Archives For Curriculum Resources

Here’s yet another cool product from Google. It seems that they recently purchased SketchUp, an easy-to-use 3D modeling tool that I played with a bit a few months ago. The new product, Google SketchUp, is now free for personal use and integrated with Google Earth. Unfortunately for me, like Google Earth, Google SketchUp is only available for Windows right now. A Mac version is “coming soon” according to the site. Check out the examples that demonstrate SketchUp objects georeferenced onto Google Earth maps.

The learning implications are huge. At a minimum, students could collaborate to build a model of their school and expand to other buildings in the neighborhood. And SketchUp isn’t just for buildings. You can model any object in 3D. Maybe you’re working a project where students are designing a future settlement on Mars. Now they can create those structures in 3D instead. How about creating 3D representations of historical artifacts? Wouldn’t it be cool to involve students in designing the school or city of the future?

Another new product related to Google SketchUp is 3D Warehouse, a collection of user-contributed 3D objects to facilitate model building. Need a “Greek Pillar Without a Base”? Here you go. Once students start modeling objects, they can be contributed to the 3D Warehouse for other people to use. Sounds like a fun weekend project.

I have always appreciated design and the intense intellectual effort it requires. Design is one of those skills we really need to ramp up in our students in this “flat world.”

google, sketchup, design, 3d

I posted a while ago about the Prelinger Archive, a wonderful collection of old public domain video. Thanks to Google Video and the National Archives, you can add a bookmark to NARA on Google Video to your collection of go-to resources. The first page has links to old NASA footage, United newsreels, and Department of the Interior films. Great stuff.

google video, prelinger archive, national archives, nara

I don’t know about you, but I don’t usually picture -40°F and roving polar bears when think of the perfect classroom. But for Prof. Aaron Doering and the rest of the GoNorth! team, spending a few months in their arctic classroom is the perfect way to connect with millions of school children from around the world.

Aaron is a proponent of adventure learning, and the GoNorth! team is putting the concept to the test this spring for the second time during a trek from Circle, Alaska to Prudhoe Bay. They’re calling the trip “GoNorth! Arctic National Wildlife Refuge 2006” and along the way the team will be interacting with native peoples, exploring environmental issues, and providing an amazing learning opportunity for any student, teacher, or parent who signs up at their Web site.

It’s not too late to sign up at and participate in this year’s trip. There is a ton of free K–12 curriculum at their site that cuts across content areas and will really draw students into the trip and the issues it raises. If nothing else, at least take a look at the huskies. If you and your students check out the site, the frequent trip updates via text, audio, and video will keep you coming back.

Download: STP-AaronDoering (29.5 MB, 39:26)

adventure learning, polarhusky, anwr, online learning, podcast, environmental education

Attention Mac users… Run, do not walk to download the Google Earth beta that’s now available for OS X.

Google Earth screenshot showing Hopkins Schools district office

That’s a shot of my office. I think I can almost make out my car. This isn’t just for the U.S. folks, you can see the world with this tool. (You should probably listen to John Hanke’s talk at O’Reilly’s Where 2.0 Conference for some background about Google Earth.) Maybe you’re talking with your students about the importance of Mount Fuji in Japanese culture. Why not take a tour of the mountain and surrounding area? This screenshot shows how you can change your point of view.

Google Earth screenshot showing Mount Fuji

I need to play with this some more, but suffice it to say that Google Earth will be going on every student iBook in our 1-to-1 program as soon as possible.

Update: I missed it in my initial scan of the Google Earth page, but make sure you check out the Google Earth Community to see some examples of what others are doing with the Google Earth technology.

These are some cool java applets that demonstrate: Oscillations and Waves, Acoustics, Electrodynamics, Quantum Mechanics and much more. LOTS of fun to play around with!

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I guess I’m hearkening back to my science teaching days with two science-related posts in a row. The other reason I posted this was to see how it would look to post something from Digg. In case you haven’t discovered it, Digg is something of a “Slashdot 2.0″ which has built in many advanced features included lots of RSS feeds, user voting to determine what gets posted, and a quick link to post any story to your blog. Kind of cool, but you can’t really tweak anything. I’ve had to log in as normal to set a proper category and add my Technorati tags

digg, physics education, applets

I discovered Stellarium recently and suggest anyone teaching science add it to their toolbelt. From the project FAQ:

Stellarium is an open source desktop planetarium for Linux/Unix, Windows and MacOSX. It renders the skies in realtime using OpenGL, which means the skies will look exactly like what you see with your eyes, binoculars, or a small telescope. Stellarium is very simple to use, which is one of its biggest advantages: it can easily be used by beginners.

I love the fact that it’s open source and cross-platform. There’s no reason not to download it and try it out, but if you want a bit of a preview you can check out the screenshots. Just beautiful.

stellarium, astronomy, astronomy software

Cable Resources for Education, Douglas Levin, Cable in the Classroom

Cable in the Classroom is the cable industry’s non-profit, educational foundation. It’s been around for 15 years, but I don’t think we have used many of the foundation’s resources in my district. The foundation provides free cable programming for schools (with curriculum), free cable modems for schools in some areas, and publish Threshold and Access Learning. CIC has also been a part of the vSKOOL, an effort to assist students displaced by Hurrican Katrina.

Doug is demonstrating some of the online content that CIC has built to showcase what kinds of interactive, online tools can be utilized with a broadband connection. Windward is a brand-new game to teach about weather as students are challenged to race a sailboat around the world. The second one is called Shakespeare: Subject to Change, an exploration of how Shakespeare’s plays may be been changed over time. Students learn a lot about Shakespeare’s works in the process, as well as a dose of media literacy through the use of film clips. We’re now looking at Elections, an interactive introduction to electoral politics. This is a pretty cool simulation that appears to be modeled on the Game of Life. I was in a teacher’s classroom at our high school last week and observed an amazing lesson on the 2000 Republican primary process. This site might be a useful supplement.

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Every once in a while I run across a Web site or some technology tool that really wows me. I had one of those experiences after listening to David Rumsey’s talk at the Where 2.0 Conference via IT Conversations today. Rumsey gave a fascinating talk about the history of cartography and described some of his recent work applying modern visualization technology to 18th and 19th century maps. I heard enough in the podcast to prompt me to visit his site, The David Rumsey Map Collection, and I was richly rewarded for the effort.

With a collection of over 11,000 maps, the site is an amazing resource for students and teachers. Since 1997, Rumsey has shifted his focus from collecting to digitizing and sharing his collection. The result is a Web site that blends gorgeous historical maps with modern GIS tools and provides an easy-to-use interface to locate maps of particular places.

If you’ve got an Java-enabled Web browser (that’s practically everyone) then you might get a something like the following where I’ve done a search for maps of places in Minnesota.

thumbnail screenshot of a collection of historical Minnesota maps

Then I selected a 19th century map of Minneapolis.

thumbnail screenshot of a historic map of Minneapolis

Finally, I downloaded the Java applet that provides a modern GIS interface to some historical map data. The following screenshot shows a portion of Lewis and Clark’s journey overlayed with some major highways.

thumbnail screenshot of a GIS application that overlays Lewis and Clarks journey and modern highways

Rumsey provides all of the digitized maps under a Creative Commons license that allows for virtually any non-commercial use. (Have I mentioned lately how much I love Creative Commons?) The uses for this site are so vast that I don’t know where to start. Wouldn’t it be incredible to use some of these maps in iMovie projects about historical events or persons? Let’s see, merging old maps with new data, 3D flybys of early 20th century San Francisco, and on and on it goes. I’ve got an email all queued up for every history teacher in my school district to let them know about this collection.