Sunday, October 14, 2012

Falling Faster Than the Speed of Sound

Earlier today Felix Baumgartner survived his sky dive from more than 24 miles above the Earth's surface. In doing so he became the first person to break the sound barrier without an engine. The Red Bull Stratos website is packed with information about the science and technology involved in the jump. Two videos from the site that might be of interest to science teachers and their students are Speed of Sound Explained and this video about the balloon that lifted Baumgartner more than 128,000 feet above sea level.

I recommend visiting Larry Ferlazzo's blog for a list of graphics and images outside of the Red Bull website. I particularly like this infographic that Larry listed.

Math vs. Zombies - A Halloween Math Game

Math vs. Zombies is a free iPad game with a Halloween theme. The game is has three virtual worlds each containing ten levels of basic math problems. The object of the game is to correctly solve as many math problems as possible before the zombies catch you. The math of the game is basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

Applications for Education
If you're comfortable having your students play math games that have a zombie and Halloween theme Math vs. Zombies offers engaging practice activities. Tap to Learn, the producers of Math vs. Zombies, offers a few non-zombie math games if you're looking for something else to try on your iPad.

Tap to Learn Grammar App

Tap to Learn produces educational apps for Android and iOS. I recently installed their Grammar app on my Nexus 7 tablet. The Tap to Learn Grammar app for Android offers more than 200 self-paced grammar lessons. The lessons don't have videos embedded in them, but there are links to external videos hosted on YouTube. After working through a lesson students can test put their new knowledge to the test in quizzes that provide instant feedback. The app records students' progress for them.
Applications for Education
Using Tap to Learn's Grammar app isn't a revolutionary approach to learning. That said, if you're looking for an Android app that your students can use to practice and track their progress in developing their grammar skills.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

If You're Worried About Posterous Shutting Down...

Yesterday, I Tweeted this story about Posterous having some issues with its SSL certificate. Those issues have since been resolved, but the fact remains that Posterous was acquired by Twitter last winter and it's not clear how long they are planning to keep the service running. If yesterday's Posterous problems and other Posterous outages over the last six months have you nervous about the long-term viability of Posterous blogs, you might want to consider moving to another blogging platform.

Posterous doesn't have an easy export option, yet (they said in March that one was coming soon). But there are a few ways that you can import your Posterous into Blogger, WordPress, or Tumblr. (Blogger and WordPress would be my first choices). Lifehacker has detailed directions on how to do it. Rather than rehashing what they wrote, I'll encourage you to click through to their directions

Explain iPads to my Mom...

Mom uses an iPad for the first time.
Two weekends ago I went to visit my mother in Connecticut. I rarely go overnight anywhere without taking a laptop and or a tablet with me and that trip was not an exception to the rule. One evening I took out my iPad to charge it. My mother saw it and immediately asked about it. She's thinking about buying, in her words, "a little laptop for me because John (my step father) hogs the computer sometimes." She wants it mostly for checking her email, looking at pictures of her grandchildren, making photo collages of her grandchildren (she might be Snapfish's number one customer), and Skyping with her grandchildren.

Before she buys anything my mother does a ton of research and she was curious to see "what the big deal is about iPads." So I handed her my iPad and let her do whatever she wanted to do with it. She even got into my Facebook account on it which, as George Costanza would say, meant worlds were colliding!

After thirty or so minutes of using the iPad my mom gave it back to me and said, "this could get addicting." But she still had questions like, "is this any better than a laptop?" And most importantly for this context, "why are schools buying these instead of laptops?" (My mother works with elementary school special education students). I gave her my thoughts, but what would you say to my mother about iPads?