Monday, June 18, 2012

Seven Online Smithsonian Activities for Students

This morning I saw a Tweet promoting the Smithsonian's Folklife Festival. I was lucky enough to take in a part of it a few years ago. If you get a chance, I highly recommend going to the festival. That Tweet prompted me to look in my archives for online Smithsonian activities and resources for students. Here are seven online Smithsonian resources for teachers and students.

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has three great interactive activities about dinosaurs. There is a virtual tour in which students can tour the museum and see close-ups of exhibits. The interactive timeline provides students with an overview of the Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic eras. The most fun of the interactive activities is the virtual dinosaur dig. In the virtual dinosaur dig students use a variety of archeologists' tools to unearth fossils and then assemble those fossils.

America on the Move is a great online exhibit produced and hosted by the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. America on the Move showcases the evolution of transportation in the United States. America on the Move is divided into three main sections; Exhibition, Collection, and Themes.

Meet Me At Midnight is an online art adventure produced by the Smithsonian. The purpose of Meet Me At Midnight is to introduce students in grades 3-5 to types of art, art concepts, and art vocabulary. In Meet Me At Midnight students go on three adventures within a museum to find artworks to put in a treasure chest. Along the way students will come across information about different types of artwork.

Smithsonian Wild is a Smithsonian website that houses more than 200,000 images of animals in the wild. The pictures on the site were captured using camera traps. Camera traps are cameras, both still image and video, that are attached to a tree or otherwise positioned in a natural habitat. When an animal approaches the camera an infrared sensor triggers the camera to start capturing images and videos. Smithsonian Wild is the result of camera traps around the world.

Who Am I? A History Mystery is a fun and challenging activity from the Smithsonian's The Price of Freedom online exhibit. Who Am I? presents players with six historical characters that they have to identify using the text and image clues provided. To solve the mystery players have to match the visual artifacts to each character.

America by Air is a Smithsonian exhibit containing a series of thirteen online activities that take students through the history of commercial aviation in the United States. Some of the activities that students can explore include examining air routes, pricing tickets, and dressing like a pilot or flight attendant.

Picturing the 1930's is a Smithsonian exhibit about 1930's cinema. In Picturing the 1930's students can walk through a virtual museum exploring paintings, documents, music, and film. While walking through the virtual museum students will be greeted by "tour guides" who will explain various aspects of the exhibit. The virtual museum is easy to navigate by using the arrows at the bottom of the screen or clicking through doorways. After exploring the art work in the virtual museum, students can create their own documentary-style film using images, text, and narration using the Picturing the 1930's film editor.

American Experience - Jesse Owens

Last month PBS aired American Experience: Jesse Owens. The complete episode is now available online at PBS Video. The American Experience website offers some lesson plan ideas for teachers who want to use the video in their classroom. I've embedded the first segment of the show below.

Watch Jesse Owens on PBS. See more from American Experience.

Applications for Education
American Experience: Jesse Owens does a good job of going beyond Owens' performance in the 1936 Olympics and delving into the social issues of the time in the United States and of course, those in Germany.

Snag Films - Explore China

It's been a while since I last explored Snag Films. Over the weekend I spent a bit of time browsing the history section of Snag Films and watched an Explore film about China. Explore: China is a forty-five minute overview of the current state of human rights, environmental concerns, public health, and education in China. I was particularly interested in the portion of the film that explores the attitudes toward and the impact of the Three Gorges Dam construction. You can watch a preview of the film below.

Motion Math - iPad Math Games for Kids

Motion Math is a developer of iPad games for kids for pre-K and elementary school students. Motion Math currently offers four free iPad games. I tried all four of the apps on my iPad. The only one of the four that didn't crash on startup was Hungry Fish.

Hungry Fish is a simple iPad game in which students have to feed a fish the numbers that the fish wants. As the game progresses students have to add numbers to feed the fish. Watch a demonstration of Hungry Fish in the video below.

Motion Math: Hungry Fish from Jacob Klein on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
Motion Math's Hungry Fish could be a good little game for students to use to practice identifying numbers and practice their basic addition skills.

Web Search Strategies in Plain English

Last fall I wrote 10 Search Tools and Tactics Teachers and Students Need to Know. The first thing on that list was to teach students to stop Googling "what" and "why" questions. In other words, teach students to use better search terms. A good resource that can help students understand web search strategies is Common Craft's Web Search Strategies in Plain English.

The video can be viewed online. If you would like a copy to download or embed into your blog like I have done above you will need to have a Common Craft subscription.

Disclosure: I do have an in-kind relationship with Common Craft.