Wandering and Wondering

Exploring the wonders of Science in everyday life!

TED Talks…in the classroom

Recently, I have been showing quite a few TED Talks from various years and by various people to my various classes. I have found that they are an enormously useful tool to bring the “real world” into the Science classroom. They are short enough and entertaining enough to keep the kids engaged, which is something that you can really fight for while showing a video in class!

The first video I showed was to demonstrate the importance and WAY cool ways that cephalopods (“head foots”) like cuttlefish and octopus are able to camouflage themselves in the shallow seas. The talk that I showed was by David Gallo, who discussed the amazing design of these animals in the ocean.

Just this morning, I showed my AP Biology students a talk that was given by Dr. Quyen Nguyen, on color-coded surgery. We were talking in class about Biotechnology and how advances in genetic technology has paved the path to make cancer surgeries a little clearer for the surgeon. Her theme was “Shine the light on surgery.”

These talks are completely accessible and FREE (hooray!) at the website: http://www.ted.com “Ideas worth spreading.” They are not only science and technology, but also about entertainment, history, math, and really anything you can think of! Look into using them in your secondary classroom, or even with older elementary kids–they also have a great iPad app!

Have you used any of the TED Talks in your classroom? What’s your favorite? Leave me a comment below!

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Discover the Space Shuttle

On Tuesday, April 17, the space shuttle Discovery made its final flight from Florida to Washington, D.C.. The NASA program officially retired all of its space shuttles in 2011, after Atlantis completed the final space shuttle mission. Since I went to college in Virginia, a lot of my friends still live in northern Virginia and were able to take some amazing pictures of the space shuttle flying over the different landmarks and monuments, while strapped to the back of a jumbo jet.

When did the shuttle program start? Why did it start? These questions started popping up in my science classes this week, and I decided to write them all down here.

The space shuttle Columbia took its first flight in 1981, and lasted for 37 orbits. NASA had decided to start the shuttle program to allow for longer flights and the ability to carry large satellites and telescopes (Hubble!) up into Earth’s orbit. The shuttle was for long-term flights, unlike the pods and modules that had been used in the Mercury and Apollo missions.

I wonder how astronauts will travel in space in the future…check out Wonderopolis: http://bit.ly/JbGrhz

The space shuttle program had some very high points, like bringing the Hubble telescope into orbit, and for allowing spacewalks outside of the shuttle. However, two of the lowest points for the shuttle program came on January 28, 1986, when the space shuttle Challenger exploded during its ascent into orbit, killing all aboard. Another blow to the shuttle program came on February 1, 2003, when the shuttle Columbia broke apart on its reentry into the atmosphere, killing all aboard.

The space shuttle Discovery that was flown to Washington, D.C., was the first shuttle to fly a mission after the Challenger disaster. It flew more than any other spacecraft, completing 39 successful missions over 27 years of service. It will be put on display at the National Air & Space Museum, part of the Smithsonian Institute.

Would you like to see how they made the space shuttle Discovery? Check it out! http://bit.ly/J15N2B

Also, watch the final launch of the Discovery space shuttle:

Do you have any questions about space shuttles or space travel? Did you get to see the shuttle flying up to D.C.? Tell me about it in the comments below!

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Technology in the Classroom…Part 2!

As you know, my school is part of a 1:1 laptop program, and soon to be a 1:1 iPad program. Since I got my iPad, I have been working hard to find some great apps that go along with my teaching. A few weeks ago, I attended a professional development seminar on using iPads in the classroom. Here are some of the awesome apps that I have found to be worth a few bucks (or free!):

Virtual Frog Dissection: http://bit.ly/HL5SoC

Get the app, save a frog! A lot of my students have trouble with doing an actual dissection, and I have always struggled to come up with an alternative assessment for the activity. Also, if a student is absent, it is difficult and time-consuming to have them “make up” the dissection. This app allows the student to go through the same motions as the other students, and it even aligns with the frog dissection packet I use–they can still answer the questions and fill in the diagrams as if they were present for the actual dissection!

Color Uncovered: http://bit.ly/HzRWiM

This app is amazing. I always loved looking at optical illusions when I was little, and that is what this app is all about! Not only does it show the students many different optical illusions, but it also tells the students what is going on with their eyes and how the optical illusion works. And….it’s free! Definitely a great app to have for “rainy days” or when you have a few minutes to kill.

Smithsonian Channel: http://si.edu/apps/si-channel

The Smithsonian Institute has really hit a home-run with this app. Think of it as a kind of “YouTube”, but only for Smithsonian videos. You can watch videos, find a show, or even create a channel that helps you create a lineup of your own, based on your interests. Again, it’s a great app for rainy days, if a kid finishes a test early, or you have a few minutes.

This is all still a work in progress, and I am always on the lookout for new apps to put on my iPad to use in my classroom. Any suggestions? Leave them in the comments below!

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