Physics Central: Nikola Tesla and the Electric Fair

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.

Planet Foss: Investigating Science by Taking Pictures

What it is: Planet Foss is a science photo sharing website for students.  Students are enlisted to help capture science in the real world through pictures and share them with other students around the world.   Students choose a science course to investigate, see what photo challenges exist within the course, and then take a picture of science as it happens.  Each course comes with several challenges; the challenges are all based around themes that tie into the FOSS investigations.   When students have taken their photos, they can upload them, tag them, and record observations about the science they captured in their picture.  Students can also head over to Planet FOSS just to check out the photos taken by other students, they can search by the date that the picture was uploaded, by tag, keyword, or search by location using a Google map. Courses on Planet FOSS include Chemical Interactions, Diversity of Life, Earth History, Electronics, Forces and Motion, Human Brain and Senses, Planetary Science, Populations and Ecosystems, and Weather and Water.

How to integrate Planet FOSS into the classroom: Planet FOSS is an excellent way to involve students in science exploration and discovery in the real world.  The great thing about the site is that it helps students discover the science that it all around them.  Through the photo challenges and investigations, students learn to view the world through a new lens and begin to understand that life is science.  That isn’t a concept I understood until I was out of school (for me science usually meant filling out a worksheet or memorizing science vocabulary-sad).  Don’t have access to digital cameras at school? Students can still use Planet FOSS by exploring other student photos.  The photos are a great way to introduce science concepts and illustrate concepts in a way that is more authentic than the textbook offerings.  As students view others photos, they can leave feedback about the photo, observation, or comment on the similarities or difference to where they live using a set of virtual “stickers”.

Tips: To protect student privacy, Planet FOSS does not accept any photos that includes pictures of students. Planet FOSS has a great introductory video that will have even the novice computer user uploading photos in no time!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Planet FOSS in your classroom

Study Jams!

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!


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.