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The Hobby Shop

What it is:  The Hobby Shop is an amazing interactive site where students can learn about science.  Students can learn about a compound microscope, dissecting microscope, catapults, chemistry, and rockets.  Each section of the hobby shop is completely interactive and has students discovering learning through virtual experimentation.  Students can look through microscopes, each step of the way they are taught how to do things like prepare petri dishes, and clean up properly afterward.  In the chemistry lab students can create an ingredient found in chalk, make a chemical used in photography, make liquids change colors, or test chemicals for electrical conductivity.  Students are led through each step of an experiment just as they would do it in an actual lab.  There is an interactive periodic table of elements that students can use to learn about different elements.  Students can create their own rocket in the rocket lab choosing the body, nose cone, and fins of a rocket and then test it out.  Students can also test out catapults with water balloons. How to integrate Hobby Shop into the classroom: Hobby Shop is a wonderful place for students to experiment and interact with science in preparation for doing the experiment in class.  It is interactive enough to take the place of experiments where the science budget doesn’t allow for a class set of materials.  I am SO impressed with the way that this site leads students through each step of the process to complete an experiment.  Use this site with the whole class using an interactive whiteboard, invite students to come up to the board and conduct the experiment.  This site is also perfect for use as a science center in the one or two computer classroom or for individual use in a computer lab environment.     Tips:  Check out the Teacher Resources for standard alingment, correlating worksheets, and other pdf files.   Leave a comment and tell us how you are using The Hobby Shop in your classroom.

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NASA’s Be a Martian

Posted by admin | Posted in Fun & Games, Geography, History, Interactive Whiteboard, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 22-02-2010

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What it is: I have always been intrigued by space exploration.  NASA’s Be a Martian feeds this intrigue by giving an up close view of Mars exploration.  Here students can virtually explore and learn about the human-robotic partnership that makes virtual exploration possible.  Students can become citizens (this requires them to create an account) or explore with an “Anonymous Tourist Visa”, which is how I explored.  Students can send virtual postcard messages to the Spirit Rover in her new home.  After composing their own message, students are taken to a virtual Mars where postcards with messages rain down.  Students can click on a postcard to read what others around the world have written.  In the map room, students can watch a video detailing the history of mapping and learn how NASA scientists map today.  Students can become virtual map makers by matching up map image fragments, and counting craters.  In Two Moons Theater, students can watch videos starring NASA scientists, explorers, and Mars.    Students can ask and vote on questions that they would like to see answered in the Polling Place.  In Tourist Mars Atlas, students can explore the surface of Mars and learn that there is more to Mars than a giant expanse of tan.   

How to integrate NASA’s Be a Martian into the classroom: Feed your students curiosity about space exploration and Mars with this great interactive environment.  Students have the opportunity to learn about the work that NASA scientists do, practice their observation skills in map making, and learn some great history about space exploration, and map making.  I really like that NASA has included a place for students to ask and vote on questions that they would like answered.  What a neat way to help students understand that we don’t have all the answers and that scientists ask questions, explore, and experiment to learn more.  I think that younger students (primary elementary) would really enjoy the crater counting activity.  Do this activity as a class using an interactive whiteboard/projector or individually as a center.  This will help students to look for detail and practice counting together.  Older students will enjoy trying their hand at mapping Mars and learning more about the history.  Have students learn about the Spirit Rover and her job on Mars before sending a message.  Some of the postcards include location information, it might be fun to track the locations of the postcards in Google Earth with placemarkers.  Then, explore Mars using Google Earth or Google Space.  The Google tools complement this site nicely.

Tips: There is an impressive contest section on NASA’s Be a Martian site, the deadline for entries is April 16, 2010.  The contest challenges us to come up with videos about Mars, interactive software or games, or write an efficient image processing application.  NASA is including us all in the exploration of Mars.  These challenges would be outstanding for older students to take part in…talk about authentic learning!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using NASA’s Be a Martian in your classroom.

Comments (5)

What an excellent way of teaching and learning about space. Way cool!

This looks like a great site to use in the classroom or at home for kids who enjoy space. In my child’s school, they have a “Project Fair” each year and this would be a great idea to help with a project dealing with space.

Authentic learning indeed! It’s wonderful when entities like NASA encourage kids to become involved. AND acknowledge that we certainly don’t have all the answers.

This looks like so much fun. I’m so annoyed that these tools are available to these kids and I was stuck with poorly copied images from an out of date textbook. Great find and share.

I know, I am always bummed that I didn’t get to learn with these tools when I was a kid. That is probably why I geek out about them so much now…gives me a chance to learn like a kid!

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