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Inquiry, magic, and blended learning: Anastasis Academy

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Apply, collaboration, Create, education reform, Evaluate, inspiration, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 01-03-2014

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It’s hard to describe to people all of the magic that happens at Anastasis on a daily basis. It really does feel like something special, a magical quality of falling down the rabbit hole into another world where school is fun and challenging and wonderful. The learning that happens here is very organic, it lacks a formulaic approach. So when people ask us how they can do what we do, it isn’t a simple answer.

Anastasis learners are in a continual state of growth, discovery, and creativity. We are just wrapping up an Inquiry unit about “How the World Works.” As a school, we are preschool through eighth grade. All of our students engage the same big guided inquiry for a 5 week block. Although the driving inquiry is the same for all students, I break down the unit into some key concept lines of inquiry by age level. We have a primary, intermediate, and jr. high key concepts that provide entry points into learning at a developmental appropriate level. Our primary kids looked at How the World Works from the inquiry prompting that: people have daily habits and use time to help guide their day, week, month, and year. This gave them the opportunity to explore calendars, time, seasons, patterns in growth of crops, school habits, moon phases, sun, etc. Our intermediate students looked at How the World Works from the inquiry prompting that: predictable patterns help us explore objects in the sky and their connection to our life on Earth. This allowed our students to explore movement of the solar system, moon phases, constellations, galaxies, history of humans understanding of patterns in the universe, technologies that help us understand patterns, how the patterns in space impact life on earth, how animals and plants rely on patterns. Our Jr. High students explored How the World Works from the prompting that: Food comes from many places and goes through many changes on its journey to us. They discovered more about where produce comes from, what GMOs are, what the role of the FDA is, what chemical additives food has, farm to table, organic vs. non-organic, responsibilities of humans in food production and consumption, how food production has changed over time, practices for mass production of meat, what happens when our food resources have been exhausted?

The nice thing about having ALL students in the same big guided inquiry during a block, is the incredible overlaps in learning that occur between classes. This provides truly amazing opportunities for our students to learn from and with each other. We take advantage of that overlap as often as possible!

For each inquiry block I give teachers an inquiry guide with the driving inquiry question, the key concept, and the individual lines of inquiry that could be explored. This is a launching spot. I also provide resources for students and teachers on a Pinterest board. This board gets added to throughout the inquiry block as I know which lines of inquiry students are exploring (they often come up with great lines of inquiry that I haven’t considered). This becomes our “curriculum.” It is always evolving and growing based on the needs of students. Teachers send me requests for books, videos, apps, and hands on materials that they need throughout the block (I LOVE Amazon Prime!). The Pinterest boards are shared with students via QR codes that are hanging throughout the school. At any point in time, they can use their iPad to snap a picture and instantly they have access to a library of materials and ideas that they can explore related to the inquiry block. If you are interested in what this look like, you can check out the boards here:

This is the point that the magic I mentioned above starts to happen. Our teaching staff is awesome. They are some of the most creative, innovative, forward-thinking people I know. Even better: they provide the space for kids to be curious and expertly help them navigate that curiosity for new learning. This block offers such a rich picture of what learning looks like at Anastasis that I just have to share it. Notice that EVERY level of Bloom’s Taxonomy is addressed in this process, every subject woven into their learning naturally.

The students in Team Weissman began this block with a field trip to a local observatory. This was a really neat trip that I had the privilege of attending with them. Our students got a private tour of the observatory, complete with a history lesson of Colorado’s landscape when the observatory was built, the changes it’s gone through, the building history, and the science. The kids LOVED exploring each part of the building and learning about all of the little “secrets” around the observatory and why it was built the way that it was. They got to go into the basement to see how the base of the telescope is actually free-standing and not attached to the building. They got to open the ceiling. They got to explore each separate part of the telescope and ask questions and learn from an expert. The observatory expert’s passion was contagious. The spark for inquiry was lit in those moments. When the students were back at school, they each chose a line of inquiry that they wanted to know more about. They chose to learn about moon phases, galaxies, planets, constellations, Fibonacci, fractals, waves, plant life, etc. Each student snapped a picture of the QR code for this block to begin digging through resources. This was a great spring-board for discovery. As students dug into discovery, they chose different projects and ideas of how they could share their learning with others. This led to the building of a planetarium that the whole school could tour through to learn more about the universe, green house design, art work to teach about the relationship of plants/fractals/Fibonacci, a telescope, a black hole demonstration, a planetary model, a genius art demonstration of moon phases for the planetarium, and a model of different types of waves.

