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Ask Slashdot: Online Science For 8th Grade Students?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the alton-brown-rocks dept.

Education 225

Peterus7 writes "I'm a student teacher in an 8th grade science classroom, and have noticed that students are very motivated by anything online. After realizing that, I've been looking for ways to incorporate internet resources into my teaching, and trying to find cool citizen science projects, activities, and simulations that would be appropriate for a grade school science class, such as galaxyzoo and fold.it. So, I'm asking slashdot for more resources that could help bring science to their lives. Thanks!"

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225 comments

Anything Online? (0, Flamebait)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 2 years ago | (#35552950)

It sounds like you're motivated and genuinely want to help them learn, which is a great (and all too rare) thing in a teacher, but I'm a born pessimist, so I have to ask: are you sure "anything online" doesn't mean "anything that makes it easy to look like one's working while chatting on Facebook and playing Flash games"?

Re:Anything Online? (2)

LastGunslinger (1976776) | more than 2 years ago | (#35553144)

I have to ask, does whatever you do for a living come close to making the same positive contribution to society as an average teacher? You say that teachers whom are motivated and genuinely want students to learn are rare. Why do you think people, especially those with degrees in the maths and sciences, choose to teach? For the money?

Re:Anything Online? (2)

517714 (762276) | more than 2 years ago | (#35553370)

Short hours, long summer vacation, lack of supervision, great retirement benefits, union benefits, tenure, and discount at Border's books all come to mind. Not to mention that teachers pay increases have outstripped inflation consistently which cannot be said of very many fields. I don't begrudge teachers what they are paid, but they are represented by the largest union in the country, and they are not under compensated as a group and I am tired of hearing that refrain.

Re:Anything Online? (2, Informative)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 2 years ago | (#35553518)

Short hours

Hahaha... do you really thing a teacher's day end when the last bell rings? Or that many teach summer school just to make ends meet?

Not to mention that teachers pay increases have outstripped inflation consistently

This doesn't seem to apply for any teacher I know.

Re:Anything Online? (2)

Seumas (6865) | more than 2 years ago | (#35554370)

It's just all so damn sad. I'm falling into a puddle of my own tears. Oh my! I mean, education only makes up around 55% to 65% of state budgets. Why, whatever will those poor destitute people, do? Clearly, they need 100% of all taxes to go to education. Then everything will be perfect and everyone will be well educated and teachers will finally be able to stop living on the street, sleeping in the gutters and living on cans of cat food!

Re:Anything Online? (1)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 2 years ago | (#35554544)

It's just all so damn sad. I'm falling into a puddle of my own tears. Oh my! I mean, education only makes up around 55% to 65% of state budgets. Why, whatever will those poor destitute people, do? Clearly, they need 100% of all taxes to go to education. Then everything will be perfect and everyone will be well educated and teachers will finally be able to stop living on the street, sleeping in the gutters and living on cans of cat food!

Citation please.

Re:Anything Online? (2)

Belial6 (794905) | about 3 years ago | (#35554880)

K-12 education does not take up 55% to 65% of the CA state budget, but it does make up almost a third of it.

Of the $127 Million budget, $48 million is earmarked for education and $37.5 million of it is set for K-12.

http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/agencies.html [ca.gov]

So, while the OP is wrong in his numbers, and that should be called out, he is not wrong in his general point that the public school system has plenty of money.

Public education is the single largest line item in the states budget.

Re:Anything Online? (1)

Belial6 (794905) | about 3 years ago | (#35554810)

Teachers are in the top half of all earners in almost every state of the union. This is only counting the 9 months they work in their regular contract. If they cannot make ends meet, it means that either half of the US workforce is destitute, or that for some reason teachers are particularly bad at money management. I am not buying either of those. Then add on top of it that the 50% of the work force that makes less than them ALSO has to work 12 months to make less than teachers make in 9, your claim becomes down right insulting. The OP is correct. The whining about teachers being underpaid is a sham.

Underpaid teachers are like teenage boys that don't masterbate. They are extremely rare, but they all seem to be right where the subject is being discussed.

Re:Anything Online? (2)

Jessified (1150003) | more than 2 years ago | (#35553794)

Off-topic with OP but On-topic with Parent:

So strip collective bargaining rights?

I never understand this class wars business, where the rich pit their non-unionized minions against the unionized employees. Teachers make a liveable income but it's not a life of luxury like the actual upper class would have you believe. To the poor right: stop voting against your interests! If you are upset because you think teachers have it better than you, the solution isn't to bring teachers down, it's to fight for an increase to your own standard of living.

If $50,000 per year is so luxurious, then those making >$250,000 shouldn't mind letting their temporary tax cuts come to an end. Wait, what, you do mind? You mean to say that >$250,000 isn't enough, but $50,000 is? I'm confused.

