Tag Archives: resources

Astronomy resources for students

Good morning!

Today I’m doing a little site maintenance, incorporating as many digital resources as possible into the various science pages on my website. The resources include simulations, videos, and activities created by other teachers and educational institutions. Instead of linking this blog post to a bunch of bookmarks I’ve saved over the years, I’ll just suggest that you check out my astronomy page under the “Sciences” tab on my homepage.

Among the many dozens of resources I’ve added, I think you’ll find something educational, engaging, and entertaining for a wide range of audiences.

Happy learning!

Physics resources for students: part 1

Good afternoon!

Today I’ll share a few of the resources  I use to teach the fundamentals of physics. One of the most fun aspects of teaching physics is that it lends itself to so many entertaining and engaging activities and demonstrations in class. Along with chemistry, physics is probably the most hands-on science I teach; therefore, real-world demonstrations and activities are the bread and butter of my physics units. However, there are any number of situations in which hands-on demonstrations aren’t possible or feasible: a lack of funding or resources at a school, broken equipment, abstract concepts or perhaps a student is simply reviewing material at home. In these cases, animations can provide a tremendous amount of help in understanding the essentials of physics. Most of the resources I’ve listed here are collections of animations to help students learn (and teachers teach!) about physics.

Explore and enjoy! Happy learning.

Ecology resources for students: Part 1

Good afternoon!

I’m back with another set of bookmarks for students and teachers. Because I’ve taught the IB Environmental systems and societies course for several years, this set of online resources is closest to my heart. Some of these links are here simply because I think they’re cool or fun. Many may also be applicable for studying biology and chemistry as well. Let’s get to it:

Happy learning!


Mr K

Biology resources for students: Part 1

Good morning!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been updating various pages within my website, and as I work, I keep encountering all these different websites and digital resources I’ve bookmarked over the years. My bookmarks bar is organized by broad scientific subjects: astronomy,biology, chemistry, ecology, and physics. I’ve also got a folder dedicated solely to scientific games. I will share the resources in these folders in subsequent posts, organized by subject area. Once posted in the blog, I’ll then add all bookmarks to the general science pages in my website, but I thought I’d take this opportunity to share them with the broader global community as well. I have so many of these resources that I’m going to have to split the list into two parts – the bookmarks from my Chrome browser and those from Firefox.

Today: biology resources for students (and teachers!) in no particular order.

  • The Cell: Basic Unit of Structure and Function by McGraw-Hill. Animations, quizzes, flashcards, and other resources aligned with their Human Anatomy textbook. Links to other chapters can be found in the sidebar.
  • Bioman Biology. Interactive biology games on a variety of topics, including physiology, cells, ecology, genetics, evolution, DNA, respiration, and photosynthesis.
  • Carbon cycle animation from the University of Alberta, Canada. A simple but comprehensive flow chart (system diagram) of the global carbon cycle.
  •  InstaGrok interactive concept maps. Pre-made concept maps showing links between a whole bunch of topics in general biology. Click on a term to see links to other biology topics, facts, websites, videos, images, or add your own notes.
  • Cells Alive! This site has been around for years. Good, easy-to-understand interactive cell models.
  •  DNA video from NotCot.org. A beautiful 3 minute animation explaining DNA for BBC Knowledge from Territory.
  • John Kimball’s online biology textbook. This guy has been teaching biology for decades, and he’s amassed an incredible amount of resources on his site around every conceivable topic in biology. It’s kind of an old-school site, but it’s thorough.
  • Learn.Genetics at the University of Utah, USA. I use the tutorials from this site extensively in my genetics and evolution units.
  • Bozeman Science biology playlist on YouTube. 76 videos! 76! This playlist contains videos that could be useful in AP Biology, IB Biology, Biology, and other life sciences, all from the amazing Paul Andersen.
  • Mitosis World Home at University of North Carolina, USA. An aggregate of several other biology resources.
  • Discover Biology animations from W.W. Norton & Co. High-quality animations that can be viewed straight through, step-by-step, or narrated.
  • Interactive transpiration animation from ScienceMag. Adjust plant parameters and environmental conditions to see different effects on the movement of water through plants. With some creativity, you could run a virtual lab from this animation.
  • Understanding Evolution at the University of California – Berkeley. Densely packed with information and thoroughly researched. I use this site as a main reference for my evolution units. The site has been around a long time and is showing its age, but it’s still highly useful.
  • Sex determination video at TED-Ed. One of many useful resources from the TED people. Includes a review quiz and discussion questions.
  • Biology for Life. A great website from Gretel von Bargen at Skyline High School in Washington state, USA. It follows the new IB Biology syllabus. Also linked to her Twitter feed. I use this site a ton.
  • Bioknowledgy. Probably my favorite site for IB Biology. Chris Paine in Shanghai has created an extensive library of resources and materials aligned with the new IB Biology syllabus. Includes presentations, videos, and guided revision questions, among other resources. Awesome!

I hope that’s a good start for now. If you find any helpful resources you think I’ve missed, please send them my way in the comments, and I’ll add them to the second batch.


Mr K

Information Overload?

Well, the first few weeks of the school year are in the books, and if you’re anything like me, you’re a little overwhelmed by all the ‘stuff’ you need to know to survive modern schooling. I’m not talking about content knowledge. I mean the ‘how to’ of navigating the virtual side of 21st-century education.

