Time Travelling Through Dubai

Sep 5, 2013 by

What a difference a few years can make! A recent post on Mashable about some radical differences in satellite imagery over the course of just a few years in Google Earth got me thinking. How could a Geology or Math teacher use a time-lapse video of the terraforming taking place in the thriving Middle Eastern metropolis? Over the last decade or so, Dubai has managed to build extravagantly expensive archipelagos  for development, and with the advent of satellite imagery and the “time slider” in Google Earth (more formally known as the Historical Imagery tool), you can peer back to a time when all that existed off the coast of Dubai was ocean. Below is a brief example of myself walking through a quick “time travel” in Google Earth. I’m not sure how a roomful of students could escape asking the curiosities about how much time is taking place, how...

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The Post in Which I Remember Google Earth is Awesome!

Mar 28, 2012 by

I’m a HUGE fan of Google Earth. Ever since the terribly buggy and laggy days of its first incarnations, I’ve used the resources provided by it, oogled monumental structures from space, and found ways to encourage teachers to use it more in their classroom. Sometimes I get pushback from teachers wanting a resource that’s more accessible to students, doesn’t require the internet, and will always be there even if the power goes out (I believe they call these things maps, and they’re printed on paper). Other times I get teachers looking for ways to provide the sort of visuals that wouldn’t be possible with any form of conventional maps, and love all of the layers and information that the infinitely extensible Google Earth can provide. Whichever is the case, I find that if I’m not actually teaching, I forget about how amazingly and ridiculously awesome Google Earth is, which...

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Lake Effect – A Video Story Problem

Feb 27, 2012 by

On February 11th, 2012, I woke up to 13 inches of fresh snowfall. The night before my driveway had all of half an inch of snow on it, and I was shocked to say the least! What multiplied my amazement even more was that an extremely narrow band of lake effect snow (no more than 5-10 miles across) was dumping this snow on my poor little town along Lake Michigan at an alarming rate. By the end of the event we had over 20 inches of snow on the ground. I managed to capture some of it while snow-blowing the driveway for the second time that day, and I turned it into a video story problem that I hope might be useful as a way to introduce the concept of weather or lake effect weather patterns in a science classroom. While I understand the powerful effect of Lake Michigan on my...

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Nothing Screams Discrepant Event Like a Floating Cannonball!

Dec 15, 2011 by

The science teacher in me knows what’s going to happen in the video above before the cannonball is dropped into a vat of the silvery liquid metal, but the curious learner in me still squeals with delight when the cannonball actually floats! I’m a HUGE fan of trying to provide discrepant events for my students, whether it’s science based or not, and while I also advocate that it’s best to have a live demonstration of some phenomenon that challenges learners to question what they may already know about simple concepts, there are times when a live demonstration isn’t practical. In this case, students may think, “wow, a vat of liquid, I know that heavy things like metal tend to sink in liquids”. They’re then hit with the starting revelation that some liquids are in fact so dense that even something as heavy as a cannonball can float, which begins to generate questions almost without fail,...

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Video Story Problem – Water, Friction, and Force

Oct 27, 2011 by

In my never ending quest to find an engaging way to bring the real world into the classroom, I captured some video of my children and I playing with one of those massive rolling granite sphere water fountains. I’ve never really been intriqued by the tiny little desktop versions of these fountains, where a small amount of water is able to “float” a tiny granite sphere the size of a baseball, and then allow it to rotate freely. The stones usually fit in your hand, and the entire effect seems clunky and obvious. However, when you come across a stone sphere that’s more than half your height, and most likely weighs several hundred pounds, you realize there’s no possible way any one person could cause it to move or rotate with one hand. Yet all it takes is a little bit of gurgling water to set it in motion, and...

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Water Splashes in Super Slow Motion – 4000 fps

Apr 29, 2011 by

Pssst! Don’t tell anyone, but I’m secretly becoming addicted to Vimeo, and videos like this one don’t do anything to help me cope with it. I’m a HUGE fan of finding short media to help illustrate a concept, inspire students, or challenge learners to try something they may never have attempted before. It’s rare that I can find a video that does all three, but I believe I’ve found one in this incredibly serene moving picture I imagine this video could be useful in dozens of different ways, but the few that come to mind would be as a writing prompt in a composition or creative writing course, a slow motion example of water displacement in a science class, or as a challenge for video production students to capture an equally moving piece of imagery. If you don’t agree, then at least you’ve had a few moments of Zen...

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