Exploring Flight

Grade 6 Science No Comments »

Today’s post will highlight a few of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s online resources, and specifically those focused on flight.

How Things Fly is a comprehensive interactive resource that reviews forces of flight, gravity and air, aerodynamics, propulsion, structures and materials, wing design and flight dynamics.

There is a Pioneers of Flight online gallery, including Military Aviation, Civilian Aviation and Rocket Pioneers.  The activity section in this gallery  includes a simulation of the US Army’s 1924 Around the World Flight, Designing an Air Racer, and helping the Lindbergh’s pack their airplane for long flights.

The Wright Brothers – The Invention of the Aerial Age explores the Wright Brothers and their first flyer, and there is also a Lecture Archive where past museum lectures are shared on Youtube. These include lectures from astronauts, pilots, and academics.

There are many more areas to explore, much more than I can highlight in a short post. Go explore.

Wishing everyone a successful school year.
Have a great week.


Rube Goldberg-esque

General Education, General Science, Using Tech No Comments »

Cookie or Cream?

That is the question that Oreo is currently posing to the public. As part of their most recent marketing campaign, they have enlisted engineers, “tinkerers” and roboticists from around the world to design and build machines that separate the cookie part of the oreo from the cream. They are sharing these machines in a series of four episodes. The machines are not quite as extravagant as full Rube Goldberg machines, but I think that the very nature of a machine built to pull apart two sides of a cookie must classify as, at the very least, Rube Goldberg-esque.

Check them out for yourselves.

Episode one

Episode two

Episode three

Episode four

Have a great week.

App Review – The Periodic Table Project

General Science, Using Tech No Comments »

Most science geeks like me are quite familiar with the iPad app, The Elements: A Visual Exploration. It is a stunning app, and I have not found another Periodic Table app that visually compares. However, I recently came across a Periodic Table app that peeked my interest.

The Periodic Table Project is an app that was developed by the University of Waterloo for the International Year of Chemistry in 2011.  It was a joint project between the Department of Chemistry and the Faculty of Science, where the call went out to chemistry educators worldwide to artistically interpret an element. Each piece of art was accompanied by a description from the artist, which explained its significance. As well, specific data can be found for each element in relation to high school curriculum.

It is a free app, so there is no cost to take a look. Alternately, you can check out the interactive version on the University of Waterloo website.

Have a great week.

App Review – Math Doodles and Symmetry Shuffle

Math, Using Tech No Comments »

There are two apps by Carstens Studios that I have loaded onto our school iPads.

The first app is called Math Doodles and it sells for $2.99. The user is given three challenges (a fourth is in development) that revolve around addition, logic, and algebraic thinking. In the first challenge, Sums Stacker, the user needs to manipulate values within three piles in order to reach a target sum. In the second challenge, Connect Sums, the user must select values that reach a target sum. In the third challenge, Unknown Square, the user must find the missing value in a 3-by-3 array of numbers. One of the things I love about this app (in addition to the awesome graphics) is the ability to play in a variety of number systems. The user can choose to play with values represented as dice, fingers, holes, ten frames, tally marks, binary system, Braille, number prefixes, polygons, US coins and dollars, a variety of fraction types, Roman numerals, numbers shown in  either Chinese, Arabic, Gurmukhi, Hindi, Hebrew, or Spanish, or a mixture of all of the above. There are different levels of difficulty, as well. All of these options allow the app to be used across a number of grade levels.

The second app is called Symmetry Shuffle and it sells for $1.99. The user must either rotate (turn), reflect (flip) or translate (slide) the image so that all targets have been matched. The user can select from 12 possible images to “shuffle”, and can also change the size of the “shuffle” grid. Its features are not as diverse as on the first app, but I still find it a great addition to our math apps on the iPads.

Both apps allow the user to track the number of moves they have used so that they can attempt to solve the puzzle in the fewest possible moves, which is another great feature for differentiation.

Have fun playing.


App Review – Interactive Telling Time

Using Tech No Comments »

Part of my role this year is to find new apps to put on the school iPads. To date, I have mostly searched for math apps. I have finalized my list of recommendations, and over time I will share them here, as well.

The first app that I will highlight is Interactive Telling Time by GiggleUp. There is a free version and a paid version ($2.99). I first installed the free version, then upgraded to the paid version and found it well worth the money.

This is a great app for kids who are learning how to tell time. There are many options for play. Users can set the time and learn how to read the time on analogue clocks. There is also a puzzle setting where users have to put the correct number on the proper place on the clock. This can be done with regular numbers or roman numerals. The “stop the clock” game allows the user to stop the clock hands from moving when they reach a specific time. In the quiz feature, the user is told a time and must choose which clock displays the correct time.

The settings menu allows for a variety of choices. Users can choose between eight different clocks to work with, each of them focusing on something a little different (roman numerals, no numbers, only the numbers 3, 6, 9, and 12, or all hours). The user can also choose to work with either a 12-hour clock or a 24-hour clock. Difficulty levels also allow the user to work with various time intervals during play (1 minute, 5 minute, 15 minute, 30 minute, or 1 hour).

Overall, I feel that this app offers many options which would benefit students at various stages of learning to tell time.

Have a great week.

A Day for Social Action

General Education, Math No Comments »

On Friday I took a group of students to We Day. It is a day organized by Free the Children, a charity which inspires youth to take action and be agents of positive change in the world. Founded by Craig Kielburger, the main missions of this charity are to assist the impoverished with education, clean water and sanitation, health, alternative income, agriculture and food security. Full day events will occur this year in Toronto, Vancouver, Alberta, Manitoba, Waterloo, Montreal and Saskatchewan. The day is filled with musicians and motivational speakers who want to inspire youth to get involved in social action. In Toronto, we listened to Jennifer Hudson, The Tenors, Al Gore, Justin Trudeau, Hedley, Martin Sheen, Nelly Furtado, Spencer West, General Romeo Dallaire, K’naan, Justice Sinclair, and The Honourable David C. Onley. Our students left feeling inspired by the stories they heard and energized to rally for others less fortunate than themselves.  In the spirit of the day, I would like to highlight a few math resources that focus on social action.

