Thursday, November 17, 2022

The Science Behind My Favorite Thanksgiving Foods

American Thanksgiving is one week away. The traditional Thanksgiving meal is one of my favorite combinations of foods. My mouth is watering just thinking about turkey, potatoes, squash, stuffing and cranberry sauce from a can (I love the "shlop" sound the cranberry sauce makes as it pops out of the can). 

This year I'm in charge of cooking the turkey on my smoker. There's a science to doing that that I've been reading about and watching a lot of videos about over the last couple of weeks. The one I like the best is How to Smoke a Turkey for Thanksgiving by Mad Scientist BBQ.



And there's science to what makes all of the food associated with Thanksgiving delicious. The Reactions YouTube channel, produced by The American Chemical Society, has a few good video lessons that address the science of a traditional American Thanksgiving meal. 

Better Thanksgiving Potatoes Through Chemistry explains the chemical properties of raw potatoes and which ones to pick for roasting based on their chemistry. The video then goes on to explain the science of roasting potatoes before finally revealing the best method, based on science, for roasting potatoes.



The Truth About Tryptophan explains why it might not be just the turkey that is making you sleepy after a big Thanksgiving dinner.



Finally, How to Fry a Thanksgiving Turkey Without Burning Your House Down provides an overview of the science involved in deep frying a turkey and how you can use that knowledge to avoid a disaster on Thanksgiving.



Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Where I'd Like to Go - A Geography Lesson With Google Drawings

I originally wrote this blog post and recorded the video in 2021 while thinking about icebreaker activities for the start of the school year. The activity is also great for Geography Awareness Week. 

As the new school year starts many you may find yourself looking for some new ideas to break the ice and get to know your new students while they also get to know each other. One thing that I've always asked my students is "where in the world would you go if you could go anywhere today?" Recently, I've started thinking about turning that question into the prompt for an activity in which students learn a bit about Google Drawings

The idea is to have students virtually place themselves anywhere in the world through the use of Google Drawings. To do this students first need to find a picture of themselves and remove the background from it. Photoscissors makes it quick and easy to remove the background then download a new background-free image. Once they have a picture of themselves then students open Google Drawings where they insert a picture of place that they want to visit or revisit. Finally, they then insert their profile picture over the background image in Google Drawings. Those steps might sound complicated, but they're not. In this short video I show the whole process. 



As I mention in the video above, you can modify this activity to be completed with Google Slides or Google Jamboard. And, as is also demonstrated in the video above, you can use Google Classroom to distribute a template for the assignment.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Plate Tectonics and a Search Lesson

This is a post from my archives that fits with the theme of Geography Awareness Week. 

This morning I responded to a Tweet from someone who was looking for "plate tectonics virtual experiences for students." My mind immediately went to using Google Earth. A quick search in my archives and I found this lesson plan calling for using Google Earth to teach plate tectonics and I found this Google Map filled with placemarks containing questions about plate tectonics. I knew that I could find more Google Earth files related to plate tectonics if I just spent a few minutes searching. 

Instead of just opening Google Earth and browsing for tours about or related to plate tectonics I went to Google and searched according to file type. The file types supported in Google Earth and KML and KMZ, but KML is more commonly used. So to conduct the search I entered plate tectonics filetype:kml You can also accomplish the same thing by opening the advanced search menu in Google and selecting KML from the filetype menu. In the video that is embedded below I demonstrate both methods of searching for Google Earth files. 


You can learn more search strategies and how to teach them in my on-demand course, Search Strategies Students Need to Know. And learn more about Google Earth in A Crash Course in Google Earth & Maps.

A Google Earth Lesson With the "I'm Feeling Lucky" Button

Since it is Geography Awareness Week I thought I'd pull a lesson plan from my archives to share with you. 

From voyages to games to simple measuring tools, the web version of Google Earth has a lot of neat features that can help students learn about the world. One of those neat features is the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button that is found on the left hand toolbar in Google Earth. Clicking that button will take students to a randomly-selected place in the world. 

On its own the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button provides a good way for students to discover new places. That said, students learn more through the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button  if you give them a little more direction than just "click the button and look around." That's why I created a little question sheet to prompt students to do a little research about the places they discover in Google Earth via "I'm Feeling Lucky." My question sheet can be found here as a Google Doc

This short video demonstrates how students can explore Google Earth in more detail after clicking "I'm Feeling Lucky."



To learn more about using Google Earth in your classroom, take a look at my Crash Course in Google Earth & Maps for Social Studies. Use the code GEOAWARENESS22 for a 50% discount this week!

Fifty Tech Tuesday Tips

Are you a tech coach, tech integrator, or media specialist who has been asked to run a little tech workshop? Do you need some ideas for it? 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!