This week’s Fun Friday post features a video that I found out about on byrdseed.com. I know that many of you are still experiencing cold weather, but here in San Antonio it has been mild for weeks. When we returned from Spring Break this week, I noticed an unusual number of students hunched down in the field during recess. It turned out that they were all examining ladybugs. My Kinder students are working on “Scientist Thinking”, so I thought we should take advantage of this abundance of these appealing insects, and do some research. This slow motion video of ladybugs taking off will fit in quite nicely with our curriculum. It is fascinating to watch that second pair of wings unfold! Here is the link in case the embedded video below does not show in your browser: http://youtu.be/87iV4ISAY5U
This week’s Fun Friday post is a link to the “Technabob Blog“, where Hazel Chua posted an image gallery of the many unique billboards Science World is using in its new advertising campaign. How can this be used in an educational setting? Well, you could have students research and expound upon the facts cited in each ad. After showing the kids a few examples, I bet some of them would be more than happy to develop their own delightfully shocking ads – based on research, of course. Or, if you live in the United States, you could just have them convert the metric measurement of snot into customary units – so it will make a bigger impact…
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious—it is the source of all true art and science.” ~ Albert Einstein
The 2012 Photomicrography Competition is a perfect combination of art and science, a delightful example of the awe-inspiring beauty that even the smallest pieces of the natural world possess. Browse through the winners and finalists to view, with crystal clarity, the symmetrical shape of a snow crystal or the fearsome vision of a mosquito. These entries into the contest, sponsored by Nikon Small World, would be attention-grabbers in any classroom. They are perfect for story starters, research ideas, or just intriguing screen savers!
By the way, I learned about this contest from my new, favorite blog, It’s Okay to Be Smart. If you love science, this is the place for you!
If you are like my daughter (9) (and , to be honest, me), then you went through a stage of fascination with “roly poly” creatures, also known as “pill bugs”. Isopod, a new, educational iPad game banks on that curiosity and takes advantage of one of the unique aspects of iPads – the accelerometer. Players of Isopod are given instructions to try to roll the isopods into other creatures and avoid ones that will decrease their “health.” While playing, the user can learn about different creatures in that environment. I played it for 5 minutes, and I was hooked. I could see students 8 and up really getting value from this game.
There is a free “lite” version of the game, as well as a full version and a teacher version. The game description on iTunes gives the details about each version. I highly recommend, though, that you also visit the website at http://www.xylemandphloem.net. There, you will learn about the extensive features of this game, which include a downloadable curriculum with loads of activities for students and a Pinterest link to related pictures and videos that support this game.
Although I dislike the idea of having to pay for the teacher version, I am very impressed with the supporting resources that Xylem and Phloem offers for free along with Isopod. Unlike many of the apps labeled “Education” on iTunes, Isopod is one app that truly delivers for that category.
With the recent touchdown of the Mars rover, Curiosity, the beginning of the school year would be a great time to ignite your students’ curiosity about space exploration. On the Follow Your Curiosity site, NASA has provided 5 lesson plans with student and teacher guides for grades 6-8. I think that you could modify them for a bit lower or higher grades on either end, though. The site includes video clips and many hands-on activities, including a simulation activity of a Mars rover and the creation of a 3-D Mars community. Visit Follow Your Curiosity for a great selection of Rover Resources!
Curiosity.com is a website from the Discovery Channel. It is visually appealing, and has many topics that you might be, well, curious about. For example, you can see the 30 strangest landmarks in America or view an image gallery of geniuses.
Curiosity.com is not “vetted” for educational purposes, but there is a link to Curiosity in the Classroom, which is. Curiosity in the Classroom offers resources for parents, students, and teachers including lesson plans and downloadable activities. It also gives information on careers and fun quizzes for students to take. This portion of the site is aimed at students in 6th-12th grades.
If you have secondary students who are working on independent projects, but cannot seem to narrow down a topic, Curiosity.com might be the place to send them.
As part of the World Science Festival going on in New York this weekend, The Flame Challenge (presented by Alan Alda) asked adults to come up with a way to explain what a flame is to an 11-year old. The finalists will be judged by a panel of, well, 11-year olds, fittingly enough. This particular animated video, “What is a Flame?” caught my eye, and my ear, with its graphics, comedy, and music. But, does it meet the challenge? We will find out on 6/2/2012. You can see the other finalists on this page, and judge for yourself who should be the winner.
Here is another summer recommendation for parents: How about choosing one or two “Sick Science” videos each week to watch, and then supervise your child performing the experiment? These videos, produced by Steve Spangler Science, are short how-to videos for all kinds of science projects that can be done at home. One of my personal favorites is “The Shrinking Chip Bag”, but that requires an old microwave and definite parental supervision. For a less “electrifying” example, check out the video below on moving toothpicks with sound. You can also find it at http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLC02CFDE5690E4010
Sylvia’s Super-Awesome Maker Show is a website that has short videos with easy directions on how to make a wide range of items – from the soft-circuitry products featured in the photo above to paper rockets and sidewalk chalk. Sylvia is a kid with a lot of personality and very engaging videos. If you are looking for some suggestions for your students for the summer, show them this site. They will have many projects to choose from, and they might want to send Sylvia a request for a new video. Your really creative students will see these, and want to make their own videos! Here is the short link to the YouTube video below: http://youtu.be/j3g_tdPIo0o
Ewok Escape is one of 12 Design Challenges (7 current ones, and 5 in the archives) offered by Boston’s Museum of Science on their website. The question posed by this particular challenge is, “CAN YOU DESIGN AND BUILD A BALANCING DEVICE TO HELP AN EWOK ESCAPE THE IMPERIAL FORCES BY SLIDING DOWN A TIGHTROPE TO SAFETY?” What student wouldn’t want to accept that challenge? Each of the challenges come with Educator Guides in PDF format, and many of them have additional worksheets, as well. If your students aren’t Star Wars fans, they can use other figures that pique their interest, or they can try to design a house for an animal or tools to help them survive in case of a shipwreck!