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January 20, 2006

ExploreLearning a Codie Awards Finalist

We are very honored to announce that ExploreLearning is finalist in the 2006 Codie Awards in the categories of "Best Instructional Solution: Mathematics," "Best Instructional Solution: Science." and "Best Instructional Solution: Web-based or Online."

Presented by the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), the Codie Awards celebrate achievement and vision in software, education technology and digital content. The Codie Awards holds the distinction of being the only peer-recognition awards program of its kind in the industry, providing a unique opportunity for companies to earn the praise of their competitors.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 04:01 PM in Site Announcements | Permalink | Comments (2)

Three new chemistry Gizmos have arrived!

thumbnail image of the GizmoAs part of our goal of 40 new Gizmos, we are pleased to announce the addition of three new chemistry Gizmos to our library. Ionic Bonds is a companion to the Covalent Bonds Gizmo released last week. By manipulating the valence electrons of metal and nonmetal atoms, students will see how ions are formed and will determine the chemical formulas for a variety of compounds.

Just the word "stoichiometry" can strike fear in students' hearts, even if they have no idea what it is about. With the release of our Stoichiometry Gizmo, there is a lot less to fear for both students and teachers. By handling all the calculation, the Gizmo allows students to focus on the main concepts--how one unit is converted to another, and how units are cancelled to arrive at an answer. A multitude of interactive practice problems will allow students to gain confidence in this often-intimidating branch of chemistry.

Last but not least, the Bohr Model: Introduction Gizmo highlights one of the turning points of modern chemistry. In 1913, Niels Bohr proposed that electrons orbit the nucleus only at specific energy levels. Not only did Bohr's model lead to an understanding of chemical bonding and the structure of the periodic table, but it was a key to the development of quantum theory--often considered one of the most successful theories in science. In the Gizmo, students can see for themselves how an electron responds to certain photons of light with a "quantum leap."

Chemistry is a great field for computer simulations because so much is happening at the atomic level, invisible to the naked eye. In the last two months we have added nine new chemistry Gizmos, and two more will be completed next week. We are proud of the progress we have made in this area, and hope you feel the same way!

Posted by krosenkrantz at 10:05 AM | Permalink

January 16, 2006

Flickr: Teacher Resource for Photos

While reading Will Richardson's Weblogg-ed blog I came across this interesting quote from an assistant superintendent about a recent teacher training session:

Yesterday we had all of our Kindergarten teachers at the Central Office writing assessments. One group was writing an assessment where the students would sort night and day pictures. They were attempting to download clipart to use for this task and were visibly frustrated that they weren't finding what they really needed. I showed them the Flickr site and how they could search using the tag words for pictures. They found exactly what they needed there and were very excited. (Just imagine a room full of Kindergarten teachers discovering a site like this...the possibilities for seasons, holidays, animals, places, etc.) Forget about the assessments, they were searching for bunnies for spring and lake/ ocean/ river pictures for a unit, etc. Compared to using clipart, it was like going from black and white T.V. to color for them.

Now I've been using the Flickr site for a while now as a place to upload and share photos as well as a place to find interesting photos for different projects I'm working on, but it never dawned on me how Flickr could be real time-saving resource for teachers.

The superintendent above was talking specifically about Kindergarten teachers, but there's no reason Flickr couldn't be helpful for the middle and high school math or science teacher on occasion as well.

For instance, suppose you're a physics teacher doing a unit and roller coaster physics (or perhaps a math teacher doing a unit on parabolas) and you want to bring in a photo of a rollercoaster for use on a quiz or handout. Well, all you'd need to do is go to the Flickr site and search on the keyword "rollercoaster" and your results will look like this.

Since the photos on Flickr are meant to be shared and reused, you can just save off anything you want on to your own computer and use the photos anyway you like.

Pretty cool, eh?

Keep it in mind the next time you need a photo for class.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 04:16 PM in Edu/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 11, 2006

New Gizmos Highlight Chemistry and Life Science!

As part of our ongoing effort to publish 40 new Gizmos, we are very pleased to announce the release of eight new science Gizmos.  Several of these highlight our commitment to chemistry, and atomic structure in particular. 

We will continue this trend in the next few weeks with the release of Gizmos on the Bohr model of the atom, ionic bonds, stoichiometry, and colligative properties.

Another major focus this year has been to develop new life science Gizmos.  In this group are two Gizmos that focus on homeostasis:

In each of these fascinating (and fun) simulations, the user can control the activities of an organism to survive in a harsh environment.

Other new Gizmos include Building Topographical Maps which was designed as a companion to the recently-released Reading Topographical Maps.  In this activity, students can create their own topo maps using a "water level" slider, and explore the concepts of gradient and profile as well.

Physics has always been a strong suit of our Gizmo library, and the new Atwood Machine Gizmo fits right in.  Whether in the lab or on a computer simulation, the Atwood Machine Gizmo is an intriguing demonstration of Newton's Second Law.  We will soon be releasing other physics Gizmos on torque, Coulomb's law, and advanced circuits as well.


Posted by krosenkrantz at 09:51 AM in Site Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Updated Element Builder

thumbnail image In response to comments from several users, we are pleased to announce an updated version of our popular Element Builder Gizmo. The new version boasts several improvements to the original:

  • More information is given about the isotopes of each element, including the approximate half-life (if radioactive) and the percentage of the element that each isotope makes up.
  • Isotopes that are not found in nature (or the lab) are listed as "Not valid"
  • The minimum number of protons is now set at one, eliminating hard-to-explain situations such as electrons orbiting a nucleus with no charge.

Posted by krosenkrantz at 08:58 AM in Site Announcements | Permalink | Comments (2)

January 05, 2006

Math Goes to Hollywood

If you've ever watched the TV show NUMB3RS then you'll know that the show revolves around a gifted mathematician who helps the FBI solve crimes using math. But how accurate is the math? Well, check this out:

On NUMB3RS, [CalTech math professor] Gary Lorden's job is to help the scripts credibly utilize bona fide mathematical techniques such as cryptography, combinatorics, number theory, and epidemiology statistics in solving crimes. Besides reviewing scripts for mathematical authenticity, he has also been asked to come up with math or physics concepts and equations to provide the mathematical background to what some of the characters are doing, saying, or thinking. The show actually uses a whole team of mathematicians from the California Institute of Technology, including Lorden, Nathan Dunfield, Dinakar Ramakrishnan, and Richard Wilson. Even students can get a share of the glory. David Grynkiewicz served as a hand double, writing the problems on a blackboard and on notepaper.

Cool. Now I like the show even more knowing it's rooted in reality. (Well, at least the math parts. It is a TV show after all).

The blurb above comes from an entertaining article called "The Academic Path to Hollywood" in the most recent Chronicle of Higher Education.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 01:35 PM in Math (Real World) | Permalink | Comments (1)

1 is the loneliest number...but not the largest

Researchers at a Missouri university have identified the largest known prime number. ... The number that the team found is 9.1 million digits long. It is a Mersenne prime known as M30402457 -- that's 2 to the 30,402,457th power minus 1. ... "We're super excited," said Boone, a chemistry professor. "We've been looking for such a number for a long time."

Read more about this exciting number!

Posted by Raman at 09:00 AM in Math (Real World) | Permalink