Ed Tech Ideas

Tech Integration for Busy Teachers

Tag Archives: Science

Space Shuttle Delivered to the Smithsonian

Here’s a great video of the Space Shuttle being delivered to the Smithsonian Institute.

Check out the Smithsonian’s YouTube Channel for hundreds of other educational videos.

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The Space Place – from NASA

NASA has created a great new site for kids to learn more about Earth, the Solar System, The Universe, and much more. Within each section of The Space Place, there are games, activities, videos, interactives, and a wealth of information written so that kids will grasp it.  There’s a great Parents & Educators section with activities and information to help guide students through the site. The amount of information within The Space Place is mind boggling – students can return over and over and still find something new that they had not seen before.

 

Great Sites to Learn About Outer Space

This week I’m highlighting three great sites about space and our solar system.

Solar System Scope

Solar System Scope is an amazing site that allows you to zoom around our solar system and view the planets and the Sun in amazing detail. To see the orbits in action, you can click play at the bottom of the screen and watch the rotation and revolutions of the planets as they make their journeys around the Sun.  With Solar System Scope, students really get a feel of the size of the solar system and how long it takes the outer planets to make their orbits. There are also controls that allow you to switch from heliocentric, to geocentric, and panoramic views. You can also toggle on and off the stars and constellations.

50 Years of NASA

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, NASA launched a nice interactive sitethat showcases all of the developments that have occurred over the last 5 decades in space travel and exploration. There are tons of places to explore to learn all about the space agency, its missions, details of specific rockets, and information about astronauts and leaders in the industry. My favorite part of the site is when you use the decade slider at the bottom of the page, there are different audio devices of the time that play top hits from that era. Man the 80s rocked! Thanks to @ktenkely and her great blog for the find!

Google Sky / Moon / Mars

Google has teamed up with astronomers from some of the largest observatories in the world to create Google Sky. This is a great tool to learn about constellations, planets, and solar systems. Just as in Google Maps, you can easily pan around and zoom in, and you have the ability to view the sky in infrared, microwave, or historical. Make sure to click on Moon and Marsto see some stellar (you knew that was coming) views of these far off places.

Happy exploring! 

Cool Science Sites for Kids

In celebration of Robert Bunsen’s 200th birthday, I’m dedicating this post to four cool science sites for kids.  If you’d like to see some of my other favorite science sites, click here.

1. Periodic Table of Videos

The Periodic Table of Videos is a site created and maintained by The University of Nottingham. Clicking on any of the 118 chemical elements brings you to informational videos all about that element. A great site for self-directed learning!

2. Catch the Science Bug


The educational goals of Catch the Science Bug are to, “Increase science literacy and raise environmental consciousness by adhering to national standards and guidelines for content and use different teaching methods to engage all types of learners, and encourage life-long learning by featuring scientists who model this behavior.” The site has big goals, but it hits them pretty well. By using the Science Files section, students can learn about various scientific concepts by reading, watching videos, and completing activities.

3. Science Bob

Science Bob is a fun, interactive site that has several different areas for kids to choose from. There are videos, experiments, science fair ideas, and a research help link with a plethora of fantastic links to other sites.  Don’t forget to click on the “Whatever you do, Don’t click here” button (or not).

4. Bunsen Burner Flip Chart (Promethean)

Here’s a simple flip chart that you can download for free from Promthean Planet to illustrate the flame types of a Bunsen Burner depending on valve position.  There is also a series of photographs to identify element flame tests. (Note: You must be logged in to Promethean Planet to download the chart).

Cool Tools for Writing – Part IV

This is part IV in a series dedicated to free, online writing tools for kids. You can view part I here, part II here, and part III here.

1. Writing With Writers

Part of the larger Scholastic site, Writing With Writers provides an excellent resource for writing. There is an excellent section for kids called, Computer Lab Favorites (Teacher View Here | Student View Here), that has a variety of writing tools like Story StartersMyth Brainstorming Machine, and Poetry Idea Engine; as well as learning games like, It’s Greek to Me (great for Real Spelling connections), and Fish Up Word Endings. Along with all the great writing tools and activities, there are also sections for MathScienceSocial Studies, and Spanish that require no prep and can be completed in 15-30 minutes.

2. Zoo Burst

Zoo Burst is a digital storytelling tool that allows you to create lively 3-d pop-up books with sounds and actual pop-up effects when you turn the page.  You first create a free account, and then use the simple interface and tools to begin creating your book.

3. Bitstrips

My favorite comic creator, Bitstrips allows students to create fun comics on any topic of their (or your) choice. Students can use Bitstrips for free, but the $78 annual subscription allows teachers to create a classroom with individual student accounts and create assignments that students submit to you when they are finished. EdTechIdeas: I’ve had classes recreate scenes and plot lines from books, show understanding of rainforest layers, desert environments, and historical events, teach math concepts… The possibilities are endless.

Cool Tools for Writing III

This is part III in a series dedicated to free, online writing tools for kids. You can view part I here and part II here.

