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Virtual Spirograph

What it is: Remember Spirographs?  I had a set that could keep me busy for hours.  As I was searching back through websites to align with curriculum, I found the virtual Spirograph on Math Playground.   Virtual Spirograph lets your students determine colors, pen positions, and the radius of the circles.  Students can then draw the Spirograph adding layers.  One of the best features of this fun site is the “where’s the math” button that shows a break down of the math involved in the spirograph activity. How to integrate Virtual Spirograph into the classroom: Virtual Spirograph is a great way to teach practical (and fun) math.  Students will learn about epicycloids and what happens when they adjust radius and reflector placements.  Virtual Spirograph will help students visualize difficult math concepts and create fun artwork in the process.  This is a great site to introduce with an interactive whiteboard or projector.  Students can take turns adjusting the pen position and radii.  Encourage other students in the class to predict what the epicycloids will look like based on the radii chosen and the pen position.  Then click draw and discuss what actually happened.  Virtual Spirograph can be set up as a math center for students to visit in the one or two computer classroom.  Students can visit the center in small groups and take turns predicting the outcome as a partner adjusts the pen position and radii. Tips: The Virtual Spirograph relies on a flash player, make sure you have one before using this site with students. Leave a comment and tell us how you are using Virtual Spirograph in your classroom.

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Maxwell for Google SketchUp

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Art, Create, Math, Middle/High School, Science, Secondary Elementary, Software | Posted on 21-11-2011

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What it is:  If you aren’t familiar with Google SketchUp-you should probably start here and here.   SketchUp is an incredibly powerful, FREE 3D modeling software that lets your students create impressive 3D models.  Maxwell takes SketchUp to a WHOLE new level.  Maxwell for Google SketchUp brings students advanced rendering in an easy-to-use package for free.  The best part: Maxwell is fully integrated so that you don’t have to export or use an external application to render an image. Rendering happens in “real-time” so as your students are adjusting their SketchUp models, they can see the changes in Maxwell.  Maxwell is compatible with Windows and OSX!  With Maxwell students can create materials, set lights and cameras and render 3D scenes.  These are incredibly powerful tools…I cannot believe that they are free (I’m a little nervous to say that too loud in case they decide to change their minds!).

How to integrate Maxwell for Google SketchUp into the classroom: Maxwell takes student work in Google SketchUp and polishes it up to a professional level.  Truly, the results are akin to what the professionals turn out!  The SketchUp/Maxwell combination are wonderful for graphic art classes, math and geometry modeling, advertising lessons, engineering classes, architecture, science models, etc.

Don’t let the impressive results fool you, I’ve had 3rd grade students who made some amazing models using SketchUp.  I look forward to introducing them to the Maxwell plugin so that students can see their work come to life in ways that they couldn’t do before.

At Anastasis Academy, we have several students from 2nd through 8th grade who are extremely interested and passionate about architecture.  Google SketchUp is where I send them!  Students can plan, create and build.  Maxwell will allow them to visualize their creations in totally new ways.

I don’t understand why more schools don’t put these types of tools in the hands of students more often.  Exposing students to tools like this, gives them the opportunity to explore their passions and interests.  The tools are getting easier and easier to use and the number of tutorials is astonishing.  You (the teacher) don’t have to know how to use these tools inside and out, your job is to let your students know they exist, and help them find the resources to use them.  No excuses!

Tips: Using rendering tools teaches students about materials, light sources, shadows, etc.  Use Maxwell to teach students these science concepts!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Maxwell for Google SketchUp in  your classroom!

Comments (1)

Totally agree, Kelly. I hope more and more teachers embrace the role of guide on the side, as parents make it clear to the policy makers this is what they want for their kids. Maxwell sounds fascinating!

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