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Prototype Lab-Anastasis Academy

Anastasis Academy- Planetarium

Planetarium tours: Anastasis Academy

Pattern study: Anastasis Academy

Student Created Greenhouse: Anastasis Academy

Prototype Lab: Anastasis Academy

 

There was a lot of research that happened in this unit. One student showed me how she was using multiple devices to compare sources as she did her research…brilliant!

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Throughout the 5 weeks I heard exclamations of excitement, pride in what students had created, excitement as they saw what other students in the class were doing. Completely fantastic, magical moments of learning! This week, the students invited every other class in the school to be a part of their learning. They gave each class a tour of the universe in the planetarium and each presented their findings over the last 5 weeks. They also walked them through how patterns in the universe are mimicked here on earth in their greenhouse (made with pvc and shower curtains!).

Inside the planetarium: Planets

Inside the planetarium: Black Holes

Anastasis is a 1:1 BYOD school. Each of our students has an iPad (the only supply on their supply list) in addition, sometimes they bring a phone or iPod as well. You know what? As awesome as the technology is, it fades into the background. It really is just another tool for learning that we use at Anastasis. It helps tremendously with research, connecting with experts all over the world, typing out and recording ideas. What I love about this last unit is that none of the students chose to show their learning through technology. Each of them chose something tangible to demonstrate learning. The use of technology was brilliant. Truly hybrid learning! The students who worked on the planetarium used an app called Sky Guide to figure out exactly where in the sky each constellation and galaxy was so that their planetarium would be a true picture of what it would be like to look up into the night sky. After building the planetarium, the kids decided which way they would align it in the classroom. Then, using the Sky Guide app, they would get in, find out where the constellation was in relation to where they were standing. They poked holes in the plastic in the shape of the constellation and labeled it with a piece of tape. A brilliant coming together of technology and creativity!

I wish I could bottle up the excitement that the whole school had as they watched the planetarium being built. The amazing anticipation of getting to see the finished product. The sneak peeks they tried to take. This was a school community learning and exploring together.

As Team Weissman worked on this, students in Team Baldwin each chose a pattern that they wanted to learn something more about. They connected to experts, researched, and came up with really incredible questions. The outcome of this was also student created projects to show others what they had learned. These kids also held an expo day to let others in the school see their learning. They got to be the expert. Students explored everything from patterns in the circulatory system, to service animals, to electricity, to dub step, to patterns in baking, the moon, coding, and plant growth. When I asked the kids what they liked best about their projects, the common answer was: getting to talk to my expert. Connecting students with an adult expert (usually using technology) was so meaningful and lasting. They were proud to share with others what they were now an expert in.

Patterns in baking: Anastasis Academy

Electricity study: Anastasis Academy

 

The Jr. High was so impacted by what they learned about where our food comes from, that they created a conference for Anastasis students and parents. They had sessions, round table discussion, asked parent experts to come in and share, and invited a keynote speaker. They also invited other classes in on their learning by asking them to share learning they’ve done throughout the year at their expo. The round table discussion among the students was hands down my favorite part of the day. Hearing these kids challenge each other’s opinions about GMO’s, Monsanto, being a localvore, food production, health, etc. was incredible. They were well researched, thoughtful and considerate of different opinions. They referred back to field trips they had to Growhaus and a local meat market. They started out in the community with experiential learning, used technology to learn more, and finished by inviting community to learn with them.

Hydroponics: Anastasis Academy

Primary students shared their greenhouse:

Anastasis Jr. High Round Table discussion

 

This is what learning looks like. It is hard work, there is challenge. There is also beauty and excitement and pride.

