Making & Science with Google

Making & science with Google

What it is: Making & Science is an initiative by Google aimed at showing students that anyone can be a maker or a scientist. Using the featured Science Journal app (Android and Chromebook only), students can measure light, sound, and more. They can also use the app to record observations, organize data, and add observational notes. Making & Science has partnered with Exploratorium for some fantastic activities that will have students exploring the world as a makers and scientist in no time. Students will explore light, sound, motion, graphs, conductivity, and much more through activities powered by the Science Journal app.

How to integrate Making & Science with Google in your classroom: The Science Journal app makes any Android phone or Chromebook computer into a scientific tool that students can use to collect data on light, sound, and motion. The activities included encourage students to explore the world as scientists and makers. The activities are simple enough for any classroom, and lead the students through understanding how the world around them works. They are a great kick-off to more in-depth studies of light, sound, and motion and teach students how to use the sensors on their phone and computer to collect data.  Most activities take 15-30 minutes, so would be the perfect length for groups of students to visit as a center if you have a few devices for students to use. I love the way each activity thoroughly introduces a concept, and equips students with the tools and understanding for further experimentation and investigation. The activities included are wonderful, but after students have a basic understanding, encourage them to come up with their own investigations of light, sound, and motion.

Students could use the Exploritorium Activities as guides for creating their own investigations and activities to share with the class.

Don’t miss out on the Making and Science YouTube channel, and recommended podcasts. They are AWESOME!

Tips: While the activities reference the Science Journal app for data collection, if you have access to other types of devices you can still use these activities! Just download a light, sound, and motion sensor app and your students can complete any of the activities on the Maker & Science site.

My Simple Show: Create your own explainer videos for free!

Create  explainer videos free with My Simple Show!

What it is: My Simple Show Video Creator lets students easily create professional level “explainer” videos. The finished product looks just like a Common Craft video, so cool! The step-by-step tool helps students think about storyline and the flow of explaining a concept.

How to integrate My Simple Show into the classroom: My Simple Show is a fantastic option for digital storytelling. Students begin by choosing to write their own script, or by uploading a Power Point presentation. Next, they can choose from one of many templates to start from, or alternately, start from scratch. The templates are an awesome option because they give kids an outline and break down the story telling/explaining process. For each step in the process, it guides students with a prompt and with some examples. My Simple Show auto-magically picks up words in the script and suggests pictures. Students can use the pre-selected images, choose an image from the My Simple Show library of images, or upload their own image or picture. In the final step, students add audio. This can be computer generated or students can record their own audio. The finished product is pretty impressive! Below is a video I made quickly today.

My Simple Show’s obvious use is for explanatory digital storytelling, but it would also be a great way for students to reflect on a field trip, tell a story, retell new learning (pssst. this is an awesome way to check for understanding!), or create their own “textbooks.”

Students can use My Simple Show to explain a historical event, introduce a biological process, introduce a physical law, summarize literature, summarize a biography, discuss pros and cons, explain a law, etc. Use My Simple Show to create whole class stories where each student contributes a portion of the explanation or story.  This type of video can be made over a few weeks using classroom devices as a writing center.  This would be a fun way to create an A to Z type book of learning, reflections by students after a unit, a 100 day video,  fact vs. opinion video,  a class video of poems, a phonics video, or a class video about a field trip that students took. Students can take pictures of science experiments and create a digital video detailing the experiment with text, images, and student voice reflections included.  The finished product can be shared with parents and families easily through YouTube, Vimeo, or downloaded as a MP4 file.

For a back to school night activity, take a picture of each student to add to a class video and record students sharing an explanation of a school day. This same idea could be used in preparation for parent-teacher conferences. Students can create a video about their learning during the quarter/trimester, record thoughts about why they are proud of the work they did, and add reflections.  These can be shared as a starting point for conferences, at the end of the conference, parents have a keepsake. My Simple Show could also be used for character education. Give the students a scenario or problem, and have them work out a step-by-step explanation or solution.

Because of the voice recording capabilities, My Simple Show, would be a great way for students to practice a foreign language.  They can illustrate a word or phrase accompanied by the audio.  Classes could work together to create a “living” digital glossary.

Be sure to give your students access to My Simple Show in your Maker Space, it is a great option for students to choose!

Tips: My Simple Show has video guides that lead students through each step of the process…I definitely recommend watching these at least once as a class or for the first round of creation!

Mural.ly: Google Docs for Visual People

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What it is: Murally is a tool I learned about from my friends over at House of GeniusMurally’s tagline is: “Google Docs for visual people.”  Being highly visual, that description immediately resonates with me!  Murally reminds me a little bit of Wallwisher (now Padlet), it is a way for learners to come together to think, imagine and discuss their ideas.  With Murally, students can create murals and include any content they want in them.  Learners can drag and drop images, video, etc. from any website (or from their computer) onto their mural.   Learners can create presentations from within a mural they have already created.  The best part: this all happens with the ability to collaborate with others.  Murally makes it easy for students to collect, think, imagine, show and discuss learning.  Murals can be made public (shared live with a link) or private (only friends granted permission can access the mural).

