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BBC Build a Catapult: the science and math behind the catapult

What it is: Any time students can dig in and discover learning for themselves, I consider it a success.  Recently I ran across the BBC’s DIY build a catapult.  The site lets students explore the history behind the catapult, learn how to build one step by step and then discover principles of velocity, acceleration, force, distance and math.  With the popularity of games like Angry Birds, I think a lesson in the science and math behind the catapult is in order.  I like the step-by-step nature of this site and the way that kids are guided through a series of directions. How to integrate BBC Build a Catapult into the classroom: Begin with a time of inquiry where students can inquire into how catapults work, what they can launch, what they have been used for in the past and the science and math behind the catapult.  This site will help answer a lot of their questions and even prompt some additional questions.  Students can follow the step-by-step directions for constructing their own catapult.  Give students the opportunity to test their catapults, using the science and math concepts behind the catapult to predict where object will land based on angles and mass.  The science section of the site does a fantastic job of illustrating vertical velocity, horizontal velocity, the circumference of a circle, acceleration, force and mass.  These can be hard to understand concepts on paper (or in textbooks) but when students can see the concept illustrated and apply it, they will begin to build a framework of understanding. After students understand the concepts of building a catapult, ask them to try building a catapult out of different types of supplies, do some energy sources work better than others?  Ask students to think about objects in our modern-day lives that use the principles or science used in a catapult. Students can access this site from classroom computers as a learning/building center or go through the steps as a class using a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard. I really appreciated the step-by-step directions for students to follow.  This is such a necessary life skill, and one that I don’t see practiced enough.  If students know how to read, understand and follow directions, the whole world opens for them and Google becomes useful! Tips: At the bottom of the site are printable versions of the directions for building a catapult. Please leave a comment and share how you are using  BBC DIY Catapult in your classroom!

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International Childrens Digital Library

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Foreign Language, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 30-12-2008

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What it is:  The International Childrens Digital Library (also known as ICDL) is an online digital library for children of all ages.  The mission of ICDL is to “ excite and inspire the world’s children to become members of the global community – children who understand the value of tolerance and respect for diverse cultures, languages and ideas — by making the best in children’s literature available online.”  When students visit the ICDL website they are brought to a simple search area where they can choose different options for finding a book.  They can narrow down results by age (3-13), fiction or non-fiction, book length, award winners, language, picture or chapter books, subject matter, and even what colors that cover has in it.  When students choose a book they can read the book in its entirety online.  I learned about this site in the iTunes store, they have a free iPod Touch and iPhone application for downloading books from the ICDL in addition to their online content.  So neat!

 

How to integrate ICDL into the classroom:   The ICDL website reminds me a lot of LookyBook.  The search options are extremely user friendly and allow even the youngest readers to find a book they are sure to love.  Students can register for the library (free) and then leave an online review of the book.  I like the idea of digital libraries for students because it opens up a number of books to them that they may not otherwise have access to.  If a story is started during school, students can finish the story when they get home from any Internet connected computer.  The ICDL is nice for reading groups.  All students can be reading the same book from school and from home without setting aside a large budget for group sets.  The search is a wonderful way for students to discover what types of literature they enjoy.  Many of the books featured are from different cultures and languages, these would be perfect to bring into a foreign language classroom.  ICDL books provide a fun way for students to gain global awareness.  Books in other languages could also be used as a starting point for student created stories.  Students can do picture walks through the online books and then compose their own story to accompany the pictures.  ICDL is a great way to read with the whole class.  Connect your computer with a projector and students can read the story along with you, everyone will be able to see the pictures as you discuss the story!  

 

Tips:  One thing that I really appreciate about ICDL is the ability to view the books full screen and zoom in and out of the pages.  The site is easy to navigate and this feature makes it even more user friendly.  

 

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

Comments (1)

Thank you for your tireless blogging. I have been more inspired by your website than any other this year, and I visit a great deal of websites. I feel indebted to you and look forward to your new posts. You have contributed a great deal to the lives of my students and other teachers in our district as a result of what you regularly share. Please keep posting and thank you!
David

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