Physics Central: Nikola Tesla and the Electric Fair

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Download, Evaluate, Interactive book, Middle/High School, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 09-01-2013

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What it is: Physics Central is a fantastic website full of…you guessed it, physics! There are fantastic sections for students to explore science, activity books, experiments and activities.  Students can learn more about physics in action (physics as found in the world around us), meet physicists, and learn about physics research.  Physics Central will ignite a students curiosity in: sound, electricity and magnetism, force and motion, light and optics, material science, quantum mechanics, space and the universe, and thermodynamics and heat.  My favorite find on Physics Central so far (I’m sure there will be many more favorites the longer I explore) is the Nikola Tesla and the Electric Fair section.  Here, students will find a downloadable kit that includes a manual, comic book, and four related activities.

How to integrate Physics Central into the classroom: Physics has always been among my favorite sciences.  There is something about it that is fascinating to me. Physics Central is packed full of great resources to enrich your classroom.  The comics are a fun way to learn about famous scientists, inventors and events in science history.  The complementing activities bring the comics to life and invite students along on the journey of discovery.

Work with your students on a “PhysicsQuest” like Nikola Tesla and the Electric Fair and see what they come up with. Compare their results with the actual solutions (posted on the site).  Join the current PhysicsQuest with your students to help students recognize the fun and relevance of science.  You can register now for the Spectra: Turbulent Times quest.

Tips: Start a PhysicsQuest with your students, as an after school club, or as a home extension investigation.

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

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.

Science and Technology Office of Naval Research

Posted by admin | Posted in Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 02-04-2012

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What it is: The Office of Naval Research has a great interactive site filled with science and technology exploration for students.  On the site, students can explore oceanography, space, and blow the ballast.  Each section of the site has sub categories that let students narrow down their focus.  The majority of the site is purely informational with accompanying images and short quizzes.  My favorite portion of the site is the seasonal constellations.  It really is the star of the site (no pun intended).  The constellation interactive focuses on the constellations that can be viewed during each season.  When students click on a season, they will see the constellations and options to show/hide the pictures, lines and names of the stars.  The explanation of constellations and the seasonal impact on what students will see in the night sky is fantastic.  In the Teacher’s Corner, you will find great animations for each topic (space, oceanography, and submarines).  These are fantastic visualizations of complex concepts made simple for students.

How to integrate Science and Technology Office of Naval Research into the classroom: The Science and Technology Office of Naval Research isn’t the flashiest site I’ve seen.  In fact, it looks a whole lot like a site that was created in 1995.  I recommend it, in spite of the aged design, because of the wealth of information that it offers students and the student-friendly language and explanations it uses.  This is a great site for students to conduct a research project in the early years.  The information is concise, easy to understand, and offered in bite-size chunks.  Students can approach the topic of oceanography, submarines and space independently.
As I said above, the constellations based on season is pretty neat. It shows students the constellation and allows them to overlay the image with additional information as they want it.  If your students are studying seasons or constellations, this is a nice visual and description.  Students could explore the constellations on classroom computers, or better yet, together as a class on a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard.  Google Sky is amazing, but sometimes it can be overwhelming with detail before students understand the basics of what they are looking for in the night sky.  The images on this site are a great first step that can lead to a next level of detail in sites like Google Sky.  I love that technology lets us bring the whole universe into our classrooms as a smaller scale planetarium.  As a side note, if you have an iPad…go download Go Skywatch now. You will thank me!
Be sure to check out the animation section, these are wonderful for introducing students to complex concepts.  The animations would be great on classroom computers as part of a science center rotation.  They are perfect for sharing with the whole class on an interactive whiteboard! At Anastasis, students keep a running vocabulary collection where they create a “glossary” that they can refer back to. They do this in Evernote, these animations are perfect for linking to within the glossaries so that they can refer back to an illustration of the word.
Tips: The Science and Technology Office of Naval Research includes a teacher resource section.  This is where you will find the Animation Gallery I mentioned above.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Science and Technology Office of Naval Research in  your classroom!

NASA Eyes on the Solar System: 3D interactive solar system

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Create, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 28-09-2011

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What it is:   It is no secret that I am a big fan of NASA…I may, in fact, be a space nerd.  It is all so fascinating, mysterious and beautiful.  Whenever I do a space unit with students, I find that I have many kindred spirits.  Space seems to have that effect on all kids. Recently I learned about a new 3D interactive solar system that NASA has introduced thanks to @rmbyrne and his ever-full-of-useful-ideas-blog, Free Technology for TeachersEyes on the Solar System is a 3D environment students can explore that has actual NASA mission data included inside.  Students can ride along with the Juno mission to Jupiter.  The Juno mission seeks to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter and our solar system.  In the Explore Juno mission, students will learn more about the science, the spacecraft, and the mission with a 3D interactive.  Students can also explore the solar system on their own.

