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01 July 2013

We're moving!

cc licensed ( BY ND ) flickr photo shared by Lalit Shahane  via Compfight cc

This blog is retiring from the active ISOCS blog collection.  I'm moving my web work to http://keepps.blogspot.ch/  and OSC IB Blogs.

17 May 2013

Interactive Storytelling Using Twine

The Middle School students have been writing "Alternative Ending" or "Choose your own adventure" stories.
I recently read about Twine, on Ruben R. Puentedura's Weblog.  Twine is free software for Mac and Windows, which "lets you organize your story graphically with a map that you can re-arrange as you work. Links automatically appear on the map as you add them to your passages, and passages with broken links are apparent at a glance."

On the Twine web page, there are several intro videos, which I've embedded here, so you can get an idea of how it works, and decide whether or not you would like to add this software tool to your computer.

Creating A Simple Story from Chris Klimas on Vimeo.
A quick intro to creating a simple, nonlinear story using the free application Twine.

Formatting a Story from Chris Klimas on Vimeo.
How to customize your story's appearance in Twine.

Finishing Touches from Chris Klimas on Vimeo.
Wrapping up work on a story in Twine.

The links below are on Dr. Puentedura's page:
"The slides for my presentation at the 10th Annual MLTI Student Conference are now online: Oh What A Tangled Web We Weave: Interactive Storytelling Using Twine
The Twine tutorial game described in the slides can be played here, and downloaded here."
Maybe one of our Middle Schoolers will spend this rainy holiday weekend transferring a story into Twine :-)

12 May 2013

There and Back Again: A Packet’s Tale

From the World Science Festival web page:


"The video lets you ride shotgun with a packet of data—one of trillions involved in the trillions of Internet interactions that happen every second. Look deep beneath the surface of the most basic Internet transaction, and follow the packet as it flows from your fingertips, through circuits, wires, and cables, to a host server, and then back again, all in less than a second."(link)

This video explains the Internet in very easy to grasp illustrations, with great analogies and metaphors.

10 May 2013

Relevance With Problem-Solving Challenges

Bob Sprankle shared this video with us:


Published on May 6, 2013
"Special correspondent John Tulenko of Leaning Matters reports on a public middle school in Portland, Maine that is taking a different approach to teaching students. Teachers have swapped traditional curriculum for an unusually comprehensive science curriculum that emphasizes problem-solving, with a little help from some robots."

You can "see inside" the King Middle School in Portland Maine at its web site.  Click on the Expedition link in the left side bar, to read about other projects, or "Expeditions", like the one featured in the video above.

07 May 2013

Changing habits is a game

Interesting post this morning at the BigFish Games blog. A look at the headers will give you an idea of what it's about:
  • Gamers are experts at making and breaking habits: "You enjoy playing games, right? It can be effortless to pick up a game and get addicted. If you play games, you’re already good at what it takes to change a habit."
  • Crash course on game mechanics: "Think about your favorite game. What keeps you going back? Which game mechanics are at play to keep you returning?"
  • How habits are formed: "Habits – both good and bad – are the product of repetition and reinforcement. We do something, we see and like the results (a rush of dopamine), and we do it again. We do this over and over, forming deep pathways in our brain that become harder to change as time goes on."
  • Changing habits is a game: "Behavior = Motivation + Trigger + Ability"
  • One tooth a night: "... it’s easy to think about flossing one tooth. But you can’t floss just one tooth when you start!"
  • Changing the worst habits: "Start by removing at least one of the variables. "
  • Let’s go on a quest: Random Rewards: "Set reasonable goals:"
  • More ways to break a bad habit
Read the whole post to get the full pictures of how to analyze the game mechanics in your life.  

And while you're there, admire the way the writer has used CC images from Flickr with proper attribution.  She had help from a site called Comflight  (http://compfight.com/) which helps you search the Creative Commons licensed photos on Flickr, and gives you the attribution text to use with the image. (Watch out for the NOT free images which will appear at the top of the screen.)

cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by Jonathan_W

05 May 2013

Note to Self: Artist Chuck Close

A blog post by the always inspirational David Gran (The Carrot Revolution) introduced me to a video I hadn't seen before.

Note to Self: Artist Chuck Close from grant doug on Vimeo.
Chuck Close gives advice to his 14-year old self.