Re:Anything Online? (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#35553430)

I don't know, but there seem to be quite a few teachers who go about their job the wrong way. They're extremely short tempered and take offense to nearly everything (even given their situation, this is not appropriate), act like a dictator in their own classrooms (such as censoring speech that opposes their own political views even when the students are allowed to speak), treat their students like garbage (constantly yell and throw out anyone who merely questions or corrects them), and fail to make the class even the slightest bit interesting (it doesn't have to be constantly interesting, but the boring way they teach doesn't help in the slightest). Some of them (typically teachers who teach in electives but have never even been trained in the subject before) don't even know what they are talking about. Although, that is more rare. It also doesn't help that students (even ones in high school) are forced to take subjects that they likely won't even need for their profession just because they might use it.

They may like teaching, but many of them (that I've seen) don't appear to be good at it. If you don't have patience, you really, really shouldn't be a teacher.

Re:Anything Online? (4, Insightful)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 2 years ago | (#35553560)

They may like teaching, but many of them (that I've seen) don't appear to be good at it. If you don't have patience, you really, really shouldn't be a teacher.

I think we need to make teaching more attractive as a career to build a bigger (hopefully better) pool of applicants to pick from. Regardless of what Fox News says, they are underpaid considering the job requirements and stress they deal with.

Re:Anything Online? (1)

WilCompute (1155437) | more than 2 years ago | (#35554488)

This is so true, they are supervised by backward thinking district supervisors, that deal directly with their parents that didn't finish high school. We need to allow the teachers to actually teach, not just memorization.

Re:Anything Online? (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 2 years ago | (#35553470)

I meant it as a friendly but semi-serious question about whether the OP was reading the students correctly or not, but it seems that the wry smile it was said with got lost in the translation to text.

That said, your serious question deserves a serious reply: maybe I had an unusually poor experience in the education system, but my general conversations on the subject lead me to believe it was more or less standard. I met a few good teachers, and they make a wonderful contribution to society, I absolutely agree, but they were by no means the majority, nor would they even come out as 'the average'. Incidentally, most of those I've met who were good were the ones who could be making more money elsewhere but chose to remain in education. There were quite a few who'd ended up in teaching basically by default - the classic "if you can't do, teach" brigade. There were even a few genuinely unpleasant human beings who were essentially on a power trip because they got to tell people what to do. The majority, however, were a random assortment of people who'd started well but long since had all drive knocked out of them by mountainous paperwork, unpleasant parents, and ungrateful, poorly behaved little shits in the classroom; I quite understand why they were bad at their jobs, and there was little motivation for them to be anything else, but the fact remains that most teachers I've come across were functioning largely as state-sponsored childcare.

Those who teach well, and even take a pay cut to do so, have my utmost respect. Although it was just a passing comment, I stand by my statement that they are all too rare.

Re:Anything Online? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35553170)

There are plenty of great, educational Flash games:

http://www.cellcraftgame.com/Home.html

Re:Anything Online? (1)

Angostura (703910) | more than 2 years ago | (#35554342)

I've no idea why you have been moderated flamebait, this appears to be a rather insightful question to me.

Re:Anything Online? (1)

IB4Student (1885914) | more than 2 years ago | (#35554446)

Assuming that all kids just want to use computers to play games and use Facebook makes you look like a real dick.

Slashdot (1)

perlhacker14 (1056902) | more than 2 years ago | (#35552960)

Get them to read Slashdot. I promise their lives will be much more fulfilling. :P

Re:Slashdot (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35553036)

Forcing a kid to read /. should count as child abuse. 4chan would be healthier.

Re:Slashdot (2)

ezratrumpet (937206) | more than 2 years ago | (#35553744)

Slashdot is the intelligentsia.

Reddit is the hivemind.

4chan is the dark underbelly of the internet. When archangels travel within 4chan, they do it as a group, with heavy air support.

Tl; dr: 4chan is virtual hell

Re:Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35553882)

For a really interesting discussion, nothing can beat goatse!

I'm 12 years old. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35554226)

I'm 12 years old, and what is this?

KhanAcademy (5, Informative)

EliotVU (1957146) | more than 2 years ago | (#35552966)

www.KhanAcademy.org FTW!

Re:KhanAcademy (2)

LordNacho (1909280) | more than 2 years ago | (#35553004)

I second this. Also, go to Wikipedia frontpage, follow links that you find interesting. The amount of stuff I've learned doing that is immense.

Then again, I'm way past school age, and back then I'd only look at stuff the teacher DIDN'T tell me to look at. Maybe you should instruct them to look at Fox News, tmz, Hello magazine, and a good dose of X-Factor and Big Brother reruns.

