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NBC Olympics: Science of the Olympics

What it is: The winter Olympics start tomorrow and students around the world will be watching and rooting on their favorite Olympian, sport, or country.  The Olympics offers some fun new learning opportunities to the classroom.  Olympic Science is one such opportunity.  NBC has several Olympic science videos in which students can learn about physics, motion, energy, biology, chemistry and math.  Videos include Slapshot Physics, Aerial Physics, Figure Skating, Snowboarding, Alpine Skiing, Skates, Mathletes, Bobsled, Motion Inside the Body, Short Track, Modern Skis, Suit Up, Curling, Ski Jumping, Safety Gear, and The Internal Athlete.  These videos walk students through the actual science that is taking place in the winter games. How to integrate NBC Olympics- Olympic Science into the classroom: My students are always shocked to learn that there is a lot of math and science in athletics.  These videos show students exactly how closely science and math are entwined in everyday life.  Olympic Science videos are for students who are forever asking the question “how am I going to use this?” (and shouldn’t they all be asking this!).  In the bottom right hand corner of the Olympic Science site you will find more science data.  These are quick facts about the science in the sport.   I really enjoy using video in the classroom, students can watch, rewind, pause, and re-think the concepts they are seeing.  Combine the Olympic Science site with a Wallwisher where students describe the science in the sport, or create a Wordle with new science vocabulary that students learned. Tips: The Science of the Olympic Games was produced by NBCLearn, part of NBC News that brings news, events, and issues into the classroom.  There is a great video collection that includes Word Roots (an animated series that explores the roots of English words), Common Errors in English Usage (animated videos that uncover common errors in English grammar and usage), and Mini Documentaries (hundreds of 2-6 minute documentaries on American history, economics, culture, and political cartoons). Please leave a comment and share how you are using NBC Olympics-Olympic Science in your classroom.

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Playfic: create, play and remix text-based games

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, History, Interactive book, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 08-01-2013

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What it is: Playfic is a site that let’s users create, play and remix online text-based games.  I may have lost some of you already…but don’t leave yet! A text-based game is a genre of game that uses no graphics or sound, but instead, uses text to tell a story in an interactive world.  Think of a choose your own adventure tech-style.  Students can create a story that others can interact with by directing the story using words and phrases.  As an example, the story might be about a forest, describing what you can see East, West, North and South.  The player would type in a direction “East”, hit the return key, and the story progresses.  You can try out a sample text-based game here.

How to integrate Playfic into the classroom: Playfic has all kinds of good stuff for classrooms.  To create a story, students must first learn a little bit of coding.  Tutorials are included on the Playfic site, and are easy enough to get your students up and running in no time.  There is even a link to an Inform 7 (coding language) recipe book that will have your students dreaming up new scenarios and actively researching how to make them come to life.  Students can create games for each other while strengthening their writing and grammar skills.  This is wonderful for fictitious writing, but could also be used for students to explore “what ifs” in history and science.  Students can take a moment in time and dream up what might have been different about the world if the event hadn’t happened the way that it had.  As they are researching and learning about the actual event, they will also be analyzing why the event is important and critically thinking about it’s impact on the world we live in.  Similarly, students could explore a science experiment, hypothesizing what will happen and the different outcomes that might occur.

Teachers could create these choose your own adventure stories for students for new learning or review of a topic.  Wouldn’t it be cool to have a story using sight word vocabulary that prompted practice with the sight words?

I know a handful of students who really struggle with writing…it is PAINFUL.  These students are brilliant. They have great ideas to share. One of the students I have in mind came up to me today and said, “over break I taught myself Lua (programming language).”  Students like these will be all over this type of writing.  What a cool way to engage them and excite them about the writing process in a new way.

One of the things that I really like about Playfic is that it takes a lot of planning, organizing, and thought to create this type of story.  For some students the planning/organizing portion of writing is a real struggle.  This site would be so useful in teaching students the importance of those steps.  I also love that it will have them researching and looking up solutions for how to make their ideas come to life.  Just like we do every day in the “real world.”

Tips: The Inform 7 Recipe book can be found here. 

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  Playfic in your classroom.

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