professional baseball. 

One of my favorite instances of Wikipedia being wrong was when the entry for former Red Sox pitcher Derek Lowe stated that he maintains a science blog. It provided a good lesson in using context clues and fact checking

The Baseball Hall of Fame (which I enjoyed visiting last summer) offers free lesson plans that are aligned with the Common Core Standards for Math and English Language Arts. There are lessons for math, social studies, science, the arts, and character education.

Exploratorium's the Science of Baseball has some nice resources that can help students understand how a bit of science and mathematics is involved in every baseball game. The Science of Baseball includes video and audio clips of baseball players and scientists explaining how the weather affects the flight of the ball, the physics of various pitches, and reaction times to thrown and batted baseballs.

The Physics of Baseball is a PBS Learning Media lesson for students in high school. Learn about motion, energy, aerodynamics, and vibration.

Perfect Pitch is a nice little game produced by the Kennedy Center's Arts Edge. Perfect Pitch uses the backdrop of a baseball diamond to teach students about the instruments in an orchestra through a baseball game setting. The game introduces students to four eras of orchestral music and the instruments used in each. Students can create their own small orchestras and virtually play each instrument to hear how it sounds. After building an orchestra students then test their knowledge in short quizzes about the instruments and their sounds.

And if you're looking for an explanation of the fundamental rules of baseball, this video provides a fairly concise explanation. 

Sunday, March 12, 2023

A Round-up of Pi Day Resources

Pi Day is on Tuesday. Last week I shared a few resources for teaching and learning about pi. This post is a summary of those resources and a few more. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Pi Day Printable Art Activity from Drawings Of...

Yesterday morning I shared some physical education activities for Pi Day along with some video lessons for Pi Day. Today, I have another Pi Day resource to share with you. This one comes from Lillie Marshall's Drawings Of... website that I reviewed a couple of months ago

On Drawings Of... Lillie Marshall is offering three free printable coloring pages for Pi Day. The first is a visual explanation from the "Pi Queen" and the other two are sheets of little pi-themed cards that students can color and give to each other. Get the Pi Day printables here

On a related note, Calculating Pi With Real Pies is probably my favorite video for Pi Day. The video is embedded below. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Physical Education Activities for Pi Day

Pi Day is just one week away (as is the start of my new course). In recent years I've shared some video lessons about Pi Day and some hands-on Pi Day lesson ideas. This year I'd like to highlight some physical education activities for Pi Day. 

OPEN Phys Ed offers five free physical education lesson plans centered around Pi Day. The lesson plans are designed to be used in elementary school and middle school. The five Pi Day lesson plans offered by OPEN are:

  • Pi Toss
  • Pi Day Races
  • Pi Day Dice Relay
  • Cake or Pi?
  • Who Wants Pi?

To access the lesson plans you do need to register for a free OPEN Phys Ed account. Once you have an account you can download the lesson plans for free as PDFs and Word documents. One of the things that I've always appreciated about OPEN Phys Ed's lesson plans is that they can be easily modified to make sure that all students can participate. Additionally, these are activities that encourage participation from students who might not be inclined to participate in "traditional" physical education games. 

Friday, March 3, 2023

How to Measure in 2D and 3D in Google Earth

More than a decade ago Tom Barrett's Maths Maps inspired me to start thinking about how Google Maps and Google Earth can be used in mathematics lessons. Since then I've developed some of my own math activities that incorporate measuring in Google Earth. If you'd like to create your own math lessons that incorporate measuring in Google Earth, watch my new video about how to measure in 2D and 3D in Google Earth. 

Video - How to Measure in 2D and 3D in Google Earth  

There are more than 45 digital mapping tutorials available in this playlist.

On a related note, take a look at Around the World With Google Earth.

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Three Tips for Math Teachers & Students Using Google Docs

Last weekend a reader reached out to me for advice on helping her students write equations in Google Docs. The add-ons she had tried were either too confusing or too expensive to use with all of her pre-Algebra and Algebra I students. My suggestion was to try having students just use the special characters menu found under the "Insert" menu in Google Docs.

Using the special characters menu to write equations is one of the three tips that I share in the short video that is embedded below. 

Three Tips for Math Teachers & Students Using Google Docs

Sunday, February 26, 2023

167 Math In "Real Life" Lessons

Math in Real Life is a series of 167 TED-Ed lessons and TED Talks. The "real life" context in these lessons isn't things like "how calculating percentages helps you be a frugal shopper." The "real life" context found in the videos in the Math in Real Life series is broad in nature. For example, you will find lessons about how math is used to guide ships and calculating rates of travel in space.

