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31 December 2012

Things you see are not always what they seem

Some end of the year illusions for you:

Watch this section of an interview with Peter Jackson:

Is there a difference between optical/visual illusion and magic?

20 December 2012

Can I see a cosmic ray?

For ISOCS Class 4,5 as they begin to investigate changing materials
Streamed live on Dec 19, 2012

There are more videos for this unit on our Changing Materials playlist.

19 December 2012

Curating the web

For awhile now I've been collecting "News from the world of technologies to spark the interest of staff and students at ISOCS" on Paper.li.  This is a web site which produces a page once a week with snippits and links to posts, tweets, feeds, etc. that I've chosen. (The site is based at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) – Innovation Center in Lausanne, Switzerland)

Recently, Paper.li has campaigned hard for users to upgrade to Pro accounts, and I've had the feeling that the service on my non-pro account has declined somewhat.

So this morning I created a parallel page on Scoop.it, another curation site.  The sources for both pages are the same, so we will be able to compare how the two sites work.  You can subscribe to both pages, or view them on tabs on this blog.

If you do a search for [web curation sites], you'll find lots of information:  what it is, what it's good for, why it's good, why it's bad, how to curate, etc.  I think curation would be a fine tool for students as they investigate a topic, whether for school or for their own interests. Collecting and sorting news, and then editing the page causes you to focus closely on your topic, and your audience.  Because it is almost a daily process, it keeps the topic in the forefront of your mind.

If my class were going to start a curation project, I would have them read this post from Mashable, and then look at a few education-focused Paper.li and Scoop.it sites:
Geography Education
Ancient Civilization
The Medieval World
English Language Teaching Resources
Cathedral AP World History

Careful editing is required on "publication day" - these pages are pulling information based on rss feeds, but also on key words, and sometimes the right word causes the wrong information to be included on a curation page.

14 December 2012

How and Why We Read

When you've filled your house with snowflakes (see previous post), you can read!

Published on Nov 15, 2012
In which John Green kicks off the Crash Course Literature mini series with a reasonable set of questions. Why do we read? What's the point of reading critically. John will argue that reading is about effectively communicating with other people. Unlike a direct communication though, the writer has to communicate with a stranger, through time and space, with only "dry dead words on a page." So how's that going to work? Find out with Crash Course Literature! Also, readers are empowered during the open letter, so that's pretty cool.

The Reading List!
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare: http://dft.ba/-shakespearerj
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: http://dft.ba/-fitzgeraldgg
Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger: http://dft.ba/-catcher
Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson: http://dft.ba/-dickinson

Some of these are available from gutenberg.org as free ebooks. You should check that out.

Here are links to online, free versions of these books:

Paper Snowflakes

In case you get snowed in over the winter holiday...or find time on your hands:

Published on Dec 13, 2012
Unusual variations on the paper snowflake.

12 December 2012

5 Things Every Presenter Needs To Know

5 Things Every Presenter Needs To Know About People from Weinschenk on Vimeo.

Not just in sales, politics, government, and teaching - students need these skills too for presentations in class!

Looking at eyes

In our Seeing the Un-seeable department:
Screen shot of http://www.surenmanvelyan.com

Click here to go to an amazing page of macro photos of the eyes - human and animal.

Suren Manvelyan is a photographer who began to take pictures when he was 16.
"In parallel to photography, for the past ten years Suren has also enjoyed teaching physics, mathematics, projective geometry and astronomy at the Yerevan Waldorf School. From 1997 to 2011 he served as a scientific researcher at the Institute for Physical Research of National Academy of Sciences.Suren received his PhD in Theoretical Physics from the Yerevan State University in 2001 where his research focused on Quantum Chaos. He received the President Award of the Republic of Armenia next year for his research work in the field of quantum technologies." (link)
And he plays 5 musical instruments.

09 December 2012

Stock Images in Google Drive

UPDATE: 17 January 2013: Be sure to read Google Strikes Controversial Licensing Deal with Getty Images
UPDATE 20 December 2012:  Be sure to read Alan Levine's post about this.

