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Science of Everyday Life

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Evaluate, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Technology, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 16-05-2013

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What it is:
Discovery Education and 3M have partnered to bring the science of everyday life into your classroom.  This fantastic collection of resources is for students in kindergarten through twelfth grade.  On the site you will find videos and interactives that help kids learn about the science around them and make connections to what they are learning in school.  Lessons are inquiry based and encourage exploration in life science, physical science, earth science and technology/innovation.  Virtual labs are interactive flash-based labs where students can discover more about science like wind energy.  At the Innovation HQ portion of the site, students can travel through time and look at innovations that they use in their every day life and “meet” 3M scientists. On the Student page, students can see a young inventors hall of fame.

How to integrate Science of Everyday Life into the classroom:  The Science of Everyday Life is packed FULL of great videos, lesson ideas, virtual interactives and student activities.  I really appreciate that the approach to lessons is inquiry based!  The lessons include great resources and encourage students to ask questions and dig deeper.  The virtual investigations and labs are also really well done.

Content is separated out by grade level, quickly find exactly what best fits your classroom needs!

The travel through time feature is really neat for students to explore.  This could be done as a class using a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard or used as a center exploration or individual activity in a 1:1 or lab setting.  Split students into smaller teams or have them explore a specific time period independently.  The timeline gives some basic information, and would be a great launching point for further investigation.  Students could turn this into a larger project where they connect the innovation from history with innovations today.  What learning had to take place in the past, in order for the innovation that we have today?  This would make a great compare/contrast activity for students.

Because Discovery Education is involved, you can anticipate high quality videos and related resources.

Tips:  The resources and interactives on the Science of Everyday Life are largely Java and Flash based.  If you are running these resources off an iPad, you will want to use an app like Rover (which allows you to view Flash), Photon, iSwifter, etc.

I’ve been nominated for a Bammy Award for Educational Blogger.  I’d appreciate your vote to help spread the word about iLearn Technology.  Vote here.  Thank you for your continued support!!

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  Science of Everyday Life in your classroom.

An inquiry into sharing the planet: embodied energy awesomeness

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Apply, Character Education, Create, Evaluate, Geography, Government, Inquiry, inspiration, Interactive book, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Science, Teacher Resources, Technology, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 18-03-2013

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You may think that when I’m not posting here regularly, it is because I’ve run out of cool new technology to share…or maybe I’m just being lazy…or tired of blogging.  While I’ve had moments of the latter two, it really boils down to the 24 hours I have in a day.  Sometimes I choose sleep!

This week, I’ve been pulling together our last inquiry block of the year at Anastasis.  I can’t believe that we are down to counting weeks before we say goodbye for the summer.

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Our last inquiry block is an inquiry into sharing the planet.  For our 6th through 8th graders the focus is: “People can choose to take specific actions to help conserve Earth’s resources.”  Each time I put together an inquiry guide for teachers, I am sure to offer plenty of more detailed questions that they can use to help guide the inquiry.  Below are some of the questions I included.

  • What can people do to help conserve Earth’s resources?
  • What are other countries doing to help/hurt conservation?
  • How does United States demand impact Earth’s resources?
  • What country has the most impact on Earth’s resources/the least? Why do you think this is?
  • Is conservation a political issue?
  • What is ecological overshoot?
  • What is embodied energy?

I love helping teachers craft the opportunities for students to be curious, to dig into learning.  During this planning, I found the following resources that are too good not to share!

What it is: Embodied Energy free ebook download.  Created by a design firm, this ebook does a nice job explaining embodied energy.

How to use the Embodied Energy ebook in the classroom:  This ebook is a well designed book that will introduce students to the energy that we don’t see in the objects around us.  This pdf can be projected for a whole class, downloaded on individual student devices or, if you must, printed out.  Use this ebook along with the Sustainability by Design TED talk playlist to spark student interest into embodied energy and how it can impact the decisions we make every day.

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These introductory activities led me to the Energy Trumps project.  This is a design project by the Agency of Design that looked at using design to help people better understand, and take-in-to-account, the way that we build, design and consume.  I absolutely love the idea of students working together as a class to study a variety of materials.  Each student could create one (or several) of their own embodied energy trading  cards to help others understand the environmental impacts of materials.  Students can research key environmental properties of materials including embodied energy, embodied carbon, embodied water, recycled content, extraction intensity and years of reserves.  These can be used to compare materials at a glance.  (If you purchase the cards created by Agency of Design, you get the added bonus of an augmented reality feature that brings the material properties to life to explore in 3D.  Students can test out the different amounts of material they can get for one megajoule of energy.)