Applications for Education
The Math in Real Life series of TED-Ed videos, like most TED-Ed videos, could make nice extensions to your classroom instruction.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Science, Math, and Philosophy Lessons for Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is just a couple of days away. If you teach primary grades, your students may be excited about exchanging little cards and candies (my daughters have been talking about it for weeks). If you teach middle school or high school students, you're probably bracing yourself for a few days filled with extra teenage drama. Either way, you may be interested in the following Valentine's Day-themed science, math, and philosophy lessons.  

Late last week SciShow Kids released a compilation video featuring five Valentine's Day-themed lessons and projects. Creating edible glass hearts is my favorite one in the compilation video.

Creating edible glass hearts is the topic of a fun SciShow Kids video. The video begins by explaining how glass is made before moving into an explanation of how sugar, like sand, can be melted. The video then explains why isomalt is used to make edible glass hearts (melting point) and how it can be done at home with the supervision of a parent. Like all SciShow Kids videos the description includes lots of links to additional resources including this one that has written directions

If you're looking to work a little Valentine's Day themed activity into your middle school or high school classes in the next couple of days, here are three good videos to consider viewing.

Why Do We Love? is a TED-Ed lesson that explores some philosophies on why people love. The lesson won't provide you with any clear answers, but it will make you think. And isn't that what philosophers want you to do?

The following video from It's Okay To Be Smart (produced by PBS Digital Studios) explains why humans kiss, the history of symbols associated with kissing, and some cultural views of kissing. When I saw this video I immediately thought of my friends who teach middle school and high school health classes.

The following fun video, also from It's Okay to Smart, attempts to use math to determine the odds of a 25 year old woman finding love in New York. (Remember, the video is just for fun).

And if you're looking for a last-minute card-making activity, try having kids create animated Valentine's Day cards in Canva.  Canva offers free templates for creating greeting cards for all occasions including Valentine's Day. Many of those templates can be quickly turned into animated GIFs with just one click. In this short video I demonstrate how to create an animated Valentine's Day card by using Canva's free greeting card templates. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Interactive Math & Science Simulations for Online and Offline Use

PhET is one of my favorite resources for math and science teachers. In fact, it's included as one of my Best of the Web picks for 2022. One of the many things that I like about PhET math and science simulations is that you can use them with or without an internet connection. That's something I recently mentioned to a former colleague and friend who had reached out to me for some help. To help him out I recorded this short video about how to use PhET simulations without an internet connection. 

Video: Free Math and Science Simulations for Online and Offline Use

PhET simulations can also be embedded into Google Sites. Watch the following video to learn how to do that. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

A Mean PhET Simulation

PhET is one of my go-to resources for math and science teachers. Just before the Thanksgiving break (for those of us in the United States) PhET released a new simulation designed to help students understand the concept of mean. 

Mean: Share and Balance is an interactive simulation in which students are shown a series of beakers of water. They then have to estimate where the mean water level will be. The simulation can be adjusted to show as few as two beakers or as many as seven beakers. When displaying the simulation to your students you can enable or disable level indicators on the beakers and turn on or turn off prediction indicators. 

Applications for Education

Mean: Share and Balance could be a great instructional aid for elementary school or middle school lessons. One of the things that's great about PhET simulations is that most of them, including this new one, can be downloaded for use offline, shared in Google Classroom, or embedded into your website.

Monday, November 7, 2022

Math and Geography

Over the weekend a Tweet from Thomas Petra reminded me of a great Google Earth resource that he developed years ago. That resource is Real World Math. And though he stopped updating it a couple of years ago, there are still many Google Earth files on it that you can download to use as the basis of real world math problems. Real World Math has lesson plans divided into five categories; project-based learning, concept lessons, measurement lessons, exploratory lessons, and space lessons. The space lessons take advantage of the Moon, Mars, and Sky views in Google Earth.

Tom Barrett's Maths Maps is series of activities designed to help elementary school students develop an understanding of distance, scale, and units of measurement. To complete the activities students have to use the measuring tool in Google Maps. In this video I demonstrate how to measure distances in the web browser version of Google Maps.

You can learn even more about using Google Earth and Google Maps in your classroom in my on-demand course, A Crash Course in Google Earth & Maps for Social Studies. The course is 50% off for the rest of the month when you use the code GEOAWARENESS22

Sunday, September 18, 2022

How to Create PDFs in Google Classroom

Last weekend a reader reached out to me to ask if I could create a video about the relatively new option to create PDFs in Google Classroom. I was happy to oblige

In this new video I demonstrate how to use the Google Classroom mobile apps to create PDFs from scratch. As I demonstrate in the video, you can use the app to draw on a PDF or type on a PDF. The drawing option could be a great one for students to use in a mathematics class as they can easily sketch to show their work on solving a math problem.

