jellyfish floating
3-12, Independent Study, Math, Research, Science, Websites

The Deep Sea

The Deep Sea is a fascinating website designed by Neal Agarwal (@NealAgarwal). Neal has placed the creatures of the ocean at their typical depths, and you can scroll down from 18 meters at which you find Atlantic salmon and manatees all the way to the deepest part of the ocean at 10,901 meters deep. Little pieces of trivia are interspersed here and there, such as when you reach the point that is equal to the distance to the height of Mount Everest.

Students who are intrigued by the ocean and/or unique animals would love this site, and you can also integrate math with comparisons to other distances. For example the world’s current highest building, the Burj Khalifa, is 828 meters high. When you get to around that depth, you can find Giant Oarfish, which can grow to 11 meters long. Have students brainstorm ocean creatures they know and estimate where they might be found in “The Deep Sea.” To learn more about deep sea creatures that may or may not be on The Deep Sea site, check out this slideshow from the Smithsonian Institute that includes the frightening-but-cute yeti crab.

exotic reef manta ray swimming undersea in sunlight
Photo by Svetlana Obysova on Pexels.com

By the way, Neal Agarwal has a variety of other interactive sites that might interest you here. There’s a 3d “Design the Next iPhone” where you can not only drag and drop components that you want to had, but you can also create a video where your phone is “announced.” If you like the philosophical discussions generated by the classic “Trolley Problem,” try “Absurd Trolley Problems” for some macabre humor. And there’s more! I’m definitely adding his site to my “Fun Stuff” Wakelet. Although I must admit, comparing my hourly wage to other on the “Printing Money” site was not quite as fun…

wildlife of flock of penguins gathering together
Independent Study, K-12, Science, Websites

Zooniverse

Zooniverse bills itself as the “largest platform for people-powered research.” It hosts a multitude of projects to which volunteers can contribute data that will help researchers in various fields. You may have heard of citizen science. Zooniverse takes this concept, and extends it to literature, art, and other areas of study as well.

Many of the resources are targeted toward college students, but there are several projects that would be suitable for younger children and a wonderful way to encourage them to learn more while feeling like their actions have a purpose. For example, the first project that I investigated was “Penguin Watch.” The goal is to identify Rockhopper adults, chickens, and eggs, as well as any other animals that may appear in the images that you are shown. Once students understand the task, it is just a matter of clicking on the right color and then the animal in the image to make the count. It’s actually slightly addictive and strangely therapeutic.

Screenshot from Penguin Watch Project on Zooniverse

One incredible second grade teacher, Fran Wilson, developed an entire unit for her students around another project, “Floating Forests.” In a science lesson on habitats, she began by sparking the children’s interest in sea otters. As the students learned more and became more invested in the preservation of this delightful creatures, they did research and other hands-on projects before the teacher eventually introduced them to a way that they could help by counting kelp forests on satellite images. Her blog post is an excellent blueprint for a way to engage students in something that they find meaningful and relevant. She provides many links as well as examples of student work along the way.

In 2020, Zooniverse provided this blog post of online learning resources that they had curated from their site, including a list of age-appropriate projects for 5-12 year olds. Please be aware of their note, “there is no age limit for participating in Zooniverse projects, but children under the age of 16 need parent or guardian approval before creating their own Zooniverse account.” I was able to participate in the Penguin Watch project without an account, so it is possible to use the site without signing in.

If you are a secondary teacher, there are also ideas for you in the blog post of online learning resources. In addition, I found this Edutopia article describing a lesson that high school biology teacher, Robin Dawson, did with the Snapshot Ruaha Project.

