Friday, December 21, 2012

A Google Map of Plant and Animal Life Cycles

The USA National Phenology Network has built an interesting map of plant and animal life in the United States. The map allows you to see where various plants and animals have been observed and reported to USA NPN. You can search the map by animal, plant, or location. The map includes a timeslider that can be used to visual the life cycles of the plants and animals on the map. Users of the map can add climate overlays to it too. Click here to read the documentation on how to use all of the map's features.

Applications for Education
The USA National Phenology Network's map of plant and animal life could be useful for helping students see the biodiversity of the United States. Turn on the climate overlays to help students see the relationships between climate and plant and animal life.

Fun Snowy Activities for Students and Teachers

In my previous post I shared a video about the chemistry of snowflakes. Writing that post reminded me of some ideas that I've shared before for fun outdoor winter activities with students. A few of these could be tied into basic physics lessons.

NOVA, as a part of their program on Denali, has directions for building a snow cave and directions for building an Igloo.

Boys' Life offers a list of outdoor winter games as well as directions for building igloos and snow shelters.

Making your own snowshoes is an activity that can be done indoors with the final product enjoyed outdoors. Mother Earth News offers directions for making your own snowshoes. How Cast has video directions for making an emergency pair of snowshoes.

In the video below BBC Survival Expert Ray Mears teaches viewers how to make an igloo and what igloos were traditionally used for.


When I was about seven or eight I was given a copy of The American Boy's Handy Book(Amazon link). That book is filled with fun hands-on indoor and outdoor activities including an entire section devoted to snow forts and other snow-related activities.

The Cool Chemistry of Snowflakes

In my neighborhood we've had at least some new snow every day this week. Just a little north of me there has been nearly two feet of new snow this week. The latest video episode from Bytesize Science nicely matches this week's weather in Maine.

The latest episode of Bytesize Science explains how snowflakes are created. The two minute video is embedded below.


H/T to Open Culture.

3 Ways to Explore Marine Life in Google Earth

Google Earth is a great tool for exploring many aspects of geography. One of the features of Google Earth that seems to be frequently overlooked is the ocean imagery. Using Google Earth tours can be a good way for students to learn about marine life and habitats. Here are three good resources that you can use for that purpose.

To get started take a look at a look at this list of ocean tours featured on the Google Earth showcase. Some of these tours will also work in the Google Earth browser plug-in. Learn about protected whale areas in the tour below.



The Encyclopedia of Life offers four Google Earth tours of interest to teachers and students. One that I particularly like is the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Tour. The tour of the Artic Tern migration patterns is featured in the video below.


EOL Migration Google Earth Tour Video - The Arctic Tern from Encyclopedia of Life on Vimeo.

The Encyclopedia of Life also hosts an interesting interactive quiz using Google Earth. The Encyclopedia of Life's Google Earth Species Quiz (opens KMZ) presents players with images of an animal and the animal's name scientific name. Players then have to pick the place that the animal is from. If the correct answer is chosen, the player is zoomed to the correct location on the map. 

NOAA offers dozens of Google Earth files and demos related to weather and marine life. You can find the list here.



Bonus: Not Google Earth, but quite cool.
Ocean Tracks is an Australian website on which students can view the tracks of marine animals in an online 3D environment. The "tracks" part of Ocean Tracks shows you where in the world tagged animals are swimming or have swum. Ocean Tracks uses the Unity browser plug-in to provide animations of the underwater views of tracked animals. You can see what bluefin tuna, swordfish, sharks, and many other fish see in 3D.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

3 Ways To Quickly Share Bunches of Links With Your Students

If you have ever tried to get all of your students to the same set of websites at the same time, you know that just a couple of mistyped characters can create a frustrating experience. One solution is to post all of the links on your course blog. Another solution is to use a link bundling service that will group all of your links together into one package. Then instead of sending out a bunch of individual links you can just send one link that will open all of the bundled links for your students. Here are three services that you can use for just that purpose.

Bundlenut is a simple service for organizing a set of links and sharing them with others. To use the service just visit Bundlenut and start entering the links that you want to include in your bundle. You can include comments about each of the links. When you have added all of links that you want to include in your bundle, Bundlenut will assign a unique url to your bundle. Anyone with access to that url will be able to see all of your links and comments about those links. You can use the service with or without registering. The advantage of registration is that you can go back and modify your bundle whenever you would like to.

LinkBunch is a free service that you can use to quickly send a group of links to your friends, colleagues, and students. To use the service just visit LinkBunch, enter the links that you want to share, and click "Bunch." When you click on "Bunch" you will be given a URL to share with anyone you want to see the links in your bunch. When someone clicks on the URL for your Bunch he or she will be able to open the links you bunched together.

Bitly is one URL shortener that I have been using for years. It's simple to use, especially if you use the bookmarklet, allows you to customize URLs, and it offers good statistics about the use of your links. Bitly offers an option for bundling bookmarks into one package that you can share with just one link. Bitly bundles can be created collaboratively if you invite other Bitly users to bundle links with you.