You will, I hope, want to know more about Chuck Close.  Check out the WIkipedia page about him, and this page at ArtsNet  about his painting.

Chuck Close on Creativity (link):
"Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work. And the belief that things will grow out of the activity itself and that you will — through work — bump into other possibilities and kick open other doors that you would never have dreamt of if you were just sitting around looking for a great ‘art ida.’ And the belief that process, in a sense, is liberating and that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every day. Today, you know what you’ll do, you could be doing what you were doing yesterday, and tomorrow you are gonna do what you didid today, and at least for a certain period of time you can just work. If you hang in there, you will get somewhere.
and from a page at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
"Some people wonder whether what I do is inspired by a computer and whether or not that kind of imaging is a part of what makes this work contemporary. I absolutely hate technology, and I'm computer illiterate, and I never use any labor-saving devices although I'm not convinced that a computer is a labor-saving device."

Visiting CERN (with a hard-hat and Glass)

On Andrew Vanden Heuvel's blog, you can read about his visit to CERN.
"I’m the first person who has ever taught a science class from inside the LHC tunnel. Seeing just a small portion of the whole loop, I was overwhelmed by the size of it all. The fact that I was able to share this experience with students, even answering their questions in real-time, is simply mind-blowing."
Watch the video to see what Google Glass can do, and to see inside CERN, and to read about a very interesting Physics teacher.

And if you haven't been to CERN, be sure to visit  before you leave Switzerland - it's only a few hours train ride  or drive from ISOCS:

View Larger Map

28 April 2013

David Pogue's 10 Timesaving Tech Tips

10 Tech tips from David Pogue, who is a savvy columnist and author for the New York Times (and who, several years ago, showed me Zattoo - if you're in Switzerland, and not familiar with that site, go look). Pogues' blog is a good one to subscribe to for tech ideas, hints, opinions, outlook, etc.

Published on Apr 26, 2013
Tech columnist David Pogue shares 10 simple, clever tips for computer, web, smartphone and camera users. And yes, you may know a few of these already -- but there's probably at least one you don't.

A few of these 10 tips are only work inside the USA, but most are general "good things to know" for any computer user.

10 April 2013

Speculative Sea Level Explorer

Global Warming, sea levels rising...what would that look like?  A post this morning on the Information Aesthetics blog can help us see the possibilities.
"While the simulation, captured as a series of animations, is roughly accurate, it actually shows the consequence of more "dramatic" changes in sea level than what is currently expected by climate change models." (link)
And dramatic it is!  Here is the simulation for Zurich.  Here is the Legend (meters above sea level) to help you understand what you see in the simulation.

Zürich (+/-1000m / 5m steps) – Speculative Sea Level Explorer from Benedikt Groß on Vimeo.

Click through to Gross' web page to see other videos for other areas of the world.  He writes about the simulation on his page:
"When I showed the animations to others, I was asked quite a few times whether this simulation is accurate? Short answer is “yes” in a rough way, especially for the large scale changes like the ones I am showing in the animations. The simulation is based on an elevation data set called “SRTM30 Plus” by the Scripps Institution Of Oceanography, which is an extended version of the original NASA Shuttle Radar Topography Mission(often abbreviated SRTM, land elevation only) enhanced with bathymetry (underwater evaluation). But there are also many limitations e.g. the cost region of the Netherlands is obviously wrong (it is on a rise of “+0″ already coloured blue). Altogether it is just a very basic and rough simulation based on the raw elevation, anything else in not put into consideration." (link)

We know that the sea level has risen and fallen though geological time.  That's why we can see sea-creature fossils at the top of Swiss mountains.   If you want more background information, visit the British Geological Survey web site.

06 April 2013


ISOCS' Class 4,5,6 is in their Exhibition unit.  Here's a video from John Cleese to help them prepare for public speaking:

Uploaded on Sep 10, 2008

30 March 2013

Don't be an April Fool - Participate in World Backup Day!

Can't see anything below this text? Click here

Keywords and Operators

Not long ago, the ISOCS Middle School investigated digital fluency with an on-line mini course, and within that, good Internet search strategies.

Those wishing to brush up their skills should have a look at this 21st Century Information Fluency blog post.
Screen shot of http://21cif.blogspot.ch/2013/03/21cif-operator-search-challenge.html

Clicking on their link will take you to the game page, which requires Adobe Flash Player in your browser.