*** email address, Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus account required for login.  You know what that means: 13 or older!

How to integrate Murally into the classroom: Murally is brilliant in the way that it enables learners to work and dream together.  My FAVORITE feature: you can drag and drop content from ANYWHERE!!! It works like the spring-loaded folders in Apple’s iOS.  LOVE this feature.  Honestly, this ability to clip content is a game changer.  It makes creating a mural incredibly easy.  Stinking brilliant!  

Murally is the tool that I wish existed when I was doing research projects in school.  Students can conduct and collect their research solo or invite friends to contribute to their research mural.  Students can add text, drag and drop links, pictures, video and other content.  After they have gone through the hunting/gathering phase of research, Murally makes it easy for students to go through and mindmap it all into some sort of order.  This tool is going to make me a better writer.  Visually being able to organize research and thoughts is HUGE.

Being inquiry based, I love the idea of beginning a mural for students with the driving inquiry alone on the board.  The learners job: be curious together.  Ask questions, explore, research, collect evidences collaboratively.  Capture all of that learning in one place.

Murally could be used for any mind-mapping appropriate project.  This is mind-mapping in the future.  Truly amazing!  The collaborative nature of Murally is fantastic.

Students could begin a Murally with a novel as the base.  As they read, they can include quotes, related thoughts, pictures, video clips, discussion, and related research.  I’m always amazed by the connections that our students make to other learning, a commercial they have seen, or a song.  Murally is a great way to visually collect all of this to share with others.

Murally would be an outstanding way to hypothesize about what will happen in a science experiment.  Students can then add in any research, class notes, discussion, etc.  After students have conducted the experiment they can include observations, photos, and final conclusions.

Use Murally with a projector-connected computer or interactive whiteboard for class notes.  As class discussions unfold, notes can be taken for the whole class and shared later.  Students can add to these later with additional learning, thoughts, and plans.

Because Murally can be used to show learning, consider creating map boards where students link what they know of Geography with the cultures, habitats, religions, politics of that area.

Murally would make the COOLEST “textbook” alternative.  Student created, mashup of all different tools, collaborative, discussion included, and organized in the way that makes sense to the learner.

This is one of those tools that has my mind spinning.  The possibilities overlap all subject areas and are endless.

Tips: The collaborative feature of Murally is so well thought out, see history and message collaborators quickly and easily.  Wonderful!

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

Solar Car Racing: Try Engineering

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!

Science Fix: Video demos and experiments

What it is: Science Fix is a fantastic video blog that I learned about from my friend and PLN colleague Kyle Pace. The videos are all recorded science experiments and demos from middle school science teacher Darren Fix.  The majority of the videos are chemistry related but there is also some good physics videos in there as well.  The videos are hosted on YouTube so if you don’t have access, you may have to use one of those tricky ways to download and save from home. (See Tips below for ways to do that.)

How to integrate Science Fix into the classroom: Science Fix is a great place to find demos and science experiment videos to share with your students. These videos will help your students better visualize and understand the concepts that they are learning in your class.  We don’t all have robust resource budgets, sometimes we have to pick and choose what we will be able to demo for our class live. These videos are a big help in bringing those experiments to our classrooms when budgets don’t allow us to do it live.  There are great descriptions and additional links and resources along with each video.

Tips: For those of you who don’t have access to YouTube in your building, you can still use these awesome videos in your classrooms with a little bit of pre-planning.  Download and save YouTube videos so that you can show them at school without accessing the YouTube site. UseKeepVidYouTube DownloaderHDKick YouTubeSaveVid, or Zamzar.  Some of these tools will even let you download at school if you know the YouTube url.  The downloaded video should have no trouble playing at school!

You can follow ScienceFix on Twitter here.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Science Fix in your classroom!

BBC Science Clips

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What it is: The BBC has excellent educational games, activities, and resources.  The BBC Science Clips are a collection of science related activities and games for students who are 5 to 11 years old.  Students can grow virtual plants, experiment with pushes and pulls, hearing and sound, forces and movement, electricity, rocks and soils, simple machines, light, solids and liquids, friction, habitats, life cycles, changing states of matter, reversible and irreversible changes, forces, and much more.  The site is organized well, by age group, and has several activities at each level.  