How to integrate Eyes on the Solar System into the classroom:  Eyes on the Solar System is a super awesome way for students to explore our solar system.  Students can choose to join the Juno mission or explore the universe on their own.  This is a GREAT site to share with the whole class on a big screen (projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard).

With young students, explore the universe together on an interactive whiteboard or projector.  Have students prepare for their space mission and do a launch count down as a class.  Students can take turns being mission astronauts by interacting with the 3D solar system.  Other astronauts can take “official” mission notes and observations at their seats as they wait for their turn as mission first in command.

Eyes on the Solar System makes a great center activity on classroom computers.  During a center rotation, students can each explore a planet or feature of our solar system and then report back to Mission Control (the rest of the class) with their findings.  Assign (or let students each choose) a different feature to study.  When the students come back together as a group, the whole solar system will be represented.  I have had students create “baseball cards” of everything from composers to planets.  Eyes on the Solar System would be a great place for students to start their exploration and research to gather “stats” about a planet.  Students can take a screen shot (on a Mac command+shift +4) of their planet for the front of the card and add the stats to the back of the card using a word processing or publishing program.  Print out a class set of each card and let students trade and collect all of the planets (and special features) of the solar system.

Turn student exploration of the solar system into a creative writing project.  Students can go through the Juno Mission to Jupiter and write a fictional story from Juno’s point of view.  Do you have hesitant writers? What about having students create a graphic novel or comic book about Juno’s adventures through the solar system?

Tips: Be sure to check back to Eyes on the Solar System periodically, new features, tours and news are being added.  “Just like the universe, ‘Eyes on the Solar System’ is expanding.” :)

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Eyes on the Solar System in  your classroom!



33 Space Websites to Celebrate the Launch of Endeavour

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 16-05-2011

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Did your students get to see the shuttle launch this morning?  What a great way to start a Monday!  Seeing a launch never gets old for me, there is always a sense of wonder and anticipation during count down and launch.  To celebrate the launch of Endeavour, I thought I would share some of my favorite space websites.  In no particular order:

1. We Choose the Moon- An interactive that drops students right into history where they get to witness, and take part in, the Apollo 11 launch and mission.

2. NASA Clickable Spacesuit- An interactive for students to learn about the parts of a spacesuit.

3. Planet Quest: Alien Safari- An interactive exploration adventure that encourages students to find bizarre and extreme organisms that live on Earth.

4. Eyes on Earth 3D- Lets students track missions as they are happening with the satellites that are collecting information about Earth from space.

5. Moon Zoo- Gives students the chance to study the lunar surface while contributing to real science.

6. NASA @ Home and City- Students explore 3D environments where they discover common household and city items that have roots in space exploration.

7. Solar System Scope- A 3D real-time look at celestial positions with planets and constellations in the night sky.

8. NASA’s 50th Anniversary Flash Feature- Best. Website. Ever. An incredible interactive timeline that highlights each decade in the United States space program from 1950 to 2000.

9. European Space Agency- Kid-friendly information about the universe, life in space, lift off, useful space, earth, and more.

10. NASA’s Be a Martian- Students virtually explore and learn about the human-robotic partnership that makes virtual exploration of Mars possible.

11. NASA Space Place- Fun online games, animations, projects, and fun facts about Earth, space and technology.

12. NASA Interactive Timeline-  A multimedia timeline that begins in 500BC and follows the search for extrasolar planets to modern discoveries.

13. Moon in Google Earth-  Take tours of landing sites narrated by Apollo astronauts, view 3D models of landed spacecraft, zoom into 360* photos of astronaut footprints and watch rate footage of the Apollo missions.

14. NASA Images- Find amazing images of the universe, solar system, earth, aeronautics and astronauts.

15. Google Sky- Students get up close and personal with the solar system, constellations, the Hubble Telescope, backyard astronomy, Chandra X-ray Showcase, GALEX Ultraviolet Showcase and the Spitzer infrared Showcase.