29 March 2013

It's April Fools day because...

April Fools' Day is celebrated in many countries on April 1 every year.  It's not normally a holiday, but this year if falls on Easter Monday, which is a holiday in Switzerland.  So, alas, there is no school, and no opportunity to practice your April Fools' skills.  I hope this small collection of videos and pictures will make up for the lack of opportunity.

You can read about the history of April 1 and Fools at Wikipedia in English , or Wikipedia in German (two very different articles!)

From Wikimedia.  2001 in Copenhagen 

From http://bit.ly/13E64Tl

26 March 2013

Expensive games

There have been several stories in the news recently about children running up huge phone bills, and/or  iTunes store bills because they have a device in their hands which enables "in-app" purchases.

This morning's story from the Daily Mail is another, but this one has an interesting twist.

"When he discovered he had run up a £3,700 bill on his father’s credit card playing games on his iPad, Cameron Crossan expected a very stern telling off at least.

The 13-year-old was mortified by what he had done – but worse was to come. For instead of punishing him, his father filed an official police complaint effectively accusing him of fraud...."

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2298771/Policeman-Doug-Crossan-reports-13-year-old-son-Cameron-FRAUD-running-3-700-iPad.html#ixzz2OdF67u3u
The father doesn't really want his son arrested, but he does "want to embarrass Apple as much as possible."

You may have read about this case recently, where a 5 year old spent $2,500 in a game.

It has always been possible to block these purchases on your phone or iPad.  There are very good directions for setting restrictions at arstechnica.  Apple has very recently made a small but significant change to iOS app listings on its App Store, adding a prominent "Offers In-App Purchases" line for freemium apps on its store.

Google Play gives directions for blocking in-app purchases at this page.

Here's a screen shot of a free app on the iTunes app store, and possible purchase clearly listed:
Screen shot
Parents and schools have been very careful about the settings on a computer used by children, but somehow mobile devices have not been looked on as being so "dangerous", although when connected to the Internet, they have many of the same capabilities as a computer. 

Enabling Parental Control settings often gets forgotten, or the possibilities ignored.  Common Sense Media offers 4 pointers for controlling purchases:
  • Turn off the possibility
  • Turn off the grace period
  • Keep your password secret
  • Use gift cards
Click here to read the whole post.

18 March 2013

93 Android Apps to Try

Have you seen this book by Richard Byrne, who writes the Android 4 Schools blog (as well as the invaluable Free Tech 4 Teachers blog)?  You don't have to be a teacher to test out the apps!

14 March 2013

Goodbye Google Reader

Yesterday's news from Google that they are closing down Google Reader has produced a series of outcries on the web, and lists of alternatives, along with reflections about the nature of Google as a company. Apparently, efforts to monetize RSS feeds has turned out to be difficult.

We are reminded, once again, that Google is a company, which makes money (link), and is not a free social service agency we have come to depend on.

"We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites," the company said. "While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader. Users and developers interested in RSS alternatives can export their data, including their subscriptions, with Google Takeout over the course of the next four months." (link)

Richard Byrne, at Free Technology for Teachers, described the situation very well:
"Google Reader may have had a bigger influence on my life in the ed tech world than any other single app or service. Since the day I started using it in 2006 to now it has reliably served me fresh content from all of my favorite sites and blogs."

Chris Betcher points to Google Reader's place in education: "...I’m just disappointed that Google would even consider doing this. As an enthusiastic Google user, Google Certified Teacher, and Google Apps Certified Trainer, it makes me annoyed and embarrassed that Google would kill off a product that so many people clearly care deeply about. Reader may not be sexy and shiny like Google+ but it’s hugely powerful and has an huge following.... "

You might be interested in reading Chris Wetherell's reflection, on Google+ written in 2011, as Reader's eventual end started to become clear. He was the man responsible for Google Reader, and no longer works at Google.

Here's a list of some alternative RSS readers:




The Old Reader


Update: Stephen Abram offers a fine "review of the literature" offering alternatives, opinions and ideas of how to manage your RSS feeds without Google Reader.

You can use Google Takeout to export your feeds, ready to be imported into another service. While you're on the site, download an archive from all your other Google sites, too, as backup. It's good to do this regularly, in any case.

