Saturday, August 9, 2014

Sikorsky Hosts a Helicopter Design Contest for Kids

For the fourth year in a row Sikorsky is hosting a helicopter design contest for kids between nine and sixteen years old. The contest started on June 1 and runs through September 30, 2014. Contestants will design a helicopter that addresses the potential challenges of 2050 and plan for how their helicopters of the Future would overcome those challenges.

The Helicopter 2050 Challenge asks students to design the helicopter of the future. Submissions are judged based on uniqueness of concept, description of the idea, and the potential of the design to overcome challenges. The winning design receives a scholarship from Sikorksy and a trip to Sikorsky headquarters.

Sikorsky has put together a nice brainstorming page to help students develop ideas for their helicopter designs. For schools and museums Sikorsky has a digital binder of activities designed around the Helicopter 2050 contest. Included in both the digital binder and the brainstorming pages is this timeline of Sikorsky helicopter development.

The Week in Review - The Most Popular Posts

Max says, "fire this up!"
Good evening from Woodstock, Maine where it is a perfect evening for barbecuing. Before I fire up the grill, I have this week's week in review post for you. This week I had the privilege of speaking to teachers from Sonoma, California and Oldham, Kentucky. Next week I'll be speaking at Boston College and working with teachers in Delta, Colorado. If you're in either place, please say hello.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Math Word Wall Posters for Elementary School Classrooms
2. Five Good Resources for Teaching Digital Safety and Citizenship to Elementary School Students
3. WordWriter - A New Way of Learning Vocabulary Through Writing
4. Two Ways to Explore the News Through Maps
5. A Round-up of This Summer's Google Drive, Apps, and Maps Updates
6. Thinking Blocks - Model Math Problems on iPads, Interactive Whiteboards, and in Your Browser
7. The NY Times Replica Edition - Free for K-12 Classrooms

Would you like to have me speak at your school or conference? Click here to learn about my keynote and workshop offerings. 

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
IXL offers a huge assortment of mathematics lesson activities.
Typing Club offers free typing lessons for students.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
MasteryConnect provides a network for teachers to share and discover Common Core assessments. is a provider of free educational games for K-5.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is offers professional development workshops in Boston, Chicago, and Atlanta.
StoryBoard That is a great tool for creating comics and more.
BoomWriter and WordWriter are fantastic tools that help students develop their writing skills.

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Friday, August 8, 2014

Two Flipped Lessons on Aspects of Meteorology

This afternoon I found myself in one of those YouTube vortexes in which I couldn't stop jumping from video to video. I started out looking for a video about hurricanes (I never did find it) and ended up finding two other meteorology lessons that I thought were worth sharing.

First, NOVA offers a good video about The Coriolis Effect. The three minute animated video explains why storms spin in different directions depending on their location. The video is clear and concise which makes it ideal for a flipped classroom lesson. Click here for information about Blubbr, TeachEm, and VideoNotes which are good tools for building flipped lessons.

The second video I stumbled upon this afternoon was The History of the Barometer. This TED-Ed lesson covers the history, development, and use of barometers in forecasting the weather.

Image credit: "1890s Barometer" by André Lage Freitas - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Tools and Strategies for Sharing Bookmarks

Earlier today I received an email from a reader who was looking for an alternative to Delicious for bookmarking and sharing bookmarks. Delicious was one of the earliest entries into the social bookmarking market. Delicious is still functional, but there are some alternatives that are worth exploring too.

Padlet Mini is the latest tool that I've tried for social bookmarking. Padlet Mini is a Chrome extension that you can use to bookmark websites. When you click the Padlet Mini extension in your browser you will be presented with the option to save to one of your existing walls (if you already have a Padlet account) or create a new Padlet wall. Padlet Mini is ideal for having students share links to interesting pages, pictures, and videos that they find about a topic that they are studying in class.

Diigo is a great option for bookmarking websites and sharing them with a group. You can use any of the many Diigo browser add-ons or mobile apps to bookmark websites. The Diigo bookmarking tools allow you to clip portions of a webpage, highlight portions of the page, and add notes to it while you bookmark. Adding those notes is helpful in letting your collaborators know why you saved a link. Diigo allows you to create public and private groups in which you share bookmarks. Creating a Diigo group is a good way for students to collaborate on a research task. Another benefit of Diigo is the option to publish a list of bookmarks to a blog. See the video that Vicki Davis made to learn how to do that.

Annotary is a social bookmarking service that is similar to Diigo. By using Annotary in Chrome I can bookmark sites, highlight portions of pages, and annotate pages with sticky notes. Just like any good online bookmarking service, Annotary allows you to share bookmarks and search other peoples' shared bookmarks.

This list wouldn't be complete without mentioning Pinterest. If your school allows it and your students are old enough to have accounts, you could use Pinterest to bookmark your web findings. A better option than Pinterest for schools is eduClipper. eduClipper is a great place for teachers and students to collaborate on the creation of visual bookmark boards. Students do not need to have email addresses to use eduClipper and you can manage how your students share on eduClipper boards. Click here for three video tutorials on using eduClipper.

Clipix will remind you of Pinterest or eduClipper in that you can "clip" images, videos, and links to save on digital clipboards. Clipix also supports uploading files from your computer to your Clipix clipboards. Each of the clipboards that you create in your Clipix account can be kept private or made public. There is also a privately shared option that can be used for collaborating on clipboard creation. Clipix offers Android and iOS apps that will synchronize with your online Clipix account.

Disclosure: I am an advisor to eduClipper. 

Save the Trees - Try These Tools to Conserve Paper in School

The new school year has arrived for many and is arriving soon for others. That means that soon network printers in schools all across the land will be filled with papers printed and forgotten. Some printing seems to be unavoidable while other printing, like that 33 page Wikipedia article to capture two paragraphs, is completely avoidable. Here are some services that can help you and your students conserve paper in your school.

When you receive a document in email that needs to be signed, don't print it. Instead of printing it try using HelloSign. HelloSign is a free tool for digitally signing documents. HelloSign can be used as a Chrome extension, as a Gmail plug-in, as an iOS app, or as an Android app. The service is free to use for three documents per month. You can earn additional documents by inviting colleagues to use HelloSign.

Printliminator is a handy little bookmarklet for Firefox, Chrome, and Safari. Printliminator allows you to highlight a webpage and select only the elements which you wish to print. You can install Printliminator in seconds by just clicking and dragging it into your browser's toolbar.

Evernote Clearly wasn't specifically designed for saving ink and paper when printing, but that is one of the benefits of using it. Clearly strips the sidebar content of a webpage. You can send the cleaned-up version directly to your Evernote account for easy reading whenever you open your Evernote account. You can print the cleaned-up article from your Evernote account.