Re:KhanAcademy (1)

geezer nerd (1041858) | more than 2 years ago | (#35553434)

When I was a teenager (1950s), I went to the city library and sat and read Encyclopaedia Britannica for hours. It's amazing what little nooks and crannies of knowledge and the world one can encounter that way.

Re:KhanAcademy (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | more than 2 years ago | (#35554044)

When I was a teenager, I went to the city library and sat and read Encyclopaedia Britannica for hours.

Same here. I used to cut class and go to the library. The books there were way more interesting than the classes. Also, truant officers never check the libraries.

After reading the encyclopedia, I have never lost a game of Trivial Pursuit.

Re:KhanAcademy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35553312)

Hi guys. Sal of Khan Academy here. Just so you know, I have set up a mirror for the website. Please use the mirror instead of the original, so you don't Slashdot the server:
http://www.khaaan.com/ [khaaan.com]

Re:KhanAcademy (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35553362)

Fuck off.

Re:KhanAcademy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35553928)

I agree. www.KhanAcademy.org

Get offline and do experiments (5, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#35552996)

Do real experiments. The kids will remember that.

Re:Get offline and do experiments (-1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 2 years ago | (#35553126)

I agree. Punch them in the face and yell NEWTON, BITCH!

Re:Get offline and do experiments (2)

Seumas (6865) | more than 2 years ago | (#35554382)

Yeah, whatever. Mod me down. Mark my words, though, if some teacher cold-cocked you and yelled "NEWTON!" -- that is a lesson you'd remember for the rest of your life.

Re:Get offline and do experiments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35553280)

Do real experiments. The kids will remember that.

Until they realize it was just doing nothing constructive and hardly of any value at all.

Do USEFUL activities. Not mindless gimmicks.

Re:Get offline and do experiments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35553962)

Do real experiments. The kids will remember that.

Until they realize it was just doing nothing constructive and hardly of any value at all.

Do USEFUL activities. Not mindless gimmicks.

What's not useful about experiments? They are how we figure out things we want to know.

Even in school, repeating something already done allows you to discover or prove for yourself things about the physical world, instead of merely accepting dogma or magical thinking.

It all depends on how you approach it. If you approach it as "I have to grind through this assignment which lays out step-by-step how to repeat some BS that's already been done 1000 times", then it will be a mindless gimmick and either you've got bad teachers or a bad attitude. If it's "Really? How would I see for myself?" then you are engaging your brain and learning how to do science.

For example, there's a lot of press coverage about the "super moon" this weekend. And you can read on wikipedia that "looming" (where the moon looks bigger near the horizon) is just an optical illusion. But figure out (via guided brainstorming in class) that you can make simple tools to measure the angle for yourself at different times, then you've taken a step forward as an independent thinker who knows how to discover truth.

I do experiments in my job all the time to figure out things like "how will this proposed change actually affect performance under our real-world loads?" In doing so I take advantage of the stuff I learned in the 8th grade (and other years) about constructing experiments, sampling, using proper controls, avoiding biases, estimating uncertainty and error propagation. If I didn't know how do real data-driven decisions, and instead just blindly went on "the vendor recommends" or "industry standard" or (shudder) "I learned in my certification course", then my job would be mindless and I wouldn't be worth nearly as much to my employer (in fact, they'd not have hired me).

So, in my case, all that I learned in primary and secondary school about how to construct and conduct experiments translated pretty directly into a more satisfying and interesting job and more money in my adult life. If it was a "gimmick," then give me more gimmicks like that, please.

Re:Get offline and do experiments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35553758)

I recall exactly zero experiments from junior high and only one in high school (magnesium combustion). They won't remember any of it unless they major in it at university.

Re:Get offline and do experiments (3, Interesting)

Angostura (703910) | more than 2 years ago | (#35554356)

I remember our science teacher getting a very large steel drum, putting some water in it and heating, then quickly screwing on a tight-fittning cap and dousing the thing in iced water. It collapsed on itself in a satisfyingly noisy way, showing just how substantial atmospheric pressure is.

One more vote for real experiments.

Re:Get offline and do experiments (3, Interesting)

0100010001010011 (652467) | about 3 years ago | (#35554632)

Our teacher would always have a "demo" if everyone was in their seats on time and quiet when the bell rang.

Some of the 'epic' ones I still remember:
Coiled a gas tube through a beaker. Filled the beaker with liquid nitrogen, so then we had liquid natural gas (not sure what they run to chem labs). He lit the beaker on fire and then dumped it on the floor. It was like watching a bead of water skitter across a hot skillet, except it was on fire.