On a personal note, I will add that this is my 3rd recent experience with Google distancing itself from me. The first was the termination of iGoogle as a start page product. The next was the decision no longer to support the Chrome browser on "older" Apple OS (I have a Mac running on OS 10.5.8, on which Firefox has now become my main browser). I will find new ways to read my 455 subscriptions, and take one step further away from (what was) the fine package of apps and services accessible with my Google password.

12 March 2013

How much do you know about Sea Urchins?

As I was reading my news feeds this morning, my attention was caught  by this video:

Sea Urchins - Planktonic Origins from Parafilms on Vimeo.

Barely visible to the naked eye, sea urchin larvae grow and transform into bottom-dwelling urchins.
Plankton Chronicles Project by Christian Sardet, CNRS / Noe Sardet and Sharif Mirshak, Parafilms
See Plankton Chronicles interactive site: planktonchronicles.org

Watch the full video with related content here: http://www.richannel.org/the-plankton-chronicles--sea-urchins

This video is on a page from The Ri Channel "The Smart Place for Science".  The Sea Urchin video is part of the Plankton Chronicles, every one of which is as weird and wonderful as the Sea Urchin story. (The plankton videos are also housed at Vimeo, by their producer.)

The Ri Channel
"The Ri Channel is an online project by the Royal Institution of Great Briatin showcasing the very best science videos from the Ri and around the web." 

You might want to read the posts on the Ri Channel blog: I highly recomment The Best Science Videos of 2012 - all 10 of these videos are fascinating! (The original article is at The Guardian.)

10 March 2013

Learning to code

I receive the ECIS ICT Committee eNews which recently featured this video from Code.org

This is a particularly good video for our ISOCS Middle School students to watch, because they visited the Zurich offices of Google last week, and learned a little about what sort of jobs, talents, experience, and education most Google employees have.
ISOCS Middle School arrives at Google in Zurich
If you're just getting started with the idea of learning coding, I recommend the Learn page of code.org.  You can experiment with 4 (easy) ways to learn: ScratchCodecademy, Khan Academy, and CodeHS.

02 March 2013


"What are our brains made of? What happens in our brains when we think, feel, see, hear or touch?"

Those are the questions behind Neurocomic.  This morning I added resources about the project to our Tech News for ISOCS Scoop.it page.  It's so interesting, I thought I would post about it here, too.

Here's a video from the Guardian:

Source: Newton  Length: 14min 04sec  Friday 1 March 2013
Artist Matteo Farinella and neuroscientist Hana Ros of University College London collaborated to create a graphic novel called Neurocomic about a hapless character who is sucked into a human brain where he encounters bizarre creatures and famous neuroscientists. The objective is to introduce the neurochemical workings of the brain to a wider audience, so entertainment, storytelling and clever metaphors are just as important to the enterprise as the science

Read about the project at its webpage,  and follow it on its Twitter page,

23 February 2013

Fiery Looping Rain on the Sun

This video is new from NASA

Published on Feb 20, 2013
"Eruptive events on the sun can be wildly different. Some come just with a solar flare, some with an additional ejection of solar material called a coronal mass ejection (CME), and some with complex moving structures in association with changes in magnetic field lines that loop up into the sun's atmosphere, the corona.

On July 19, 2012, an eruption occurred on the sun that produced all three. A moderately powerful solar flare exploded on the sun's lower right hand limb, sending out light and radiation. Next came a CME, which shot off to the right out into space. And then, the sun treated viewers to one of its dazzling magnetic displays -- a phenomenon known as coronal rain.

Over the course of the next day, hot plasma in the corona cooled and condensed along strong magnetic fields in the region. Magnetic fields, themselves, are invisible, but the charged plasma is forced to move along the lines, showing up brightly in the extreme ultraviolet wavelength of 304 Angstroms, which highlights material at a temperature of about 50,000 Kelvin. This plasma acts as a tracer, helping scientists watch the dance of magnetic fields on the sun, outlining the fields as it slowly falls back to the solar surface.

The footage in this video was collected by the Solar Dynamics Observatory's AIA instrument. SDO collected one frame every 12 seconds, and the movie plays at 30 frames per second, so each second in this video corresponds to 6 minutes of real time. The video covers 12:30 a.m. EDT to 10:00 p.m. EDT on July 19, 2012.
Music: "Thunderbolt" by Lars Leonhard, courtesy of artist.