1. Learn Something Every Day

Learn Something Every Day is a fun, simple site that is great for a morning opening activity.  In the classroom you could have this site up on the projector every morning to generate discussion or as writing prompts.

2. Grammar Blast

The Houghton Mifflin Company produces Grammar Blast. Grammar Blast offers 35 interactive grammar activities for students in grades two through five.

3. Grammar Practice Park

Grammar Practice Park, produced by Harcourt School Publishers provides 12 games for students in grades three, four, and five.

Cool Tools for Writing II

This is part II in a series dedicated to free, online writing tools for kids. You can view part I here.

Vocab Ahead is a collection of short videos that give definitions, usages, and pictures associated with interesting vocabulary words.  You may subscribe to receive a vocab video of the day and there is also a section of videos by students that are fantastic.

Kerpoof is an online story and comic-creator which allows students to create comic scenes and stories, as well as animated movies, cards, drawings, doodles, and pictures.  Educators are able to sign up for a class account and assign usernames and passwords for each student to have their own individual accounts. There are no ads or inappropriate content and the art work is fun and lively.  Finished products may be saved, printed, or emailed.

One Word reminds me of a writing warm-up activity I used to do with my third grade class. The kids would choose a word and then have 1 minute to write as much as they could on that topic. We called the activity Speed Writing. They would then choose a second word and write on that, and so on. We would do this 3 or 4 times, and each time they would count their words and I would graph the results. Every time, they would write more (I would purposely give them a couple of extra seconds more each round… shhh!). My mantra during this activity was, “The more you write, the more you write.”  One Word works the same way. After clicking on Go students write as much as they can. After the minute is up, they enter their name and email and they can see what they wrote, as well as what others have written on the same topic.

Cool Tools for Writing

This is part I in a series dedicated to free, online writing tools for kids. You can view part II here.

1. Storyjumper

Storyjumper allows you to create online books using a plethora of characters, scenes, and props. Teachers can, for free, create classes to register students so they each have their own account. As of this writing, there does not seem to be a limit as to how many student accounts you can create.

2. Read Write Think Printing Press

ReadWriteThink creates a lot of great educational resources. With Printing Press students can create a booklet, flyer, brochure, or newspaper fairly easily. There is a nice guide that walks you through the process and the focus is on writing. There is a place within each publication for a picture, but not one that you can add from your computer. This space is reserved for students to draw a picture after printing.

3. Grammaropolis

Grammaropolis is a fun, interactive site that helps students learn about the parts of speech.

EdTechIdeas: These 3 sites can be great tools to help struggling writers, as well as kids who love to write.  I’ve seen my students so excited about story writing with StoryJumper. The Printing Press makes it quick and easy for elementary kids to create nice looking publications, and learning about grammar and the parts of speech has never been more fun than with Grammaropolis.

Paragons of the Week – Super Teacher Tools, EdHeads, Kineticcity

Episode 37 >> Previous Paragons

1. Super Teacher Tools

Super Teacher Tools has a bunch of great teaching tools that allow teachers and students to create games, quizzes, charts and a variety of other useful things for your classroom. The most popular is a Jeopardy Review Game that you can create custom Jeopardy games for your students. EdTechIdeas: I use this site to have my students create review games for other students to play. They must first research a given topic, come up with questions and answers, and then use those facts to create a game.

2. EdHeads

EdHeads helps students learn through educational games and activities designed to meet state and national standards (US). EdTechIdeas: Students can learn about simple and compound machines, how to predict the weather,  perform virtual knee surgery, and even create a stem cell line.

3. Kineticcity

Kineticcity boasts that they have “the most amazing collection of science experiments, games, activities, challenges, and more.” Along with a pretty solid set of science related games, there are also have hands on games and activities, mind games, and activities for creative writing and art. Kids will really dig the interface. EdTechIdeas: Kineticcity is a production of The American Association for the Advancement of Science, with support from The National Science Foundation, and therefore, all of the content is US standards-based.  There is an educator section with ideas on how to start Kinetic City Club, and also an area to print out forms and leader guides. This would make a nice addition to your current science program or be a great program to start as an after school extension.

Google Body Browser

Google’s latest 3d venture, body browser, allows you to tour the inner-workings of the human body.  You can zoom in to see the muscular and skeletal systems, fly around the organs, and go inside the brain. Take a look at the video below to see how it works.
Note: As body browser is still in beta, you need to have the latest version of Google Chrome, or Firefox 4.0b1

EdTechIdeas: My 5th grade classes are currently studying human growth and development, and this will make an excellent resource for the kids to get a deeper understanding about how our bodies work.