They also got 2 massive blocks of dry ice. Lit up magnesium and put it in the center. We then removed the dry ice and what was left was a solid chunk of carbon. Magnesium is so insistent on burning that it ripped the oxygen from the CO2 to sustain itself.

One day we went out to the football stands and he had a rig setup that would drop a bowling ball straight down just as another one shot off the side. Used to show shit falls just as fast even if it's moving sideways.

Re:Get offline and do experiments (2)

Wild_dog! (98536) | about 3 years ago | (#35554584)

We made nitrocellulose rockets, tie dye lab coats, ethanol, rootbeer, and Hydrogen we blew up. All pretty cool. O chem was rad.
Experiments don't have to be useless. There just need to be better more interesting experiments and ones which are practical as well.

Re:Get offline and do experiments (5, Informative)

fermion (181285) | more than 2 years ago | (#35553812)

It is true that a science teacher should include practical experiments, if the kids are going to do the expeiments themselves. If you are just going to demonstrations, then I see no reason why kids should not just be watching videos. I believe the computer simulations are way underrated in a world where schools are more fearful of letting kids do anything useful.

These practical experiments will give the conceptual basis of what will be tested if the kids ever take an AP Science exam. They do not need to be fancy. Heat water measure rate of change. Build a gravity accelerated race track, film the cars, and analyze using free video analysis software. Run 1mw laser though pieces of plastic. And, the most important experiement of all, give them measuring instruments, let them measure things around the room, and then compare results. They will be amazed at how different everyone's mesasurements are. At that age, mean, mode, median, and rage are valid math concepts.

As far as online goes. Look for any and all animated experiments. PHET has many of them. You can download videos of experiments, or have the kids make them, and make scatter plots relating various variables using Tracker Video Analysis. The construction of these graphs meet many objects for high school math and science. I have found online sources to simulate any experiment that I want to do. Most of these are accesible to almost any age group by simply by adjusiting pre-lab instruction and post-lab assessment

Just like in any expeiment, the pre- and post-lab are the thing. Most kids will lean very little from a lab without a pre- and post-lab. Doing the lab is only going to be so successful. The required analysis of what the student has observed is a key learning process. In any lab, online or not, know the concepts that are to be taught, and how they will be reinforced and assesed. For instance on PHET you can make resistors catch fire. Why do they catch fire? Will they catch fire faster if the resistance is increased of the potential or current. This creates an exciting learning activity.

Re:Get offline and do experiments (2)

nbauman (624611) | more than 2 years ago | (#35553932)

Build a gravity accelerated race track, film the cars, and analyze using free video analysis software.

Galileo did it with inclined planes, without video, and without video analysis software. How does the video and software make it any better?

Re:Get offline and do experiments (1)

Auroch (1403671) | more than 2 years ago | (#35554172)

Build a gravity accelerated race track, film the cars, and analyze using free video analysis software.

Galileo did it with inclined planes, without video, and without video analysis software. How does the video and software make it any better?

Hmmm. Well, turing had a computer design back in the 1800s. Maybe you should be using that to post on slashdot, and I'll start teaching with 19th century techniques.

Re:Get offline and do experiments (1)

ConaxConax (1886430) | about 3 years ago | (#35554604)

Hmmm. Well, turing had a computer design back in the 1800s. Maybe you should be using that to post on slashdot, and I'll start teaching with 19th century techniques.

Alan Turing? He wasn't born until 1912. Do you think you're thinking of Charles Babbage [wikimedia.org] instead?

Re:Get offline and do experiments (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35554612)

Turing was born in 1912 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Turing) but he did have a pretty workable design by the age of 3 so I guess your close.... ooooh wait did you mean Mr. Babbage?

Re:Get offline and do experiments (1)

nbauman (624611) | about 3 years ago | (#35554780)

If you want an introduction to mechanics and astronomy, to the scientific method, and the experimental method, the 16th century, with 16th century techniques, is a pretty good place to start.

Objects were falling too fast for Galileo to measure the speed, so he rolled them down an inclined plane to slow them down. Genius.

And he did it all without even an 8086 chip.

Real life better than video (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 2 years ago | (#35554008)

If you are just going to demonstrations, then I see no reason why kids should not just be watching videos.

There is a huge difference between seeing something live and watching a recording. We are all used to seeing amazing and impossible things on video for entertainment. Doing something real in front of a lecture has a far bigger impact. Plus students get the chance to ask "but what if you did X instead of Y" and see the results (assuming it is safe!).

Re:Get offline and do experiments (1)

dcollins (135727) | more than 2 years ago | (#35554194)

"They will be amazed at how different everyone's mesasurements are."

