Friday, May 9, 2014

Students Can Develop and Test Rocket Designs on OpenRocket

OpenRocket is an open source model rocket simulator that students can use to develop and test rocket designs. Students build their rocket designs by assembling pieces from the component gallery. As they add components to their designs students see the pieces fit together in a sequence. Selecting components is just one aspect of using OpenRocket. Students have to specify the characteristics of each component to make them function as a system in their rockets. When students test their designs the results are displayed as a flight graph.

I found three good OpenRocket tutorial videos on YouTube. Those are embedded below.

Applications for Education
OpenRocket does not have a slick interface, but the depth of customization and feedback more than make up for that. OpenRocket could be a great tool to students to use to test and see various physics concepts in action.

Thanks to Doug Peterson for sharing this on Twitter earlier this week. 

Letter Feed Messenger Provides a Better Way to Track Changes to Google Documents

Letter Feed Messenger is a Google Documents and Google Sheets Add-on designed to make easier to keep up with the changes in your Documents and Sheets. Rather than having to open the revision history to see changes or open the comments to see suggested edits, Letter Feed Messenger puts all of that information and more into a column on the side of your Document or Sheet. The video below provides a short overview of Letter Feed Messenger's features.

Applications for Education
Using Letter Feed Messenger could help you save time when editing a student's work. Rather than having to search for changes you can jump right to them by using the column of updates created by Letter Feed Messenger.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

EWC Presenter Re-brands as Visme - Create Slides and Infographics Online

EWC Presenter is a neat tool for creating infographics including musical infographics and slideshows. The service has recently re-branded as Visme. Visme is referring to itself as the "Swiss Army Knife for Visual Content." Just as you could on EWC Presenter, on Visme you can slideshows, banner graphics, and interactive infographics. Your Visme creations can be shared online by embedding them into websites or blogs. You can also download your creations as image, PDF, or HTML5 files.

Applications for Education
Visme could be an excellent tool for your students to use to create infographics based upon data that they research or gather on their own. Some student infographic projects that I've seen include comparing development data and community demographic data.

Geddit Adds Handy New Options for Giving Students Feedback on Informal Assessments

Geddit is a free service for quickly gathering feedback from your students through any web-enabled device. I initially reviewed the service back in March. Since then Geddit has added a couple of helpful new features. First, you can now comment and send messages directly to individual students through Geddit. This feature will allow you to follow-up with a student who replied "I don't get it" to a question.

The other new feature of Geddit that teachers will like is the personalized Review Page for students. On their personalized Review Pages students can review topics covered in class, revisit areas of concern, and see your personal comments about their responses to your Geddit prompts.

If you haven't seen Geddit before, it gives you the ability to push questions to your students' devices. You can create and send multiple choice and short answer questions. You can also simply ask "do you get it" at any time to check for your students' general feelings about a lesson you're conducting. The feedback that you gather from your students through Geddit can be displayed in a variety of graph and list formats. The list format that I like best shows me how each student responded to my "do you get it" question and highlights the students who responded with "no" or "kind of."

Applications for Education
Geddit was already trying to distinguish itself in the student-response system field by providing a wide variety of data collection formats. The new messaging option and student Review Page option give another distinguishing aspect that can improve the way that you collect and work with student response data.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Sugar and the Human Brain

How Sugar Affects the Brain is a TED-Ed lesson that I stumbled upon this evening while looking for a YouTube video about making sugar glazes (by the way, this is the one I was looking for).  In the TED-Ed lesson students learn why sugary foods and beverages can become addictive and how the human body processes sugar. The video is embedded below.

Untamed Science offers a similar video lesson in which we learn why so many of us crave sugar and sweet things. The video is embedded below.

Applications for Education
After watching the videos to learn why we crave sugar and what it does to our bodies, have students take a look at their personal sugar consumption habits. Sugar Stacks is a good website for understanding how much sugar is in the food and beverages that we consume. Sugar Stacks lists popular food and beverage items in ten categories. Every item is pictured with a stack of sugar cubes. Each sugar cube represents four grams of sugar. This is a great way to see just how much sugar you really consume in your favorite snack or beverage.