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NASA’s Be a Martian

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.

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Piki Kids Comic Creator

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Character Education, Fun & Games, History, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Websites | Posted on 06-10-2008

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What it is:  Piki Kids Comic Creator is an online comic creator for students.  Students can upload pictures from their computers, or search Flickr for images to use in their comic strip.  The comics are very flexible so students can make them uniquely their own.  Students can choose the number of panels, the look of the panels, color choices, and much more.  When students are finished creating their online Piki Kids comic, they can save them to a gallery, or print out.

 

How to integrate Piki Kids Comic Creator into the classroom:  Students love reading comics, there is something about the interaction with a comic that makes even struggling readers willing to try.  I find that the same is true with writing.  Many kids who struggle to write would dread writing out a story or series of events after reading a book.  But, introduce a comic and suddenly those kids who don’t like writing are writing full stories.  Piki Kids Comic Creator is the perfect way to get your students writing about anything.  Studying dinosaurs?  Have the kids find some clip art of dinosaurs that they can upload to Piki Kids and have them write about what they are learning comic book style.  Learning about the Civil War?  Have the students retell the story as a comic strip.  You will see creativity that you didn’t know your students possessed!  Comic strips are also an excellent place for students to “write” a book report after finishing a book.  Comics can be used in science to show processes (like plant cycle…give those plants a voice!)  Comics can be used in math for students to create word problems for fellow classmates to solve.  Use comics in character education, after teaching a lesson, students can illustrate, comic-style, what that might look like.  From the technology side of things, Piki Kids Comic Creator is a great place to teach kids skills like uploading to a website, searching flickr for pictures, changing font, size, and color.  

 

Tips:  Piki Kids Comic Creator is an excellent tool.  Be aware that there are adwords on the website.  I use these as an opportunity to help my student spot advertisements and talk about why sites include ads on websites.  Everything can be a learning experience!

 

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using Piki Kids Comic Creator in your classroom.

Comments (2)

Hi there,

Comics are truly a great tool for educators. You seem to have captured various ways in which they can be used in the classroom!

You could also check out http://www.toondoo.com, an easy-to-use comic strip creator with loads of inbuilt characters. ToonDoo is currently being used by educators from all over the world.

Have fun teaching and learning with comics!
Meera

Hi! I just found your blog and after reading post after post, I’m amazed at all of the great resources you have shared! I too am a technology teacher and many of these I have not heard of. I am going to be teaching a technology enrichment class and I love the Piki Kids Comic Creator. I can’t wait to show it to my kids, they are going to have a blast!

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