Really? I recall being the only one in my high school chemistry/physics classes who really cared about that.

Youtube and Instructables (1, Interesting)

Billy the Mountain (225541) | more than 2 years ago | (#35553040)

I've been out of school for quite a while but have kindled an interest in physics. I find that more and more there are Youtube demonstrations and lectures that are worthwhile. Also labs and hands-on science work is invaluable so I'd check out instructables.com because this not only can provide unique science opportunities, it also helps people in gaining engineering skills. BTM

Diffusion Limited Aggregation (2)

semi-extrinsic (1997002) | more than 2 years ago | (#35553082)

Seriously, have them play with applets like this [polyu.edu.hk] that show them how simple things can behave very differently from an initial guess would suggest. And motivate them with "further up ahead, people are doing awesome things!"

Re:Diffusion Limited Aggregation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35554020)

Alligator Eggs [worrydream.com] is a fun approach to the lambda calculus.

distractions.. distraction everywhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35553092)

i don't know about you, but the "online" world is full of distractions.. i wouldn't depend on it for focused learning

3D Printing & modelling (3, Interesting)

vik (17857) | more than 2 years ago | (#35553100)

Teach the kids about 3D printing (see http://reprap.org/ [reprap.org] maybe even get one of the cheap printer kits or an UP! Printer if you have budget.

These things let kids unleash a form of creativity and spatial learning that is hard to find anywhere else. No need to actually teach them how to design 3D objects - they'll be scrambling to figure it out for themselves! Keen students will print their own 3D printers. Less enthusiastic ones will download from http://thingiverse.com/ [thingiverse.com] and create "Mash up" objects.

Inevitably one of them will print a penis for shock value, but kids are like that.

Re:3D Printing & modelling (2)

Speare (84249) | more than 2 years ago | (#35553490)

Teach the kids about 3D printing

Er, that is fairly well removed from the concept of science. Science is about, you know, the scientific method: observe, hypothesize, experiment, refine, repeat. The closest I can see this coming is material science, like finding the optimal wall thickness for a given force, but I'd say that's closer to applied engineering.

Re:3D Printing & modelling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35554126)

Science is about testing hypotheses, engineering is about making stuff.

Online curve and surface fitting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35553158)

For online curve and surface fitting, try http://zunzun.com - the site has no ads, fees, or requests for donations.

Kitty-zen Science (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35553164)

http://www.tagpuss.com/

Not Wikipedia. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35553166)

It may have text, but they need to learn to cite reliable sources for when they do serious research and for future education. Also the text they are reading will probably be deleted by an abusive admin.

Re:Not Wikipedia. (1)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 2 years ago | (#35553448)

I probably wouldn't recommend Wikipedia for too young an age group, because their attention span is too short and they need something more interactive. Eighth grade might be about the right time to introduce them to it, but getting them into editing articles is probably something to shoot for more at the 10-12th grade level. Sure, citing "reliable sources" is a pain in the butt when you're a student, but that and writing in general are very useful skills to develop in science. The higher up you go in your career, the more writing you will do, unless you just want to be a lab grunt your whole career,. . .

'chosen ones' 'science' based on fake math (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35553186)

or, why do we crowd ourselves? convenience? 'economics' (even more bad math)? love? none of those? we're herde(a)d, as a matter of efficiency,
convenience & inventory maintenance by our rulers. it's also better to
keep your subscribers (hostages?) in nice neat piles, for several reasons?
are the chosen ones crowde(a)d/cramped/suffering unrepayable debt, usury
etc...??

alternative (real) math might purport; deweaponize, spread out. get
comfortable. reproduce. take care of each other. reclaim our atmosphere, &
other stuff, like what really happened so far, & from now on. babys rule. perfect for all variables previously unknown/hidden.
unassailable perfect math. fortunately, time space & circumstance remains
completely uncontrollable by us (not the babys), all math, nature &
physics is under assault, at this moment in time, temporarily, in this
case, by black hole bad math eugenatic corepirate nazi mutant religious
zealot media owning hypenosys peddlers (death merchants), & their
genetically, chemically & spiritually altered minions; 'kings', adrians,
fake weather alchemists etc.. it's hard to remember, with all that going
on, that all we really need to know, is that babys rule. easier, quieter,
playful, living, math etc..

8th Grade? (0)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 2 years ago | (#35553194)

If I'm not mistaken (I'm not from the US, we have a different grade system) ... this kids are 13-14 years old.
When I was that age, I was told I had to repeat the year because I had missed too many school days (I only attended like 20% of school days or so). I skipped classes that thought me only basic math and other things I already mastered, in order to have time to learn to code in C, read Dostoevsky, and work fixing computers and writing simple apps.