This video is public domain and can be downloaded at:http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/goto?11168"
Coincidentally, I found this video at Wonderpolis:

SOLAR STORMS from Aaron Pickering on Vimeo.
"Story I did with National Solar Observatory about the Sun. Several observations are taken right in Southern Arizona. The sun is currently heading into an active part of it's cycle and when that happens solar storms are more likely. These could effect us on Earth."


All this Sun information reminded me of one of my favorite They Might Be Giants songs:

19 February 2013

PYP Exhibition Guidelines

These are the main points of the PYP Exhibition Guidelines document as analyzed and synthesized by Sonya Wild on 7 December 2011
It's almost time for Mr. Harris' class at ISOCS to begin thinking about their Exhibition.  I'm sharing this Prezi by Sony Wild as a way to get our imaginations working, and also because it's an excellent example of how to use Prezi well.

If you are unfamiliar with the site, Prezi is a sort of non-linear, navigable presentation tool. There are very interesting possibilities in it's power of zoom and retreat, pathways or random selection of topics, inclusion of image, text, video and hyperlinks.

There are many tutorials for how to use Prezi.  Start with Prezi's own Learn page 

by Sonya Wild on 7 December 2011

If you're thinking of using a Prezi to tell your story, I strongly suggest you browse through the Prezi YouTube Channel, for basic information about how to use the tool, for examples of well-built Prezi's, and for a closer look at how to use the tools effectively.  A good Prezi can be so much more than twisting-turning PowerPoint or Keynote slides!

18 February 2013

Across Three Continents: A Tale of Tumblr, Copyright, and Excellent Posters

Craig Roland, he of the brilliant art education blog Art Junction, and teacher at the University of Florida, posted this video on the Art 2.0 Ning:

Tracking back the links and quotes, I came to this page on the School Library Journal, with a commentary about this video written by  Kathy Ishizuka
"Copyright law is complex enough—throw in an instance of international remixing by young nerdfighters, and you have a real mess. But in the hands of author John Green, it’s the basis for a pretty cool video. 

In the three-minute clip..., Green recounts his attempt to discern the provenance of a poster (pictured) based on characters from his novel The Fault in Our Stars, revealing the complexities of copyright in the digital age along the way."

This is the poster Green talks about in the video:
from http://www.thedigitalshift.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/John_Green_poster242.jpg

13 February 2013

Changing Materials

Mr. Harris' Class 4,5 has been looking at changing materials.  Here are some websites and videos which they will find useful as they inquire into the nature of change, and the concept of material.

The Periodic Table of Videos 

The Periodic Table of Videos is "Your ultimate channel for all things chemistry. A video about each element on the periodic table. And we upload new videos every week about science news, interesting molecules and other stuff from the world of chemistry."  It is produced by the University of Nottingham, in the UK.

This is their latest video:

and this is the playlist for all the elements in order:

The Royal Institution 

The Christmas Lectures at the Royal Institution are famous for bringing science to the public in an entertaining, understandable, visible way.

"The Ri is an independent charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science. We're about discovery, innovation, inspiration and imagination. You can explore over 200 years of history-making science in our Faraday Museum as well as engage with the latest research, ideas and debates in our public science events." (Read more on the RI webpage)

The 2012 Lectures were titled The Modern AlchemistThe videos can't be embedded here - so I stronly urge you to click on the link to Lecture Three: Earth - The Philosopher's Stone, and watch them on the RI website.  Other videos from the series dealing with Materials are on this page.

"By understanding the properties of materials, such as the silicon present in computers, or the rare earth magnets generating our electricity in wind turbines, we are entering a new era of chemistry in which we can engineer electrons in new configurations for future technologies. We can now put together the unique cluster of protons, neutrons and electrons that form each of the 80 elements in exciting new ways. If the ancient alchemists were alive today they'd be dazzled by the wonders created by the Modern Alchemist." (link)

UPDATE 15 Feb 2013: See this page at Pad Gadget for a list of "iPad apps that teach the periodic table to a number of age ranges. Whether a student is learning about the periodic table for the first time or is on her way to becoming a dedicated student of chemistry, these apps will help her learn about the difference between Hydrogen and Ununoctium, and every element in between."