You may decide that Zooniverse won’t work as a class activity, but keep it in mind for independent projects, such as Genius Hour. Also, explore the project types as they are not all science — and not all based on imagery. For example, I found a fascinating one on the “Maturity of Baby Sounds.” I would even suggest, in some instances, having Zooniverse as an option in a calming area in your classroom where students can go if they are feeling like they need to cool down or are over-stimulated.

black and white penguin
Photo by Jack Salen on Pexels.com
assorted color sequins
K-12, Teaching Tools, Websites

March Holidays

With March approaching so, so quickly, I decided to spend some time making my March Wakelet today. It has resources for all kinds of upcoming celebrations, like Mardi Gras/Carnival (March 1, 2022), National Reading Day (March 2, 2022), and more! Pi Day and St. Patrick’s Day already had their own Wakelets, but I linked them in the March collection as well. While I was at it, I was able to add even more (can you believe it?!!!) to the Wordle Variations group when @LeslieFisher shared Star Wars Wordle on Twitter today and some people replying to her linked Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings versions. In the meantime, I’ve been working on polishing up my next online course, Genius Hour: The Quest Begins, which I plan on dropping on March 1st, and refining my upcoming presentation for NEISD Elementary Librarians this Friday on the Visible Thinking Routine, “Main–Side–Hidden.”

So, despite the very strong temptation to snuggle with my canine weighted blanket, Gemma the Giant Great Dane, on this gloomy Wednesday, I feel like I’ve been somewhat productive. Hopefully, some of you will find something that benefits you in what I’ve done!

hello march printed paper on white surface
Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com
Anti-Racism, history, K-12, Motivation, Websites

The Legacy Project

The Legacy Project is a virtual museum from Microsoft that celebrates the Black and African-American people who have made positive contributions to our world historically and through the present. It is an immersive “360 degree” experience with different virtual exhibit halls and multimedia presentations. Here is a brief introductory video:

Of course, I immediately chose to visit the “Young, Gifted, and Black” exhibit because there is nothing that makes me smile more than seeing students who are making a difference.

Sign in Young, Gifted and Black Hall in Microsoft’s Legacy Project

I immediately gravitated toward Bellen Woodard’s portrait. Bellen is titled, “World’s First Crayon Activist” because of the work she did to help people to recognize that “flesh color” is not just one color. You can read more about Bellen and view a video of her explaining how she began her “More Than Peach Project” which includes a book she authored and a new line of crayons that will be for sale later this year.

Bellen Woodard, one of the many inspiring students featured in the Young, Gifted and Black Exhibit

There is a lot more to explore in Microsoft’s virtual museum, and it appears to be an ongoing project. I’ll be adding this to my Anti-Racism Wakelet, where you can now find 70 free resources.

Have a great weekend!

3-12, Games, Math, Websites

A Puzzle A Day

I sing the praises of the Mathigon website quite a bit on this blog, but I know that many of you don’t have the time to dig deep into all that the site has to offer. Here is a really easy way to get started using its Polypad tool, “A Puzzle A Day.” If you happen to have any digital devices with internet access, this would be a good station for your classroom or a fun challenge for early finishers, and the great thing is that you don’t have to do a thing to change the puzzle each day. Players need to place all of the pentomino pieces on the board so the correct date is left visible. It’s good for spatial reasoning (which, as you know, I strongly support) and, of course, students will need to know the date to do it correctly! Here is a link to the instructions, an example, and another puzzle where you can use spinners to randomly generate the date.

You can find more Mathigon Puzzles and Games here, including a digital version of Genius Square, which was one of my Gifts for the Gifted recommendations last year.

I’ll be adding this to my Brainteasers and Puzzles collection. And don’t forget that you can follow all of my collections here.

close up of human hand
Creative Thinking, K-12, Student Products, Websites

An A-Z of Creativity

I know I probably throw around the phrase “treasure trove” quite a bit, but I can’t resist using it for this extraordinary gift that Donna Golightly (@DonnaGolightly1) has painstakingly assembled and shared for all to use. Her Book Creator resource, An A-Z of Creativity is full of free website tools (and one non-web based tool, Toontastic) that can really make creating fun for both teachers and students. I feel like I am pretty knowledgeable about what’s out there, but I definitely found quite a few links that were new to me, and I imagine you will, too. Thanks to Donna for curating these and making them available for everyone! I’ll be adding this to my “Fun Stuff” Wakelet. When I have time. After I experiment with some of the sites…