If at that age you are not motivated on your own, then school is simply not for you. Teach them how to drive a truck, bag groceries, or whatever, and stop spending everyone's money on teaching monkeys about Shakespeare.

By the time I was 23, I was a seasoned programmer, and was working as the youngest Senior Sysadmin I have know for a fairly big ISP. I didn't manage to do that thanks to school, obviously, and if I had stayed in school, it would have delayed me 10 years.

We need to redesign school so that it allows the truly talented to learn what he wants to learn, and the rest to just stop suffering and land a good job at a young age. Forcing kids to stay in school only manages to steal years of valuable work experience for all of us, both skilled professionals and unskilled workers.

Re:8th Grade? (1)

Kittenman (971447) | more than 2 years ago | (#35554010)

I skipped classes that thought me only basic math and other things I already mastered, in order to have time to learn to code in C, read Dostoevsky, and work fixing computers and writing simple apps.

Thought? Taught, I suspect... not much spelling and attention to detail in Doestoevsky, then. You must have read it in the original Russian, comrade ...

Re:8th Grade? (1)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 2 years ago | (#35554550)

English is not my native language ... regardless, that wasn't my fault, it was the stupid spell-checker. I guess I need to start using the preview to actually spell check and re-read my posts.

I believe that my English is good enough, considering I'm not a native speaker, and I do not live in an English-speaking country.

How many languages do you speak, and is your second language absolutely flawless all the time?

Scratch ? (3, Interesting)

unmadindu (524636) | more than 2 years ago | (#35553208)

You may want to look at Scratch programming environment [mit.edu]. While Scratch is a programming tool which lets kids make all sorts of stuff (animations, games, etc), there is a large number of kids who build science simulations with it. For example, you can look at this gallery [mit.edu] of physics simulations and animations, all of which were created by kids. Most of the projects on the Scratch website have been created by kids and all projects are under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike, so kids in your class will be able to download the projects, examine how they have been built, and build their own projects upon existing work.
There is also a website [mit.edu] for educators who want to use Scratch - you can ask for ideas and suggestions in the forums in that website.

[Disclaimer: I am a graduate student in the research group which develops Scratch]

Re:Scratch ? (1)

krswan (465308) | more than 2 years ago | (#35554198)

I'm not a grad student at the Media Lab, and I'll second everything the poster above said. I've been using Scratch with 5th grade students for physics and even some simple ecosystem simulations (all student created) for about 4 years now. The programming language is simple enough to get out of the kids' way and let them create what they want. Whatever you are teaching - if the kids truly understand it they can show you by creating a sim for it, and if they don't understand it they have to figure it out in the process.

math and science gizmos (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35553214)

Check out http://www.explorelearning.com/ for math and science simulations (aka Gizmos) with corresponding lessons.

Re:math and science gizmos (1)

krswan (465308) | more than 2 years ago | (#35554168)

Gizmos are great, but pretty expensive... figure out when you are going to use them and start the 30 day trial right before you need it!

Some resources ... (2)

richg74 (650636) | more than 2 years ago | (#35553252)

Here are a few resources that might be useful:

1. The Today in Science [todayinsci.com] listing of birth and death dates of scientists, and notable events. (For example, today is the anniversary of the publication of Einstein's paper on General Relativity, Die Grundlagen der allgemeinen Relativitästheorie.

2. Interactive science simulations [colorado.edu] from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

3. Science news articles at PhysOrg.com [physorg.com], New Scientist [newscientist.com], and Technology Review [technologyreview.com].

Real, or educational? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#35553262)

AAVSO?

http://www.aavso.org/ [aavso.org]

American association of variable star observers?

Kids could observe, but its probably a heck of a lot easier to use the lightcurve generator. Don't tell them about the different kinds of variable stars, let them discover it for themselves.

Online STEM curriculum at (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35553292)

Learning.com

My hypothesis (1)

CtownNighrider (1443513) | more than 2 years ago | (#35553322)

Maybe they like online stuff because they can sit with their screen away from you and play games? Coolest thing you can do online is definitely show them a cool experiment which will usually mean fire or an explosion. It's even cooler to do that stuff in person. The first day of chem class my teacher always takes a dollar bill, soaks it in a water and alcohol solution, and lights in on fire. She would also do a demonstration where she soaked the inside of one of those water cooler containers with the same solution and drop a match in it. That's the kind of stuff that gets kids excited about science.

Physics Demos Online (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35553376)

There is an on-line physics resource at http://www.ap.smu.ca/demos

It explains various physics concepts and shows how teachers can teach them in class using real demos. There are also YouTube vids of each demo.

Full disclosure: I run the site and with much student help, produce and film the videos.