Take this a step further and ask students how they can use that information to help design a more sustainable future.  How can they hack every day objects?  How can they change the way that society builds, consumes, etc.?

How can the idea of embodied energy be communicated to a larger audience so that more of the picture is taken into account by the average consumer?

Any time I create a new inquiry block, I work to remember that we are in the business of apprenticing change makers.  These students matter and WILL change the world.  I love reminding students that age does not have to act as a restriction for world change.

Felix Finkbeiner is a student in Germany (similar in age to these Anastasis students) who is changing the world in HUGE ways.  Felix’s Plant for the Planet initiative has started a movement of planting trees…millions of them!  Read the an article about Felix here.

Felix has also addressed the United Nations with a speech to open the International Year of Forests which can be viewed here. 

Students can use this embodied energy calculator to explore their own curiosities.

The Happy Planet Index is a fantastic way to discover the extent to which 151 countries across the globe live happy and sustainable lives based on their efficiency, how many long and happy lives each produces per unit of environmental input.  Data can be viewed in map or table format.

 

I love the potential that a new inquiry block holds.  We offer guidance and some starting places to spark interest, but where students find passion is always exciting to watch unfold.  We truly are in the midst of genius in our students!

The other reason to love inquiry? The brilliant way that it allows room for transdisciplinary exploration, and touches each level of Bloom’s Taxonomy.  I mean really, how can you beat learning that looks like life?

National Center for Atmospheric Research

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Evaluate, Geography, Inquiry, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 17-12-2012

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What it is: Today Anastasis students were lucky enough to visit the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.  It was a truly fantastic experience (if you ever find yourself in Colorado, it is worth a visit! Open free everyday!).  The center has some fantastic interactive exhibits, much like what you find at Exploratorium in California.  In addition to the physical location, the National Center for Atmospheric Research has some wonderful online games, activities and resources for the classroom.

In the Interactives and Simulations for weather, climate and atmospheric science section you will find:

  • A virtual laboratory for creating a weather balloon.
  • A simple virtual climate model.
  • The build a tree dendrochronology activity where students can explore past climates.
  • Compare IPCC scenarios interactive where students forecast carbon dioxide levels.
  • The climate sensitivity calculator.
  • The Earth’s Energy balance virtual lab.
  • Compare solar eclipse photos activity.
  • Solar eclipse memory
  • Sun-earth connections memory
  •  Clouds memory
  • Atmospheric chemistry memory
 In the classroom activities section, you will find:
  • Paleoclimates and Pollen where students can study pollen.
  • Model a moving glacier where students make a model of a glacier and create an experiment to study movement.
  • Glaciers then and now where students study pictures of glaciers taken in the 1900′s and compare them to pictures of the glaciers today.
  • The systems game where students observe a system.
  • Looking into surface Albedo where students inquire into how color affects the way that the sun interacts with Earth’s surface.
  • Feeling the heat where students investigate which parts of their school yard have a higher temperature.
  • CO2 How much do you spew where students analyze energy consumption.
  • The nitrogen cycle game where students play the role of nitrogen atoms traveling through the nitrogen cycle.
  • The water cycle 0-18 and ice cores where students look at proxy data to determine past climate.
In addition to the fantastic activities on the site, students can learn more about the sun and space weather, weather, atmosphere and climate on the NCAR website.

How to integrate the National Center for Atmospheric Research into the classroom: If you are studying weather, climate or atmospheric research with your students this is a must stop site.  It is FULL of great activities, virtual labs and easy-to read and understand information.  Really, take a few minutes to dig in.  Today, when we visited we got to explore some of these virtual labs and games first hand.  Our students watched a short video introducing them to NCAR and what scientists do there.  Next we entered into a classroom where the fun began!