On a related note you may be interested in How to Create Virtual Math Manipulatives in Google Classroom and How to Add Audio to Google Forms, Docs, Classroom, Slides, and Gmail.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

PrepFactory’s New Online Algebra Program Features 100 Interactive Lessons

Disclosure: PrepFactory is an advertiser on

PrepFactory is a popular platform for online ACT and SAT prep. I covered it for the first time back in 2015 and again when it transitioned from video-based lessons to truly interactive SAT and ACT prep activities. This fall PrepFactory is using that interactive technology to help students learn Algebra I.

PrepFactory’s new Algebra 1 program is free and available right now for teachers who want to use it. In this post I’ll share the highlights of PrepFactory’s Algebra 1 program and then dive into how it works and how you can get access to it today.

Highlights of PrepFactory Algebra 1
PrepFactory’s Algebra 1 program consists of 2,000 interactive teaching questions and 1,000 comprehension check questions. The interactive teaching questions are divided into one hundred lessons. Students get instruction and feedback on each of the interactive teaching questions. At the end of every lesson students can test their new skills and knowledge with a series of ten multiple questions.

As you might expect from any new online math program, PrepFactory’s materials are aligned to Common Core standards. What you might not expect is that PrepFactory’s Algebra 1 materials are aligned to three popular Algebra 1 textbooks. You also might not expect a company to make their complete curriculum and alignments public in a Google Sheet, but PrepFactory has done that. You can find it all by following the curriculum map link on their Algebra 1 homepage.

How PrepFactory’s Free Algebra 1 Program Works
When students sign into PrepFactory they can choose a lesson like Variables and Expressions. After selecting a lesson students will see a brief written overview of the lesson that they can read before jumping into the interactive modules. The written overview highlights the key vocabulary terms students should learn in the lesson. Students can view that overview while working through the twenty modules in the lesson.
To complete a lesson students need to correctly complete 75% of the questions in a lesson. Each question includes little help bubbles that students can view before answering. After submitting an answer students immediately see a written explanation of the correct answer. Those explanations include little help bubbles that further explain or reinforce the key vocabulary of the lesson. The teaching questions that students will find in the lessons are a mix of arithmetic, equations, identification questions, and word problems.
After successfully completing a lesson students need to take a ten question quiz in order to move onto the next lesson in the curriculum. When taking the quiz students don’t see the help bubbles like they do in the lesson. They do, however, get instant feedback on their answers.
Watch the short video that is embedded below to see how a student would work through a lesson and quiz in PrepFactory’s Algebra 1 program.

Get Access to PrepFactory Today!
PrepFactory’s Algebra 1 program is free for any teacher who would like to use it. You can request access on the homepage. Just make sure to enter a school-issued email address.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Roller Coaster Physics

Tomorrow I'm taking my oldest daughter to Storyland for a daddy-daughter hangout day before she starts Kindergarten in a few weeks. Her favorite ride is the Polar Coaster which is a roller coaster that is perfect for kids her age (and for 40-something dads who can't really handle big roller coasters anymore). 

Thinking about the Polar Coaster got me to look in my archives for some resources for teaching and learning about the physics of roller coasters. Unfortunately, everything that I wrote about the topic in the past is no longer available. Therefore, I compiled this new list of resources for teaching and learning about the physics of roller coasters. 

  • CK-12 has a lot of interactive simulations for physics and math concepts. One of those is this roller coaster simulator. The voiceover for the simulation is very robotic. The redeeming quality of CK-12's roller coaster simulation is that students can customize the size of the roller coaster to see how the changes they make impact the speed, the potential energy, the kinetic energy, and the heat generated by the roller coaster.  

  • PBS Learning Media offers a handful of resources for teaching and learning about the physics of roller coasters. Energy Transfer in a Roller Coaster is an interactive lesson designed for elementary and middle school students. Energy in a Roller Coaster is a simple interactive graphic that students can use to see how changes in a roller coaster design impact the speed of the roller coaster. Centripetal Force in Roller Coaster Loops is a short video that demonstrates why its not just the harness keeping your seat in a roller coaster. 

  • Teach Engineering offers a hands-on lesson plan for teaching about the physics of roller coasters. In the lesson students build and test model roller coasters to learn about the forces that affect the speed of roller coasters. 

