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Smithsonian Virtual Museum

What it is: I learn about great websites for the classroom from a variety of sources, I heard about the Smithsonian Virtual Museum from my dad.  This is the most amazing virtual look at a museum I have seen.  Students can take a self guided tour through the whole museum.  They can navigate room by room using their mouse to “walk” through the museum, or  navigate by clicking on the room or exhibit they would like to visit on the museum map.  Camera icons throughout the museum show students hotspots where students can get close to an object or exhibit panel.  This is a truly amazing way for students to learn about natural history.  Students can explore the ocean hall, ancient seas, dinosaurs, early life, fossils and plants, mammals, African cultures, ice age, western cultures, reptiles, insects, butterflies, plants, bones, geology, gems, minerals, and the hope diamond.  As students explore the museum, the map will show which exhibits have been visited and which have yet to be visited.  I am completely amazed by this site and could spend hours going through the exhibits myself, students will love it!  THIS is what virtual field trips should be! How to integrate Smithsonian Virtual Museum into the classroom: Not all schools have the luxury or the funds to take a field trip to the museum.  Not all cities have great natural history museums like the Smithsonian.  This virtual tour is the next best thing to taking an actual field trip.  The museum can be viewed full screen which would be outstanding for an interactive whiteboard or projector.  The museum and exhibits will be life size for students to explore.  Allow students to guide the tour using the map and navigation tools.  As you “walk” from exhibit to exhibit take the time to stop and discuss what students are seeing and how it relates to what they are learning in class.  Students can also explore the Smithsonian individually on student computers. It would be a neat assignment for a group of students to study the different exhibits in the museum.  The groups could explore and research the exhibit and then give classmates a ‘tour’ of their exhibit acting as exhibit guide with an interactive whiteboard or projector. This is an incredible FREE resource that every classroom should use.  Even if you have access to a natural history museum for field trips, this site is still incredibly useful.  Prepare for the field trip before hand by visiting the Smithsonian Virtual Museum or follow a field trip with the site.  Compare and contrast your local natural history museum with the Smithsonian. Tips: Make sure that you have all the appropriate plugins required for this site before using with students. Leave a comment and tell us how you are using Smithsonian Virtual Museum in your classroom.

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NASA Space Place

Posted by admin | Posted in Fun & Games, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Language Arts, Math, Podcasts, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, video, Websites | Posted on 14-01-2010

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What it is: NASA has hundreds of excellent educational resources online.  NASA Space Place is another awesome site for elementary kids to explore science and space.  The Space Place has fun online games, animations, projects, and fun facts about Earth, space and technology.  Space Place Live is an animated talk show where all the guests are real scientists and engineers who work on space and Earth missions.  Students can find out what it is like to work for NASA, how the scientist or engineer got started, and what they like to do for fun.  There are currently 7 episodes that students can enjoy topics include: solar wind, satellites, weather, space missions, telescopes, engineering, the birth of stars, Mars, robots, and black holes.  Even though the show is animated, the experts involved are the actual experts.  NASA Space Place has a variety of on and offline games with everything from scrambled pictures, to world puzzles, crazy quizzes and board games.  Students can learn more about weather, space, satellites, the environment, (and much more) through game play.  There are a variety of projects and experiments on the site with step by step directions for students.  These are great for the classroom, science fair, or at home on a rainy day.  Space Place makes finding games, animations, and projects related to your curriculum easy arranging the site by subjects.  Use Space Place when you are learning about planets and the solar system, stars, galaxies, and black holes, laws of the universe (light, motion, gravity), the Earth, and space technology.  Space Place has several storybooks that can be viewed on or offline.


How to integrate NASA Space Place into the classroom: Because of the wealth of resources on this site, there are a variety of ways to use it in your classroom.  The animations are a neat way to bring expert scientists and engineers into your classroom.  Share an animated video a week as your students explore the solar system and universe.  The games reinforce learning, use them as a center activity on the classroom computers as they relate to your curriculum.  Many of the games encourage exploration and trial and error (these are my favorite kind of learning games for students).  Students can explore the Amazing Facts section of the site and then complete the trivia game to test out their understanding.  In the project section, you will find experiments and science crafts. Choose some of these to complete as a class or assign each student a different project to test and share with the class.  Projects would also make an excellent stop during science fair time.  Use the Space Place Storybooks as animated flipbooks online as a class with a projector/interactive whiteboard, or print them out for your classroom library.  The books could be used as an online reading center on your classroom computers as well.  These stories are sure to capture your students imagination!


Tips: Be sure to check out the educator page on NASA Space Place, it is packed full of good ideas, newsletters, printable images of space for bulletin boards, space related articles, math related articles, printable posters, and podcasts to download.  With the renewed push for STEM education, there has never been a better time to include sites like NASA Space Place to excite and engage your students.


Leave a comment and share how you are using Nasa Interactive Timeline in your classroom.

Comments (1)

Fun way to learn about space.

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