Today we learned about the North and South Poles.  The fine people at NCAR had made globe paddles that had the north pole on one side and the south pole on the other (glued to giant tongue depressors).  They gave the students different facts about the north and south pole and students had to hold up their paddles with the correct answers.  Next, students learned about how polar bears were equipped for the COLD temperatures.  There were tubs of ice water on the table.  Students were asked to place their hands inside the ice water.  We timed how long they lasted in the cold water.  Next, students put their hands in a “blubber” paw and tried the experiment again.  The hand inside the layer of blubber could stay in the cold for a long time with no discomfort.  These blubber paws were actually made with 2 ziplock baggies with Crisco in between the layers and duct-tape at the top of the baggies so that they were sealed together around openings where the two baggies came together.  This left a Crisco pocket that formed the paw.  Students also learned about penguins and how they find their mate in hundreds and hundreds of penguins.  Penguins have particular sounds that help alert their mate.  The penguins can distinguish between the particular sounds that each penguin makes to find their mate.  Students simulated this by each taking a film canister with an object/objects in it.  The students had to shake their canister and find their match using the sound alone.  They had a ball with this!  They also practiced transferring a styrofoam egg from one pair of feet to another without using their hands the way that the penguin does.  Our students also did the glacier matching project (listed above) where they worked in teams to match the original pictures to the new pictures.  Some of these were really challenging as the second picture had NO glacier to be seen!  The kids learned that every glacier in the world is shrinking with the exception of two glaciers in Norway.  Fascinating!

Our classroom today…can’t beat the view!

 

Touching clouds!

 

Our students got to follow the activities above with an exploration of weather, climate, and atmosphere science exhibits.  You could easily recreate the activities above and follow up with virtual simulations, videos and games.  These could be set up as centers for students to explore (the virtual centers on classroom computers).  There is SO much here that exploration of all that the NCAR site has to offer could take days.  The simulations and games would also be appropriate on an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer where students can explore and interact as a whole class.  Allow students to take turns playing scientist.

Tips: While we were at NCAR, our guide, Tim, told us that NCAR was originally established in the 1960s to learn how to control the weather.  This brought up a great discussion about what could happen if humans could control the weather, and what unintended consequences might come along with that.  This would make for a great creative writing exercise or comic strip.  Our students came up with some insightful thoughts on this topic!

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

Using Angry Birds to teach math, history and science

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Art, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, Fun & Games, History, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 18-05-2011

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This post has been generously sponsored by iTutorMaths - GCSE Maths Tutors in the UK

Yesterday instead of dutifully writing a blog post, I was having fun building catapults with kids.  I was playing with a transdisciplinary lesson using Angry Birds as my inspiration.  Yes, you read correctly-Angry Birds.

It doesn’t seem to matter what age group or demographic that I talk to, kids (and adults) everywhere are fans of Angry Birds. As I was playing around with Angry Birds (yep I’m a fan too), I started thinking about all of the learning that could be happening.  I have watched a two year old tell an older sister that “you have to pull down to go up higher”.  I have watched as kids master this game through trial and error.  Being the teacher that I am, I started dreaming up a transdisciplinary lesson with Angry Birds as the base.

I happened to be writing an inquiry lesson that has students look at inventions throughout time and thought: the catapult-that is an invention that has technology and concepts that are used even today.  This is one of those inspirational moments that comes when you are drifting off to sleep and has you frantically searching for paper and pen to record as fast as the ideas come.  So what did I do? I got myself out of bed and went to work sketching out a super awesome plan.

Here is the embedded learning that I came up with:

  • Primary Math: positional math language (above, below, left, right, bottom, biggest, smallest), measurement (distance), angles, shapes
  • Intermediate Math: parabolas, velocity, angels, trajectory, acceleration, quadratic formulas
  • Science: simple machines (lever), mechanics, force, energy, velocity/speed
  • History: history of the catapult, changes made to catapult technology throughout history, modern-day inventions that use this technology
  • Music: Tie in with history, what music was popular in the middle ages when catapults were invented (give students a feel for the culture of the time).
  • Art: Tie in with history, what era of art was happening during the middle ages when catapults were invented (give students a feel for the culture of the time).
  • Language Arts: reflection writing, reading text for information (non-fiction books and websites)
  • Learning: application of Angry Birds on students as learners, application of building a catapult on students as learners (I can’t claim this one it was all @stumpteacher with this blog post).

I set up 3 stations of learning and exploration.   In the first station students found Angry Birds on the iPads (now also available on the Internet in Chrome here), guiding questions, sticky notes and books on the history of catapults and simple machines.  Guiding questions were on chart paper and invited kids to join in the question asking by jotting down their own “wonders” on sticky notes and adding them to the chart questions.  At this station students “tested” Angry Birds and were asked to consider energy, force, acceleration, speed, angle and distance as they played.  Kids had fun with this, I anticipated that they would stick strictly to the  iPad and Angry birds but all of the kids looked through the books at some point.  There was a lot of talk about strategy, what they noticed about angle and how far to pull back on the different levels to get the bird to reach the target.

