Thursday, June 30, 2022

A Whole Bunch of Resources for Learning About the Tour de France

The Tour de France begins tomorrow. Watching the race every morning for three weeks is one of the things I look forward to every summer. I also find that it provides some neat opportunities for science, health, and physical education lessons. Here are some of my go-to resources for teaching and learning about the Tour de France.

What do the Tour de France jerseys mean?
The yellow jersey is worn by the overall leader of the race. The goal is to be wearing it at end of the race in Paris. Riders competing for this jersey are often referred to as competing for the general classification. The odds-on favorites this year include Tadej Pogačar, Primož Roglič, and Ben O'Connor. My hope is that Geraint Thomas makes a good run at the GC this year (he won in 2018 and he has a great podcast).  

The green jersey, also known as the points jersey, is typically won by riders who aren't built for uphill speed, but are faster than everyone else on flat ground. Mark Cavendish won this jersey last year, but this year's favorite is Wout Van Aert. Peter Sagan has won the jersey seven times and is back to try again. 

The polka dot jersey is known as the King of the Mountains jersey. This won by having the most points for ascending the hills and mountains the fastest. Riders who win this are typically those who are great at riding up hill, but for one reason or another aren't competitive enough to win the general classification. There are lots of riders who have the potential to win this depending on team and individual goals. Thibaut Pinot, Romain Bardet, and Nairo Quintana are names to watch for this competition. 

The white jersey is a prize for the best young rider (under 25). The last three white jerseys were won by riders who also won the yellow jersey. 

VeloNews has  complete breakdown of how standings are calculated for each jersey and the money awarded for winning jerseys and stages of the race. 

How Fast is the Slowest Tour de France Rider?
Last year I evaluated the Strava data of the rider who finished last in the Tour de France. It shows that even the last-place finisher is incredibly fast! You can read my breakdown of the data here

The Science of Bicycles and Bicycling
There is a lot of physics involved in casual bike riding and in racing. Here's a selection of videos that explain the physics of bicycling.

The first time that you ride in a pack of experienced cyclists you'll feel the power of drafting. Besides their incredible fitness and bike handling skills, drafting helps cyclists in the Tour de France move quickly. The following video explains how drafting works.


Minute Physics offers two videos about the physics of bicycles. In How Do Bikes Stay Up? we learn how bikes stay upright, how design and weight influences balance, and why bicycles are difficult to balance in reverse. The Counterintuitive Physics of Turning a Bike explains how we turn bicycles.




The Diet of a Tour de France Racer
I've done some long days on my bike over the years including a double-century ride and at the end I've always felt like I could eat anything in sight. That's because I burned thousands of calories. But even then I didn't burn the 6,000-8,000+ calories that a typical Tour de France racer burns every day of the race.

What does it look like and feel like to eat like a professional cyclist? That's what the Wall Street Journal's Joshua Robinson set out to discover in his 6,000 calorie challenge. Take a look at the video below to see how he did it. Pay attention to the professional cyclist at the 2:40 mark in the video for commentary about energy gels because it surprise you and make you rethink the whether or not the average weekend warrior needs the expensive "sports energy" products for a simple hour workout.


If you want to get into a bit more of the science of nutrition of cyclists, take a look at this video featuring the team nutritionist for EF Education First's professional cycling team.



How Much Do Professional Cyclists Make?
In his book Draft Animals, Phil Gaimon, a retired professional cyclist, detailed his struggles to makes end meet while racing. The take-away from reading that book is that unlike professional Major League Baseball or National Basketball Association teams in which even the last person on the bench is paid ten times what a teacher makes in a year, professional cycling teams have one or two highly-paid ($1 million+) athletes and most of the rest make salaries in the range of teachers and school district administrators. In this 2019 article Cycling Tips detailed how much riders can earn in the Tour de France and throughout the professional cycling season. 

A Google Maps and Earth Activity for Art Classes

When I conduct workshops on Google Maps and Google Earth I always point out that the uses for those tools extend beyond the realm of geography and history. One example of using Google Maps and Earth outside of the typical geography setting is using Google Maps and Earth to have students place art and artists on an interactive map.