Richard Byrnes alerted me to (yet another) new function of Google Drive: When you need to add a picture to a document or presentation you're creating in Google Drive,
  1. choose "insert image"
  2. then choose "search"
  3. then choose "stock"
The stock image gallery has more than 5,000 images that are labeled for re-use. Read about where they came from on the Google Drive Blog, and The Next Web.

How should these images be attributed? Where did they really come from, who is the creator?  Google describes the Gallery:
"Thanks to your suggestions, 5,000 new photos of nature, weather, animals, sports, food, education, technology, music and 8 other categories are now available for your use in Docs, Sheets, and Slides. More than 900 of these photos were selected directly from your submissions -- we really appreciate your help!" (link)
When you select a photo and insert it in your work, there is no indication at all of how it should be attributed.  It's nice to be able to access "photos available for re.use", but they still must carry an attribution.
Screen shot
I searched for a "blue" picture, choose the one of the planet, and then did a Google Image search to see if I could find where it came from.

Screen shot
Several of the result sites offer the photo for sale at varying prices, and in varying formats.

I found this advice on the Wired How To wiki
Most stock image services provide royalty-free images for about a few bucks per high-resolution image.There's no one-size-fits-all attribution for stock images, so you must check the policies of the service you are using to see if and how you need to credit imagery.In general, however, a stock photo used for editorial purposes might be attributed as:©[stock service]/[username of creator]
When using Stock imagess, the IFB blog recommends
Give CreditThese days finding the source of an image can seem impossible. You found something off Pinterest, it links to Tumblr, that credits Weheart.it that was some how sourced to FFFFound!, and that was linked to a blog post from way back in 2010 that linked back to Tumblr. Sound familiar? You can run an image search in Google, by dragging and dropping an image to Google Image Search, and it will pull every time it was used. You’ll still have to do a little digging to see what the oldest entry was, but it’s a good way to verify where the original source is. After running a search, and you’re not certain as to where the image came from, you can always give credit to the place where you found it, but specify that it’s not the original source. But always, always, always give credit where it is due, even when you have permission to use.

(Bold emphasis mine)

So until Google helps us out with attribution suggestions, I'll propose that our students use  ©Google Stock Images, since that's really all we can be sure about, though it's not enough.

08 December 2012

Cargo Bridge

This morning the Fractus Learning blog recommended a handful of games; Cargo Bridge caught my eye because the ISOCS MS students are finishing up a unit looking at bridges.

From Limex Games:
"The Cargo Bridge is back! Build a bridge and test your construction skills. Now, there are more levels, more bridge connections, more cargo and more fun! Design a bridge on a blueprint and test it when you are done! Your workers will use the construction to get cargo located at the other side of the valley, and bring it back. Your goal is to collect all items in each level."

You can play the game in the tiny version here, or full screen online, download it, and also find it in the iTunes store (iPad and iPhone).

Google Poetics

Are you a fan of serendipity?  Do you trust fate? Do you like playing with words, and language in general? Do you have a bit of time to invest in a project?
If the answers are "yes",  then you might enjoy a site called  Google Poetics.

This is a website/blog curated by Sampsa Nuotio and Raisa Omaheimo, not by Google itself.  It uses the auto-complete function of Google search pages to suggest phrases to you.  You play with several phrases, and then, if you like your creation, take a screen shot and send it to the blog for inclusion in the month's collection.
"Google Poetics is born when Google autocomplete suggestions are viewed as poems.
Google’s algorithm offers searches after just a few keystrokes when typing in the search box, in an attempt to predict what the user wants to type. The combination of these suggestions can be funny, absurd, dadaistic - and sometimes even deeply moving..."

