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March 31, 2009

New curricula for current Gizmos

When we added enhanced lesson materials to our elementary Gizmos, the new format was so popular that we decided to revise the materials for all of our grade 6-12 Gizmos as well. We chose 20 of our most popular science Gizmos to start, and these sets of lesson materials are now available. Each set includes the following:

--Teacher Guide with teaching tips, related activities, discussion questions, science background, and interesting links.

--Student Exploration worksheet with 1-3 activities to guide student learning.

--Answer Key for the Student Exploration worksheet.

--Vocabulary Sheet that defines key words used in the Student Exploration activities.

It will take a while to update the curriculum materials for all of our grade 6-12 Gizmos, but we have made a great start. You can see new materials on the following Gizmos:


Cell Structure

Food Chain

Mouse Genetics (One Trait)

Cell Division

Element Builder

Boyle's Law and Charles' Law

Density Laboratory

Phase Changes

Balancing Chemical Equations

Plate Tectonics

Rock Cycle

Water Cycle

Greenhouse Effect

Seasons: Why do we have them?

Roller Coaster Physics

Distance-Time Graphs

Fan Cart Physics


Free-Fall Laboratory

We will continue to add new lesson materials throughout the year. Let us know what you think!

Posted by krosenkrantz at 09:38 AM in Site Announcements | Permalink

March 26, 2009

Attend an "Introduction to ExploreLearning Gizmos" Webinar

If you are new to ExploreLearning, or are taking a free trial, learn more about the power of Gizmos by attending a one-hour webinar.

We have a number of sessions coming up this spring. You can sign up for a forthcoming webinar by clicking on one of the links below:

Monday, April 13, 2009, 3.00-4.00pm Eastern time

Monday, April 27, 2009, 7.00-8.00pm Eastern time

For more information on our webinars, please contact [email protected]

Posted by ExploreLearning at 04:37 PM | Permalink

March 18, 2009

Great Comments from the Online Course...

Our online training course is a great way to increase your knowledge and skill using ExploreLearning Gizmos. Many educators have participated in this course, and we have received comments about their experiences, through an electronic survey. Here is great feedback we wanted to share:

Question:  What was the most valuable aspect of the online Gizmo training course?

Easy to follow instruction on the website.

Without the online training I would not have knowledge of all the features and tools available.

I think just taking the Gizmos into my classroom!

The Web Conferences when we networked with the other participants.

The graphics, explanations, movies and feedback from instructors/classmates.

The training course was most valuable to me in learning the different ways to incorporate Gizmos into lessons that I already teach. Also, it was very helpful in learning to navigate the website.

It provided me with lab activities that my students would probably never have experienced.

Thank you to all of you who have participated in our online course, and for sharing your thoughts. For those of you who are interested in the online course, you can contact ExploreLearning sales for more information about the course, or to sign up.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 11:09 AM in Testimonials | Permalink

March 13, 2009

The Online Course was a Superb Idea!

Mark Raffler, an Instructional Technology Specialist and Trainer, in Grand Rapids, MI, has shared some great comments with regard to our new online course:

You guys were fantastic to work with and this course was a superb idea! I also was impressed with how you worked as a team in leading the course. I want to try to mimic this style of PD for the district....I am working very hard with getting more technology integrated into the high schools across the district but specifically in Central to help with the Gizmo implementation

Thank you Mark for your remarks, we are so pleased that the online course has been a great experience for you!

Posted by ExploreLearning at 11:05 AM in Testimonials | Permalink

March 11, 2009

Gizmos: a wonderful asset to my lesson plans as a student teacher!

Shannon Dey, a student teacher in Monongalia County, WV, has contacted us to share some of her first experiences with Gizmos:

The ExploreLearning website and Gizmos has been a wonderful asset to my lesson plans as a student teacher! I found the Element Builder and Electron Configuration to be great additions to my lesson plans and the students enjoyed doing them - they were very engaged in their learning. I loved that I could setup different classes and have the students sign into them. Furthermore, we just had our unit test today and the students seemed to retain more information about atomic structure than any of the other topics covered - I definitely attribute this at least partly to the usefulness and effectiveness of the Gizmos. Overall, your website has been a great resource and the Gizmos are great for illustrating complex concepts . I also used one of the Density Gizmos for students who needed to make-up a density lab that we did.  The Gizmo covered the same concepts and the students were able to make up the assignment without me setting up the actual lab all over again.  Brilliant!  So, that's my review... to sum up, I loved it and definitely plan on using your website and incorporating Gizmos in my future classroom!

Thank you Shannon for your feedback, and we are delighted that Gizmos are having such a great impact on your student teaching!!

Posted by ExploreLearning at 11:15 AM in Testimonials | Permalink

March 10, 2009

Subscriber Survey - thank you for your comments!

Thank you to all of our subscribers who responded to our recent ExploreLearning.com and Gizmos survey. Your responses are helping us to focus our development efforts on the things that will make the biggest difference for educators.

