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Robot Obstacle Course

What it is: Robot Obstacle Course is an excellent introduction into programming for young kids.  Students are presented with an obstacle course made up of colored blocks and keys.  Students must program the robot to jump over the obstacles and pick up the keys to complete the course.  Through the obstacle course, students are introduced to basic programming language and learn how to think like a programmer.  The obstacles get progressively more difficult and more variables are added. How to integrate Robot Obstacle Course into the classroom: Robot Obstacle Course is a fun way for students to get an introduction to programming skills.  The Obstacle Course includes a lot of logical/mathematical thinking as they decide which variables to adjust to get the robot through the course.  For students younger than third grade, consider completing the courses as a class using a projector connected computer or interactive whiteboard.  Talk through each problem and ask students to offer possible solutions before you test out your robot.  For older students (third through fifth grade) the courses can be completed independently on classroom computers or in a computer lab setting.  As students test solutions, discuss why the solution works, or how the solution should be adjusted for the robot to preform successfully. Tips: This game will put students observational skills to the test!  If you don’t have time for a full game, this is a great thinking activity for those few extra transition minutes in the classroom, project the activity on the board and if they are ready for the transition (for example lining up) they can come up to the board and test their solution on the way to the line. Please leave a comment and share how you are using Robot Obstacle Course in your classroom.

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Solar System Scope: See the solar system in 3D

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 20-04-2011

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What it is: Well, yesterday set me off on a space kick.  Today I spent time with the Solar System Scope site, talk about a COOL way to view the solar system!  Solar System Scope (SSS) is a 3D real-time look at celestial positions with planets and constellations in the night sky.  Students can adjust planet and moon settings, star and constellation settings, earth observatory settings and time settings.  View the solar system from a heliocentric, geocentric or panoramic view.

How to integrate Solar System Scope into the classroom: Who would have guessed the day would come when we could take our students on a realistic field trip through space?  That is exactly what the Solar System Scope makes possible.  For young students, it would be fun to plan a class space mission.  Prepare your students as astronauts, load into your classroom spaceship (which may just be chairs and desks specially configured for the day) and prepare for launch.  “Fly” through the universe and solar system using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  This is almost like having a planetarium right in your classroom. Pretty cool!

Of course after traveling through space as a class, students will want to explore more on their own.  They can do this at a classroom computer center or individually in a computer lab setting.

Older students can get more in-depth using the built-in distance meter to measure the distance between planets.  Each star reveals information about how many light years away it is from earth.  Students can adjust the settings to learn more about constellations.  Time and date can be adjusted to view the solar system on a given day. When students click the play button, they will see a 3D animation of the solar system based on the view they chose.  Very neat!

In addition to using Solar System Scope for science, use it as a launching point for a creative writing activity.  Students can write a fictional story about their travels through space, or even pretend to colonize a planet using factual information about the struggles they would have to overcome.

This site is a great one to use in connection with the NASA 50th Anniversary site I shared yesterday!

Tips: Solar System Scope isn’t finished yet, they are still working on some cool features.  Be sure to watch for a planetary journey for kids complete with an animated talking guide named Zyx, desktop clocks that show all planet positions at the moment, a space-flight simulator screen saver (perfect for the interactive whiteboard!) and a space forum.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Solar System Scope in your classroom!

 

Comments (3)

[...] Solar System Scope shares an interactive 3D view of our solar system. Select the view on the left tab of the screen and choose the telescope to view the stars. Kelly Tenkley shares more about this site on her blog iLearn Technology. [...]

[...] done and dusted, I decided to work on my planning for teaching the solar system. A post by Kelly Tenkley set me off in the right direction. The Nine Planets tour that I mentioned in a previous post shares [...]

Hi,
After the success of SolarSystemScope we have launched a new Watch & Play model

http://www.sunmoonscope.com/

focused on the Sun and the Moon as they appear from the given location of the Earth surface:
- current position of the Sun, its trajectory, time and azimuth of sunrise and sunset
- moon phases, current position and trajectory of the Moon
- seasons, solstices and equinoxes in chart

But the most interesting part is to drag the model in time and watch changes during a day or year.
(polar day and night, analemma and situations on the equator are our favourite)

Enjoy it :-)

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