On the HowTo page, they write:
"Google autocomplete suggestions differ greatly between local Google versions (google.com, google.co.uk, google.it…). Your results also vary depending on whether you are logged in to your Google account or not.
Remember that Google updates the suggestions constantly - no poem is set in stone. If you manage to catch an awesome poem, make sure to take a screenshot right away."
You're invited to follow Google Poetics on Facebook, Twitter, and in a feed reader.

So open a Google search page, and start hunting for a poem. (It's not as easy as you might think!)
Here's my first effort, which I title "December":

06 December 2012

Reality is...

Are the things you experience on your phone/tablet real life?

Published on Dec 5, 2012 by 
Can you live without your phone?

We've all become pretty attached to our cellular devices: it's a GPS, a camera, a game console, a social media portal... and half a million other things, all in our pocket! From concerts to meals to our pets, we process and experience the world through our phone. But as we see in so many mobile phone ads, the representations of these moments (whether its instagrams, foursquare check ins or Facebook shares) seem to be taking over and replacing the experience itself. In this brave new world is the mobile phone a tool, or a filter through which we experience a new reality? 

In case you're not subscribing to the wonderful PBS YouTube Channel yet, I'm sharing the latest video here.

02 December 2012

Brain Storming

Published on Oct 22, 2012 by 
Does Brainstorming Work?

This is the question psychologists have been baffled by for nearly half a century and we're still on the path of discovering whether brainstorming is a technique that extracts the best out of people or if it's a method that suppresses creativity.

Journalist and author, Jonah Lehrer, argues that brainstorming produces less original ideas than those people who work by themselves. From Alex Osborn, the father of brainstorming, to Charlen Nemeth, Jonah explains why brainstorming just doesn't work.

Charlan Nemeth et al. study

Thanks to Edna Sackson for the link

30 November 2012

Be careful where you sing "Happy Birthday"

For the ISOCS Middle School students who have been, or are about to, investigate the concept of copyright in their Digital Fluency wiki.


Published on Nov 28, 2012 by 
You know how chain restaurants always sing some weird unknown birthday tune, instead of the actual Happy Birthday song we know and love? It's because "Happy Birthday To You" is protected by COPYRIGHT!!!! They are legally not allowed to sing it in public, and neither are you. Copyright was originally created for two reasons: to protect the original creators so they could benefit from their work AND have creative works enter the Public Domain. Unfortunately, the whole system has gotten out of whack with copyright extensions that extend far beyond the life of the creator. The current holder of the Happy Birthday copyright is the Warner Music Group and the original creators of the song stopped having birthdays a long time ago because they're dead. It makes you wonder if copyright law hasn't deviated a bit from it's original intentions. Or maybe you just shouldn't celebrate your birthday in a Red Lobster.

26 November 2012

Managing your ebooks

Our Middle School students at ISOCS have Galaxy Tabs, which, among other things, are great ebook readers.  (There's a page on our Android Tablet Wiki for ebook readers, with a section of where to find free ebooks. )

How does one manage a growing library of ebooks?   By using Calibre, a free and open source e-book library management application. It has a cornucopia of features divided into the following main categories:
Library Management
E-book conversion
Syncing to e-book reader devices
Downloading news from the web and converting it into e-book form
Comprehensive e-book viewer
Content server for online access to your book collection

There are versions for Windows, Mac, Linux and Portable (to carry on your USB memory stick)

Watch the grand tour demo at this link http://calibre-ebook.com/demo

In addition to keeping track of, and organizing your ebooks, Calibre is a superb tool for converting books from one file type to another. If you've found a book you want to read, but it's a .prc file (which the Kindle reader can read), but you want to read it on an iPad, Calibre will convert it to an epub file, which the iBooks app reads easily.

If you've loaned your tablet to your little brother so that he can play games (or Skype with his friend in Australia), you can read your ebook on your desktop computer with Calibre.

Once you have your ebooks organized, get your paper book library organized with LibraryThing.

A Slower Speed of Light

If you have a new-ish computer, like games, and are open to scinece-on-the-edge, then you'll be interested in MIT's new game,  A Slower Speed of Light.

