Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Seven Science Lessons that Utilize Google Earth

Google Earth is one of my favorite tools for students and teachers. The more time a person spends learning the many features of Google Earth, the more that person will see that Google Earth can be used for a lot more than just social studies lessons. I have seen many good science lessons incorporate Google Earth.  Since this is Earth Science week, I've dug up some science lessons that utilize Google Earth.

The Extreme Ice Survey offers a Google Earth file (clicking the link will launch a KML download) that displays the results of the Extreme Ice Survey. In this Google Earth file users can view glaciers, historical data about glaciers, and some video clips about shrinking glaciers. The Extreme Ice Survey website has high quality photos and time lapse videos from the surveyors.

The California Solar Irradiance Map (link launches KMZ download) is a Google Earth file that illustrates how much solar energy could be generated in one year from a horizontally oriented solar panel. The file can be used to see how much energy could be generated from the entire state. The file also includes thousands of individual data points showing how much energy could come from each individual place. Turn on the "placemark data" layer to view individual points.

Richard Treves has a built and shared lesson plans about flooding and volcanoes. The lesson plans include the Google Earth files that your students need to complete the activities. Richard's blog is an excellent source of information on all things Google Earth.

Declan Butler from The Great Beyond blog on Nature.com has created a Google Earth file displaying all of the world's nuclear reactors. Each placemark on the map is color coded according to reactor type. Click on each of the placemarks to learn more about each reactor. You can view the file in your browser by going to The Great Beyond blog or by downloading the kmz file. As Declan points out in the blog post, it would be interesting to have students combine the nuclear reactor layer with layers of information about population density, earthquakes, and tsunamis to evaluate the possible consequences of nuclear reactor melt-downs.

Earth Labs at Carleton College offers an excellent set of directions for working with Google Earth to explore watersheds and USGS watershed data.

Appalachian Voices is a featured project in the Google Earth Outreach gallery. The project uses Google Earth along with other tools to show people the effects of the practice of mountaintop removal mining.

One of the featured projects on the Google Earth educator's page is a lesson on plate tectonics. The lesson was developed by Cheryl Davis for 5th and 6th grade students.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Five Mathematics Glossaries for Kids

A glossary of mathematics terms can be a helpful aid to students who struggle with the vocabulary of mathematics. When I was a middle school and high school student the vocabulary of math often tripped me up and having a glossary of terms often helped me be able to complete my homework assignments. Here are five mathematics glossaries that students can access online.

The McGraw Hill Mathematics eGlossary provides written and verbal definitions and explanations of mathematics terms. The glossary is divided by grade level. Select your grade level then the first letter of the term for which you need an explanation. The explanation is offered in text form as well as verbal (click the speaker icon to listen). The eGlossary is also available in other languages including Spanish, Russian, and Chinese.

Wili the Word Wizard's Math Dictionary is a glossary of important terms that elementary school and middle school students need to know to be successful in their mathematics classes. The dictionary includes diagrams when appropriate.

Jenny Eather's A Maths Dictionary for Kids provides simple and clear definitions of math terms. Each definition includes a small diagram or simple activity to illustrate the term's definition. A Maths Dictionary for Kids does not have a search option, but it doesn't need one as all definitions appear alphabetically just like in a physical dictionary. Below you will see how the definition for least common denominator is explained.

Dictionary of Numbers is a neat Chrome extension that "translates" large numbers into terms that are easy to visualize. When you have the extension installed any time that you encounter a large number on the web you can highlight it and get a simple explanation of just how big that number is. For example, if you came across the number 238,900 you would quickly find out that that is the average distance in miles to the moon.

Harcourt School Publishers offers a nice little visual glossary of mathematics terms for elementary school students. The glossary is arranged by grade level and then alphabetically by term. Each term has a simple image and or animation. (The animations require Shockwave).

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Animated Math Lessons for Kids

Math Live is a neat mathematics website hosted by Learn Alberta. Math Live presents students with animated stories that teach mathematics lessons. In all there are twenty-three lessons for elementary school and middle school students. The lessons are divided into four categories; Number, Patterns and Relations, Shape and Space, Statistics and Probability. Each animated lesson is accompanied by a mathematics worksheet that students complete either while watching the lesson or after viewing the lesson. Each lesson is divided into sections and students can advance or rewind as needed.

Applications for Education
Math Live does a nice good job of providing students with some real world examples of the uses of mathematics. In addition to the student worksheets, Math Live provides teachers with downloadable teaching guides. For parents who would like to help their children with mathematics, Math Live offers parent guides.

JST Virtual Science Center - Excellent Online Science Lessons

The Japanese Science and Technology Center offers nine outstanding science lessons. The list of lessons and activities covers topics in physics, biology, psychology, geography, and space science. The general format of each virtual lesson is to present a manageable chunk of information followed by activities in which students try to use that information. I hesitate to generalize the activities as games because not all of them are games and those that are games are not "drill" games. Each lesson has multiple parts (some have 20+ parts) and multiple activities.

The logo displayed at the top of this post is from JST's Earth Guide which is an eight part virtual lesson about the Earth's place in the solar system and the environment of the the Earth. Each of the eight parts of JST's Earth Guide features multiple forms of information.

The virtual lesson that drew me to JST is the Mind Lab. Mind Lab is a virtual lesson on biology and psychology. The lesson is designed to make students think about the ways in which they perceive the things they see. Mind Lab has four introductory video lesson about the way in which we absorb information and how what we perceive might not be reality. One sample activity from the Mind Lab helps students discover their "blind spots" and teaches them how people sometimes become oblivious to their blind spots.

Applications for Education
The Japanese Science and Technology Center's Virtual Science Center's lessons are appropriate for middle school and high school use. Some lessons offer more depth than others, but all of the activities offer excellent content. Here is the full list of lessons: Mind Lab, Search for ET, Physics of Amusement Parks, Optical Communications, Earth Guide, The World of Rust, Energy Transmission in Sports, the Human Genome, and the Mysteries of the Body.

151 Activities for Earth Science Week

This week is the American Geosciences Institute's Earth Science Week. The Earth Science Week website has a list of 151 Earth Science lesson activities. The can be searched according to grade level, content standard, and topic. Many of the lessons include hands-on activities for students to do on their own, with a classmate, or with their parents. A few of the hands-on activities that I think students will like are modeling an oil reserve, earthquake machine, and chocolate rock cycle.