Paragons of the Week – Collaborative Revision w/Google Docs, Learning Science, Story Home

Episode 36 >> Previous Paragons

1. Teach Collaborative Revision with Google Docs

Google Docs has recently partnered with Weekly Reader to come up with ways to help teachers teach collaborative writing to students. Two of the many features of Google Docs is the ability to have multiple people working on the same document simultaneously, and also, the intuitive ability to insert comments into a document. If you are new to Google Docs, they’ve broken this process down into four steps:

  1. Download a step-by-step tutorial [pdf] for Google Docs.
  2. Learn about the comments and revision features of Google Docs [pdf].
  3. Download, print, and share the following articles [pdf] with your students:
  4. Download the Educators Guide: Teaching Revision with Google Docs

EdTechIdeas: Google Docs is great for students to write collaborative poems, stories, book reports, movie scripts, essays, and more. Students can “hand in” their writing and the teacher can make comments and “pass it back” to the student for corrections and improvements. The nice thing about using comments is that editors can see who added what, as a time and date stamp, along with the users name is displayed along with each comment. Going further, a revision history can be accessed for any document to see who did what when.

2. Motion and Forces (Learning Science)

Part of Learningscience.org, this is great place to find games and activities that help students learn about and develop understanding of the fundamental concepts of principles of motions and forces.  There are 17 different activities listed here with explanations about what each learning tool teaches. EdTechIdeas: With high interest games like Simple Machines, Energy Skate Park (very cool), Galileo Drops the Ball, and Projectile Motion (Blast a Buick out of a canon – who wouldn’t like that?), Motion and Forces really come alive and are made understandable for students.

3. The Story Home

The Story Home is a site where students can go to hear free audio stories of original and classic tales. You can search for specific stories, or choose from the many different categories (animal stories, fairy tales, holiday stories, and a bunch more).   EdTechIdeas: The Story Home would be a great listening center. If you’re lacking in computers, subscribe to the podcast, put some stories on an iPod, add one of these, and you’re good to go. Have students write in their own words what they listened to. Re-write the ending to a story. After listening to a few stories, have your students record their own stories (original or classic) and turn them into podcasts for all to enjoy.


9 Great Science Fair Sites

Science fairs have been going on for quite some time now. I still remember making a working electromagnetic telegraph with my dad in his garage when I was just a lad, strolling into my school gymnasium with my 3-fold poster-board tucked proudly under my arm, and knowing without a doubt that I’d be walking away with that 1st prize blue ribbon (until I saw Scott Johnson’s 5-foot tall tornado simulator).

If your school is planning on having a science fair, or if your students are simply interested in learning more by doing, here’s a list of great science fair resources to get you experimenting.

Discovery Science Fair Central

Science Fair CentralEasy to search using the Idea Finder, Discovery’s Science Fair Central has hundreds of resources and projects to get young scientists motivate and focused. The interactive Display Board help section is a must-see.

Science Fairs

This site has been around since 1995 and is designed to aid students in the most difficult aspect of their science fair experience; getting an idea.

Science Buddies

Great resource for idea finding divided into topics. There’s also a Topic Selection Wizard that guides you through a series of questions to help students narrow down their selection based on their likes and interests. After going through the wizard, there are follow-up resources to get students moving in the right direction.

Science Fair Adventure

Fantastic resource with comprehensive listings that feature science fair projects across several distinct categories, including chemistryphysicsbiology, and many more. Each project is listed in an easy to follow manner with step-by-step instructions on how to carry out the project.

Science Bob

Fun site – Science Bob has a lot of activities and experiments for students to try out.

All Science Fair Projects

Nice resource with different ways to search for science fair ideas. Probably the most useful is the Browse section which allows students to find ideas in 10 different categories.

100 Cool Science Experiments

Kids love watching videos and this site has (as the title suggests) has 100 great videos all about science experiments!

Parents Guide to Science Fairs

We’ve all seen it – the amazing exact replication of a nuclear reactor with flashing lights, sounds, and real smoke. The projects that didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that they were created by, well, a rocket scientist. This site helps parents define their roles in helping their child with his or her science fair project.

PBS Science Fair

PBS has a nice spin on science fair idea generating. Students click on a spinner and new topics appear with a link that takes them to more information about the topic that they chose. There’s even videos of the project in action!

Happy experimenting!

Insect Life Cycles

As part of our science curriculum we teach a unit called “Structures of Life.” A great resource to use for this unit is the cuddly mealworm (which are actually larva, not worms). They’re easy to care for, the metamorphic phase is relatively short (each stage takes a few weeks), and let’s face it, they’re downright cute.

Resources

Here are some resources I use when having my students do research on the life cycle of a mealworm.

  • All about Mealworms – Enchanted Learning. Great site for information gathering about your loveable mealworm.
  • More Mealworm Info – Good facts here from the University of Arizona
  • Mealworm Webquest– Lots of facts and pictures here from Golden Lake Elementary School.
  • Insect Brainpop – “Diversity of Life” (This movie  now requires a Brainpop subscription)
  • Images of Insects — Lots of good images and facts from the Iowa State University’s Department of Entomology.
  • FossWeb – Great collection of information for teachers and students

Ideas

Some projects that I’ve done in the past with my third grade students include Movies, PowerPoints, Webquests, Collaboration Project with High School Biology Classes, Creating Mini-books, Microscope Explorations, and Interviews with Entomologists.

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