Friday, March 29, 2013

The NanoSpace Molecularium - A Virtual Amusement Park About Molecules

The NanoSpace Molecularium is a nice web resource produced by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The purpose of the site is to provide elementary school and middle school students with an introduction to the properties of atoms and molecules. The NanoSpace Molecularium is a virtual amusement park that students can click through to find videos, games, and other short lessons about atoms and molecules.

Students enter the NanoSpace Molecularium through the "Hall of Atoms & Molecules." From there students can choose which of the four parts of the amusement park they want to explore first. The four sections that students can explore are DNA Land, H20 Park, Sizes of Molecules, and Molecular Materials. One of the videos from the Materials section is embedded below.


Applications for Education
The NanoSpace Molecularium can be used by students with or without creating an account on the site. The benefit of creating an account is that students can keep track of where they left off during their previous visit.

Conservation Connection - A Game for Learning About Conservation

Nature Works Everywhere is an excellent site presented by The Nature Conservancy. One of the features Nature Works Everywhere designed for students is Conservation Connection. Conservation Connection is a simple game in which students try to identify connections between common consumer items like ice cream and the conservation issues connected to it.


Applications for Education
On Nature Works Everywhere students can watch short videos about nature and conservation. Each video is connected to a free lesson plan that teachers can download.

A Good Collection of 13 Digital Citizenship Resources

Jen Deyenberg at Northern Gateway Public Schools has created a nice collection of digital citizenship resources for teachers and parents. The collection is organized into sections for elementary school, middle school, and high school. There is a separate tab for parent resources. One of the things that I like about the collection is that understanding copyright has been included as part of digital citizenship.

Applications for Education
Bookmark the Northern Gateway Digital Citizenship Resources collection and refer to it when you're planning digital citizenship lessons for your students.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Google Maps Engine Lite - Create Advanced Custom Google Maps

For years Google Maps had the option for creating custom placemarks and basic shapes in the "my maps" option in your account. But if you want to further customize your maps you really had to do that work in Google Earth. Yesterday, Google introduced Maps Engine Lite which bridges the gap between creating basic custom maps in Google Maps and creating custom layers in Google Earth.

Maps Engine Lite allows you to go beyond manually adding placemarks to your Google Maps by uploading a spreadsheet of locations that will be displayed on your map. You can import up to three spreadsheets per map. You can also draw custom lines and shapes on your maps. Like any other Google Map you can invite others to collaborate with you. You can share your map by embedding it into a website. Google Earth Outreach offers a detailed tutorial on how to use the new Maps Engine Lite. I'm looking forward to going through the tutorial and creating some new maps this weekend.

Applications for Education
Maps Engine Lite could be a great tool to use to introduce students to using GIS to interpret data and make decisions based on that data. Here's one way that I might use Maps Engine Lite with students in my area. I could create data sets about ice thickness on a set of area ponds, create a data set about average weekly high temperatures in those areas, import that data into the map and ask students to make predictions as to when the ponds will be ice-free.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Short Guide to Mobile Blogging Apps for Students and Teachers

One of the blogging activities that I often suggest in my workshops is having students record and share on-the-spot observations during field trips. To do this your students should have a mobile blogging application on their iOS and Android devices. If your students don't have iOS or Android devices, but they have some other mobile devices that has a web browser or email client they can post via email to Blogger. Here's a short run-down of mobile blogging options on the blog platforms that I usually recommend to teachers.

Blogger: Google offers mobile apps for Android and for iOS. The apps can be found here http://www.google.com/mobile/blogger/ You can also post to Blogger via email if you have enabled that feature in your Blogger settings. You can find directions for activating post via email here http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2013/02/how-to-post-to-blogger-via-email.html With post via email activated you and your students can blog through any email app that you have installed on your phone or tablet.

WordPress: If you are using either WordPress.com or a self-hosted WordPress blog you can post to it through the free iOS app https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/wordpress/id335703880?mt=8 or through the free Android app https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.wordpress.android&hl=en learn more about the Android app in the video below.


EduBlogs: You can find the Edublogs iOS app here https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/edublogs/id526466328?mt=8 The Edublogs Android app is available here https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.edublogs.android

Kidblog: Kidblog doesn’t currently offer their own Android or iOS apps, but you can enable mobile publishing and use the WordPress iOS and Android apps to publish to your Kidblog. You can find directions for enabling mobile publishing on Kidblog here http://support.kidblog.org/entries/21682463-Publishing-via-the-iOS-WordPress-App-for-iPad-iPod-Touch-and-iPhone

Three Mobile Blogging Activities for Students
1. One-take and or quick-cut videos. Have your students interview each other in front of a landmark to talk about what they're learning on a field trip. The YouTube apps for iOS and Android are made for that type of activity.

If your students have been taking a lot pictures on a field trip, have them organize a short audio slideshow video through the Animoto Android or iOS apps.

2. Podcasts and audio notes. Have your students use Audioboo or Sound Cloud (both are available for iOS and Android) to create simple audio recordings in which they describe what they're seeing on a field trip. They can also use the apps to record informal interviews with folks like museum tour guides or park rangers.

3. Enhance pictures. Your students can use ThingLink (iOS or web browser) or PicCollage (available for iOS and Android) to add some information to pictures that they take on field trips. In the case of ThingLink they can add interactive elements to their pictures. Those elements can include links, notes, video clips, MP3 recordings, and other images. In the case of PicCollage students can put together a simple collage of field trip highlights.