16. Buzz Lightyear in Orbit- Teaches students about the next space mission with Atlantis.

17. Station Spacewalk Game- Play the role of an astronaut and repair the ISS.

18. NASA 101- Learn about what NASA does.

19. NASA Anatomy: How Space Technology Improves Human Health- Students learn about how NASA impacts daily life and health.

20. Apollo 11 Launch- Step into the moonshoes of Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong while discovering the lunar landing.

21. Spooky Space Sounds- Listen to real sounds from space.

22. Hubble Celebrates 20 years- View imagery from the Hubble Telescope and learn about history of the Hubble.

23. Galaxy Zoo- Explore the universe and really help scientists.

24. Climate Time Machine- Take an interactive tour through Earth’s climate history.

25. NASA Edge- Students look behind the scenes at NASA with entertaining and informative videos.

26. NASA 360*- Learn about NASA’s past, present and future and how NASA has improved life on earth with these videos.

27. NASA e-clips- Learn about innovative applications of science, technology, , engineering and math through short NASA videos.

28. TEDx NASA- Inspiring talks from TEDx NASA.

29. NASA @ Twitter- Students can follow NASA on Twitter to get up-to-date information on space exploration and discovery.

30. Your Age on Other Worlds- Students can find out how old they would be on other planets.

31. iWas Wondering Astro Game- A scavenger hunt in outer space.

32. Study Jams Solar System- Students view a video and slide show about the solar system.

33. Pipo Club- Travel through the Universe with Pipo.

 

NASA Clickable Spacesuit

Posted by admin | Posted in Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 12-05-2011

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What it is: NASA has the COOLEST interactives, this Clickable Spacesuit is no exception.  Before students explore the spacesuit itself, they can view a slideshow about spacesuits.  The Clickable Spacesuit lets students click on individual parts of the suit to learn more information.  Students learn all about the individual parts of the spacesuit and get up-close pictures of the part.

How to integrate NASA Clickable Spacesuit into the classroom: Students (especially young students) are fascinated with astronauts and space.  NASA’s Clickable Spacesuit will let them dig in and explore how the spacesuit works piece-by-piece.  The text of the site is a little advanced for primary elementary students but would be appropriate as a guided whole class activity using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.

Ask older students to brainstorm and identify items that have been inspired by spacesuit technology (think extreme outer wear, sleeping bags, emergency equipment, etc.).  Students can also brainstorm why each part of the suit has been designed the way it has, what does it tell us about space?

Tips: Use NASA Clickable Spacesuit to expand on other sites where students can learn about space.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using  NASA Clickable Spacesuit in your classroom!

Planet Quest: Alien Safari

Posted by admin | Posted in Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 10-05-2011

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What it is: Planet Quest Alien Safari is an interactive exploration adventure that encourages students to click on “life zones” around the world to find bizarre and extreme organisms that live on Earth.  Students will also learn about what the extreme organisms reveal about finding life in space.  As students explore they will learn about organisms that can live without sunlight, those with the highest radiation dose, those that are the most acidic, those that live the furthest underground, those with the strangest habitat and those that are the hottest.  Students click on a life zone on the 3D Earth to begin a video introduction to the organism.

How to integrate Planet Quest: Alien Safari into the classroom: Planet Quest Alien Safari is going to be a popular one with your boys.  My students got a kick out of “discovering” new organisms.  Use Alien Safari when discussing different life forms, classifying organisms or studying space.  My students wanted to do more than just explore the organisms, they wanted to write stories about them.  Students wrote creative stories imagining what kind of super hero the organism would be, or making them into super villains (As I said, the boys have fun with this one!).

Ask students to make predictions about the organisms based on where they are found, what does their geographic location tell us about the organism?

Tips: The music on this site gets a little OLD (at least for me, the kids may disagree) I had the kids use headphones when they were accessing this site independently.  If you are using it with the whole class and an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer, you can turn the music off in the bottom right corner.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using  Planet Quest: Alien Safari in your classroom!