Books are better than the Web (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35553480)

The world wide web is addictive and interesting because it entertains and informs you without requiring any effort or significant attention given on your part. It is actually very hard to learn anything substantial from just casually browsing the web in an "enjoyable" fashion--the only way to truly learn is to focus and think, rather than just passively reading, but the web is not at all conducive to this. Teachers, then, have the ever-harder job of teaching their students to extract meaningful information out of the ever-larger sea of noise. Web-oriented teaching methods are not some sort of Holy Grail, but are actually far from it, and to fall back on them as a means of gaining students' attention is irresponsible.
You can learn far better from a well-written book.

VITAL Lab (1)

LatitudesAttitudes (1979100) | more than 2 years ago | (#35553498)

You may be interested in some of the games from the Virtual Immersive Technologies and Arts for Learning Lab (http://vital.cs.ohiou.edu/). Under software, you may find some games that would appeal to your class. I used to be involved in the VITAL Lab and found that the flash games worked best in classrooms. As far as I know, the program is no longer active (ran out of funding), but the resources are still available online for anyone to use.

Instructables (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35553512)

I'd've suggested Instructables for some neat science related projects, and many others, but a lot of the recent stuff there has been too near the bone, and you'll have net filter issues. A shame, because it used to be good.

Online (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35553556)

I'm in college, we generally take online classes because its pretty much a guaranteed A, you can use your book, google, friends, cheat by one doing the work and getting the answers for the others, etc. It was the same way back in high school as well.

And if you want to keep their attention do what another guy said in here and do some cool experiments or subjects, involving things such as fire/explosions. I can tell you it is hard NOT to keep my interest when I was taking fire science classes. We were learning about BLEVE's, flashover, backdrafts, hazmat, etc. And what made them dangerous, how they worked, and all the science behind it. You'll be surprise with how much science you can pack into something such as one of those topics. We weren't able to do demonstrations for obvious reasons, but it didn't stop us from having a few examples thanks to youtube. And probably a few more than necessary for entertainment value to keep us interested.

Danger Will Robinson.... (-1)

TheBigDuck (938776) | more than 2 years ago | (#35553606)

I think your walking into dangerous territory. Teaching is NOT A career for people looking to "innovate". Most teachers are quite happy to teach the same lesson every year, for the next 20 years. I am a former teacher, and I tell you that while your students may love you, one "oh no" moment with this online stuff and you'll find yourself out of job. I know you are young and idealistic (and hopefully, a woman), but teaching is a political game, fraught with danger, low pay, and endless politics. The kids are the best.

Periodic Table Table (2)

Iskender (1040286) | more than 2 years ago | (#35553612)

I'm not sure how directly applicable it is, but The Periodic Table Table at http://theodoregray.com/periodictable [theodoregray.com] is a great science site.

It takes something on the face of it boring (the chemical elements as a simple diagram) and makes it really interesting. If it's not good enough to show to students directly then it should contain plenty of ideas for how to make elements interesting.

A couple of examples: get some tungsten and some magnesium of about equal volume and anyone will notice that one is much, much denser despite both being normal-looking metals. Get some indium and let the students bend thick metal rods with their bare hands.

Zooniverse, NASA (2)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 2 years ago | (#35553628)

You mentioned Galazy Zoo, but there's actually a larger effort called Zooniverse [zooniverse.org], which includes:

  • Old Weather : transcribing temperature information in British Naval Logs to add to the climate record
  • Solar Stormwatch : estimating the leading front of Coronal Mass Ejections

... and the other astronomy like stuff.

Besides that, a number of science agencies have various educational resources. From NASA, for 5th to 8th grade:

Other agencies have stuff too, but I don't know where it all is off the top of my head.

even in 9th grade still feeling misinformed/abused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35553710)

even more medication desired/required? using the current 'math', megasloth et al has ALL the money, relatively, we, have none. we do however get to owe an unrepayable debt+usury, for our legacy? stand by for 10th grade? parochialisms?

so, we'll then expect to see you at any one of the million babys+
play-dates, conscience arisings, georgia stone editing(s), & a host of
other life promoting/loving events. guaranteed to activate all of our
sense(s) at once. perhaps you have seen our list of pure intentions for
you /us, beginning with disarmament?

