Category Archives: GoogleApps, Sites and Tools
Personal GoogleSites: A Learning Project in #IBBio
Although i-Biology hosts all my content resources, the main class resource students are working with is a personal GoogleSite to track their progress and reflection. Click here to find out more about how it works.
GoogleTrends: Exploring Patterns in Search Data [DBQs & Inquiry]
GoogleTrends allows you to plot the popularity of search terms (since 2004), by geographical region or worldwide. This could be a great way to launch inquiry on a topic in science that has seasonal trends or patterns, and could be used to set up simple DBQ practice. It is limited in the linear presentation of data, and the data are search frequencies rather than scientific data, but as the patterns raise questions, they could be followed-up with searches for more valid sources and explanations.
In the example below, Frank Swain (@SciencePunk) had put in the search term “morning after pill” for the UK and found a peak every Sunday. An interesting pattern that could set up some discussion in class based on reproduction, behaviour, risk management, ethics, hormonal control or more.
This could lead to a quick (though basic) way to set up some simple data-based questions or stimulus for exploration. Here is a plot for the search term “vaccine”. Think of the questions it might raise in discussion.
What questions does it raise and how would it lead to further exploration? Here are some examples:
- Why does it peak each October?
- Why was traffic so high in 2009-10?
- What do you predict for the coming year?
This leads into discussion of sources of information, accessing databases and the reasons for vaccines.
One neat feature is that you can add other search terms to the graph in the same time period, though it will normalise the data. Another is the ‘headlines’ feature that shows some popular news headlines near peaks. Yet another is the ‘predict’ feature that will model the coming year based on trends and patterns. “Predict” is often asked in DBQ’s, so this might make for some good questions. Here’s what happens when we add “flu vaccine”, headlines and the forecast:
From this exploration, you could move onto looking at flu trends, and GoogleTrends has special sections for tracking flu and dengue fever:
This next one is a neat demonstration of what happens when you change the scale of the y-axis. In this case, the second dataset is added, compared to the original and the original becomes much less noticeable as a result. How many times do we tell our students to set appropriate scales on the axes and make use of the space to be able to see trends and patterns?
For another bit of fun, here’s one on “Genome”:
- A quick, easy launching pad for inquiry
- Develop simple DBQs easily
- Does need to be supported by inquiry into more valid sources for the topic
- Each graph is ‘normalised’ which could lead into useful discussion of the effect of scales on data presentation
QR Code Orienteering: Describing Displacement
I’ve been wanting to find an excuse to do this for ages, since reading about the idea on Jarrod Robinson’s PE Geek blog.
Today in one of our last classes, some students in my Intro Physics & Environmental Science class have been using a GoogleMap view of the area around our school to plan an orienteering course. The aim is to use this as one of the very first lessons with next year’s class as an introduction to scalars and vectors, as well as methods of describing displacement. By scanning a QR code at each location, runners will be given a description in the form of components or direction and magnitude, which they then locate on their map and run to.
When they return to school, the plan is to use their map to calculate distance vs displacement between points, as well as add some directed line segments for vectors.
I’ve made up some orange and white flags, which will be laminated. The QR codes will be taped on, giving flexibility to make up new courses around the school and to extend the activity by allowing students to design courses.
Free apps used:
- i-Nigma QR code reader
- quikQR.com free QR code maker
- GoogleEarth (I set up the grid and printed it)
Here are the planning sheets/ maps:
Inspired for 2012 by these Young Scientists!
Set aside 17 minutes to listen to Lauren Hodge, Naomi Shah and Shree Bose give their TED Talk on their experiences as winners of the 2011 Google Global Science Fair. These three young scientists are each winners of their age groups (13-14, 15-16 and 17-18 respectively), with Shree winning the grand prize of a $50,000 scholarship and a trip to the Galapagos and an internship at CERN! Wow.
Of course Naomi and Lauren also picked up some great prizes and they all got the opportunity to present at TEDx Women:
If you have a great scientific question burning in your mind, why not enter this year’s competition? Head on over to the Google Science Fair 2012 website for all the information you could need. Here’s a quick video below.
Just remember to get it all in by April 1st!
Thanks to Julie Lemley for the link.
Using your IB Bio GoogleSite
This is for my IB Bio SL class: keep the site updated using these tips:
(Go fullscreen and HD)
The 11th Hour re-up: Human Impacts on Ecosystems
In 2007, Leonardo DiCaprio released his environmental call-to-arms, The 11th Hour. And it’s very good. It really knocks home the old proverb that we are not inheriting the Earth from our ancestors, but borrowing it from our children.
Update 2009: the whole film is available on GoogleVideo (as all good documentaries should be):
The movie contains contributions from the likes of Stephen Hawking, Nobel-winner Wangari Maathai and David Suzuki. Particularly useful is Gloria Flora‘s sentiment that we all vote, every day – even those who are too young to cast a ballot – by making informed choices about what we consume, spend our money on and throw away.
The first half of the movie is a talking-heads and imagery look at our impacts on the Earth, with plenty of soundbites and starting-points for further discussion. The political middle section describes how economic growth and interests are driving destruction. The final act is a great collection of ideas and hope – a call to arms and a realisation that the environmental movement is growing quickly and strongly. But is it going to be in time to save our species and the thousands that we drive to extinction each year?
Now here’s Leo’s video message (including the ‘vote’ quote from Gloria Flora):
For some further reading, go to the 11th hour Action website.
IB Biology students:
Here is a quick question sheet for the movie, linking some of the topics to the Ecology and Conservation option.
Higher Level students: pay attention to the parts about the role of trees in the environment, in particular through water-uptake. Also, do you understand how mycofiltration (using fungal mycelia) could be used to clean polluted soils?
For good measure, here’s Linkin Park’s accompanying music video, What I’ve Done :
Walking the Amazon
This is some project.
Earlier this year, Ed Stafford and Luke Collyer from the UK started an epic journey – to walk the full length of the Amazon from the source in Peru to the mouth in Brazil. This has never been done before and will cover 4,000 miles and take about 18 months. Their aim is to raise money and awareness for a load of charities, as well as serving as a spotlight on issues related to environmental and social change in the Amazon region.
Recently, Luke left the expedition after 90 days – so if you’re up to it, head on over to the website and apply for the position of Ed’s new partner!
The team are posting regular videos of their progress to the website, which can also be found on GoogleVideo:
edited to correct Luke Collyer’s name.
Just get one of the FlashVideo add-ons for your browser. I use Fast Video Download 188.8.131.52 and it’s great for YouTube and GoogleVideo.
Simple steps to saving videos to use on a SMART board.
1. Download an .flv player programme. This one does the trick:
2. For some videos on this blog, you can click on the ‘Download Video’ option beneath the screen. It will save the video to your hard drive as a .flv file. Your brand-new .flv player will play this, as will a SMART Board with updated drivers.
3. For other videos (directly taken from YouTube or GoogleVideo), you will need to go round the houses a bit:
a. Find the video and copy the full URL
b. Open KeepV.com in a new window
c. Paste the video URL into the input box and press ‘Download Video’
d. You will end up with a file called ‘get_video’ saved on your hard disk. To make it work, rename the file as ‘videoname.flv’
e. It should now work on your computer.
Flashcatcher is another product that can be used to save Flash files. It is a bit fickle, but for some Flash animations you just hover the cursor over the top-left corner and it will give you an option to save.
Remember – many video resources are copyright, and keeping them may be counted as breach of this copyright. However, in many schools internet access is so slow or restricted, the only chance you may have to show a class a decent video is to save it this way. Just be wise about spreading these copied files around.