Students can map the locations of where a piece of art is housed, where it was created, where the artist lived, and the places that inspired the artist. Each placemark on a student's map could include a picture of the artwork, a picture of the artist, and or a video about the art and artist. To provide a complete picture a student can include text and links to more information about the art and artist.

This project can be accomplished by using either Google's My Maps, Google Earth in your web browser, or Google Earth on your desktop. I have a bunch of Google Earth tutorials on my YouTube channel that can help you get started on a project like this.



Are you a geography or history teacher looking for a fun way to introduce your students to Google Earth? If so, check out my Around the World With Google Earth activity.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Flipgrid is Dead!

If you're attending the ISTE conference in person this week or you're following updates from it on social media, you probably heard a thing or two about Flipgrid hosting a big event they called Flipfest. I didn't go because I wasn't at ISTE and even if I was there corporate "fests" are generally not my thing (my thoughts about corporate "fests" are something I'll save for another day). But even though I didn't go to Flipfest I did learn via Twitter that Flipgrid is dead. That's right, it's over, no more Fipgrid.  

Microsoft has rebranded Flipgrid as simply Flip. Other than that nothing is changing for now. 

Microsoft's official announcement of the rebranding of Flipgrid does mention a bunch of features that are "coming soon." Some of those sound like they'll be helpful. For example, an improved caption editing tool, a Spanish version of the mobile app, and a new tool called ASL Learning Lens all have practical uses. Some of the other features coming soon appear to be mostly cosmetic. You can read the full announcement here or watch a two-hour recording of Flipfest if you like.

Two Ways to Make Your Own Classroom App This Summer

Summer is here in the northern hemisphere and for many of us it's a time to work on things that we'd like to use in our classrooms when school resumes in the fall. One of those things could be developing a mobile app specifically for your classroom or courses you teach. It might sound like a daunting task, but it's not if you use either of the following tools.

Glide Apps
Glide Apps enables anyone who can make a spreadsheet in Google Sheets to create his or her own mobile app. If that sounds simple, that's because it is just that simple. The headers that you put into your spreadsheet and the data that you enter into your spreadsheet is used by Glide to generate a mobile app for you that will work on Android and iOS devices.

In this video I demonstrate two ways to use Glide Apps to create your own mobile app. The first method is to pick one of the Glide Apps templates and then modify the information within the template. The second method is to start from scratch with a blank Google Sheet. In my demonstration of the second method I explain and show how you can include maps and other multimedia elements.



MIT App Inventor
If you want to create a fully functional Android app, the MIT App Inventor is the place to start. The MIT App Inventor works in your web browser (Chrome is recommended). The only download that is required for App Inventor 2 is the optional emulator. The emulator allows people who don't have Android devices to text their apps on their desktops. If you have an Android device then the emulator is not required and you don't need to worry about installing it. MIT provides excellent support documentation and curriculum for new users. My tutorial on how to use the MIT App Inventor is embedded below. 

50 Ideas for Short Tech Workshop Sessions

Are you a tech coach, tech integrator, or media specialist who has been asked to run a summer workshop for your staff? Or are you (gasp!) already thinking about back-to-school season workshops. If so, 50 Tech Tuesday Tips is for you! 

50 Tech Tuesday Tips was curated from more than 400 editions of The Practical Ed Tech Newsletter. In 50 Tech Tuesday Tips you will find ideas for lots of helpful things that you can teach to your colleagues and to students. Throughout the eBook you'll find tutorials and handouts that you can pass along in your school. 

Some of the many things you'll find in 50 Tech Tuesday Tips include:

  • What to do when a web app isn't working as you expect.
  • Building your own search engine.
  • How to create green screen videos.
  • Improving instructional videos. 
  • Streamlining email management.
  • Creating educational games. 
  • DIY app creation.
  • Podcasting tips for teachers and students. 



Get your copy of 50 Tech Tuesday Tips right here!