While searching for a TED talk for my 5th graders last week, I came across one that I hadn’t seen before. It was given by Beau Lotto, a neuroscientist, and Amy O’Toole, a 12-year-old published scientist.
Beau and Amy tell the story of a class of 8 and 9 year-olds and their serious scientific research into the fascinating minds of bees, which eventually became known as the “Blackawton Bees Project.” During their talk, we learn about the mistaken perceptions that we can have – such as underestimating the abilities of bees to reason and the abilities of young people to make meaningful contributions to our society. It’s a great video that should inspire adults and children to challenge common assumptions and believe that we can all make a difference in the world.
You can find more inspirational videos for students here. I also curate inspirational videos for teachers, which are located on this Pinterest Board.
I briefly mentioned Blippar in a post last summer about the Augmented Reality magazine, Brainspace. A tweet from last night reminded me that there are other educational uses for the free Blippar app. In this post by Rob Stringer on Blippar’s blog, you can find some great uses of Blippar for science activities in the classroom. I’m ready to try the solar system one tomorrow!
I am so thankful that my colleague, Suzanne Horan, shared this video this week. Hidden Miracles of the Natural World is a video of filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg’s TED Talk in 2014, where he shared some clips from his film, Mysteries of the Unseen World. The footage serves as an incredible reminder that humans are not alone in this world; we are merely a part of a vast system of living things -many of whom are yet to be discovered.
Randall Munroe was first brought to my attention when a parent directed to me to his fun website, xkcd.com. One of my favorite Randall Munroe comics is “Up Goer Five,” a diagram of the Saturn V explained in simple language. The best part, in my opinion, is at the bottom where it says, “This end should point toward the ground if you want to go to space. If it starts pointing toward space, you are having a bad problem and you will not go to space today.” I feel like this is the perfect metaphor for some of my lessons😉
To my delight, I noticed on one of my “Lists That Can’t Be Missed,” that the author of The Kid Should See This, has recommended Munroe’s new book, Thing Explainer, as a great gift. I’m one of those geeky teachers who asks for things for her classroom as gifts, and my husband kindly indulged me by putting it under the tree.
The book’s Table of Contents is called, “Things in this Book by Page.” Munroe is kind enough to put the more formal names of each explained thing underneath the titles, which you may find more necessary in some cases than others. For example, “Boat that goes under the sea,” is a submarine.
Of course. What do you think “The pieces everything is made of,” refers to?
Periodic table. Maybe you got that one, but I have a feeling that, “Shape checker” won’t come so easily to you.
You’ll have to buy the book to find the answer to that one😉
I see a lot of uses for this book in the classroom. Have students pick a page and do research to find the actual names for each part on the diagram, for example. Or, don’t show them a picture at first, and have them try to guess what it is as you read the descriptions. Another idea is to, once the students see some examples, have them create their own “Thing Explainer” diagram for something that is not in the book. (Challenge them to use only the words on Munroe’s list of the “Ten Hundred Words People Use the Most.” They can check sentences with his simplewriter tool online.)
Included in the book is a nice poster of a “Sky Toucher” which I intend to laminate for my classroom. If you’re interested in other xkcd merchandise, here is a link to the store (which includes a poster of the Up Goer Five).
The Kuriositas blog posted this beautiful video that was inspired by the life of Carl Sagan. It’s nearly 10 minutes long, but well worth showing to your students if you want to encourage curiosity and following your passion.
I have mentioned before that, if you are going to spend money on a Makerspace, littleBits are a worthwhile investment. The company has added to their Educator Resources since my last post, and I want to point out a few links that you may find useful, especially if you are new to using this product.
littleBits now offers an Educator’s Guide. It includes some of its older resources, but nicely bundles them into one document. In addition to the Challenge Cards that I’ve posted about before, the Guide also includes specific curriculum references and justifies their use in the classroom. This could be very helpful to those of you applying for grants. I also like the “Reverse Engineering” suggestions on page 21, the “Example Lessons” on page 23, and the “Troubleshooting Tips” on page 25.
Another item that I noticed on the littleBits Educator Resources page is the “Project Booklets.” This PDF gives project suggestions based on the type of littleBits kits you have. This way you will not challenge your students to a project that includes pieces you may not have.
Don’t forget that littleBits offers Educator Discounts, and that some of the kits can also be purchased from other vendors, such as Amazon.com.