As the player, you walk through a landscape collecting orbs.
"As the 100 orbs are collected, gamers increasingly experience counter-intuitive principles of traveling near the speed of light
  • The Doppler Effect – objects become more blue, red, or rainbow colored in accordance with the light spectrum
  • Length Contraction – objects warp and bend in space
  • The Searchlight Effect – “increased brightness in the direction of travel”
  • Runtime Effect – the ability to see the past through the light that is yet to hit the eyes of those in the future" (link)

The Game's home page describes it this way:
"A Slower Speed of Light is a first-person game prototype in which players navigate a 3D space while picking up orbs that reduce the speed of light in increments. Custom-built, open-source relativistic graphics code allows the speed of light in the game to approach the player's own maximum walking speed. 

Visual effects of special relativity gradually become apparent to the player, increasing the challenge of gameplay. These effects, rendered in realtime to vertex accuracy, include the Doppler effect (red- and blue-shifting of visible light, and the shifting of infrared and ultraviolet light into the visible spectrum); the searchlight effect (increased brightness in the direction of travel); time dilation (differences in the perceived passage of time from the player and the outside world); Lorentz transformation (warping of space at near-light speeds); and the runtime effect (the ability to see objects as they were in the past, due to the travel time of light). 

Players can choose to share their mastery and experience of the game through Twitter. A Slower Speed of Light combines accessible gameplay and a fantasy setting with theoretical and computational physics research to deliver an engaging and pedagogically rich experience."

Published on Oct 26, 2012 by 

Will it run on your computer?
"A Slower Speed of Light has been tested on computers with the configurations listed below.
 • Intel Core 2 Duo T9900 or Core i7 (2.8GHz clock speed) 
• Windows 7 and Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) 
• AMD Radeon HD 6970M/AMD Mobility Radeon HD 4850/Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT 
• 8GB RAM Some users have reported that the game may run on Windows XP and 2GB RAM. 

A known bug will crash the game on computers with some Intel graphics chipsets."

24 November 2012

Enhance Internet Accessibility

http://paulhami.edublogs.org/files/2012/11/Accessibility-Logo-1reyhxy.jpgThis morning a colleague showed me a website new to me, Free Resources from the Net for Every Learner. Click over to read the latest post, Make the Internet Accessible with Google Chrome, in which the author, Paul Hamilton, reviews 8 extensions, apps, and websites that enhance Internet accessibility with Google Chrome.

One of the featured apps is Read&Write for Google Docs.  Hamilton has also written a blog post about this app/Extension.

The Ig Nobel Prizes

This is for the ISOCS Middle School students who are working on their online Digital Information Fluency course.  If you investigate this link,   Ig Nobel Prizes, and listen to the podcast at this link, you will have a big hint about something in Module 2, Evaluating Web Resources.


23 November 2012

Brains, the Internet and Analogies

This video was shared on Art Ed 2.0 by Craig Roland:

Published on Nov 5, 2012 by 

BRAIN POWER: From Neurons to Networks is a 10-minute film and accompanying TED Book (ted.com/tedbooks) from award-winning Director Tiffany Shlain and her team at The Moxie Institute. Based on new research on how to best nurture children's brains from Harvard University's Center on the Developing Child and University of Washington's I-LABS, the film explores the parallels between a child's brain development and the development of the global brain of Internet, offering insights into the best ways to shape both. Made through a new crowd-sourcing creativity process the Moxie team calls "Cloud Filmmaking," Brain Power was created by putting into action the very ideas that the film is exploring: the connections between neurons, networks, and people around the world.

18 November 2012

Enigmatology, or How a Crossword Puzzle is Made

Do you like words?  Puzzles?  Language? Clues? Have you tried constructing a crossword puzzle?

  1. Decide which language your puzzle will be in (English, French, German, etc.)
  2. Decide on a theme for the puzzle, that all the words and clues will relate to in someway.
  3. Give your puzzle a name.
  4. Make a list of the words you want to use, and their clues.
  5.  Use this web page to create your puzzle. You'll see, there are several bits of information it asks for before you get to the words and clues part.  The first time you use this site, don't change anything except the paper size.  Change it to A4.

