Wednesday, July 17, 2019

What's the Fastest Tire Pressure? - A Science Lesson

Global Cycling Network is a popular YouTube channel that produces high-quality videos about all aspects of bicycle riding. The videos are hosted by retired professional cyclists. The topics covered by GCN range from basics like picking a proper helmet to more nuanced topics like finding the tire pressure that will make you fastest on your bicycle. That's the topic covered in this GCN video featuring Emma Pooley, a retired professional cyclist who also holds a PhD in Geotechnical Engineering.

In What's the Fastest Tyre Pressure? Emma Pooley does some road testing of tire pressures before then heading into the classroom to explain the physics factors that influence the speed.


Applications for Education
Before showing this video to your students they could do some of their own testing of tire pressure on bicycles. Have them make some hypotheses about which tire pressure will be the fastest on their own bicycles. Or if your school is one that has bicycles available in the physical education department, make this experiment an outdoor activity during the school day.

The video could also be useful in demonstrating to students the many variables that must be accounted for when conducting an experiment. For example, in the first few minutes of the video there are many opportunities for students to identify variables that could affect the outcome of the experiment.

Quik - Quickly Create Audio Slideshow Videos

Quik is a free app from GoPro for quickly creating videos on your Android or iOS phone or tablet. With the app installed on you can import pictures and videos that you have stored on your phone, in Google Photos, or in a GoPro Plus account. After you've selected a few pictures or video clips Quik then generates a video that combines those selected pictures and video clips. Quik automatically adds music and applies image effects to the video. You can change the automatically added music and image effects by simply selecting a different theme from Quik's menu of video themes. Watch my video that is embedded below for a demonstration of the Quik app. Get the Android version here and the get the iOS version here.


Applications for Education
Quik could be a good app for students to use to quickly create a video of highlights of a field trip, to showcase some highlights from a group project, or to simply make a little autobiographical video to share with friends and family.

It should be noted that Quik is also available as desktop software for Mac and Windows. The desktop version offers more features than the mobile version.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

See What's Behind Any Webpage With Mozilla's X-Ray Goggles

One of the topics that we talked about during the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp was digital literacy and critical thinking. To that end, I presented Mozilla's X-Ray Goggles as a tool that can be used to create a modified version of real news story from legitimate sources. Mozilla's X-Ray Goggles lets you see the code behind any web page and change that code to display anything that you want in place of the original text and images. After you have made the changes you can publish a local copy of the web page.

Watch the following video that I created to learn how to use Mozilla's X-Ray Goggles.



Applications for Education
Mozilla's X-Ray Goggles provides a good way for students to see how the code of a webpage works.

As I mentioned in the video, you could use X-Ray Goggles to alter an article on the web to make it a satire story. Then print the page and give it to your students to try to identify the satire elements of the story.

Find and Share National Parks Stories

A buffalo I saw while hiking in
Grand Teton in 2006.
Find Your Park is a U.S. National Parks service website. The purpose of the site is to help people discover the National Parks near them and the activities they can enjoy in the parks.  To that end, Find Your Park offers tools for finding parks according to location and or activity type. You can search for a park or public land by name, location, or activity. When you select a park from the search results, you can dive into more information about that park.

If you do visit one of the parks, Find Your Park encourages you to share your pictures and stories of the experience. You can do that by uploading your pictures and stories directly to the Share Your Experience section of the Find Your Park website.

Applications for Education
As the weather warms and you start to think about outdoor activities for your children or your students, take a look at Find Your Park. Find Your Park could help you discover educational programs happening in a national park near you.

Pros and Cons of Using Social Media for School Announcements

Today at the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp I was asked for my opinion about using Facebook as the primary tool for posting information for the parents of your students. Answering that question reminded me of an article that I wrote a few years ago on the same topic. An updated version of that article appears below.

When used correctly social media can be a fantastic aid in spreading the good word about your school. As I wrote in my post about socializing school events with social media, social media can be very helpful in building a positive feeling of community around your school too. On the other hand, social media isn't always the best way to share news about your school. Let's take a look at the pros and cons of using social media for school announcements.

The social media networks you might use:
In an effort to be concise this post will deal only with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Unless otherwise specified the pros and cons here will deal with all four networks as category rather than breaking out the pros and cons of each network individually.

Pros of using social media for school announcements:
  1. The likelihood of students checking their favorite social networks frequently is much higher than that of them checking email frequently. 
  2. You can quickly post concise messages with visuals that grab the attention of students and their parents. (I've been testing using large images into my Tweets lately. Each time I do I get more favorites and reTweets than I do with the same message that lacks a visual). 
  3. It is easy for students and or parents to share the announcement through a reTweet, tag or share on Facebook, or a tag/mention on Instagram. 
  4. It is easy for students and parents to reply to announcements. 
  5. A small archive of recent announcements is automatically created for you. 
Cons of using social media for school announcements:


  1. You must convince students and parents to follow or like your school's social media account. 
  2. Students and parents who follow a lot of social media accounts can easily overlook yours. This is especially true on Facebook because Facebook tends to hide posts from people/pages that haven't been interacted with on a frequent basis. (In other words, if you click on a lot of "cuddly kitten/ puppy" stories on Facebook you're more likely to see more of those than you are stories from sources that you don't click frequently). 
  3. You, your school administrator, or some committee within the school needs to decide who will be the "official" social media voice of the school. In other words, decide who gets to post on the school account. 
  4. Someone has to monitor and moderate conversations that arise from announcements posted on social media. On a Facebook page or Instagram account you can delete inappropriate comments. On Twitter your only option is to block, mute, or report the offender.