At Station 2 students found random materials that they could use to build their own catapult.  We included small blocks of wood, duct tape, string, rubber bands, paper clips, plastic cups, smaller dixie cups, paint stir sticks, popsicle sticks, plastic silverware,  markers, empty toilet paper rolls, clothes pins and of course the marshmallow to launch.  Students colored their marshmallow with sharpies to look like an Angry Bird (if doing this with kindergarten, be sure to mention that as soon as the marshmallow is colored, it is no longer food…we had a couple who were begging to eat the colored mallow!).  Next, students went to work constructing their catapults.  We offered no instructions and just let them go to town.  There was a lot of trial and error but all of the kids (kindergarten through eighth grade) made working catapults.  Students tested their catapult and experimented with speed, distance, accuracy, fulcrum, angle and force.  After launching the marshmallow bird they measured for distance and recorded.

As students tested we asked them:

  • What makes the catapult more accurate?
  • What makes the bird go the furthest?
  • Does mass affect the results?
  • How do objects move?
  • How do we calculate motion?
  • What is acceleration?
  • What is speed?
  • What are some forces that act on objects in motion?
  • How did the catapult set the marshmallow in motion?
  • Which challenge did your catapult meet best, accuracy or distance?
  • What helped the catapult?
  • What kind of energy did your catapult use?
  • What kind of force?
  • What are other kinds of levers?
  • What are simple machines?
  • What happens when the arm of a lever is shortened or the load is moved?
  • What happens to the force needed to make the load move?
  • What happens when you move the fulcrum?
  • What is the relationship between force and distance?
  • What happens when you adjust the angle?

Students had a fantastic time learning through trial and error and working together to reach our pig targets.  The collaboration among students was neat to watch, students would give each other ideas for fine-tuning the catapults to improve results.

In the third station, students had the opportunity to reflect on what they learned.  We asked them to reflect literally and figuratively.  Literally what did you learn about how a simple machine works, parabolas, measurement, etc.  What did you learn about catapults and how the technology is used today?  Then we asked them to think about the activity figuratively, what can Angry Birds teach them about life? What can it teach them about the learning process?

 

Older students looked at the math and science behind Angry Birds, using screen shots to determine if a bird would make it to the pigs based on parabolas.

Younger students labeled their catapult diagram with the language they learned about simple machines, force, and motion.  Students also labeled the Angry Birds diagram.

To wrap up we discussed the middle ages as a class and went through some of the texts together.  We read the history of the catapult and talked about why it was a necessary invention.  We connected all of this with how the technology is currently being used on air craft carriers (the boys really got into that discussion).

Who knew you could learn so much from a game of Angry Birds?

Here are some of the resources that we used during this lesson:

Projectile Motion simulation

Angry Birds Pig Target

Catapult guide for students

Myth Busters YouTube clip of tree catapult

The Physics of Angry Birds

Angry Birds Geogebra

Solar Car Racing: Try Engineering

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Create, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, Middle/High School, Science, Secondary Elementary, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 13-04-2011

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What it is: Solar Car Racing is a great game and challenge from Try Engineering.  On the Solar Car Racing games students will virtually design and race a solar car.  Students begin by choosing the components for their car that will optimize the performance.  Next they test out their car in a desert and on a racetrack environment to find out how it performs.  Students can observe the performance and then modify their design based on feedback and race again.

How to integrate the Solar Car Racing game into the classroom: Try Engineering has some really fantastic interactive games for students.  I like Solar Car Racing because it goes beyond just building and testing, and encourages students to learn from their mistakes to modify their design.  Too often games created for students have a defined end point that doesn’t encourage students to continue tinkering and experimenting.  Solar Car Racing would make a good “experiment” center on classroom computers.  Students can stop by the “lab” area as they are learning about solar energy to test out the principles they are learning.

Ideally, students would each have access to the site.  This would allow each student to create and test a solar car design.  Let students discuss observations of what designs work best and why.  Students can “sell” their solar car design to each other. Expand this activity by asking students to create a sales brochure for their solar car.  Students can include researched information about solar cars, tout unique elements of their design and practice persuasive writing and design.

If students don’t have access to their own computers, make this a class activity using a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard.  Give each student the opportunity to tweak and test the design, discussing adjustments and possible outcomes as a class.

If you have the resources, perfect the solar car design using the Solar Car Racing game and follow-up by creating an actual working model size version.

Tips: Be sure to check out the fantastic list of related links at the bottom of the Try Engineering Solar Car Racing page.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Solar Car Racing in your classroom!