04 February 2013

Folding Space-Time

Another brilliant video from Vihart which will bend (fold?) you mind...

Published on Feb 3, 2013

I needed some help to understand this a little better, so I went searching on the web...

First, I investigated Möbius Strips:
"The Möbius strip or Möbius band (UK /ˈmɜrbiəs/ or US /ˈmbiəs/German: [ˈmøːbi̯ʊs]), also Mobius or Moebius, is a surface with only one side and only oneboundary component. The Möbius strip has the mathematical property of being non-orientable. It can be realized as a ruled surface. It was discovered independently by the German mathematicians August Ferdinand Möbius and Johann Benedict Listing in 1858.[1][2][3]" Read much more on the Wikipedia page.

Wolfram Alpha describes Möbius Strips like this:
"The Möbius strip, also called the twisted cylinder (Henle 1994, p. 110), is a one-sided nonorientable surface obtained by cutting a closed band into a single strip, giving one of the two ends thus produced a half twist, and then reattaching the two ends (right figure; Gray 1997, pp. 322-323). The strip bearing his name was invented by Möbius in 1858, although it was independently discovered by Listing, who published it, while Möbius did not (Derbyshire 2004, p. 381). Like the cylinder, it is not a true surface, but rather a surface with boundary (Henle 1994, p. 110).
"The Möbius strip has Euler characteristic (Dodson and Parker 1997, p. 125).
According to Madachy (1979), the B. F. Goodrich Company patented a conveyor belt in the form of a Möbius strip which lasts twice as long as conventional belts. M. C. Escher was fond of portraying Möbius strips, and they appear in his woodcuts "Möbius Strip I" and "Möbius Strip II (Red Ants)" (Bool et al. 1982, p. 324; Forty 2003, Plate 70)."

Next, I had to look at space-time.  Space-time is "the four-dimensional coordinate system (3 dimensions
of space and 1 of time) in which physical events are located." (link) This NASA video explains more.

Uploaded on May 12, 2011

After this, I couldn't help thinking about palindromes (words or phrases that read the same in both directions).  Some examples:
Too bad – I hid a boot
Some men interpret nine memos
Lisa Bonet ate no basil

I was wondering if the music in the VIhart video would be a tonal palindrome.  In music, for example, Béla Bartók (5th String Quartet), Alban Berg (Act 3 of Lulu), Guillaume de Machaut, Paul Hindemith (Ludus tonalis), Igor Stravinsky (The Owl and the Pussy Cat) and Anton Webern (2nd movement, Opus 21 Symphony) incorporated palindromes in their compositions.

I leave you with Guillaume de Machaut's "Ma fin est mon commencement" (can you hear the palindrome?):

02 February 2013

Mercator Puzzle

In this morning's Geography Education, I found an intriguing online puzzle, Mercator Puzzle! Like many geography puzzles online, in this one the player uses mouse (or finger) to pick up the red outline of a country, and move it around the map till it fits into its space.  But this puzzle is a little special - as the country is moved North or South, it enlarges or shrinks, as it would in a Mercator Projection map.  Tricky!

You start with this
Screen shot of  Mercator Puzzle!

and should end with this
Screen shot of  Mercator Puzzle!
after a good deal of zooming in and out, navigating around the world, and experimenting with the enlarge and shrink possibilities.  This game doesn't just test your knowledge of country outlines - it helps you understand the Mercator Projection in a hands-on fashion.  It will probably hone your detective skills, too: Is that straight line boarder a man made line?  What continent(s) did that happen to in history?  Is that wiggly line a river, or a coast?  Is this country really big, or is it a tiny island?

Good luck, and have fun!

(Click on the map screenshots to see them full size)

Other more traditional online geography games:

For the iPad:
Your World

PadGadget: Top paid apps to teach kids world geography

For Android tablets:

01 February 2013

Digital Survey for Ten and Eleven Year Olds

A few weeks ago I asked my web-friends to help a class in another school with research for their unit of inquiry into digital media.  I Tweeted the request, and several people re-Tweeted it. The class had so many responses that they closed the survey at 250, so that they could deal with the data!  Thank you to all of you reading this who helped provide their data.