I discovered a new resource called “Real World Math: Engaging Students through Global Issues” from Facing the Future. I tried one of their sample activities in the spring, which linked sustainability to surface area and volume. I decided to order a copy for this year, and I am excited to try more of their tasks. The resource focuses on issues such as waste and recycling, poverty, population growth, youth conflict, global health and carbon emissions. There are a variety of other resources to explore on their website, including web-based and print resources.

For many years I have been a fan of an organization called The Southern Poverty Law Center, whose mandate is to fight hate and intolerance. Their Teaching Tolerance program assists educators in preparing youth to live in a diverse world.

The Global Education website is based in Australia, and contains resources for a variety of global issues such as clean water, cultural diversity, human rights, sustainability, poverty, international aid, food security and the environment.

It is also worth checking out a few other resources that I have previously mentioned. “Math that Matters” from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives focuses on connecting math and social justice so that students can make connections between what they learn in the classroom and the world around them. Radical Math is a website resource for integrating economic and social justice issues into the math classroom.

Have a great week.


Tech Toolbox

Using Tech No Comments »

As part of my job this year, I will be helping teachers integrate technology into their classrooms. This includes anything and everything, such as blogging, website creation, digital presentations, digital tools, iPad use and Smartboard use. I have spent a lot of time this summer researching resources, and I have created a list in my updated tech toolbox page. There you can find various links to resources for iPad use, screen capture and audio/video/image editing, infographics, posters and charts, digital storytelling and comic creators, interactive whiteboards, presention methods, and other miscellaneous tools.

As I continue my research, I realized that there is so much more available to explore, and I will continue to do so regularly. If I have missed something that should absolutely be on the lists, please let me know.

Sustainable Thinking

General Education No Comments »

I was looking for math resources one day, and I came across a neat organization called Facing the Future. It is a non-profit organization whose goal is to educate students on global issues and how to make positive changes in the world. They have a series of resources that cover topics such as poverty, the environment, global health, and population.

When looking through their site there are a few key areas to explore. The curriculum link takes you to their Global Issues and Sustainability curriculum. Most of them are for purchase, but there are free samples from many of their books. I used a sample lesson from “Real World Math: Engaging Students Through Global Issues”. It incorporated sustainable design into a surface area and volume question. It was a great assignment, but I learned that my students need more practice with these type of problems. I have ordered the book for the school next year, as I think it is a great addition to the middle school math resources.

You can also explore the Global Sustainability Issues link. Within that section, the Global Issues Tours give some background information on some of the global issues facing our world. The Newspapers in Education link shares some global issues newspaper articles and related lesson plans. The Action Project Databases give students some ideas of how they can get involved to make a change in the world.

I am always looking for good resources for educating students on global issues. If you have any, send them my way.

Enjoy the sun.

Update: The website has been updated and most of the links mentioned are no longer working, but the website is still worth exploring.

Playing with Probability

Math No Comments »

I had to plan for the last 6 teaching days with my grade 8 math classes, and after that we are into exam review and end-of-year trips. We had not yet covered probability, so I thought that I could design some mini-activities to carry out over these six days.

Here is my plan for the six days:

Day 1:
-Introduce terminology (probability, theoretical probability, experimental probability)
-Each student is given an activity to carry out with either dice or spinners (see attachment below)
-Discussion of theoretical and experimental probability as related to the dice and spinner activities

Spinner and Dice Activities

Days 2/3:
-Introduce game assignment (see attachment below)
-Allow time for students to decide if they are working alone or in small groups
-Planning time for students to organize the activity

Game Assignment

Days 4/5/6:
-Students lead activities for class
-Class discussions of how each activity went and how other factors might have come into play. Classmates suggest ideas for improvement.

We just finished the first day of activities in one of the classes, and already students are learning how to modify their activities based on how the first ones went.

We will play some more tomorrow.

Pythagorean Theorem…Take 2.

Math No Comments »

This week I begin Pythagorean Theorem with my grade 8 students. I intend to use many of the same applets as last year (see Fun with Applets), with a few new additions.

Illuminations Proof without Words – This is similar to Puzzle 1 from the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives. The difference here is that this applet runs for you and asks you to figure out the proof from what you see. In the NLVM applet, you manipulate the pieces yourself. I still prefer the NLVM applet, but this is a nice alternative.

IES Applet – This is similar to their applet that I shared last year. In this applet, one of the squares gets transferred whole, while the other one is broken into pieces. The whole square and the pieces must fit into square “c”.

Learning Math – This site from learner.org has some features that I like. In Part A, students are led through some inquiries and then the theorem is explained. Part B then leads students through a few different proofs. Part C and the Homework section have some interesting questions to solve.

Wolfram Math World – This site has some of the proofs already mentioned on other applets and sites, they are all just put together in the same place.

I plan on showing my students a few of the proofs, and then providing them with the websites so that they can explore. They will need to choose one that makes sense to them, and then find a way to display it with reference to a real-world problem of their choosing. In the past, students have used foam board or bristle board and made pieces that they could move around and fit with Velcro. Other students created their own digital demonstrations of one of the proofs. Some simply created diagrams. Again, I will leave it up to them to choose a method they can work with.

I can’t wait for the fun to begin.
Have a great week.

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