Here's a screen shot of a sample, made by a friend:

You could solve your puzzle online, or download and print a pdf file of it.

If you want to become a professional enigamtologist, read this page for help constructing puzzles.

16 November 2012

Optimal Potatoes

Published on Nov 15, 2012 by 

Spend some time with the other Vihart math videos.  Highly recommended!

14 November 2012

Hearing about Buddha and Mohammed

This morning LibriVox.org posted a new recording that might be useful for Mr. Harris' Class at  ISOCS as they investigate beliefs.

LibriVox is a site which provides free audiobooks. "Volunteers record chapters of books in the public domain and release the audio files back onto the net. Our goal is to make all public domain books available as free audio books."

The recording of A Treasury of Heroes and Heroines by Clayton Edwards includes stories about two figures of interest to our students:  Buddha and Mohammed. Files can be listened to on your computer, or downloaded to an mp3 player. (Check their How to listen page if you need help.)

image from Wikimedia
 01 - Buddha – 00:28:43 

image from Wikimedia
05 - Mohammed – 00:22:56 
[mp3@64kbps - 11.0MB]
[mp3@128kbps - 22.0MB]
[ogg vorbis - 11.6MB]
Read by Jeannie Tirado

Go to the LibriVox page for other stories,  links to the entire book, and the iTunes feed.  

13 November 2012

Aqua Alta

If you've been watching the news, you know that this past weekend's rains have also fallen on Venice, and connected with maximum tide, have flooded the 90% of the city.  Open Culture reminded me of a video we watched last year, when the Middle Primary Class investigated their community, their history, and how they meet the needs of their inhabitants.

Venice Backstage. How does Venice work? from Insula spa on Vimeo.

There are interesting pictures and videos of this weekend's Aqua Alta at France 24, annd a description of the barriers under construction in the Venice lagoon on Science2.0

Images from the City of Venice's webcams are all visible on this page, and if you want to keep an eye on the water level in Venice, go to this page.

12 November 2012

My Shoebox

This morning PetaPixal reviewed a new site/app called My Shoebox, which looks like a very useful tool for ISOCS Middle School students, who are creating Digital Portfolios, and looking for ways to send photos taken on their Android tablets to other applications or storage sites.  My Shoebox may be a good candidate for photo storage, because unlimited backup is free.  You can send photos from your Mac, PC, iOS and Android devices.

The site features
  • Secure Private Backup - Only you can access your photos. Your photos are stored with the same encryption used by banks. Nothing is ever shared without your explicit permission.
  • MyShoebox will automatically keep your photos backed up from your computer, phone and tablet. No external hard drives or manual syncing.
  • MyShoebox lets you access your entire photo collection from any device without taking up storage space.
  • By default, the  Android app waits until your phone is charging to backup full resolution photos.
How can this be free?
 "MyShoebox doesn’t limit its membership plans based on storage, but on resolution. Free accounts can store an unlimited number of JPG and PNG photos (RAW isn’t supported), but it limits the dimensions to 1024px and shrinks uploaded photos down if necessary. Pay $5 a month, and you’ll be able to store an unlimited number of max-res images — as long as they weigh in at under 20MB each."(Read more at PetaPixal)  

Which means that for free, you can look at all your pictures, display them on any digital device. Read more on the FAQ page.

I decided to test My Shoebox, to see if it would useful for our students. easy to use, and work as it promises. I created an account, and uploaded all the photos in my iPad: Here are some screen shots (taken on my PC):

Screen shot My Shoebox
 You can view, sort and search for your photos by "Events",
Screen shot My Shoebox
 Through time order,
Screen shot My Shoebox
 Click on Explore, and your photos will fill the screen.
Screen shot My Shoebox

Search by date,
Screen shot My Shoebox
 or by camera.
Screen shot My Shoebox
You can read more about MyShoebox, and the company behind it at TechCrunch. Be sure to watcch the video with one of the developers.

