Monday, January 11, 2021

Nine Neat NASA Resources for Students and Teachers - Updated

Years ago I published a list of nine neat NASA resources for students and teachers. At the time the list was current. Over the weekend someone emailed me to point out that few of them were no longer available due to the deprecation of Flash. Here's my updated list of neat NASA resources for students and teachers.

NASA Artifacts
A couple of years ago Steve Dembo introduced me to a U.S. General Services Administration program that lets schools acquire artifacts from NASA's space program. The program has two parts. One part lets schools, museums, and similar organizations borrow artifacts. The other program lets schools acquire artifacts for no cost other than shipping fees.

The NASA Special Items program lets schools acquire things like old shuttle tiles, meteor strike test plates, shuttle thermal blankets, and food packets from the space program. The Special Items program seems to be the easier of the two programs to navigate as it does have an itemized list of what is available and what it costs to ship the items to schools. The steps required to acquire items through the Special Items program are outlined in this PDF.

The NASA Artifacts program is the program that offers the more unique items from the space program for schools and museums to display. The documentation required for participation in this program is much more complex than the Special Items program. And applications appear to be reviewed in greater detail than the Special Items program. The requirements and procedures for the NASA Artifacts program are outlined in this document.

Explore the Moon & Mars in Google Earth
The desktop version of Google Earth includes a moon view and a Mars view. Select the moon view or the Mars view then click on some of the placemarks in the NASA layer. Your students could even create a narrated tour of the moon or Mars. 

Interactive Exploration of the Solar System
NASA's Solar System Exploration website contains interactive displays of the planets, dwarf planets, and moons of our solar system. To launch an interactive display just choose one of the planets, dwarf planets, or moons from the menu in the site's header. Each display includes little markers in it. Click one of the markers to open a side panel that contains information about that particular feature of the planet, dwarf planet, or moon. Below each interactive display you'll find additional facts and figures.

Spacecraft in Augmented Reality
Spacecraft AR is a free iPad and Android app offered by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The app enables students to learn about various NASA spacecraft including the Curiosity rover, Voyager, Mars Exploration Rover, and a handful of other spacecraft. Spacecraft AR includes information about each spacecraft's development and use.

With Spacecraft AR installed and open on their iPads or phones, students can select a spacecraft or mission then point their iPads or phones at a flat floor or wall see the spacecraft appear. Once the spacecraft appears on screen students can move to see other angles of the spacecraft and move the spacecraft. Students can also pinch and zoom to change the size of spacecraft they're looking at.

Spacecraft AR reminds me of NASA's previous AR app, Spacecraft 3D. The key difference between the two is that Spacecraft 3D required students to scan a printed target in order to make spacecraft appear on screen. Spacecraft AR does not have that requirement, but it does require that you have a fairly recent iPad or Android device that has either Apple's ARKit or Google Play Services for AR (formerly known as ARCore).

NASA Selfies
NASA Selfies is a fun and free app for "taking a selfie in space." What it really does is just put your face into the helmet of a space suit that is floating in space. You can pick the background for your space selfie. Backgrounds are provided from NASA's huge library of images. When you pick a background, you can tap on it to learn more about what is shown in the picture. For example, I chose the background of Pinwheel Galaxy then tapped on it to read about that infrared image captured by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Get NASA Selfies for iOS here and get the Android version here

NASA Kids Club
NASA Kids' Club is a collection games, interactive activities, and images for students in Kindergarten through fourth grade. At the center of the NASA Kids' Club is a set of games and interactive activities arranged on five skill levels. The activities range from simple things like coloring pages and pattern recognition games to more difficult tasks like identifying planets based on clues provided in written and video form. 

NASA Space Place
NASA Space Place is a sizable collection of fun projects, games, animations, and lessons about Earth, space, and technology. Before playing the games or attempting one of the projects, students should explore the animations and facts sections to gain some background information. The projects section of NASA Space Place provides teachers, parents, and students with directions for hands-on projects like building a balloon-powered rover, building relief maps, and building a moon habitat. The games section offers thirty games covering all of the subjects in the animations and facts sections.