  • How Roller Coasters Affect Your Body is a TED-Ed lesson that begins with the story of the first roller coaster in America and the injuries it caused to riders. The lesson then moves on to explain how the forces of a roller coaster can affect your body, how roller coaster designers account for those forces, and why roller coasters have gotten faster and safer over the years. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Not Your Average High School Finance Lesson

Thanks to one of Gary Stager's recent LinkedIn posts I recently learned about an interesting high school investing and saving activity created by William Frey at Fryeburg Academy (just a few towns over from where I live). 

A Unit on Saving and Investing for High School Students appears to be created to coincide with the use of The Stock Market Game. In the unit students gather and compare data about financial then use that information in the construction of a portfolio. What's interesting about Mr. Frey's activity is that students will learn to use the Entity Framework in Wolfram's Knowledgebase to create and compile comparisons. (Take a look at this page for a demo of Wolfram's Knowledgebase for finance). 

Applications for Education
What makes Mr. Frey's activity outstanding is that it can be used to introduce students to programming concepts in the context of a real-world application (identifying and comparing publicly traded companies). This activity takes The Stock Market Game from manual analysis and speculation to programmatic selection. 

A Unit on Saving and Investing for High School Students is one of many projects featured on the Wolfram High School Summer Camp website. A couple of other projects that jumped out to me were Ranking US States by Flyoverness and Locate and Analyze Food Deserts in the United States

Saturday, July 23, 2022

PhET Virtual Workshops for Teachers

PhET is one of my top resource recommendations for math and science teachers. PhET offers more than one hundred online, interactive simulations for teaching concepts in mathematics, physics, chemistry, earth science, and biology. Those simulations can be used on PhET's website and they can be embedded into your website for your students to use

If you're a math or science teacher who wants to take a deep dive into how to best utilize PhET's interactive simulations in your classroom, you may want to work through PhET's virtual workshops. The workshops include videos recorded at in-person PhET workshops along with practice activities and resource handouts for teachers. 

PhET offers a workshop specifically for math teachers who have computers for every student in their classroom. That workshop is roughly five hours long. There is another workshop that provides a comprehensive overview of everything that PhET offers and the ways in which the simulations can be used in your classroom. That workshop is roughly twenty-one hours long.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Pictures as Math Problem Prompts

A couple of days ago I read one of Terry Freedman's latest Substack articles. The article is titled A Conversation I Had Which I Still Don't Understand. It's a short dialogue between Terry and the representative of a cab company who can't explain why there's a price difference for two journeys of the same length. 

Reading Terry's story reminded me of a Flickr group that Danny Nicholson created more than a decade ago. That group is called Bad Maths. The Bad Maths Flickr group contains lots of examples of bad math spotted in stores and other public places.

The Bad Maths Flickr group could be a good place to find some images that contain simple mathematics problems for your students to solve. For example, ask students to find the flaw in the math of this grocery store offer or this offer for cat food.

On a similar note to the Bad Maths group, seven years ago I took the picture that you see below. Almost as soon as it appeared in my Facebook feed via Instagram, my friend Kelly commented with, "shouldn't they be more concerned about weight than the number of people?" Kelly is a middle school math teacher so this picture was right in her wheelhouse of math prompts. 

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Pi Day is Coming!

Pi Day (March 14th or 3.14) is next week. If you're looking for some Pi Day activities to do or some videos to share about pi, take a look at this list of resources that I've compiled over the years.

Numberphile has a few good videos about pi and Pi Day. Pi with real pies is a three minutes and fourteen seconds video that explains Pi and how it can be calculated.

After showing the video above, you might want to follow up with this video, How Pi Was Nearly Changed to 3.2.

A Mile of Pi, as you might guess, is about a mile of digits.

Exploratorium's Science Snacks site has three hands-on activities that you can do on Pi Day (or any other day of the year).
  • Pi Toss is an activity in which students toss tooth picks is a physical recreation of Buffon's Needle Problem.

  • Pi Graph is an activity in which students graph the diameter and circumference of a series of objects in order to see the linear relationship between any circle’s diameter and circumference.

  • Cutting Pi is an activity in which students use string to measure the circumference of an object and then attempt to cut the diameter of the object from the string as many times as possible. In other words, it's a physical way to divide the circumference by the diameter.
Tynker is a service that offers programming lessons for elementary school and middle school students. For Pi Day Tynker has a free lesson plan in which students practice their programming skills by making art based on Pi. The free lesson plan has students use Tynker's block programming interface to create art and animations featuring the digits of Pi. 

Pi Skyline is an art project that has a Pi Day theme. In the project students shade graph paper to correspond to the digits in pi. Then they cut out the graph and place it on a shaded background to create a city skyline effect. Watch this one minute video to see how the project comes together. 

Finally, if you want to give your students a Pi Day ear worm, play the Pi Day Song for them. 

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