Digital Book about Energy

Posted by admin | Posted in Interactive book, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video | Posted on 23-03-2011

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What it is: IKT FOR LAGET out of Norway has created a fantastic ebook all about Energy.  This is more than just a book that happens to be online (I know we have all seen those!), this is an interactive book that is great for ALL of your learners.  In addition to the text and bold images in the book, there is an audio feature on every page that will read the text to students.  Click on the video icon to watch a related video.  Students can even download related images from some of the films for use in their own projects where they reflect or construct their own understanding. Additional resources and links are provided within the book for teachers, parents, and students.  All of the additional content “enlarges the book” into something really useful for learning and exploring.   This is a big step in the right direction for ebooks- no more trying to pass off a PDF as a digital ebook, this is the real deal.

How to integrate the Digital Energy Book into the classroom: If you study energy in your science curriculum this ebook is a super resource and addition to your classroom library.  Set up the ebook on classroom computers during independent reading time for some non-fiction reading material.  The ebook is great for all levels of readers, confident readers can read the book independently while struggling readers may want to read along with the audio.  Use the ebook as a “big book” using an interactive whiteboard or projector connected computer to read about energy as a class.

Tips: Right now the digital book uses Flash and is only available on a Mac or PC.  Work is being done to bring the ebook to the iDevices!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using the Digital Energy Book in your classroom!



Study Jams!

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Math, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Video Tutorials, Websites | Posted on 03-11-2010

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What it is: Scholastic Study Jams is a fantastic collection of over 200 learning resource collections. Study Jams are videos, slide shows, and step by step explanations for science and math that will have your students discovering everything from invertebrates to the water cycle and the rule of divisibility.  Each Jam includes a teaching video/step-by-step/slide show, key vocabulary, and a test yourself section where they can practice what they have just learned.  Each Jam also suggests related jams where students can expand their learning and dig deeper on a subject.  To be honest, this is more like the textbook of the future that I envisioned.  I love that each concept is introduced in the context of a story.  Students learn the concept from fun Study Jam characters and can pause and rewind the learning as needed.  In the test yourself section, students can check for understanding and receive immediate feedback on their learning.

How to integrate Study Jams into your curriculum: Study Jams is a truly incredible collection of learning opportunities for students.  Use Jams to introduce your students to a new concept, or reinforce learning.  In Math students can learn about numbers, multiplication and division, addition and subtraction, fractions, decimals and percents, algebra, geometry, measurement, data analysis, probability, and problem solving.  Each topic has several sub-topics for students to explore.  In science topics include: plants, animals, the human body, ecosystems, landforms, rocks and minerals, weather and climate, solar system, matter, force and motion, energy, light, and sound, and scientific inquiry.  Again, each science topic has several sub-topics.

Study Jams can be used with your whole class as an anticipatory set for learning using an interactive whiteboard or projector connected computer.  After viewing the step-by-step, video, or slide-show check for understanding by having your students complete the “test yourself” as a class.  This can be done with personal whiteboards where students write down their answer and hold it up, a raise of hands, or student response systems (clickers).  Use this as formative assessment to guide your lesson.  Study Jams can also be used as a center activity in the math or science classroom.  Students can visit the Study Jam as part of a larger group of related activities.  In a center, students can visit individually or in small groups and self direct their learning.  For those students who have already mastered the concept, they can view related Study Jams to extend their learning.

Study Jams is ideal for students in a 1 to 1 or lab setting.  Here students can explore at their own pace, pausing and rewinding as necessary.  They can also extend their learning based on their personal interests by choosing a related Study Jam.

Can’t find a Study Jam that fits what your students are learning? Ask students to create their own Study Jam video, slide show or step by step.  Students can use tools like Animoto, Voice Thread, or Domo Animate to create their own.  Students can create their own “test yourself” using a Google Form or survey tool.

Tips: I learned about Study Jams from someone in my blogging alliance (sorry I didn’t make note of who!) If you aren’t already following these amazing blogs, I highly recommend them (alliance #1, alliance #2).  I learn SO much every day from each one of them.  If I learned about Study Jams from your blog, leave me a comment so I can thank you here!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Study Jams in your classroom!


