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Virtual Apple 2: Oregon Trail

What it is:  Those of you who were in school or teaching just as schools were starting to get computer labs will appreciate this post.  Remember Oregon Trail?  The original Oregon Trail?  It still exists!!  Virtual Apple 2 has an online space where you can play games from the Apple 2 days.  I loved Oregon Trail as a student and now it is back in all of its glory.  No need for a mouse you type in a number to make selections, or “Y” for yes and “N” for no.  I can’t tell you how excited I was to find this great game just the way I remember it!  For those of you not familiar with Oregon Trail, this is a game designed to teach kids about pioneer life.  The player assumes the role of wagon leader and builds a team and purchases supplies that will help to make it from Independence Missouri to Oregon by way of covered wagon in 1848.  It was a great role playing game that had a lot of learning packed in! How to integrate Virtual Apple 2: Oregon Trail into the classroom:  Students today aren’t nearly as impressed with this game as I was/am.  At first, they will not appreciate playing the game for the sake of playing the game.  In my classroom, I like to introduce this site to students to give them an idea of the history of technology and what computer graphics and games looked like when I was a student.  They enjoy comparing and contrasting Apple 2 Oregon Trail with the games that they like to play today.  This site is a great way to start discussions with students about where technology has come from and where they predict it will go.  (What will games look like when they have kids?)  After knowing the history of this game, my students appreciate it SO much more.  They really get into it and ask the same questions I asked as a kid, “what is yellow fever?”.    The difference being that today they can go to Wikipedia or World Book Online and discover their own answers.     Tips:  Virtual Apple 2 has all of those games that you remember playing when having a colored screen instead of orange or green was really something.  Take a look through and re-discover those games again!   Leave a comment and tell us how you are using Oregon Trail 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 […]

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


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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