MyShoebox from Fidelity Format on Vimeo.

10 November 2012

Caught Mapping in 1940

  shared a video today on Open Culture which I pass on:

"...Chevrolet had a vested interest in glamorizing anything to do with four wheels, including the process that put maps in a supposedly adventurous, car-buying public’s hands. Caught Mapping (1940), like so many of the short, informative films the automotive giant engineered with director Jam Handy and “the cooperation of State Highway Departments,” has all the earmarks of its time..."(link)

Uploaded by  on Feb 12, 2012
"How road maps are drawn, field-checked and printed."
Public domain film from the Library of Congress Prelinger Archive, slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and mild video noise reduction applied.
The soundtrack was also processed with volume normalization, noise reduction, clipping reduction, and equalization.
"How road maps are drawn, field-checked and printed."
...In cartography, technology has continually changed in order to meet the demands of new generations of mapmakers and map users. The first maps were manually constructed with brushes and parchment; therefore, varied in quality and were limited in distribution. The advent of magnetic devices, such as the compass and much later, magnetic storage devices, allowed for the creation of far more accurate maps and the ability to store and manipulate them digitally.

Advances in mechanical devices such as the printing press, quadrant and vernier, allowed for the mass production of maps and the ability to make accurate reproductions from more accurate data. Optical technology, such as the telescope, sextant and other devices that use telescopes, allowed for accurate surveying of land and the ability of mapmakers and navigators to find their latitude by measuring angles to the North Star at night or the sun at noon.

Advances in photochemical technology, such as the lithographic and photochemical processes, have allowed for the creation of maps that have fine details, do not distort in shape and resist moisture and wear. This also eliminated the need for engraving, which further shortened the time it takes to make and reproduce maps.

Advances in electronic technology in the 20th century ushered in another revolution in cartography. Ready availability of computers and peripherals such as monitors, plotters, printers, scanners (remote and document) and analytic stereo plotters, along with computer programs for visualization, image processing, spatial analysis, and database management, have democratized and greatly expanded the making of maps. The ability to superimpose spatially located variables onto existing maps created new uses for maps and new industries to explore and exploit these potentials. See also: digital raster graphic.

These days most commercial-quality maps are made using software that falls into one of three main types: CAD, GIS and specialized illustration software. Spatial information can be stored in a database, from which it can be extracted on demand. These tools lead to increasingly dynamic, interactive maps that can be manipulated digitally.

With the field rugged computers, GPS and laser rangefinders, it is possible to perform mapping directly in the terrain. Construction of a map in real time, for example by using Field-Map technology, improves productivity and quality of the result...

Watching this video got me thinking about maps, and the automobile industry, and all the other things which the invention of rubber tires, asphalt roads, Model T Fords, etc. are responsible for.  It also caused me to wonder what kind of maps people had before automobiles. Did medieval pilgrims to Rome or Jerusalem have paper (or parchment) maps, or did they follow road signs? Did American pioneers in covered wagons have paper maps?  or did they rely on guides who knew the trail? (Read these journal entries from c. 1850's - how relatively recent that is!)  As in so many other areas of our lives, did various wars have an impact on the quality of maps? Would we travel so easily today if we didn't have GPS and excellent paper maps?

Ptolemy's world map, reconstituted from Ptolemy's Geographia(circa 150) in the 15th century, indicating "Sinae" (China) at the extreme right, beyond the island of "Taprobane" (Sri Lanka, oversized) and the "Aurea Chersonesus" (Southeast Asian peninsula).

09 November 2012

Story Builder

Yesterday (8 November 2012) Google launched  Story Builder  "to help make personalized video featuring the characters, story, and even music of your choosing and then share it with everyone through Google Drive."

I haven't been able to find much written about it on the web, not even at the Google blog.  It seems to be a more visually interactive version of Google Docs, on which several people can already collaborate.  The Story Builder formalizes who is writing what, and lends itself to dialogue.

