Website of the Week: Molecularium (Gr. 4-8)

Molecularium – An atom theme park

Provided by the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the Molecularium is a digital theme park dedicated to the exploration of atoms, elements, molecules, and their interesting and diverse properties. Once you enter the Hall of Atoms and Molecules, click on the center dome to view the current molecule on display. Click on the atomic symbol on the wall above to watch a video with your host Mel the computer and his friends Hydro and Oxy as they introduce you to the park. Underneath there are four images on the wall, each leading to a different area of the park that contain videos, interactive experiments, and other activities to explore. To the far left is the entrance to the theater where you can watch episodes of “Molecules to the Max!” To the far right is the entrance to the arcade, where there are five arcade-like games to choose from including Ion Storm, Electronz, Mission to Bond, and more!

INTEGRATE

  • This site is huge, with a wealth of information and activities to choose from. It would be easy to break this site up into multiple exploratory activities and spread them throughout a unit of study.
  • The site has a sign up feature if students want to be able to save their progress and create their own Atom Face. Sign-up is free and does not require an email address.

The Hall of Atoms & Molecules

Website of the Week: Infogr.am (Gr. 7-12)

Infogr.am – Create interactive data visualizations

Infogr.am is a web 2.0 tool that allows users to take data they’ve collected and display the results in highly visual and media-rich ways. Create charts and graphs to display your data, or use icons to make tally sheets. A recent addition to the site toolbox is the ability to insert videos into the info-graphics. NOTE: An account is needed to create infographics (this is free), and an email is required to create an account.

INTEGRATE:

  • A integral step in data collection is displaying the results of your experiment in a way that is easy for your audience to read and comprehend. In today’s society where we are drawn ever more to crisp yet clear graphics to display information, infographics are a way to combine traditional tables and charts with text headings, images, and even video.

For more information, please visit Richard Byrne over at FreeTechnology4Teachers.com

Technology News: Mosquito Ringtones

Mosquito Ringtones – The Ultrasonic Ring tone ADULTS CAN’T HEAR!!!!

In a recent Masters course of mine we debated on whether or not cell phones should be allowed into the classroom. At one point in the debate, someone in the group put forth the statement, “There will be students who will bring them into the classroom, whether we allow them in or not.” This led to the question: how could students receive information on their phones covertly without us knowing?

Enter Mosquito Ringtones, which lists the ability of adults to hear sound pulses by age. On the downside, this is a site that will emphasize how old we are. On the upside, this site arms us with knowledge if we need to enforce a no-cell phone policy.

INTEGRATE:

  • A truly inventive teacher could create some kind of educational lesson or lab experiment around this topic, such as: How does human hearing abilities compare to that of other species? If you need to create an audio warning system, how do you make sure that the maximum number of people will be able to actually hear it?

Website of the Week: iNudge (Gr. 4-10)

iNudge – Everyone can create music

iNudge is an interactive web tool that combines digital sounds and instruments with a 16×16 grid to allow users to create custom sounds and music. Use the colored squares to the right of the grid to select from up to eight different sound libraries such as Avatar, Harp, and Saturn. Use the final square tool to access the Drums library with 16 different variations to choose from. Click the ‘MORE’ button beneath the grid to access volume and tempo controls, as well as add additional stanzas. When finished, use the ‘get+share’ button in the top-right corner of the grid window to get a link that can be emailed and shared with others.

INTEGRATE

  • This can be a handy tool for getting students to create original soundtracks for movie and/or podcast projects. You may need to use some creative problem-solving to transfer the music, but this could also be a great challenge for students to take on.
  • The site can take some time to load, especially if you are working in a lab environment. I would recommend having students browse to the iNudge website early, then open a new tab/window to engage in another activity while you wait.

Website of the Week: Squishy Circuits (Gr. 2-10)

Squishy Circuits – A project for all ages

Squishy Circuits is a wonderful hands-on activity that is designed to teach students of all ages about electrical engineering and circuits in particular using play dough. The site includes directions with materials and measurements on how to make your own conductive and insulating dough. Click on the Circuits link to access eight different circuit projects with more to be added soon. Each activity comes as a downloadable PDF with written directions and screenshots. Access the videos section to see upperclassmen demonstrating how to mix your dough and/or build a variety of circuits.

INTEGRATE

  • This is a great hands-on activity for younger students because the materials are safe and easily recognizable by them.
  • Use this site with older students to have them create their own instructional “howto” videos that could then be passed down to your elementary schools; who better to teach students then other students!

Google Apps Tip – Unread Message Icon

This neat little lab, created by Manu C, adds a small numerical counter to the Gmail icon visible on the browser page tab. This way, even if you are working on another website in another tab, you can quickly take note of whether or not you have received any new mail in your inbox. Please note that, according to the description, this lab is not available for all browsers. If you use Google Chrome, Firefox, or the Opera web browser then you can use this lab.

To enable this gadget on your account, go to the Labs tab in Gmail Settings and search for “unread.”

Screenshot of unread message icon lab

Google Apps Tip – Signature Tweaks

One of my big irritants when I started using Gmail was when I would reply to an email. My cursor would be waiting at the top of the box for me to begin typing, but my saved signature would be inserted at the very, very bottom of the email response after all of the quoted conversations that had come before. My signature includes my work address, phone number and other contact information that receivers of my email response might find useful. So why would I want them to have to scroll down through the entire conference thread just to find my signature?

Enter the Signature Tweaks lab. Created by Keith C and Dave C, this lab reconfigures how Gmail prepares an email response so that while your cursor is still positioned at the top of the text box, your saved signature is automatically inserted just a few lines below. In my opinion this configuration makes much more sense for clarity of who said what and where one response ends and the next one begins.

To enable this gadget on your account, go to the Labs tab in Gmail Settings and search for “signature.”

Screenshot of signature tweaks lab