May 30, 2006
MIT Students' Dorm Room Automation System
The geeky side of my personality absolutely loves this story. A couple of MIT students totally "tricked out" their dorm room to create what they've dubbed "the custom designed MIDAS Automation System" and which features "everything from web control, voice activation, and a security system, to large continuously running information displays, electric blinds, and one-touch parties."
May 22, 2006
Class "Name Generator" Tool May Aid Math Students
Having a computer program randomly select student names for the teacher to call on appears to help students pay more attention and prepare more for class according to this University of Florida study.
It's easy to overlook the impact the "low-tech" stuff, like a simple randomizer program, can have on the classroom.
May 17, 2006
ExploreLearning Wins Codie
Although I didn't make it out to SanFran for the Codie Awards, I glanced at their site this morning to find out that we won the award for Best Instructional Solution: Science! That will bring a smile to our faces here in Charlottesville as we work on creating new Gizmos and improving older ones.
May 15, 2006
ExploreLearning Evolves: New and Enhanced Gizmos
As the school year is winding down, we at EL are gearing up with new Gizmos and enhancements of some of our existing Gizmos. We are very excited about our new Evolution: Mutation and Selection Gizmo, in which you can see a population of bugs adapt to any background color you choose through random mutation and natural selection. Play the Gizmo slowly, and you will see individual mutations appear and slowly accumulate, as some bugs with favorable mutations have a slightly higher chance of survival. Play the Gizmo fast, and you will see how a near perfect match to the background is achieved over a hundred or so generations. It's the perfect tool for teaching a difficult concept.
On the topic of natural selection, we have also updated our popular Natural Selection Gizmo, spreading the moths out over several trees and making the well-camouflaged moths much harder to find. We have been making changes to several other Gizmos and their associated Exploration Guides and Assessment Questions as well, including:
- Disease Spread
- Rabbit Population by Season
- Water Cycle
- Rock Cycle
- Building DNA
- RNA and Protein Synthesis
May 03, 2006
New Chemistry and Astronomy Gizmos
After a bit of vacation from our busy 2005 publishing schedule, we are pleased to announce the release of our first batch of 2006 Gizmos.
One of the most basic ideas in physical science is the connection between temperature and particle motion. Three new Gizmos investigate different aspects of this connection. Temperature and Particle Motion explores the relationship of particle velocities to temperature for an ideal gas. In Phase Changes, students can observe phase transitions at the molecular level. In the Collision Theory Gizmo, temperature is one of several factors that influence the rate of a chemical reaction.
The other new Gizmos relate to astronomy. 2D Eclipse is a companion to last year's 3D Eclipse, allowing students to investigate the geometry of eclipses in a more basic setting. In the Star Spectra Gizmo , students are asked to match the spectrum produced by a star to those of known elements. Not only is this a fun challenge, but a surprising amount of information can be gained by analyzing these stellar spectra.
Enjoy using these new Gizmos, and keep your eyes open for more to come!