Saturday, January 31, 2015

Google Earth Pro is Now Free for Everyone

Google Earth Pro has been available for free to teachers with GAFE email accounts for quite a while. Now it is available for free to anyone who wants to upgrade to Google Earth Pro. Google announced this yesterday on the Google Lat Long blog. To get a license key for Google Earth Pro you just need to complete the form found here.

Google Earth Pro offers at least nine features that are not available in the standard version of Google Earth. Those features include importing GIS data, mapping multiple points at once, measuring areas of polygons and circles, and automatically geo-locating imported GIS images.

Applications for Education
While Google Earth is clearly a great fit in social studies classrooms, it can also be used in language arts, math, and science classes. In this post I assembled a list of some of my favorite uses of Google Earth and Maps for settings outside of social studies classrooms.

The Week in Review - A Blizzard of Popular Posts

Good morning from snowy Woodstock, Maine where we've had two snow storms in the last five days and school was closed was for three days. My dogs and I love to play in the snow so we're happy whenever it snows. In fact, as soon as this post is finished we'll be romping around in the snow. I hope that you have something fun planned for the weekend too.

Before I jump into this week's list of the most popular posts I want to remind you about the Practical Ed Tech weekly newsletter. I started the Practical Ed Tech weekly newsletter at about this time last year. On Sunday evening I send out an email with my favorite tip of the week along with a summary of the post popular posts of the week from You can subscribe here.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. CommonLit - Thematic Discussion Questions Paired With Interesting Texts
2. How to Search Twitter for Educational Content
3. Three Platforms for Writing Choose Your Own Adventure Stories - A Comparison
4. Twine - An Open-source Program for Writing Choose Your Own Adventure Stories
5. Four Ways to Create Digital Records of Physical Items Your Students Create
6. Read and Download 250+ Art Books from the Getty Museum
7. What the World Eats - A Comparison of Diets

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Friday, January 30, 2015

I'm All About the Snow

If you live in the U.S. unless you've ignored the national news entirely, you're probably tired of hearing about the big snow storms that have hit New England this week. As as much as I dislike the hyped-up news reports about it, I love snow. Whether or not your students love the snow, hate the snow, or have no opinion about snow it provides an opportunity for a timely science lesson. Here are a few resources for learning about snow.

Scholastic's Interactive Weather Maker is an online activity in which students adjust temperatures and humidity levels to create rain and snow storms. Students simply move the temperature and humidity sliders until rain or snow begins to show up in the scene on their screens. Adjusting the settings in the Interactive Weather Maker could be a good way for students to see the correlation between humidity and temperature as it relates to creating rain and snow storms.

The episode of Bytesize Science embedded below explains how snowflakes are created.

The ski resort near my house hosts a full moon hike and ski event every month of the winter. The full moon appears brighter in the winter. The video embedded below explains why. (And if you're in Maine looking for something to do tomorrow night, Mt. Abram's full moon hike is a blast. I'll be there).

How to Find Other Educators on Google+

A couple of days ago I received an email from someone who was looking for help finding other teachers to connect with around the topic of leading a STEM or engineering club at his school. My suggestion was to take a look at some of the Google+ communities related to the topic of STEM. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to go about finding a Google+ community related to a topic that you are interested in.

Design and Launch Virtual Rockets in Your Web Browser

Ten days ago I published a post about NASA's Rocket Science 101 iPad app. What I didn't realize at the time was that the app is also available in an Android version an in an online version. Thanks to email from David Beaver I now know better.

All three versions of Rocket Science 101 work the same way. The app is designed to help students understand how rockets work. The app also helps students understand the differences between the four types of rockets most frequently used by NASA. In Rocket Science 101 students can build all four rockets in a jigsaw-like activity then virtually launch their rockets. When the rockets are launched students see the timing of each stage of the launch from surface to orbit.

After testing all of the rocket types students can try their hands at matching rockets to real NASA missions. In the challenges students read about a NASA mission then have to select the rocket that can carry the payload and travel the distance required to complete the mission.

Applications for Education
Rocket Science 101 could be a good app for students in grades five through eight to use to begin to understand some basic physics concepts associated with space exploration.