Screen shot of Story Builder

There aren't many directions given - you'll learn by trial and error!

There's a very limited selection of music you can add to your creation. When you click "Finish Up" the story will be sent to Google Docs, and you can share it to Google+, too. A link to the story is generated. Click here to view my "Odd Conversation from Homer" ( http://goo.gl/DYkqW)
(Text for the story courtesy of Project Gutenberg)

Give the site a moment to load the audio.

08 November 2012

Is YouTube Making Us Smarter?

Public Broadcasting System's Idea Channel on YouTube has posted a new video.  Watch at least the first part, in which Mike Rugnetta surveys the learning opportunities available on YouTube. (You might want to subscribe to this Channel, and receive emails when new videos are posted.)

If you follow Mike's advice, and investigate a subject/skill/question you're curious about through YouTube, you will most likely get to exercise your search skills, evaluate the information received (along with the delivery mode, or quality of the video), and, just as with a web page or ordinary paper book, decide if the information is reliable, informative, and worth your time.

If you think it meets your standards, look at a few of the other videos on the channel, and if you like them, too, then subscribe to the channel.  You'll receive an email when new videos are posted to it.

Published on Nov 7, 2012 by 
YouTube People:
Brady Haran: Numberphile http://www.youtube.com/numberphile
Deep Sky Videoshttp://www.youtube.com/deepskyvideos
Vsauce: http://www.youtube.com/vsaucehttp://www.youtube.com/vsauce2http://www.youtube.com/vsauce3
Smarter Everyday http://www.youtube.com/smartereveryday
ViHart http://www.youtube.com/vihart
ASAP Science http://www.youtube.com/ASAPScience
CGPGrey http://www.youtube.com/CGPGrey
CrashCourse http://www.youtube.com/CrashCourse
MinutePhysics http://www.youtube.com/MinutePhysics
Sci Show http://www.youtube.com/SciShow
Veritasium http://www.youtube.com/Veritasium

Teachers with YouTube Channels
Amor Sciendi http://www.youtube.com/amorsciendi
Bozeman Biology http://www.youtube.com/bozemanbiology
Keith Hughes http://www.youtube.com/hughesdv

More assets:

06 November 2012

Power Searching with Google

If you're feeling frustrated because you were away with the Middle School in September, and couldn't start, or couldn't complete The Power Searching with Google courses which has been run a few times recently, you can  take the course in your own time.  You'll find the course at http://www.powersearchingwithgoogle.com/course, and everything is the same as the real-time course, except for the discussion forums.
Screen shot of http://www.powersearchingwithgoogle.com/course
The full text and slides for each of the lessons are available. Click on the "Text Version" blue button in the upper right of the Lesson  frame, or to see just the slides, click on the "Slides" button.

31 October 2012

An intriguing mind

James Burke's Wikipedia page describes him as "a British broadcaster, science historian, author, and television producer, who is known, among other things, for his documentary television series Connections (1978), and for its more philosophically oriented companion series, The Day the Universe Changed (1985), which is about the history of science and technology. The Washington Post called him "one of the most intriguing minds in the Western world".

Open Culture today reminds us of  Burke's programs, and a YouTube channel where you can find all the videos of all the series. "If you never watched any in the first place, you can now catch up on not just the ten episodes of the original Connections, but 1994′s twice-as-long Connections2, and the final series, 1997′s Connections3. I recommend beginning at the beginning, with Connections‘ first episode, “The Trigger Effect,”"

We had already added several of the The Day the Universe Changed episodes to our Ancient History playlist. I strongly urge our Middle School to watch all the episodes of all the series (don't wait to be snowed in to get started!) For students and teachers involved in the  MYP, these videos were made to order (long before the MYP was invented.) Talk about Areas of Interaction! These videos are almost an illustrated guide to the concept!