Physics Simulators (5, Informative)

Jessified (1150003) | more than 2 years ago | (#35553722)

Hey! I'm just going through a teacher's program right now, and I've been looking for resources to use with smartboard. First of all, if you don't have a smartboard go here:
http://johnnylee.net/projects/wii/ [johnnylee.net]

Then try out:
Algodoo (costs about 25 euros): Great physics simulator. I would say it would be useful even for university students. You can, however, adjust the difficulty level. It's good for kinematics, some optics, buoyancy, some fluid dynamics and a few other things. I started off with making a piston pump system.
http://www.algodoo.com/wiki/Home [algodoo.com]

Crayon physics: Great for intuitively exploring some physics concepts. It costs about 20 bucks. It's similar to above but it's closer to a game. There are a series of challenges that you accomplish (try to move a ball to a star, overcoming a series of obstacles. Learn some physics concepts through osmosis.
http://www.crayonphysics.com/ [crayonphysics.com]

Celestia: Great freeware for exploring our galaxy (and neighboring galaxies). It implements astronomy knowledge into a space simulator. It allows to you to visit out solar system and beyond. As humanity discovers more, you can update the planet (i.e. with new exoplanets). This one is super cool, a little like Eve Online but IRL. You can also install Star Trek universe updates if you are a trekkie, as well as Star Wars.
http://www.shatters.net/celestia/ [shatters.net]

Ok that's the coolest stuff. There are other things out there but they aren't as impressive. ScaleoftheUniverse is neat, but limited in classroom utility: http://www.scaleoftheuniverse.com/ [scaleoftheuniverse.com]

Don't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35553740)

While there's the risk that limiting yourself to the things you know could leave you with too little to work with, the much more likely scenario is that you're trying to teach the kids something that you don't know yourself, and that is most definitely not going to work. If you have to ask what to show them online, then you're clearly not familiar enough with the environment to be a good teacher in it. In the very limited time that you have the students' eyes and ears, show them in depth what you know. If you do that well, you won't need gimmicks. You do know why they need to know what you're supposed to teach them, right? Then why do you need more motivations that aren't apparent to you? There's nothing sadder and more ineffective than a teacher who teaches what he perceives to be useless.

(I'm not saying that the internet isn't a wonderful toolbox full of amazing science, just that you can't teach what you don't know.)

Lots of free online math and science activities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35554036)

ITSI-SU [concord.org] It's a non-profit group paid for out of H1B visa funds.

Re:Lots of free online math and science activities (2)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about 3 years ago | (#35554892)

Yes, I second Concord.org, especially as the put what they develop under free license (the LGPL):
    http://www.concord.org/ [concord.org]

Not free (except to demo):
    http://www.explorelearning.com/ [explorelearning.com]

Other random:
    http://www.miniclip.com/games/chasm/en/ [miniclip.com]
    http://www.missiontolearn.com/2008/03/more-than-50-web-widgets-for-your-learning-mix/ [missiontolearn.com]
    http://simulation.northwestern.edu/ [northwestern.edu]

Look for physics simulators; example:
    http://dan-ball.jp/en/javagame/dust/ [dan-ball.jp]

There is a lot of exploration people can do with Google Maps and Google Earth.

We've collected lots of links from homeschooling; I should put them up somewhere.

Stuff by me with links about education in general:
http://patapata.sourceforge.net/WhyEducationalTechnologyHasFailedSchools.html [sourceforge.net]
http://groups.google.com/group/openmanufacturing/browse_thread/thread/e59c368c3734a926 [google.com]
http://listcultures.org/pipermail/p2presearch_listcultures.org/2009-November/006005.html [listcultures.org]
http://listcultures.org/pipermail/p2presearch_listcultures.org/2009-October/005379.html [listcultures.org]
http://listcultures.org/pipermail/p2presearch_listcultures.org/2009-November/005584.html [listcultures.org]

Measurement Tools (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 2 years ago | (#35554128)

Various mechanical and electronic measuring tools abound for use with the PC and for manual use.

They need to learn how to use such tools no matter what sub-discipline they enter. Even if they never use such tools much, they must know they exist and how they work, because they will then know people can do work with those tools on such projects.

Tools to measure and compare distance, time, velocity, weight, PH, temperature, frequency, polarization of light, etc. are all absolutely needed to understand science. The kids love to get there hands on these tools because these are REAL.

Diffusion Cloud Chamber (1)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | more than 2 years ago | (#35554132)

Here is a video [youtube.com] that my daughter put together on how to make a diffusion cloud chamber. It takes about 10 minutes to make and you need a keyboard air duster. With it you can see the tracks left by background and cosmic radiation. It is a pretty cool way to visually introduce particle physics.

Bad Premise (3, Insightful)

dcollins (135727) | more than 2 years ago | (#35554206)

"I.. have noticed that students are very motivated by anything online."

I call bullshit. You're noticing students motivated by non-school things, that happen to be online. Put school online and they will be equally disinterested as before. (Although you get to be that teacher going "Look! I'm hip! I get online! I'm so cool!").

Or, show me an experiment that an online program has better interest-level and/or student outcomes (from the same population of student).

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