Friday, October 21, 2022

Why Does the Road Crack? - Another Question from my Daughters

One of my favorite things to do these days is to ride bikes with my daughters. Sometimes I even record those rides on Strava because my older daughter now wants to keep track of how fast she can go down a little section of road in our neighborhood (current record 10.5mph). When we were riding earlier this week she complained about the cracks in the pavement in one part of our neighborhood and asked, "why does the road crack?" 

I did my best to answer my daughter's question of "why does the road crack?" by explaining that there is a lot of water in the ground in our area. When that water freezes it expands and pushes up on the pavement which then makes it crack. She's six, so I'm not sure she quite got it even when I made the analogy to one of our clay garden pots cracking for the same reason last winter. 

As I almost always do when my daughters ask me a question that I haven't thought about in a long time, I turned to YouTube in search of a visual explanation of why roads crack in the winter. After a little searching I found this video from the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Jump to the 1:14 mark in the video to see an old visual of what happens when wet soil freezes. 

This topic is a great one for an animated explanation. Student can use some simple animation tools to create an explanation of what happens when water and or soil freezes and pushes up against a fixed or rigid object. Register for my new Animated Explanations course to learn how to create and use animated explanations in your classroom.

Five Things Students Can Explain With Simple Animations

One of my all-time favorite tech coaching experiences was helping an eighth grade science class produce short animations to explain forms of energy. It was one of my favorite experiences for two reasons. First, the teacher came to me and said, “I’m sick of boring PowerPoints. Get them to do anything else.” Second, the kids really grabbed onto the project and were excited to work on it. In the end, everyone was happy with the project.

Creating simple animations to illustrate understanding of concepts isn’t limited to eighth grade science classes. It can be done by just about anyone in just about any context. That’s kind of the idea behind Dan Roam’s book The Back of the Napkin and it’s the idea behind my upcoming Making and Teaching With Animated Explanations course.

To give some ideas of how animated explanations might be used in your classroom, here are five things students can explain with simple animations.
  • Expansion and contraction of geopolitical borders over time.
  • Steps to solve real world math problems like calculating the height of a tree.
  • How plants grow from seeds.
  • Literary concepts like foreshadowing, personification, or paradox.
  • How satellites stay in orbit.

Click here to learn more about and register for Animated Explanations.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

You Should Write About Rainbows!

Today is my youngest daughter's 5th birthday! When I told her that I needed to do some writing this morning she said, "you should write about rainbows!" So that's what this post is all about (for the record, the writing that I had planned to do this morning was about some cool resources for Geography Awareness Week coming up in November). 

How to Make a Rainbow is a SciShow Kids video that I featured when it was released about six years ago. The video gives directions for a little activity in which kids can make rainbows appear on white paper by properly positioning a glass of water in front of ray of sunlight. The video then goes on to explain what makes rainbows appear outside. 

How Rainbows Form is a Physics Girl video that goes a bit beyond the basics that the SciShow Kids video covered. How Rainbows Form explains dispersion and refraction of light. The video also explains what causes the colors of the rainbow to appear in the order we see them. Finally, at the end of the video viewers learn what causes the appearance of a double rainbow.

How Rainbows Form and What Shape They Really Are is a short video from ABC Australia. The video explains how rainbows are made, but also explains why we only see part of rainbow and not the full circle of a rainbow. (By the way, I'm not related to the presenter any more than I'm related to lead singer of Talking Heads). 

Now You Can Import PDFs Into Book Creator

Earlier this fall Book Creator added some helpful new features in the form of audio, video, and text commenting. This week the folks at Book Creator rolled-out another new and helpful feature. That feature is the ability to import PDFs to use in your Book Creator multimedia books. Here's a thirty second demo of the new import PDF option in Book Creator (I've caught a cold and lost my voice otherwise I'd make a longer and more detailed demo video). 

Applications for Education
The new import PDF option in Book Creator will let you take your existing PDFs and turn them into multimedia, interactive pages that you can share with your students. Likewise, students can import PDF designs they've made with tools like Adobe Express or Canva to enhance their own multimedia books in Book Creator. And don't forget that you can export Google Slides, PowerPoint, and Keynote presentations as PDFs that you could then import into Book Creator to develop a multimedia book to share online.

Another Good Place to Find Free Drawings for Classroom Projects

Earlier this year I published a list of good places to find free images and drawings to use in your classroom projects. Thanks to something that Troy Patterson Tweeted earlier this week I have another good resource to add to that list. 

CocoMaterial is an online library of nearly 2,500 drawings that you can download and re-use for free. Unlike some similar sites, CocoMaterial doesn't offer anything but drawings and doesn't litter the search results page with advertisements for other images that you have to purchase. Watch this short video for an overview of CocoMaterial. 

Applications for Education
The drawings that are available on CocoMaterial are clean, simple, and easy to see. They could be great for use in classroom projects like simple web design, infographic design, or to just brighten-up the newsletters that you send home to parents.