Uploaded by  on Feb 1, 2009 Interview with James Burke on Canada AM

Listen to an audio file of James Burke in 2012, talking about Admiral Shovel and the Toilet Roll

Here is the first episode of the first series of Connections (from 1978), to whet your appetite. Students today will immediately recognize the program as "old", not by the grainy video and sound quality, but by the "up to the minute" technology shown throughout the series.

Uploaded by  on Jan 28, 2012
"The Trigger Effect" details the world's present dependence on complex technological networks through a detailed narrative of New York City and the power blackout of 1965. Agricultural technology is traced to its origins in ancient Egypt and the invention of the plow. The segment ends in Kuwait where, because of oil, society leapt from traditional patterns to advanced technology in a period of only about 30 years.

Google Voice Search

This is for the ISOCS Middle School, which is busy investigating aspects of searching the Internet.

The new version of Google’s Search app for iOS is available in the App Store

There is an Android app on the Play Store, but it reports as being incomparable with the Samsung Tablets we are using at ISOCS.  If you have an Android phone, you might want to give it a try.

Voice search also works on your computer. All you need is a built-in or attached microphone. Just click the mic in the search bar and start talking.

Note: Voice Actions is only available in US English for now.

28 October 2012

Helvetia's Dream

Another in our series of Seeing the Un-seeable blog posts, and one which should be of special interest to our ISOCS community, as we, too, are in Switzerland.

Helvetia’s Dream "takes you on a nighttime journey to some of the most beautiful spots in the Swiss Alps – from Arosa to Zermatt, including the world famous mountains Matterhorn and Eiger."  It's a time-lapse project about Switzerland by night. "Short videos of long nights present you the stunning beauty of the Swiss Alps and show you the magic of a spectacular nighttime sky. Imagine watching a slide-show at fast speed or looking at a flip book. It is photography turning into a movie. Everything in the videos is real and happening out there while most of us are sleeping." (link)

On the Vimeo page there is quite a bit of text (in German and English), with highlights and interesting points in the video explained.  On the video's own web page, you'll find a list of all the locations where the pictures were taken. I recommend you watch this video in the full-screen, HD versions on the Vimeo page - it's stunning!.

On the Making Of page, Alessandro Della Bella explains how he creates his video:
"...Usually my workflow is pretty improvised and can be described like this:Depending on free time, moon phase, weather forecast, availability and personal interest I choose a destination. My equipment weighs about 50kg and cable cars are the preferred option to reach the chosen spot in the mountains. While there is still enough light, I get familiar with the place and the surroundings by doing some classic photography...A moonless night in a freezing and inhospitable environment seems not to be attractive at first glance. But as soon as your eyes get used to the darkness, the beauty of the universe reveals itself to you and you can see the Milky Way and even shooting stars every once in a while. To me, standing on a rock high up in the mountains in absolute silence, below a sea of clouds and above the starry sky feels like being between earth and heaven and is a most majestic experience...". Click through to his page to read the rest of this very interesting story.

You might also enjoy Alessandro Della Bella's 2 other videos Nuclear Power (and Cows) and Frenetic Zurich

27 October 2012

Did Someone Say Philosophical?

PBS has posted a new video in its Idea YouTube Channel that I'm sharing for the ISOCS Middle School students, who are investigating the concept of Civilization.
As you watch, listen especially for the description of  "home-ness" and "planet-ness" being a "complex interplay between the physical and the metaphysical".  Would you say that the "civilization-ness" could be included in this line of thinking?

Published on Oct 26, 2012 by 
Mike Responds to Michael from VSauce's philosophical question: Are the bacteria and skin cells that live on your body "You"?

Check out VSauce's original question in "A Real No-Brainer" here:

This is an *extreme* distillation of some really complex and interesting stuff. If you're interested in doing more reading, a bunch of very smart people have tackled this topic. Just a couple of my favorites are:

- Immanuel Kant, The Critique of Pure Reason
- Martin Heidegger, Being and Time
- Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness
- Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (less "self" and more "existence")