Category: science sites

STAVCON 2011

zooniverse

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This week I was fortunate to attend the Science Teacher’s Association of Victoria annual conference, held at La Trobe University, Bundoora. I presented two well-attended sessions of “A Digital Toolbox for Teaching and Learning Science“, for which I received some excellent feedback.

The Keynote address on Day 1 was Professor David Jamieson, from Melbourne University, who spoke about “Physics, Power and Climate Change”. It was a very sobering analysis of climate data over millenia, the relationship between climate and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and our currrent insatiable appetitie for power. He highlighted the imbalance between the consumers of power in the developed countries and the effects of climate change that will impact more severely on people in developing nations.
On Day 2, the keynote speaker was Dr Tanya Hill from the Melbourne Planetarium, who had a very inspiring plenary titled “Where to Find Aliens”. She had some awesome space images and great information about how new exoplanets are being discovered virtually every week and how some of them may be quite earth-like and capable of supporting life. She challenged us to think which was more incredible, that we are the only planet in the vast universe that harbours living beings or that there are other places where life goes on. One of the web sites that Dr Hill recommended was “Zooniverse“, which has eleven “missions” which are “citizen science projects” – that the general public can participate in. Zooniverse includes eight space missions, one about nature, one about humanity and one about climate.

Scoop.it, SpongeLab and QR codes

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This week I have had some time to explore a few more sites and tools for science teaching and learning. SpongeLab has just launched a new site with graphics, animations, interactive games and a teacher’s section. You can set up classes and save a playlist of activities for students. You and your students have access to a free digital library of scientifically accurate and stunningly beautiful images, graphics, simulations and animations including exciting interactive games such as “History of Biology”, “Build a Cell” and “Build a Body”. SpongeLab uses credits to unlock premium activities, which are earned by time online (or purchased through PayPal).

Another great new resource is “Scoop.it“, which I came across on Twitter. Joe Evans has curated an “iPads in Education” e-magazine from various sites, and I used the tool to produce two Scoop.it titles “Education for Sustainability” and “VCE Biology“. Although the site is in beta, it seems to work really well – even on the iPad, which is not ideal for all purposes (I have found it of limited use in Google+ and blogging). Once you are registered and choose a title, you can select articles from various sources to add to your e-magazine. I was quite chuffed to discover that Lisa Neilsen, writer of “The Innovative Educator“, had mentioned me in her latest post about this tool.

This tool is a great way to introduce a topic to students, compare perspectives and editorial styles or collect resources for a project. I posted the Scoop.it link to my students on our Facebook page, where they can access videos, slideshows and other content that may be blocked at school.

Have you noticed those mysterious black and white squares popping up around the place? QR (quick response) codes are used like bar codes to store information, but have a much greater capacity. They can store over 7,000 characters, including URL’s, names, adresses, phone numbers or other information that can be quickly and easily transferred to a mobile phone or other device with a camera and the appropriate scanning application. Mr Robbo (the PE Geek) wrote about them way back in 2009 and they have been used in Japan since 1994 (according to Wikipedia). A very inventive use of the codes can be seen above, from Flickr, where the Periodic Table of QR Codes takes the user to a video of each element in the periodic table.

Mid-year break – time for exploration and reflection

More_tools

Only two days into the July holidays and I have found some great resources I want to share with students and teachers. I’ve been playing around with the new Google+, which seems to me a more suitable social networking tool for schools than Facebook, due to the ability to share in ‘circles’ and customise who sees what.  Google+  isn’t fully functional on the iPad yet, but I think there are some well-paid and very clever people working on that.

Web 2.0 Tools:

  • Top 25 Websites for Teaching and Learning from the American Association of School Librarians – what’s different about this list is that it is categorised and aligned to standards.
  • Animaps allows you to create informative, animated maps using Google maps as a base for photographs and annotations. You can also do this in Google maps, but Animaps seems to have more options for photos and text. This would have been great for my Year 8 class’s “Rock Around the World” project, where they used a wiki to identify and write about different types of rocks around the world (Wave Rock in WA, Grand Canyon in USA and Cappadoccia in Turkey for example).
  • Buncholinks allows you to create a group of web links and send them easily by email or post as one link on Twitter. How is this different to Diigo or Delicious? Probably less useful because you can only save up to 10 links, but the ability to email specific links to a group of people might be useful.
  • A Cleaner YouTube  is a browser extension for Chrome, Firefox and Safari that removes the related videos,  so there is less chance of students coming across inappropriate material.
  • Dear Photograph, What Was There and HistoryPin work on the principle of placing an old photograph in the present day and writing notes to accompany it. Georgina Pazzi had the great idea to use this concept for visualisation and goal setting. Students place themselves in an existing scene and create a new scene of the future with themselves in it. It might also be useful for science projects – changes in our environment over time including deforestation, erosion, succession.
  • Overstream allows you to add subtitles to online videos – ask students to explain a science concept shown on YouTube, Vimeo or other online video site.
  • ZooBurst allows students to create “3D” pop-up books online. Teachers can create logins for students, without a student email address. It reminds be of StoryJumper and Kahootz, in that you can search for backgrounds and clipart and add them into your page. You can also upload your own images.

Web sites for Science Teachers:

  • Teacher Tackle Box is a site where you can search by subject, theme and topic for webquests, thinkquests,  favourite links and Trackstar tracks.
  • Seven Online Science Projects, for all grade levels, allows students to share data with others around the globe.
  • Twig is a UK education site for short videos on all science subjects. Only some are free – you need to subscribe for access to the entire library.
  • ScienceTV has a list of tips and suggestions for creating science videos in classrooms.

I hope you find some of these tools interesting and let me know how you have used them in your classes to improve learning outcomes – I’ll keep you posted at Technoscience with examples of how these tools can be used with middle years science classes.