Their teacher, Mrs. Gerling, shared some of the process:
"(The students) learned about using a filter to select specific information in the columns and how to write formulas to count data. We made graphs, discussed, analysed and pasted into Prezi. They also learned that poorly worded questions don’t give you any information at all, and that the computer is very specific when dealing with information, and when someone spells Switzerland without a capital, it doesn’t get counted. So we had to fix up a lot of spelling, and even used a pencil and paper tally to count the on-line games..."

The results have been analysed, and have peen presented in this Prezi by the students.

 This is the transcript of the Prezi:
Digital Survey for Ten and Eleven Year Olds
"We created a survey with 10 questions using Google docs survey. The questions were for 10 and 11 year old children. We wanted to find out how they used digital media. We put the survey on-line and people responded.
We had people from 22 countries who answered our survey.  Nearly all students who answered our survey have an email account.  We used the first 250 responses to form our statistics: 124 Males 126 Females. 
There are 30 students who spend more than 3 hours per day on-line. 
There were 55 yes responses and 190 no responses. 
We asked students which digital devices they used and owned: computer or laptop,  iPad or tablet,  mp3 or iPod,  cellphone, gaming device, digital camera. 
What is your favourite on-line game? 

  • 61 different games were listed 
  • 96 respondents replied "None" 
  • Most popular games: Minecraft- 27, Friv-11, Fifa 13-10.

Possible problems with our data: 

  • We can not be sure that all respondents were 10 or 11.
  • We do not know if people answered more than once. 
  • We do not know if respondents answered honestly"

Factorization Diagrams

Do you like number?  Pattern?  Dance?  Motion? Math? Animation? Unusual websites?

Visit this website: http://www.datapointed.net/visualizations/math/factorization/animated-diagrams/ (embedded below)

This blog post describes how the animation  came to be created (don't miss this link, mentioned at the beginning of the post, where the coding behind the animation is explained).  Click through to the web page, so that you can watch the animation in a larger version.

Thanks to Math Thinking for the links.

31 January 2013

The Universe in a Nutshell

This morning I was working on resources for our Changing Materials wiki, for Mr. Harris' class, and came across this video.  It doesn't have to do with changing materials, directly, but it's very interesting, and I urge you to watch it.   It's rather long - 42 minutes.  So arrange a comfortable place, and watch.  I especially enjoyed Dr. Kaku's description of himself as a boy, and his interest in science and math.


Published on Aug 15, 2012
The Universe in a Nutshell: The Physics of Everything
Michio Kaku, Henry Semat Professor of Theoretical Physics at CUNY

What if we could find one single equation that explains every force in the universe? Dr. Michio Kaku explores how physicists may shrink the science of the Big Bang into an equation as small as Einstein's "e=mc^2." Thanks to advances in string theory, physics may allow us to escape the heat death of the universe, explore the multiverse, and unlock the secrets of existence. While firing up our imaginations about the future, Kaku also presents a succinct history of physics and makes a compelling case for why physics is the key to pretty much everything.

The Floating University
Originally released September, 2011.

24 January 2013

Little Alchemy

This blog has several secret field agents, who continually scour the web for sites, resources, trends, and generally good stuff that should be shared. This morning one of these agents, who is connected with ISOCS Class 4,5, where there is a lot of material changing at the moment, sent us a strong recommendation that we take a look at  Little Alchemy a Google Chrome App. Here's its description:
"Start with four basic elements, then mix and match them to create more and more awesome things.
Simple, yet addictive game! At the beginning you have only four basic elements in your library, but you can mix them and create a lot more. Combine them simply by dragging and dropping on each other."
There are 390 elements to create. How many can you make?  As with most anything on the web, the game has its own website (where you can play and find official cheats), and  there are other websites, reviews, hacks, solutions, blogs and wikis to help you along if you get stuck.

This game is available (as a beta) for our Android Tablets on Google Play; it can be downloaded as a desktop app, and on the iTunes store for iPhones and iPads

This is not chemistry, as in modern science.  It's alchemy: "The medieval forerunner of chemistry, based on the supposed transformation of matter, esp. that of base metals into gold." or "A process by which paradoxical results are achieved or incompatible elements combined with no obvious rational explanation." (link)

These screen shots from the official cheats page give you a sense of the game.  Some of the combinations are "scientific", some are humerus, some are visual puns, some are "common sense", but all are enjoyable!