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
Off on a Tangent training using Ethics Depth and Complexity Mat
K-12, Math, Teaching Tools

Off on a Tangent

I had a wonderful time yesterday working with NEISD GT on some math enrichment activities in a workshop I titled, “Off on a Tangent.” We mashed up a Slow Reveal Graph with Depth and Complexity mats and tried out the Connect, Extend Challenge Visible Thinking Routine with Splat. (The latter could have gone better, I think, with higher quality facilitation on my part. Definitely improving on that next time!) Even though they had just completed challenging working days, the teachers were receptive and enthusiastic as they explored the many resources I tried to curate just for them to either use with their students in GT or to recommend to classroom teachers for students craving new challenges.

I’m grateful for still having many opportunities to be involved in education despite “retiring” a couple of years ago. Thanks to all of you for allowing me to continue to be a part of this world whether it is by reading my blog posts (which admittedly often go off on a tangent), connecting with me on social media, or inviting me to present professional development. It’s an honor to regularly interact with and learn from so many rock-star educators!

Diarra Bousso Guey, Senegalese Mathematician
Careers, K-12, Math

More Math Inspiration

One hashtag that is always sure to reveal exciting math resources is #MTBOS (Math Twitter Blog-o-Sphere). That’s how I discovered Nathan Day (@nathanday314), and a couple of his great shares. With his permission, I am putting the links in this post as I really want more people to become inspired by math and mathematicians. If you’re a teacher with a few blank spaces on your wall, some of these might be great additions!

First, here are Nathan’s files for 50 Mathematical Quotations. You can access them as a Powerpoint file (which can be added to Google Drive and converted to Slides if needed) or PDF:

Next, these are his files for 82 famous mathematicians from around the world:

I love seeing the diversity and representation (53 countries), and I think it will help your students to see that as well.

Thanks to Nathan for putting these together and sharing them! He also gave some shouts out to @DrStoneMaths, @SimonYoung10, and @Desmos for the versions/blog post on which he based his Famous Mathematicians posters, so thanks to them, too. As Sir Isaac Newton said, “If I have been able to see further, it was only because I stood on the shoulders of giants.”

from Famous Mathematicians, compiled by @NathanDay314
Colorful fraction pieces and math sign
K-12, Math

Build a Math Mindset with a #WIM Playlist

If you’re still thinking about how to begin the school year on a positive note with mathematics, you might just want to consider a Week of Inspirational Math. I first blogged about this seven years ago, and the site has added more and more resources since that summer of 2015. Not only that, but there are a lot of features that make it even more helpful, including a method for creating a free, personal playlist of hands-on math activities that will work best in your classroom setting. The original WIM plans were posted annually, with 5 days of math activities designed to encourage discussion and thoughtful analysis while promoting a positive attitude toward math. You can still access those by clicking the button on the top banner, or you can search for specific activities and filter by grade level (K- College) and topic and create your own five days of math. You can see the newest activities for 2022 here.

I often share on this blog about my journey from being fearful of math to truly enjoying it, and I told my students the story every year because I wanted them to know that it can be done. So, when I see resources like Week of Inspirational Math, I want to shout about them to every educator who teaches math. These are the kind of activities that help children to see that math is not a subject that can only be mastered by the most nimble minds — and it can often be quite fun.

I’ve added the link to this year’s WIM resources to my Back to School Wakelet, which has other ideas for you as well. WIM is also one of the 73 sites in my Math Sites That Won’t Make You Fall Asleep collection, if you’re looking for more reasons to stray away from the textbook;) In addition, I’ve added a new Professional Development session for 2022, “Off on a Tangent,” in which teachers learn about methods to help their students to hypothesize, discuss, and apply their knowledge in diverse situations that will provoke their curiosity and stimulate an appreciation for the complexities of mathematics. 

Portrait of schoolgirls by the blackboard pointing at a math problem and looking at camera
Math doodles on chalkboard
3-12, Math

Math Fun with Howie Hua

One thing about me that I always made sure my students knew is that I used to hate math. I dreaded it, and my anxiety levels were super high during class and when I did math homework. It wasn’t until I was in high school, where I encountered some amazing math teachers, that I realized I could enjoy math and even look forward to it. To this day, I love discovering exciting math lessons, puzzling websites, and educators who demonstrate a true passion for this subject.

Speaking of the latter, I follow @Howie_Hua on Twitter. Because I’m slowly learning the value of TikTok, I only recently became aware of Howie’s TikTok videos. This is one in particular that I came across a couple of weeks ago that I think my GT students would have delighted in (and not only because he mentions Fibonacci):

@howie_hua One of my favorite math tricks #math #mathematics #mathtok #teacher #teachersoftiktok #maths ♬ original sound – Howie Hua

Howie has puzzles, math jokes, and more tricks on his TikTok channel here. Whether you’re a math teacher looking for some fun to fill in the spaces between standardized testing and the end of the school year, want some warmups to start class, or just like to play around with math, Howie Hua should definitely be one of your resources.

I’ll be adding this to my Math Sites That Won’t Make You Fall Asleep collection. Don’t forget to follow me on Wakelet so you can get updates on new resources that I add to my ever-increasing bookmarks!