Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Map of Life - The Distribution of Animals Around the World

Map of Life is a mapping project sponsored in part by Yale and the University of Colorado, Boulder. The map offers the option to see distribution of a species around the world. To do so, select a species from the species menu and placemarks for that species will be displayed on the map. Map of Life also provides the option to see a distribution of animals closest to you. To do that select "what lives near me."

Applications for Education
Map of Life could be a good resource for students studying ecology or biology. You could have students select a species, see its distribution mapped, then investigate the challenges facing the species in various parts of the world. You could also ask students to explain why a particular species is not present in a region of the world.

H/T to Google Maps Mania

Now You Can Edit Images In Google Slides

Google Slides has come a long way since its early days of offering very basic collaborative slideshow creation. Today, Google released a new Google Slides option for editing the images in your slides. You've always been able to re-size images in your slides, but now when you add an image to a slide you can crop it, apply borders to it, and apply masks to it. To do any of these things simply select the image then select an editing option from the new image editing menu. See the screenshot below for the location of the new image editing menu. Click here for Google's post with directions on using the new image editing tools.

Click to view full size. 

Sports Science - Baseball

Spring will be here soon. With spring comes the beginning of a new baseball season for Little Leaguers, high school players, and pros. This is a good time to take a look at the science of the sport.

Exploratorium has a little feature called the Science of Baseball. The Science of Baseball is a bit dated in its looks, but it still has some nice resources that can help students understand how a bit of science and mathematics is involved in the game. The Science of Baseball includes video and audio clips of baseball players and scientists explaining how the weather affects the flight of the ball, the physics of various pitches, and reaction times to thrown and batted baseballs.

ESPN's Sport Science has a handful of little resources about the science of baseball. Currently featured on ESPN's homepage is a Anatomy of a Pitch. In Anatomy of a Pitch seven pitchers from the Arizona Diamondbacks explain how they throw their signature pitches. Each explanation includes slow motion footage and the pitchers explaining the release points, finger positionings, leg uses, and rotations involved in each their pitches.

Sport Science also offers a small collection of videos explaining things like reaction times involved in baseball.

Common Craft Explains Primary and Secondary Sources

Understanding the differences between primary and secondary sources can be a challenge to some middle school and high school students. Understanding the relationship between them and the value of each in the research process can help students become better researchers. Common Craft recently released a new video in which the differences and relationships between primary and secondary sources are explained in a two minute story. The video is embedded below. You can also click here to view it on the Common Craft website.

A Small Collection of Resources for Learning About Mount Everest

The Himalaya climbing season is just beginning. This is a good time for lessons about Mount Everest and the Himalaya in general. Concepts in math, science, geography, and geology can be covered while teaching about Mount Everest. Here are some good resources for lessons about Mount Everest.

Panoramas.dk, hosts dozens of other interactive panoramas from around the world. Included in that list is a 360 degree interactive panoramic image taken from the peak of Mt. Everest. Using that panoramic image students can see what mountaineers see when they stand on the peak of Mt. Everest. The image includes views of the famous Khumbu valley as well as Everest's neighboring peaks Lhotse, Changtse, Makalu, and Nupste. The rest of the list of interactive panoramas includes views of cultural festivals and tourist attractions. The database of US panoramic views includes the Grand Canyon, the Jefferson Memorial, and two dozen other panoramas.

This Google Earth tour of Mount Everest's South Col route offers good views of the steps and camps along the way to the summit of Mount Everest. The South Col route is the route that Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay used on the first successful summit climb. The South Col route is also the most commonly used route up Mount Everest.

Last year I read Mount Everest, The Reconnaissance 1921 which I downloaded for free from Google Books. In the introduction there is a three page explanation of the methods used to measure the height of Mount Everest. An explanation of the differences in measurements is also provided in the introduction. Part of that explanation includes differences in snow fall, cyclical deviations of gravity, and differences atmospheric refraction when observations were made. I'm not a mathematics teacher and will never pretend to be one, but reading that introduction did get me thinking about a possible mathematics lesson.

Snow in the Kingdom: My Storm Years on Everest by Ed Webster is one of the best books ever written about Mount Everest. If you enjoy good adventure stories and or stories about overcoming personal struggles, I think you will enjoy Webster's book. For my money, and I own two copies of it, it does a far better job of explaining how it feels to be on Mount Everest than any of the two dozen or so books that I've read about Mount Everest and the Himalaya.

Google Maps Special Collections includes Street View imagery for Mount Everest, Mount Aconcagua, Mount Elbrus, and Mount Kilimanjaro. Those are four of what are referred to by mountaineers as the Seven Summits.

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The imagery doesn't take you to the summit of Mount Everest but you can take a look around base camp and the approach to it. The imagery may spark your students' curiosity about Mount Everest and if it does you will want to take a look at the following resources.

All of the resources above give a very western perspective to Mount Everest. There's another side of Everest and that is the perspective of the Sherpa people who are native to the area and have climbed Everest more than any other group. To see a different perspective on Everest watch this BBC documentary about Sherpas who work with westerners on the mountain. You can watch the video below. Before showing the video to your students, you may want to remind them that Sherpa is an ethnic group, not a job title.

Glacier Works, Microsoft, and David Breashears have collaborated to develop a great new site called Everest: Rivers of Ice. Everest: Rivers of Ice is an interactive site that takes visitors on a virtual trek to Mount Everest base camp. There are eight stops along the way to base camp. At each stop viewers can explore panoramic images of valleys and glaciers. After completing the virtual trek to base camp viewers can compare the size of Himalayan glaciers in the 1920's to the size of those same glaciers today. As David Breashears says in the opening video, Everest: Rivers of Ice is designed to raise awareness of the shrinking glaciers of the Himalaya. Those glaciers provide water to nearly two billion people. Everest: Rivers of Ice could be used as part of lesson in which students learn about the formation of glaciers and rivers.

For younger students the following video from MocomiKids provides an overview of basic facts about Mount Everest.