Natural History – Google Arts & Culture

Natural History – The beautiful, the dangerous, the endangered. Up close.

Welcome to the Natural History exhibit from Google’s Arts & Culture project. Here you will gain access to a wealth of information presented in multiple, interactive ways. The various exhibits that you can tour virtually come from museums all over the world (54 at my last count) including the Seodaemun Museum in Seoul, South Korea, the State Darwin Museum in Moscow, Russia, and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., USA.

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Some exhibits work like Google Street View, allowing you to move through and around the exhibits. Others take advantage of 360° technology to take you on a virtual reality video tour, such as the Jurassic giant Giraffatitan in Berlin, Germany or the prehistoric sea dragon Rhomaleosaurus in London, England.

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And there is still more to be discovered! Take an interactive tour on a Brief History of Discovery, or read about animals that exist on our planet right now that are considered to have super powers! Then there is the library of over 260 curated YouTube videos on Natural History. These videos play within the Natural History website and are free of ads and suggested videos.

For more information check out this entry from the Google Keyword Blog, then let your imagination and curiosity run wild!

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Branches of Power (Gr. 4-12)

Branches of Power – Building humble issues into towering laws

Branches of Power is one of eight interactive modules available from Sunnylands Civics Games. In this module students take on roles in each of the three branches of the United States government: Congressional, Executive, and Judicial. Students float among the three branches as they follow an issue from its beginnings in a public forum to local governments, then to Congress and all the way to the desk of the President.

If this is their first time visiting the site, after reading through the directions have students start by going through the tutorial. This will pre-configure the players and allow them to focus more on the government processes themselves. There are many variables, values, and interest groups that students will need to consider at each step in the legislative process. Once students have a feel for the game, have them move to the main game module where they get to configure their own players within each government branch. Students will need to, for example, select what values their legislator will fight for and what issues will make up their Executive branch’s agenda. Winning occurs when students successfully turn all ten issues into laws, represented by towers on the game board.

This site requires Flash.

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INTEGRATION

  • If you don’t have access to a 1-to-1 environment for students to run their own governments, then project the site onto a whiteboard and divide them up into three groups  (the three branches) and have them make decisions by consensus.
  • After a game session is finished, have students reflect on the choices they made and places where they could have taken a different path.

Television Archive News Search Service (Gr. 5-12)

Television Archive News Search Service – 900,000 results and growing

Provided thanks to the non-profit group Internet Archive, the Television Archive contains over 909,000 video clips from news agencies in the United States and Great Britain. Search the database based on keyword and/or filter your results by number of views, title, date archived, or creator. Use the topic cloud down the right-side of the page to look up video clips from specific news agencies such as the BBC News, Mad Money, Frontline, Teen Kids News and more.

Once you make a selection, a film strip-like interface will load breaking down the video clip into 1-minute segments. Each segment will start out playing in a smaller window but can be expanded to play full screen. Many of the video clips also support closed captioning. Video segments can be shared via social media or embedded onto your website.

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Google Newspaper Archives (Gr. 6-12)

Google Newspaper Archives – Read newspapers from around the world!

From part of the Google News app, the newspaper archives contains digital versions of various newspaper editions from around the world from various points in time. Search the archive by keyword or alphabetically, or if you know the specific newspaper by name use the ‘Find’ command (Ctrl+F or Cmd+F) to quickly locate the newspaper in question. Each newspaper listing shows the number of issues contained within and the time span covered (note that there may be gaps within the timelines).

Clicking on a newspaper will take you to a new window with a horizontal timeline organized by year. You can adjust the display settings so that the timeline is organized by day, week, month, year, or decade. At the top of each column you will see the number of available issues. Clicking on an issue will bring up a page-by-page view with options to scroll, fit to height, and view fullscreen. Use the ‘Link to Article’ tool to generate a link to a specific article within a specific newspaper issue.

INTEGRATION

  • Compare and contrast news headlines from different newspapers from different places around the world.
  • Compare writing styles from different time periods.

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Brain Pump (Gr. 5-12)

Brain Pump – Learn something new and feed your curiosity

Brain Pump contains a wealth of short video clips designed to stimulate the mind and encourage discussion on a wide variety of topics. Would you like to know what causes the smell after rain? Did you know that there’s no such thing as cold? What happens when Homer Simpson is pitted against Pierre de Fermat?

Videos are organized into topic categories including Business, Technology, Food, and more. The site also has videos organized by user-submitted topics such as Game Design, How It’s Made, Nature, and Spanish. Each video comes with tools to share on social media or get a direct link to the video. Sign-up is free but not required to use the site, although an account does allow you to star favorite videos for later.

INTEGRATION

  • Use these videos to spark class discussions or as writing prompts to open students to new possibilities.
  • Pair the videos with a commenting tool such as Padlet, EDpuzzle, or Comment Bubble to take the discussion online.

The Monkey ‘Selfie’

While I was building a lesson on plagiarism and citations, I decided that I wanted to expand it and talk with my students in more detail about Copyright and Creative Commons licensing. And then our school librarian shared with me this story: “PETA suit claims monkey holds copyright to famous selfie.” I felt like I had just struck gold! This story is a great classroom discussion starter on the topic of ownership and how sticky this can sometimes be, especially when it comes to digital artifacts.

  • What is your take on this situation?
  • Who do you side with?

Ducksters (Gr. 2-8)

Ducksters – Safe research portal for students

Ducksters is a safe, educational research site designed with students in mind. The site is pretty basic without a lot of flash and fanfare so students can focus more on the content they are consuming. There are no ads on the site.

To get started:

  • Choose from one of the five content category buttons at the top of the site.
  • Choose a more specific topic from the available links in the center square of the site.
  • Use the Search box in the top-right corner if you have a specific topic in mind. Note that while the search results may look like a standard Google Search they are in fact a custom search that shows results only from Ducksters.com

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