Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thank You!

Good morning from Connecticut where I am watching my brother and other members of his club run in the 80th annual road race in our hometown. To borrow a line from Jim Nantz, in my family watching the race "is a tradition unlike any other." But enough about my family...

On this Thanksgiving morning I'd like to say thank you to everyone who has helped keep this blog going for the last nine years. Without your support this blog wouldn't survive. Whether you've taken one of my courses, invited me to your school, or simply shared some of my blog posts with others, you have helped me keep this little project going. Thank you!

A Simple Alternative to Blubbr for Making Video Quizzes

On Wednesday morning I received an email from a reader who had been using Blubbr to create video quizzes for her students. Unfortunately, Blubbr seems to have gone offline so she was looking for a replacement. My immediate suggestion was to try Vizia. Vizia lets you build multiple choice questions into any YouTube video. The responses that you gather appear in either a Google Sheet or a CSV file to download. If you use the Google Sheet option you can then use Flubaroo to grade your students' responses to the quiz. In the video embedded below I provide a demonstration of how to use Vizia.

The Search for Alice's Restaurant

Radio stations all over the United States play Alice's Restaurant Massacree on Thanksgiving Day. While I was looking for a recording of the song on YouTube it occurred to me that many other people were surely doing the same thing. That thought prompted me to go to Wolfram Alpha where I found a chart of Wikipedia traffic for the search term "Alice's Restaurant." So the question/ cultural history lesson for students is "why do people search for that term around Thanksgiving?"

Here's the song:


Happy listening! Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

7 Lessons About Electricity

One of my most memorable elementary school science lessons included all of us creating working circuits with multiple switches to illuminate light bulbs. Our power source was 120 volt standard outlet. I don't think that would be allowed in most classrooms today, but our teacher, Mrs. Carlson, was young and fearless. I was reminded of that lesson this morning when I watched SciShow Kids' new video about the power of circuits. The video provides students with clear visuals and explanations of how a circuit works including the function of a switch. The video then demonstrates creating a circuit with a battery, small switch, and a light bulb.


Not all electricity is distributed in the same way. Some is distributed through direct currents like batteries in a flashlight and some is distributed through alternating currents which is what you find in the power lines running through your neighborhood. The following from Derek Owens explains the differences between direct current and alternating current.


An interesting TED-Ed lesson on The Science of Static Electricity.



Brain Stuff has a video that offers a good explanation of why we hear a buzzing sound coming from fluorescent lights found in many schools and office buildings. The video is embedded below.



Minute Physics offers a short video explaining how modern light bulbs work and how light bulb design has changed over the last 100+ years.The video also includes explanations of the different types of modern light bulbs and their applications. The video is embedded below.



Hydro to Home is an interactive story of hydro-electric power from raindrops to homes. The story walks visitors through each step of the process of generating hydro-electric power and delivering to consumers' homes. The story is narrated and along the way there are interactive images that visitors can click on to learn even more information about hydro-electric power.

The Blobz Guide to Electric Circuits is a neat series of interactive animations designed to help students of elementary and middle school age learn how electric circuits work. There are five sections to the series. Each sections builds upon the lessons of the previous section. The series starts with the basics of what makes a circuit complete and concludes with diagramming and building circuits. Each section in the series has a few short lessons and is followed by an animated interactive activity to which students can apply what they have just learned.

The History of Macy's Thanksgiving Parade

For millions of Americans watching Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thanksgiving morning is as much a tradition as watching football after the turkey dinner. The Macy's Parade is 90 years old this year. It has evolved quite a bit since its early days. Macy's Parade History offers an interactive timeline of the parade's history. You can select any decade on the timeline to view 360 interactive images of the parade. Each decade on the timeline also includes some video clips. Scroll through the decades and you'll see that the parade reflects the popular culture of each decade.

History offers the following short video about the history of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.


The Next News Network also offers a nice, concise summary of the history of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.