Thursday, April 19, 2012

TED on the Radio

Watching and listening to TED Talks is one of my favorite ways to discover new ideas and challenge my current thinking about various topics. This week I learned that TED is coming the radio in the form of the TED Radio Hour on National Public Radio. The announcement from TED says that the new show will start on April 27, but it did not specify the time. Hopefully, that news will be available soon.

Here is one of my favorite TED Talks from Sir Ken Robinson.



And here are 15 other good TED Talks for educators.

No One Is Spreading Rumors About You...

...probably.

Twitter is a fantastic place to connect with other educators and join in conversations like #EdChat to share ideas and resources. However, Twitter isn't a walled garden by any stretch of the imagination. There are plenty of opportunities for unscrupulous people to spread harmful links. Lately, I've been seeing a slew of direct messages that contain a message along the lines of, "Hey somebody is spreading nasty rumors about you" followed by a link. It might seem obvious, but don't click that link! David Wees explained here what clicking that link will lead to, it's not good.

Applications for Education
These Twitter scams provide a reminder of why we need to teach students to be discerning users of web services. Unless you're Delonte West and you just gave another NBA player a wet willy or you actually have said some inflammatory things on the web, there probably isn't someone spreading nasty rumors about you (yes, I just wanted to work-in that weird story about Delonte West). That said, it's still a good idea to manage your online reputation by setting up Google Alerts for your name, variations of your name, and keywords or phrases commonly connected to your name. For example, I have a Google Alert for "Richard Byrne Free Technology for Teachers."

Along the same lines as the Twitter scam, you should also be aware of "free coffee on Facebook."

Visualizing Ocean Currents in Google Earth

Planet In Action is a great site that I've written about in the past because it offers some excellent simulations for use in Google Earth. The latest simulation that they've released is based on NASA's Perpetual Oceans. NASA Ocean Currents in Google Earth shows the Earth's constantly moving ocean currents. You can view the simulation using the Google Earth browser plug-in. Watch a preview in the video below.

Applications for Education
Viewing NASA Ocean Currents in Google Earth could be useful for demonstrating why certain parts of the oceans are more prone to having big storms and causing shipwrecks than others. And if you haven't looked at Planet In Action before, you might want to view their ship simulator that puts you in charge of ships on the ocean.

H/T to the Google Earth Blog.

Ten Activities and Videos for Earth Day

Image Source: Soil-Net
This Sunday is Earth Day. Here is my updated short list of activities and videos for teaching and learning about Earth Day and environmental science in general.

From National Geographic The Hidden Water We Use is an interactive display of water consumption rates for commonly used products, commonly consumed foods, and commonly consumed beverages. For example, did you know that creating one gallon of beer requires less water than creating one gallon of coffee?

National Geographic has some other great resources for learning about environmental science and Earth  Day. On the National Geographic website students can learn about the Green House Effect through an interactive lesson. After learning about global warming in the Green House Effect interactive lesson, students can learn about alternative energy through the Wind Power interactive lesson.

Breathing Earth is an interactive map demonstrating CO2 emissions, birth rates, and death rates globally and by individual countries. From the moment that you first visit Breathing Earth it starts counting the number of births occurring worldwide. Placing your cursor over any country on the map reveals information about birthrate, death rate, and rate of CO2 emissions. One of the additional resources linked to Breathing Earth is an ecological footprint calculator. Using this calculator students can calculate their personal footprints, take quizzes, and learn about the ecological footprints of various businesses.

Google offers tours in its Explore Climate Change series. The tours explore the actions of organizations to prevent or adapt to climate change in different parts of the world. These tours include the World Wildlife Foundation's efforts in the peatland swamps of Borneo, Greenpeace's actions to prevent deforestation of the Amazon, and Conservation International's efforts to reduce deforestation in Madagascar. The tours can be viewed three ways, in Google Earth, in the Google Browser plug-in, or through YouTube.

The California Solar Irradiance Map is a Google Earth file that illustrates how much solar energy could be generated in one year from a horizontally oriented solar panel. The file can be used to see how much energy could be generated from the entire state. The file also includes thousands of individual data points showing how much energy could come from each individual place. Turn on the "placemark data" layer to view individual points.

Snag Films has put together a collection of more than twenty documentary films about various topics related to environmental science.

Turf Mutt is a nice free resource from Discovery Education. Turf Mutt features ten free environmental science lesson plans for K-5 teachers. The lesson plans have clearly defined objectives and detailed directions for carrying out each lesson plan. The majority of the lesson plans span several days. The lesson plans use a combination of hands-on activities, see Discovering Dirt, and reading/ research activities. Although not directly connected to the lesson plans, Turf Mutt has some videos to help students learn about topics in Environmental Science.

My Garbology, produced by Nature Bridge, is an interactive game that teaches students about sorting garbage for recycling, reusing, and composting. Students sort garbage into four bins according to where they think each piece of garbage should go. When a piece of garbage is sorted correctly a series of short animations explains why it should be there.  For example, a banana peel should be sorted into the compost bin. When the banana peel is placed into the compost bin students watch and hear a series of animations explaining how composting works.

Changing the Balance is a website for students to use to explore climate change through looking at its impact on mosquitos, malaria, and the West Nile virus. There are nine sequential parts to Changing the Balance. In the first four parts students learn about mosquitos, Malaria, and West Nile and how climate change may be a contributing factor to the spread of those diseases. In the beginning students also learn how mosquitos bite and how Malaria affects the human body. The last five sections of Changing the Balance are geared toward a more general explanation and examination of causes and effects of climate change.


A Home for the Future is a neat interactive display from The New York Times about a solar-powered home. Click on the photo and sound icons on the interactive image to learn about the features and nuances of a solar-powered home.

Finally, I would be remiss not to point out that Larry Ferlazzo has a good list of resources going too. Check out Larry's list here

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The White House Shows You Where Your Tax Dollars Went

I have to admit that I am guilty of occasionally wondering where my tax dollars go. Now thanks to the White House's Federal Tax Payer Receipt I can find out.  I can enter the data from my actual tax returns, enter data that I estimate, or choose to use one of the "common scenarios" to see a breakdown of what my tax dollars will be spent on. The screenshot you see below is based on my selection of the scenario for a single person earning $25,000.

Applications for Education
The Federal Tax Payer Receipt could be useful for showing students how tax revenue is used by the federal government. This could be of particular interest to high school students who may have had their first jobs and first experiences with income taxes this year.

For more resources that you can use to teach students about income taxes please see Financial Literacy, Taxes, and Economics Lessons.