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!

osprey with dry grass flying in blue sky above nest
3-12, Books, Science

Swoop and Soar

Two of my favorite picture book authors have teamed up again to produce another non-fiction masterpiece, Swoop and Soar. You may recall the fantastic book by Deborah Lee Rose and Jane Veltkamp, Beauty and the Beak, which I reviewed back in 2016. That story related the uplifting journey of an eagle who was given a 3d printed prosthetic after her beak was shot off by poachers. Jane Veltkamp, the raptor biologist who led the team that engineered the new beak (and who has lifetime care of Beauty), returns in Swoop and Soar when a pair of osprey chicks are orphaned by a storm.

Cover photo credit: (c) Ann Kamzelski from Swoop and Soar, used by permission

Reading about the plight of the chicks and Veltkamp’s clever and science-based plan to find them new parents in the wild is fascinating and suspenseful. Once again, Rose and Veltkamp distinguish their book from other non-fiction by crafting a personal story around the scientific facts, and highlighting it with amazing photography on every page.

(c) Scalder Photography from Swoop and Soar, used by permission

Swoop and Soar is an excellent companion to Beauty and the Beak. Both books are perfect for teaching STEM, with compelling narratives and intriguing information about raptors, conservation, and careers in science.

You can learn more and see Rose’s other books (including Astronauts Zoom, which I’ve also reviewed) here. Veltkamp’s site is Birds of Prey Northwest. Swoop and Soar is available for pre-order for its September, 2022, publication date at Bookshop.org, Amazon, and B&N.

Mary Gertsema, (c) Jane Veltkamp from Swoop and Soar, used by permission
earth blue banner sign
3-12, Science, Videos

Box and Escalade

I know that it’s a bit too late for the actual Earth Day observance on April 22, 2022, but I just came across these short animations that are perfect for showing students, and thinking about the consequences of our actions on the world around us. They are both by a studio in Brazil, Birdo Studio.

Box is a little over a minute long, while Escalade is about 90 seconds. (I’m linking to the article about Escalade on the Kuriositas blog, as that is where I originally found it.) There is no dialogue in either video, so you don’t need to worry about translating.

Escalade reminds me of a simplistic version of The Butter Battle by Dr. Seuss, which I used to use with my 5th graders when we discussed systems thinking and escalation behavior. There are lots of applications where you could find use for the video, such as how consumerism and our quest to appear “bigger and better” to those around us is making our world less stable.

Box could be used for basically the same theme, but it has many more details and clever animation that may make you want to watch it more than once.

Caixa from Birdo Studio on Vimeo.

I’ll be adding this post to my Earth Day Wakelet, though of course we shouldn’t be thinking about the potential effects of our greed on the planet just one day a year. I’ll also add this to my Inspirational Videos for Students Pinterest Board, where you can find over 200 other videos that might be useful in class.

Creative Thinking, K-12, Videos

Tinkerhunts

For anyone new to 3d design, Tinkercad is the perfect entry level program. It’s free, web-based, and contains lots of tutorials. As a teacher, you can create classes and assign projects that you can oversee through a dashboard. I’ve used it with students from 2nd grade through 12th, so it’s quite a versatile tool.

I had no experience with 3d design when our school got its first 3d printer, so I have great empathy for anyone starting from the beginning. Tinkercad is very user-friendly, but it requires some adjustment if your brain has had as little spatial reasoning practice as mine did when I first began. That’s why I think these Tinkerhunts from HL Modtech (Mike Harmon, @HLTinkercad) are pretty genius. In the first one, he gives kudos to his student, Kingston, who first gave him the idea for these three-dimensional virtual scavenger hunts. Each video (21 as of today’s blog post) introduces the Tinkerhunt for that week, and includes a link to the project in the video description. Students can click on the link (or you can post it as an assignment) and they can then search for the objects within that week’s design. Mike has his students post the locations of the 5 hidden items in the comments, but you can come up with an alternate method that works for you.

This idea is good because it can help students to get familiar with the Tinkercad tools, while also seeing a variety of ways that they can be used. It will give them practice while hopefully inspiring them to create their own designs. Mike also includes some tutorials in the video descriptions, like this one for “Unicorn Dude.”

While Tinkercad can be a means to an end for 3d printing, it doesn’t have to always be used that way, as Mike’s Tinkerhunts demonstrate. It’s excellent for creativity, reinforcing Design Thinking, and practicing spatial reasoning. For more ideas on ways Tinkercad can be used, check out this post that I did last August.

women sitting on the couch
3-12, Art, history, Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies

Women in Culture

International Women’s Day will be celebrated on March 8, 2022 this year. I have some links to activities and lessons on my March Holidays Wakelet, but I ran across the “Women in Culture” page on Google Arts and Culture the other day and wanted to make it more widely known. I could spend days exploring this site! I know you don’t have days, hours, or even more than a couple of minutes, so I’ll point out some highlights that will make it worth your while.

Let’s start by passing all of the great images and scrolling to close to the bottom of the page, where you will see this section:

If you have no other time to bathe yourself in the beauty of this site, definitely download some of the free lesson plans, which will give you guided tours through some of the amazing images and information available to you about inspiring women in all types of careers.

Still have a little time? Maybe you can browse through this exhibit of “11 Women Who Changed the World,” and try to learn more about the incredibly gifted females (Still have a little time? Maybe you can browse through this exhibit of “11 Women Who Changed the World,” and try to learn more about the incredibly gifted females who have made universally positive contributions (many of whom rarely appear in school textbooks) who have made universally positive contributions in field ranging from art to science.

Speaking of science, women in STEM are all over this page. For a small taste of what you can find, take 2 minutes to watch this superhero video about one of those women, who is using biomimicry to discover new materials to monitor our health. A few more videos from the series can be found by scrolling about 1/4 way down the page to the section, “The science of tomorrow.”

If you’ve got upper elementary or secondary students beginning Genius Hour/Passion Projects, this would be a great page for them to browse for topic inspiration. Help them find unique subjects like the “Sea Women of South Korea” or the evolution of “Women in Sports.”

Discover the women who made a difference while increasing your motivation to help more young people learn of these achievements so they, too, can see what is possible.

person pointing on a miniature toy robot
Computer Science, K-12

Day of AI

I know, I know. You’ve got tons of curriculum to cover and here I am telling you about learning that isn’t going to be on a standardized test. But here are a few things that might change your mind about participating in Day of AI 2022: it’s on May 13 (so many of you will be done with standardized tests, or close to finished and we all know how challenging it is to keep students engaged at the end of the school year), you don’t have to do it on the exact date, you need absolutely NO experience, and the resources and participation are absolutely free.

No matter what your opinion is of Artificial Intelligence, the fact is that it is becoming more and more prominent in our everyday lives. Explaining it to our students, and educating them on the potential good and bad ways that AI can impact their lives makes sense — and the resources provided on the Day of AI page are fascinating and relevant. (There are more to come, but you do need to sign up for the free registration to access them.) There will be activities for grade K-12, and you might find, as I did while looking at the materials, that you learn some things you didn’t know as well.

One of the most popular posts in recent months on this blog has been the one I did last year on AI generated poetry, so I know that there is definitely some interest in this topic among my readers. Code.org has dedicated an entire section on AI lessons for students here, and I have a Wakelet collection of other educational resources on Artificial Intelligence as well. From Blueprints for Alexa to Machine Learning for Kids, and multiple fun Google Experiments, there a multiple ways to help your students understand the basics of AI and consider its implications while having fun.

blue bright lights
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com