Saturday, May 19, 2012

Fun Weekend DIY Science & Tech Projects

Three weeks ago I featured an episode of Sylvia's Super Awesome Maker Show in which she shows you how to make your own squishy circuits. For more fun and educational hands-on science and technology projects I also recommend checking out the 46 pages of projects listed on the projects section of

Applications for Education
Whether you're looking for a fun learning activity to do at home with your kids (or by yourself like I do) or you're looking for a classroom project that will spark your students' creativity and imagination, Make Projects has something for you.

My Favorite Online File Conversion Tool

I'm frequently asked for recommendations for free file conversion tools. Often the request is for a tool that can handle video and audio conversion. The tool that I recommend nine times out of ten is

Want to convert a video to a new format? Online-Convert does that. Do you need to convert an audio file to MP3 or WAV? No problem, Online-Convert has you covered. Need to convert a document to HTML from PDF? Online-ConVert does that too. Those are just a few of the many conversions that you can accomplish with Online-Convert. And you can do all of this without ever entering your email address, Facebook credentials, or any other form of registration.

One of the features of Online-ConVert that I really liked is found in the video conversion tool. Not only can you change the format of the video, but Online-Convert also allows you to specify the display dimensions of the video you're converting.

Applications for Education
Online-ConVert can be a great resource for teachers who work in schools that use multiple operating systems and need to make media available to all of their students and colleagues regardless of which computer(s) they use. Online-ConVert could also be useful when a student comes to you with a flashdrive containing a document that you cannot open. 

The Week in Review Featuring Norman the Newt

Good morning from Maine. This week's Week in Review post is brought to you by Norman the Newt. Norman appeared in the road near my mailbox on Wednesday afternoon. His coloring was so remarkable for an animal in Maine that I couldn't let him risk crossing the road on his own. I escorted him across the road and he's now living free somewhere near the stream that crosses my yard.

This week Google rolled-out a couple of major product updates for Google Docs and Google Search, as you might guess those were popular posts this week. If you missed those posts or you want to know what else was popular this week, check out the list of this week's most popular posts.

Here are the most popular posts of the week:
1. 7 Great Note-taking Tools for Teachers and Students
2. Map CIA World Factbook Data with KML Factbook
3. Google Introduces a New Knowledge Graph
4. - Web Conferencing without Registration
5. Search the Web Within Your Google Documents
6. An Interactive Explanation of Body Mass
7. View a Cleaner YouTube Without Installing Extensions

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Open Atrium - Your Open Source Intranet

Early this morning I Tweeted that I was feeling quite geeky because I was installing Open Atrium on a server. While my installation didn't go quite as planned, it did give me enough experience to say that I think Open Atrium could be a good Intranet solution for some schools.

Open Atrium is an open source program for running blogs, message boards, calendars, collaborative notebooks, and project tracking tools within your domain. You can create user groups within your Open Atrium installation.

Applications for Education 
To be clear, Open Atrium is not something that most classroom teachers are going to deploy on their own. It will take some time and some familiarity with servers (not to mention a server or server space at least) in order to get it up and running. Open Atrium could be a good platform for schools that want to create managed spaces in which their teachers and students can blog, message each other, and maintain appointment calendars.

Follow the Olympic Torch Relay

Image via
The Olympic flame is flying to Cornwall today to begin the 8,000 mile relay around the UK before arriving at the Olympic Games later this summer. The relay begins tomorrow morning. You can see the plane and how the flame is transported in these images from the BBC. To keep track of the where the Olympic flame is on a given day, visit the Olympic Torch Relay Map on the London 2012 site.

The BBC also has a good map with pictures of all of the locations that Olympic Torch will pass through over the next seventy days. The BBC also has a nice gallery of past Olympic Torch designs accompanied by a bit of information each design, the host nation, and or that year's Olympic games.

For more resources about the 2012 Summer Olympic Games I recommend seeing the list that Larry Ferlazzo has started.

And if you're wondering about the picture above, it's of my long-time friend Butch Johnson who has competed in five Olympic Games and is currently in the running to make a sixth consecutive US Olympic Archery Team at the age of 56.