Eyes on the Earth 3D

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Evaluate, Geography, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 06-05-2011

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What it is: I’m still on my NASA/space kick, this time with Eyes on the Earth 3D from NASA.  This is a neat website that lets students track missions as they are happening with the satellites that are collecting information about the Earth from space.  Students can learn about the earth by choosing a mission to follow, zoom in and out of the globe, view satellite paths, view city and location labels on the map, replace the sun with an “artificial light” and see the view from Earth’s surface.  As students click on the satellite, they will be able to view and discover more information about the mission.  Students can choose to view the 3D Earth in real-time or speed up/slow down the Earth with a time control.  Students can choose to learn more at any time by viewing the official mission home page linked at the bottom of each page.

How to integrate Eyes on the Earth 3D into the classroom: This is a way for students to assume the role of NASA scientist to learn more about the Earth and collect data.  Students can view real data about sea levels, the Arctic sea ice minimum, carbon dioxide readings, global temperature and the ozone hole.  Students can study each mission to gain a better understanding of  what NASA scientists do and study.  If you teach younger students, the 3D globe is a great way to help students understand continents, oceans and earth rotation.

One of the features that I enjoy about Eyes on the Earth 3D is the ability to view the Earth from the satellite view or the satellite from the Earth view.  This will help young students better visualize and understand how satellites work and orbit the Earth.

If your students are studying satellites or NASA missions, assign each student a different mission to study in-depth.  Students can present what they have learned to the class as an oral presentation using the Eyes on the Earth 3D site as a visual.

Tips: Missions can be viewed by what their focus is: atmosphere, oceans or land.  If you are studying any of these, the missions would be a nice tie in.  Students can read or hear about all of this data but I think it is just as important to understand where it all came from and how it was collected.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using  Eyes on the Earth 3D in your classroom!

 

Moon Zoo: Contributing to science with lunar mapping

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Virtual Field Trips, Websites | Posted on 03-05-2011

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What it is: The Endeavour Shuttle launch has been delayed but don’t let that keep your students from exploring space, there are some incredible interactive sites that will make your students feel like they get to suit up as astronauts.  Moon Zoo gives students the chance to study the lunar surface while contributing to real science.  Students can get an up close and personal view of the moon viewing images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.  Moon Zoo’s mission is to provide detailed crater counts for as much of the moon’s surface as possible.  Your students can take part in actually helping to count and map out craters and features of the lunar surface.  Students can identify craters with boulders around the rim to help map the regolith across the surface of the moon.  To take part in Moon Zoo, students are shown an image of the lunar surface, the first task is identifying craters in the surface.  Students can click on the “Crater” button and click the center of each crater they see.  Next, students adjust the ellipse to stretch and move their marks so that they are the same size as the crater.  Students search for boulders around the craters, if there are any boulders students can note that by selecting “blocky crater” and marking the most appropriate description.  When finished, students can submit their work to the Moon Zoo database.

How to integrate Moon Zoo into the classroom: I love that Moon Zoo actually lets your students take part in science.  They are contributing to actual lunar research in real and meaningful ways while learning about the moon.  Moon Zoo would be a great activity to complete as a whole class in the elementary classroom.  Tell your students that they are going to be astronauts and complete a “launch” to the moon.  If you have time, students can create official astronaut badges to wear for the big launch.  Using a projector-connected computer or an interactive whiteboard, launch one of the shuttles here.  When you “land” on the moon, let students explore the surface together by hunting for craters in Moon Zoo.  Help students mark craters, look for boulders and map the lunar surface.  Each student should have a chance to make a discovery.  While students wait for their turn, they can track the crater/boulder count on a table to create a graph.  Categories can be small, medium, and large craters found and number of boulders.

Older students can sign up for their own Moon Zoo account, each studying and identifying craters on their own images.  Older students can dig into the science behind mapping craters and learn about how craters can be used to date the moon.

Want to involve your students in more contributing science?  Check out Galaxy Zoo (the hunt for supernovas), Galaxy Zoo Hubble, Planet Hunters, or the Milky Way Project.  This is such a neat way for students to contribute to the scientific community while learning more about space and the universe.

Tips: Registration for Moon Zoo does require an email address.  If your students don’t have an email address of their own, they can use a mailinator or tempinbox address.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using  Moon Zoo in your classroom!