Top Ten Volcano sites

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To celebrate Earth Science week I have compiled a list of my top ten sites for learning about volcanoes:

  1. Volcano Live web cam List of links to 23 web cam sites at volcanoes around the world.
  2. How Volcanoes Work, sponsored by NASA
  3. Virtual Volcano Explorer from Discovery Channel
  4. Forces of Nature from National Geographic
  5. Interactive Volcanoes
  6. Volcano Project by Oregon State University
  7. Volcanoes On-line – an Oracle ThinQuest project – by students for students
  8. Global Volcanism Program by the Smithsonian Institute
  9. This Dynamic Planet by USGS – Science for a Changing World
  10. Volcanoes for Kids – images, different types, how they form and erupt.

Maybe you know of another great site to learn about volcanoes? Just add it to the comment section below.

Maths In Nature

fibonacci sunflower

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Maths is often considered boring or difficult by many people, but I am looking forward to showing this video (Nature by Numbers) to my Year 6/7 students after the holidays – it captures the simple beauty of maths in nature, using magnificent images created by Cristobal Vila. Thanks Denise, our art teacher at Hawkesdale, for this link. Another friend, colleague and mentor (Marg) has sent through a link to an article about Learning Media, a New Zealand company who produce web resources and CD-roms with interactive learning experiences for students, suitable for the NZ and Australian curriculum.

Another interesting link came through from the Victorian Association of Environmental Education, to an article by Sue White, “Teaching for the Future“. This article outlines Sustainability initiatives in a couple of great Australian schools and links to teacher’s resources. Victorian schools now have a two week break, with Easter in the middle, before returning for Term 2. I will be busy planning Maths, Science and Biology classes, as well as preparing for the Ultranet, an Education Department initiative to “connect students, parents and teachers” with a “21st century, online learning platform”.

Welcome Back to School!

I’ve hit the ground running with four new classes in 2010 – 6/7 Maths and Science, Year 8 Science and VCE Biology. We have many new students to the school in our 6/7 program, so it has been a busy first week introducing them to the values and expectations of our school and making sure everyone is feeling comfortable.

Some useful science resources I have discovered recently are:

Interactive Teaching in Science – the UK Dept. for children, schools and families national Strategies and Standards

CAST Science Writer – A free site for students to write up practical reports and submit by email, including writing prompts, text to speech reader and animated helpers. great for reluctant writers.

And for Writing Individual Learning Plans for Special Needs students –

Teaching Every Student Blog

Goal Bank for Students with Special Needs

Feral Future

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This week in Year 8 Science you will continue with your project on Invasive Pests. If you go to the Invasive Pests page  of our wiki “Extraordinary Animals” you will find the names of all the pest species, linked to a page where you can post your work. The first task is to add an image of your pest and describe it’s appearance, behaviour and distribution. Make sure your images are Creative Commons – copyright free. Flickr is a great place to start looking for images. Each page has links to further information, but add your own links if you have found information form other sources. You can find some more images at the Rogue’s Gallery  or the image gallery at Feral.org.au

Another interesting site that was recommended this week is “Extreme Science” with World Records in the Animal Kingdom. Read about the biggest, oldest, strongest, fastest and deadliest animals in the world.

Compound Machines

auger poster

A bicycle is an example of a compound machine – a machine made up of several simple machines. A bicycle includes levers and fulcrums, wheels and axles, gears and a pulley. Your task is to find and print a picture of a compound machine – a crane, an auger or an excavator are all examples. Create a poster labelling all the simple machines in your picture. You may find “How Stuff Works” and “Library Think Quest” useful sites to assist your understanding of simple machines. How Stuff Works also has some useful videos showing pulleys, levers and different compound machines.

Here are two of the posters that year 8 students produced, labelling the simple machines within their compound machine. Henry took some pictures of the grain header on his farm to show inclined planes, levers, pulleys and gears.

header poster

Forces and Simple Machines

simple machine

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This week in Year 7 Science we will be looking at Forces – conducting experiments using contact forces (friction, bouyancy and surface tension) and non-contact forces (gravity, magnetism and electr-static forces). In Year 8 Science we will be studying Simple Machines – inclined planes, levers, the wheel and axle, pulleys and gears. One of the best sites to find resources for these units of work is Science-Class-net. There are hundreds of activities, demonstrations, experiments, graphic organisers, quizzes and slideshows about all science topics. I am very grateful to Mr. Poarch, a retired science teacher, for sharing all his wonderful resources collected over a lifetime of teaching and making them accessible on the internet.

Some more sites to check out………..

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Ingenious is a site with the ability to search over 30,000 science and technology images from the Science Museum, National Railway Museum and the National Museum of Film, Photography and Television.

The Whiteboard Blog , from the UK, has some excellent resources, including a post with “Powerful Images to give Lesson’s Punch” and links to Science resources.

This interactive animation, from a NZ site, shows how the planets in our solar system rotate around the sun. This is a great tool to assist students to visualize the scale of the solar system and how planets orbit.

Glogster allows you to create online posters for wikis and blogs, using templates and your own images and text. Here is an example of how a science teacher at Fairview Park High School, in Ohio, uses Glogster EDU.

Stixy is a site for creating an on-line noticeboard for sharing ideas, images and links. Anne Mirtschin has used it with students to ask “What would you like changed in our school canteen?”. I’d like to see one for our Year 11 students to comment on their recent two-week work experience in Melbourne.

SchoolTube is another site where you can search and share student videos. SchoolTube is the recognized leader for moderated, internet media sharing for teachers and students. All student created materials on SchoolTube must be approved by registered teachers, follow local school guidelines, and adhere to high standards.