By the way, here is great feedback from educators who responded to the survey:

Gizmos are awesome!!!  The students love them and learn a lot from using them!  Thanks!

I love your site because it simulates hands-on learning with a great depth of learning and critical thinking skills.

I really do love Gizmos. They are a great way for students to explore a concept and see it in a different way.  My students have never been more motivated to learn and try an educational program.

Gizmos are an extraordinary teaching tool.  Students love it!

Thanks for creating activities that students really enjoy and learn a vast amount of knowledge in the process!

It is the greatest thing I have seen online with regards to interactive math and science labs.

You are the best thing I have found in 28 years of teaching Science.  Kudos for a job well done!

If you haven't experienced Gizmos, you haven't explored all possibilities of technology in the classroom!

Thank you for all of your suggestions, and we are thrilled that so many of you love using Gizmos!

Posted by ExploreLearning at 04:34 PM in Testimonials | Permalink

March 04, 2009

Gizmos: CODiE Award Finalists in 3 Categories

ExploreLearning Gizmos have been nominated as finalists in the SIIA CODiE Awards for the fourth consecutive year! We are honored to be finalists in three categories this year: Best K-12 Education Solution, Best Math Instructional Solution, and Best Science Instructional Solution.

The CODiE Awards recognize outstanding achievement and visions in the software, digital information and educational technology industries. According to SIIA President Ken Wasch,

“The competition is particularly steep this year during the 24th Annual SIIA CODiE Awards, making selection as a CODiE Finalist a real achievement.” Wasch further added that “All the companies on this year’s list of CODiE Finalists should feel justifiably proud of their accomplishment in making it to this stage, and have much excitement to look forward to regarding the upcoming CODiE Awards voting!”

Winners will be announced on May 5, 2009.

To see the press release: ExploreLearning Gizmos Earn Finalist Honors in Three Categories from Software & Information Industry Association

For the complete list of finalists, click here: 2009 CODiE Award Finalists

2009_finalist logo

Posted by Julia Given at 01:58 PM in Press Clippings | Permalink

March 03, 2009

Expert's Corner: Pi Day

Dan Moriarty is a curriculum writer and editor for ExploreLearning, and our chief Gizmo "demo movie" maker. He holds a Master's degree from the University of Virginia in secondary math education, and he taught high school math before joining ExploreLearning.

The number pi (π) shows up a lot in formulas involving circles. The area of a circle with radius r is A = πr2. The circumference of a circle is C = 2πr (or C = πd).

The value of π as we have all learned, is about 3.14. (In reality, it's a never-ending decimal that starts out 3.14159265358979…) But, how do we know this? How do you come up with the value of π? (And no, I don’t mean "hit the π button on your calculator"!)

I remember doing a classic activity when I was a student in 5th or 6th grade. We all brought in different-sized cans from home. Using string and rulers, we measured the circumference and the diameter of each can and then divided to get the ratio C/d. After putting our results together, we could see that all the ratios C/d were pretty similar (though not exactly the same). I remember thinking that the "right answer" must be 3. In reality, if we could’ve measured perfectly, we should’ve been getting π. But, measuring and eye-balling aren't very precise – particularly in the hands of 11-year-olds!

In the 2nd century B.C.E., Archimedes came up with a clever way to make a very good estimate of π, using areas. The more sides a regular polygon has, the closer it gets to being a circle. Archimedes used two regular 96-gons – one inscribed inside a unit circle (radius = 1), and the other circumscribed around it – to figure out that π (the area of the unit circle) had to be between 223/71 (3.140845…) and 22/7 (3.142857…). That's a gap of only about 0.002 – not bad!

In 1897, a bill introduced in the Indiana General Assembly suggested in a roundabout way that π equals 3.2. That estimate is off by about 0.06, making it about 30 times worse than the estimate made by Archimedes 2000 years earlier! Luckily, this bill was never passed (and – who knows – may still be stuck in committee today).

Today, computers have computed π to over one trillion decimal places, believe it or not. Fortunately for us, it's normally good enough to remember that π is about 3.14. It is from this value that we have Pi Day, March 14 (3/14).

So, have some fun with it and celebrate one of the most important numbers in mathematics! Happy Pi Day, everyone!

Posted by ExploreLearning at 03:07 PM in Current Affairs, Math (Real World) | Permalink

Attend an "Introduction to ExploreLearning Gizmos" Webinar

If you are new to ExploreLearning, or are taking a free trial, learn more about the power of Gizmos by attending a one-hour webinar.

We have a number of sessions coming up this spring. You can sign up for a forthcoming webinar by clicking on one of the links below:

Monday, March 9, 2009, 3.00-4.00pm Eastern time

Monday, March 23, 2009, 7.00-8.00pm Eastern time

Monday, April 13, 2009, 3.00-4.00pm Eastern time

For more information on our webinars, please contact [email protected]

Posted by ExploreLearning at 11:57 AM | Permalink