Energyville

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Character Education, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 23-07-2010

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What it is: Energyville is a game sponsored by Chevron.  In the game, students have to provide enough power to meet the energy demands of a city with a 5.9 million person population.  As they play, they must keep the city prosperous, secure, and clean.  The energy decisions that students make for the city in 2015 are based on current lifestyles and the projected energy demands and costs for developed countries in North America, Europe, and Asia.  The Energyville game environment is a lot like SimCity in the way that students build and maintain the city.  Students begin by dragging energy sources to the city to bring it to life.  Students can choose from biomass, coal, hydro, natural gas, nuclear, petroleum, solar, and wind.  As they add energy sources to the city, they can observe the impacts on the economy, environment, and security of the city.  The goal is to keep the impact low.  There is a comparison chart where students can view the impact of the different energy sources on the environment, economy, and security to aid them in their decision-making.  As students move their mouse over the different energy sources, they can read about that energy source in the Energy Advisor panel.

How to integrate Energyville into the classroom: Energyville is an excellent simulation game that helps students to experiment with energy sources.  They are able to see the way that their decisions directly affect people and the environment.  Students can see how some energy sources may have a low impact on the environment but are high in cost or impact security.  This is a great way for students to weigh decisions and defend their choices.  Set students up in a computer lab setting where each student has their own computer.  Give students a set amount of time and see which students can get the highest score (lowest impact) on their city in that time.  Afterward, discuss the best and worst energy sources, and have the highest score walk the class through their strategy.  If you don’t have access to a lab, you can send students to Energyville in small groups as a center activity on the classroom computers.  You could also play as a whole class with an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.

Tips: There are two levels of game play.  In the first level, students make decisions to meet the city’s energy demands in 2015.  In the second level, they must make additional decisions to prepare for the energy demands of 2030.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Energyville in your classroom.

Eco Kids: Build a Food Chain

Posted by admin | Posted in Interactive Whiteboard, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 09-06-2010

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What it is: Eco Kids is a website with a great collection of ecologically focused games and activities.  Students can complete interactives on wildlife, climate change, energy, the North, water, waste, land use, and more.  I was hunting down a good interactive for students to learn and practice the food chain.  Build a Food Chain has students order the elements of a food chain.  Along the way, students learn why each animal within a food chain is so important.  In addition to learning the basics of a food chain, students will learn about bioaccumulation.  

How to integrate Eco Kids: Build a Food Chain into the classroom: Build a Food Chain is a fun way for students to learn about and practice building a food chain in an interactive environment.  First students are led through the process of a food chain.  The interactive helps students to understand the job of each animal or element in the chain.  Students can then put their understanding to the test by putting together a food chain of their own and testing it.  Students receive immediate feedback on the chain.  If the food chain is broken or won’t work, students are given an additional clue and opportunity to try again.   Build a Food Chain could be used as a whole class with a projector connected computer or interactive whiteboard.  Choose students to be guides at the board as they navigate through the parts of a food chain.  Then, call up a student to put the first element or animal of the food chain in place and pass on play to another student until a working food chain has been constructed.  Build a Food Chain can also be used as an independent learning activity on classroom computers as a center or in a lab setting.  Because the site provides students with feedback as they construct the food chain, students can navigate the activity easily on their own.

Tips: Before you begin the game, you will notice a box labeled “More About This Topic”, here you will find additional resources, printables, and games that are related to food chains.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Eco Kids: Build a Food Chain in your classroom.

Goldburger To Go: Rube Goldberg Machines

Posted by admin | Posted in Fun & Games, Interactive Whiteboard, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 14-05-2010

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What it is: I am always finding fun activities on PBS kids site, today I ran across Goldburger to Go!  Rube Goldberg designed machines that made simple, every day, tasks into complicated activities with the help of his contraptions (think Wallace and Gromit).  The students task is to design a machine that will help serve lunch.  The machine isn’t working properly and students must discover which pieces of the machine need a little tweaking.  As students complete the machine, they can test it out and get hints and clues about could be keeping the machine from working.  

How to integrate Goldberger To Go: Rube Goldberg Machines into the classroom: Students are fascinated with machines that work together to perform tasks.  Goldburger to Go is a fun way to challenge your students to think about cause and effect and to consider how all the working parts operate together.  The puzzle game is a good way to get your students thinking about and discussing different types of energy.  Use this website with the whole class using an interactive whiteboard and discuss the types of energy as they occur.  Walk your students through the scientific process as they hypothesize what is going to happen and experiment with adjusting the machine accordingly.  The website also lends itself nicely to studying different kinds of simple machines.  The built in hints help guide stumped students in their thinking.  Goldburger to Go would make a fun center activity or even to play individually in a computer lab setting.  This is one of those thinking games that my students could spend hours playing.

Tips: Students can create and build their own real-life Goldberg machines with fun activities and suggestions found here.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Goldburger to Go: Rube Goldberg Machines in your classroom.