Category Archives: Science

Playing with the Periodic Table

One of my students recently professed his fascination with the Periodic Table, and it seems like hundreds of Periodic Table links have suddenly shown up on my social media sites.  I decided to curate a list for him, and it seems only fair to share it with you.

 

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World’s Largest Periodic Table image from David Gleason on Flickr

 

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Good Thinking!

The Smithsonian Science Education Center worked with Fablevision Studios and science experts to produce the web series, Good Thinking!  The Science of Teaching Science.  Each of the short (about 6-10 minutes) animated videos is designed to address a common student idea or misconception about science.  For example, one video disproves the unfortunately common “neuromyth” of people being either right-brained or left-brained –  “Why Right-Brained is Wrong… Brained.”   Each video offers detailed references regarding the research it is based on, as well as a professional development guide. Although the target audience of these videos is science teachers, some of them may also be good to show students.  Before you embark on your next science unit, take a moment to explore Good Thinking! The Science of Teaching Science to find out how to make your lessons even better.

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from: Good Thinking!  The Science of Teaching Science

Leela Kids

The “Wow in the World” podcast from NPR is just one of the many kid-friendly podcasts that can be curated by the Leela Kids app, which is available on iOS or Android. Download the app to your mobile device (search for it under “iPhone Only” in the iTunes store – even though it works fine on iPads), and open it up to see a simple menu that allows you to choose an age bracket (3-5, 5-8, 8-12, 12-15*) and a category (Stories, Music, Animals, Ocean, Space, and Curious).  Once you’ve made your selections, you can then see either a list of specific episodes or the list of shows that provide those episodes.  The duration of each podcast episode is listed under the title.  Some are a minute long, while others can be almost a half hour.

How could you use this?  Well, as a parent and/or a teacher you may know how difficult it is to search for appropriate podcasts.  Now you have a treasury your children can listen to during long car trips or in classroom centers with a set of headphones.  The great thing about this is that podcasts have frequent updates so there is a slight chance that you will never run out of episodes!

If you are using this in the classroom, you can gather student reflections using a response sheet like this one from Chase March.  Students searching for topics for Genius Hour projects may find something that they may want to research further. Another idea is to use the app to find relevant podcast links for class, and embed those links in a Hyperdoc.

As you can see, there are many ways to use podcasts in class, and the Leela Kids app just made it even easier.

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Leela Kids App

*If you teach secondary students, here is an article on “Likewise,” a more robust collection of podcasts that can be used in the classroom.

Wow in the World

“Wow in the World” is a new podcast from NPR that brings interesting science and technology topics to families.  Hosted by Guy Raz and Mindy Thomas, this weekly show is between 20-25 minutes long, making it the perfect listening entertainment for carpools, short road trips, and family hangouts in the kitchen.  Designed to appeal to adults and kids, the topics so far range from space vacations to hermit crab wrestling.  With its quick pace, fascinating subjects, and (somewhat goofy) jokes, “Wow in the World” is a fun way to integrate STEM into the busy lives of families. You can listen and subscribe here.

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Click here to listen or subscribe to Wow in the World from NPR

Steamography

Leland Melvin is a former football player.  He also happens to be a retired astronaut. (The two careers happened in that order.) Steamography has joined with Leland Melvin to create a site that tells his story as the first in what they plan to be a series of “ographies” about people who have lived STEAM-driven lives.  You can learn more about Steamography’s mission here.

I can’t think of anything that might be more interesting to children than a football player turned astronaut – except a football player turned astronaut who loves dogs.  Fortunately, Leland Melvin fits that description, as you can see from the cover of his recently published book, Chasing Space. (There is also a Young Reader’s Edition of this book.)

On Steamography’s Leland Melvin page, your students will be greeted with fun comic-like graphics, short videos from Melvin on such topics as, “What it’s like to spend Thanksgiving in space,” and eight STEAM activities.

If this site is an indication of the future Steamographies that will be featured, then I am looking forward to this being an incredible resources for my students to inspire and motivate them to learn more about STEAM careers.

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Chasing Space, Young Reader’s Edition

 

 

Flipgrid Explorer Series: Raptors

About three years ago, we tried out a tool called, “Flipgrid” for a project that my students were doing for Genius Hour.   We were using a trial version and I decided against a paid subscription and I didn’t think I was ready to invest in that at the time. However, I am seeing a lot of features that make Flipgrid a potentially exciting classroom tool.  Basically, Flipgrid allows you to create a topic, and other people can add videos to respond to the topic.  All of the video responses are collected on one page, which makes it easy to access them.  This means that people can reply asynchronously, (as opposed to a Skype interview, for example) which allows for participants from all over the world to add videos when it is convenient in their time zones.  For global learning, this can be an invaluable tool.

Recently, Flipgrid started offering a free account.  Although it obviously offers less features (you are limited to one grid instead of unlimited, for example), it is still something worth trying.  One grid still allows unlimited topics.  Another way that you can experience Flipgrid for free is to participate in its “Explorer Series.”  In the first edition of this series last October, Flipgrid offered weekly videos from an Antarctic marine biologist along with questions to which students could respond.  Flipgrid just launched the second edition, which will be two weeks of posts from Mike Billington of the University of Minnesota Raptor Center.  The first topic is, “What is a common bird in your community? What can you do to support their environment?”  Mike’s first video shows him with a live bald eagle, a site many students don’t get the chance to see.  It would be interesting to connect this experience with Beauty and the Beak, and certainly a great way to make the last few weeks of school engaging and educational.

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image from Pixabay

It’s a Zoo Out There – #TCEA17

Just to clarify, “It’s a Zoo Out There,” was a presentation I saw at TCEA this year; I’m not making any kind of commentary on the people attending the conference 😉  In fact, I was so blown away by the incredible sessions I was able to see over the course of my three days in Austin that I tweeted something about how TCEA reaffirms my belief that there are so many unbelievably passionate, gifted teachers in our world working to improve education each and every day.

“It’s a Zoo Out There,” was a TCEA presentation by Dina Estes and Kerry Woods from Lewisville ISD in Texas.  They teach a multiage K/1 class, and have done this particular project based learning unit for a few years.  The students research animals, draw pictures,  and use digital tools to record information to present. Then, they create a virtual zoo in the hallway to display what they have learned.  Zoo visitors can scan QR codes to watch and listen to the students present. The zoo looks different each year because these awesome teachers allow the students to plan it.  One group wanted to group the animals by habitats, and other groups had their own ideas.  No matter what, the display is open to the rest of the school to visit – giving the students a genuine audience for their hard work.

Anyone who balks at having students this age do research, participate in project based learning, or make use of technology needs to look at this presentation.  The teachers provided tools, including a timeline, that show how all of these things can be done successfully.

Thanks to teachers like these, hopefully even more educators will be inspired to try this project!

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image from: Pixabay