NASA eClips
NASA's eClips videos are arranged by grade level; K-5, 6-8, and 9-12. There is also a section labeled for the general public. The videos are short clips designed to show students the work NASA is doing and how that work impacts space science as well as its potential impact on everyday life. All of the videos can be viewed online on the NASA eClips site, viewed on YouTube, or downloaded for use on your local computer.

What Did Hubble See on Your Birthday?
If you're curious about what the Hubble telescope saw on a particular day, What Did Hubble See on Your Birthday? is the site for you. Just enter the month and day of your birthday and you'll see an image that Hubble captured that day. 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

New Microsoft Teams Features for 2021

When it comes to learning about the latest features of Microsoft Teams there is no one better to follow than Mike Tholfsen. I've mentioned him a lot over the last couple of years. But for those who aren't familiar with him, Mike is the product manager for Microsoft Education. Last spring he started publishing a lot of tutorial videos for teachers. His latest video provides a run-down of eleven new features of Microsoft Teams for 2021. If you're a Microsoft Teams user, this video is for you. One of the things that I appreciate about this video and all of Mike's videos is that he explains use cases for the features. He also mentions which users may or may not have access to the various features.

 
Featured in the video:
  • 5 minute warning for the Teams Meetings.
  • New background options in Together Mode
  • Putting Teams apps into their own window
  • Changes to Teams video and call icons. 
  • Creating a Team directly from a SharePoint Site
  • Updated SharePoint tab app 
  • Updated SharePoint Pages tab app 
  • Teams mobile Meet Now for chat.
  • Updated iOS Meet app
  • Teams family and friends desktop and web app

Four At-home Science Experiments for Kids

Winter in Maine has lots of short and cold days. While I take my kids outside for sledding and skiing as much as possible, we still need to keep a list of fun indoor activities. That's why I subscribe to the SciShow Kids channel on YouTube. It regularly features science experiments that are perfect for young kids to do at home with the help of their parents. 

Last week SciShow Kids released a new compilation video that explains four fun science experiments that kids can do at home with their parents. I'm going to try the blubber experiment with my kids. The other three experiments are making balloon rockets (I that one with my kids a few weeks ago), making secret/ invisible ink, and making a visual illusions with cardboard and paper. The whole video is embedded below. 

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Annotations, Document Cameras, and Exercise - The Week in Review

Good morning from Maine where it's going to be nice day with clear skies and temperatures peaking around 30F. In other words, it's going to be a good day for playing in the snow with my daughters. I foresee some sledding, skiing, and lots of fun in future. I'm also hoping to get some time this weekend to read A Concise History of Fly Fishing. I hope that wherever you are this weekend, you have something fun planned as well. 

This week was my first week back at school after winter break and I still managed to create some new blog posts and videos this week. Some highlights of this week in blogging include annotating your screen in Google Meet, a neat writing contest for kids, and turning your iPhone into a document camera. 

These were the most popular posts of the week:
1. Video - How to Annotate Your Screen in Google Meet
2. How to Create Your Own Online Board Game
3. Overviewer - Turn Your iPhone or iPad Into a Document Camera in Zoom
4. Seven Apps and Sites to Encourage Healthy Diet and Exercise Habits
5. Boomwriter's Writing Bee - A Unique Creative Writing Contest for Kids
6. How to Add an Announcement Banner to Google Sites
7. My Favorite Feature of OneNote's Chrome Extension


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Daily Artifacts of U.S. History

Earlier this week I was catching up on some RSS feeds in Feedly when I came across this drawing from the patent application for the board game that became Monopoly. That drawing was the featured artifact of the day on the Today's Document website published by the U.S. National Archives. It's a resource that I frequently used when I taught U.S. History. Every day Today's Document features a new image or document from the archives. The documents are usually accompanied by some additional research links and lesson plan resources. 

The Library of Congress offers a daily artifact feed similar to the one offered by the National Archives. Today in History from The Library of Congress offers a new image or document along with the story of the notable event or person connected to it. The LOC generally includes more information about the featured artifact than what the National Archives includes about their daily documents. 

Applications for Education
When I was teaching U.S. History I used both of the resources on a regular basis. Sometimes I'd use, with modification, the lesson plans associated with the artifacts. Most of the time I just used the featured artifacts to spark little discussions about moments in history.