Monday, February 26, 2018

Rocket Science 101 - Build and Launch Virtual Rockets

Update, January 2021: This app is no longer available. 

Rocket Science 101 is a free app offered by NASA that helps 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 playing with the four types of rockets 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.

Rocket Science 101 is available as a free Android app and as a free iPad app. 

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.

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Over the years Free Technology for Teachers, Practical Ed Tech, and my other websites morphed from a hobby to a full-time job. Along the way I made plenty of mistakes and I have had some great successes. But one thing that I always say when people ask me for advice about how to make money through blogging is that just like trying to improve your fitness, you have to make time to work on it consistently. Once you have that habit mastered, the rest starts to fall into place. If you're interested in learning how to earn some income from your blog and you're ready to consistently work on it, my From Blog to Job course is for you.

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Ancient Rome 101 and Life as a Roman Teenager

National Geographic has a great series of YouTube videos called National Geographic 101. The most recent addition to that series is Ancient Rome 101. The video provides an excellent introduction to the origin, rise, and fall of the Roman Empire. The length and substance of the video makes it an ideal candidate for inclusion in an EDpuzzle lesson.


TED-Ed has a good lesson that you can use as a follow-up to Ancient Rome 101. A Glimpse of Teenage Life in Ancient Rome is a TED-Ed lesson developed by Ray Laurence from the University of Kent. The video and its associated questions feature the story of seventeen year old Lucius Popidius Secundus.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Ptable - Interactive Periodic Table of Elements

There are lots of websites offering interactive or dynamic periodic tables. One that has been around for many years now is Ptable. Ptable is an interactive display of the Periodic Table of Elements. Place your mouse pointer over an element to access the basic information about it. Click on an element to open a Wikipedia article about that element. The article opens within a dialogue box within Ptable so that you don't have to leave the site and then come back to use the table again.

Applications for Education
Ptable is not going to revolutionize the way that students learn the Periodic Table, but it is another example of making academic information more accessible than in the past. Students don't need to lug around a big chemistry text when they can simply access resources like Ptable to get much of the same information from their Internet-connected devices.

My Top Six Sources of Public Domain Media

One of the questions that readers ask me on regular basis is, "where can I find images that my students can use in their projects?" Less frequently, but still fairly often I'm asked the same question about audio and video clips. In fact, I just answered those questions again on Friday. Therefore, I've made an updated list of my top sources of public domain media.

Public Domain Images
For years Pixabay has been my go-to source of public domain images. But lately I've started to shift toward Unsplash as my first place to search for public domain images. Unsplash offers a huge library of images that are either in the public domain or have a Creative Common license. Unsplash's layout is a little less confusing for new users than Pixabay's layout is. That combined with Unsplash's Google Slides Add-on is why I've been using it more than Pixabay lately.

Pixabay is still a great place to find and download quality public domain images. You can search on Pixabay by using keywords or you can simply browse through the library of images. When you find an image you can download it in the size that suits your needs. Registered users do not have to enter a captcha code to download images. Users who do not register can download images, but they do have to enter a captcha code before downloading each picture. There is a safe search mode in Pixabay that you should use in classroom settings.



Public Domain Videos
The Internet Archive is the first place that comes to mind when I am asked for a source of Public Domain media. The Moving Image Archive within the Internet Archive is an index of more than 1.7 million video clips. Most of what you will find in the Moving Image Archive can be downloaded in a variety of file formats. You can search the archive by keyword or browse through the many categories and thematic collections in the archive. One important thing to note about the Internet Archive is that you probably don't want students to search it without supervision. In fact, I'd probably just create a folder of footage from archive that I share with my students.

The Public Domain Review is a website that features collections of images, books, essays, audio recordings, and films that are in the public domain. Choose any of the collections to search for materials according to date, style, genre, and rights. Directions for downloading and saving media is included along with each collection of media.

Public Domain Audio
The Free Music Archive provides free, high-quality, music in a wide range of genres. The content on Free Music Archive is used under various creative commons licenses and some public domain licensing. FMA seeks to maintain a high-quality resource through the use of selected curators who approve or deny all submissions to the collection. Anyone can download music from FMA for use in podcasts, videos, and other digital presentation formats. The music collections can be searched by genre or by curator.

Sound Bible is a resource for finding and downloading free sound clips, sound effects, and sound bites. All of the sounds on Sound Bible are either public domain or labeled with a Creative Commons license. You can find sounds for use in podcasts, videos, slideshows, or other multimedia creations.