How to integrate BBC Science Clips into the classroom: BBC Science Clips has a little of everything science.  It is sure to have some great interactives that correspond to your science curriculum.  Each of the interactives is high quality and lets students experiment with new concepts that they are learning.  The activities are short enough to be used as a science center on classroom computers where a few students complete the interactive as part of a rotation.  The activities can also be used for whole class demonstration and experimentation using an interactive whiteboard or projector connected computer.  If you use the interactives with the whole class, have the scientists who are observing take down some observational notes in a special science journal.  Often, real life experiments can be too quick moving for young students to write or draw observations as they are happening.  This site lets them work on those observational skills at their own pace.  This is also great for those experiments that may take too long to observe in a classroom setting.  Each activity includes a short online quiz that students can go through to check understanding.  The quiz can be read independently or students can click on the speakers to have the quiz read to them.  This is a great feature for struggling or non-independent readers.   A “what’s next” button at the bottom of each activity encourages students to keep exploring.  Students can self level by choosing an activity that is a little easier, harder, or the same.

Tips: Check out the resources for teachers page.  Here you will find online and offline lesson plans related to the activities, an accompanying worksheet, activity and quiz.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using BBC Science Clips in your classroom.

Virtual Volcano

What it is:   Virtual Volcano is a Discovery Channel interactive where students learn about and test out volcanoes.  First students get information about plate boundaries, active volcanoes around the world, and tectonic plates.  They see all of this information on a 3-D rotating globe.  Next students can learn about the different types of volcanoes, they will discover the three most common categories and read about each categories profile and its association with types of magma.  Then students can take a journey inside the volcano.  Here they will learn about the vents and how the volcano works.  After students have learned some basic information about volcanoes, they can build their own volcano and watch it erupt.  Students can set the conditions for the volcanoes, changing the viscosity and gas.  When they are finished creating the volcano, they can test out it’s eruption.

How to integrate Virtual Volcano into the classroom:  Virtual Volcano goes beyond the vinegar and baking soda models.  This site really gives students an inside look at exactly how a volcano works.  Students can adjust the viscosity and gasses and get a real idea about what is going on when a volcano erupts.  This site would make an excellent experiment center on classroom computers while your students are learning about volcanoes.  The site is also perfect for whole class instruction with a projector or an interactive whiteboard.  Be sure to invite students up to adjust the conditions of the volcano and create their own eruption.  Discuss the type of volcano the class has created and make predictions about what the volcano will look like before erupting it. 

 

Tips:   In the upper right corner of the volcano simulator you will find a link to information about Pompeii.  Students can learn about Pompeii and take a quiz.  There is also an excellent video of a volcano eruption here.

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

Kids’ Science Challenge

 

What it is:  Kids’ Science Challenge is a nationwide competition for 3rd- 6th graders to submit experiment ideas and problems for real scientists and engineers to solve.  Teachers or after school science programs can enter their classes for this contest that will inspire students to find the fun in science.  The deadline for entry is January 31st, 2009 so get this one in before the holiday break!  The grand prize winner will win a visit with the scientist or engineer to work with them to solve the question or problem proposed, along with possible appearances in Kids’ Science Challenge videos and Pulse of the Planet radio programs.  Other prizes include: a tour of the flavor lab, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream party, science kits, Kids’ Science Encyclopedia and Science books, visit to the SETI institute, telescope, personal planetariums, celestial seeker, a visit to a skateboard engineering workshop, a visit to your school from a pro-skater, a week at camp Woodyard, a skateboard, a physics workshop, a research cruise, kayak, handheld digital microscope, and more!  If that isn’t incentive to give it a try, I don’t know what is!  The first 1000 entrants get a free science activity kit.  The Kids’ Science Challenge website is a great place to explore even if you won’t be able to participate in the challenge.  Students are introduced to real scientists through video, can play science games, and find additional activities including downloadable science projects.  

 

How to integrate Kids’ Science Challenge into the classroom:  Invite your students to explore the Kids’ Science Challenge website and then journal some original questions, problems, or experiment ideas that are related to one of the four fields of science including flavor science, water quality, skateboard engineering, and the search for life in outer space.  This is a great opportunity to use technology creatively to present the questions and problems that students have and want solved.  Think blogs, websites, video, or podcast.  

 

Tips:  Be sure to check out the great lesson plans for the k-12 classroom to use for each of the scientific fields explored on this site.  The lesson plans are aligned to National Science Education Standards.

 

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using Kids’ Science Challenge in your classroom.

Mindomo

 

What it is: Mindomo free web-based mind mapping tool that delivers the capabilities of desktop mind mapping software in a web browser with no software to install or maintain. Students can create, edit, and share mind maps with teachers and other students.

How to integrate Mindomo into your classroom: Students can use Mindomo to create mind maps for all subjects. Students can create character diagrams, comparison charts, story diagrams, vocabulary word diagrams, timelines, effect of events, experiment maps, food pyramids, scientific processes, life cycles, and more. This tool will be valuable for your visual learners!

Tips: Students have to sign up for a free account to use Mindomo they will need a email address to complete registration process.