At my school we have 5 different official platforms where students and parents get the resources they need for classes:

  1. Email: The official means of communication between school and home. It seems simple enough, but I’m finding that many students just haven’t developed the habit of checking their email daily. That means a lot of messages go unread until it’s too late – the deadline has been missed.
  2. Moodle: A well-established online course management tool, IST has been using Moodle for several years now, and it has quite a bit of versatility once you dig into it. This is where everyone is supposed to go to find homework, class notes, and other resources for every unit, but teachers don’t use it in a consistent manner across the school. Unfortunately, it’s also beginning to look a little dated, and its interface is less intuitive than other options out there.
  3. ManageBac: You’d think that a purpose-designed digital platform aligned with the International Baccalaureate’s Diploma Program and Middle Years Program would be a no-brainer for an IB World School, but it’s generating more questions than answers at my school. All the components are there – complete curriculum documentation and unit planning, assessment tasks, dropboxes linked to Turnitin.com, CAS and after-school activities, a gradebook function, and personalized calendars. However, teachers, students, and parents all see different sides of the platform, and no one is entirely clear about which parts we’re required to use and which are optional. There needs to be some serious professional development around this platform before we can fully take advantage of it, because right now it’s like a semi-operational Death Star: lots of potential power, but riddled with holes.
  4. Google Classroom: My personal favorite of the platforms we use, Classroom integrates seamlessly with Gmail and Google Drive to make it easy to share announcements and assignments with students. It can automatically generate individualized copies of assignments (including those elusive student names in the file name!!) and it organizes student work into Google Drive folders accessible to both teachers and students. It incorporates the shared collaborative capability beautifully and makes documented feedback on rough drafts a breeze. Offline editing is also available for unreliable networks like Tanzania’s. Google Classroom also makes a paperless class an achievable goal – if there’s a 1-to-1 program at the school. Which we don’t have yet.
  5. Ed-Admin: The clunky 1990’s AOL version of school management software, developed (I think) by a company out of South Africa. Our business office loves it, and the rest of the school seems to despise it. While it may be tweaked to meet the demands of individual schools, that requires phone calls and emails to HQ, who will then make the changes for the school. I suspect this platform is on its way out in the next couple of years.

Each one of these platforms brings strengths to the educational possibilities for our students; however, their interoperability is limited, and the resulting jumble of passwords and access points creates chaos for our students, families, and staff alike. In an ideal world, I’d like to see us rely on the Google platforms, since they’re relatively cheap, accessible from everywhere on the planet with an internet connection, and integrate with one another in a way that the other platforms don’t. Perhaps some ManageBac training and a commitment to the Google universe will simplify everything for our families and faculty.

YouTube channels and other digital resources for science education

In my classes, I make extensive use of the collective genius of humanity hosted by YouTube. There are literally millions of creative, intelligent people producing astounding, beautiful, insightful, helpful content online FOR FREE! (To be fair, there are also millions of people producing crap, but that’s a subject for another post.)

I subscribe to a number of cool science channels on YouTube. If you’re a fan of science, you’ve probably already discovered these on your own, but if you’re just beginning your scientific journey of discovery, then you should check out some of the following channels. They are all entertaining, educational, scientifically accurate, and generally fun. I use them in my class routinely because the curators of these channels are soooooo much more talented at inventing and creating engaging content to explain science.

I’ll post a few of these recommendations here from time to time as I work through my own subscriptions and as I unearth channels that are new to me. But enough of my rambling. Here are my recommended YouTube Science Channels of the Day:

Smarter Every Day: Destin is a science guy who simply tries to get smarter every day, which I think is a pretty laudable goal. He’s also got a presence on Tumblr, and of course he’s on Twitter as well. If you want to get smarter every day – even just a little bit – you should check it out.

Veritasium: Derek Muller is the master behind this great channel, and to quote the information straight from the homepage, “Veritasium is a science video blog featuring experiments, expert interviews, cool demos, and discussions with the public about everything science.” He’s also quite active on Twitter. Follow Derek to discover more of the truth in science!

My colleague and partner in the battle against ignorance, Matt Erdosy, passed along the following website a while back, and I’ve been able to explore it during the past school year. “The Big History Project” may not sound like a science resource, but the site labels itself as “A journey through 13.8 billion years of history,” and it includes all the major events in the history of the Universe. So it’s not like a History Channel history or a Mr Price’s European history class kind of history. It’s literally a history of everything. I’ve just started to scratch the surface of what’s in this site, but as I learn more about it, we will explore more of it in class, particularly in my 8th grade astronomy lessons.

I’ve also included a couple more science-y YouTube channels to today’s post, since students seem to respond so well to them. First up today is the very well-regarded Minute Physics. Minute Physics, as you might guess, includes a lot of physical science lessons broken into one-minute videos. It’s like Short-Attention-Span Theatre for science class! According to the channel creators, “Simply put: cool physics and other sweet science.”

The next channel I’ll share is Crash Course. Many of my students are already familiar with the Green borthers’ great series on YouTube. Crash Course doesn’t cover only science. There are 8 separate courses available on the channel, but of course in my classes we focus on the science end of things. Quick-hitting, entertaining, and loaded with resources such as external links, additional footage and explanations, as well as quizzes corresponding to the videos, this channel is well worth bookmarking.

New Way to Search for Cool Apps for School

Good morning. I don’t think of myself as someone who promotes or endorses products or services for commercial gain – I’m just a science teacher, after all – but I find myself constantly surprised at the sheer quantity of high-quality, exciting, engaging, and entertaining educational material available online these days. (How’s that for alliteration?)

At the end of the day yesterday I stumbled across Graphite.org, a new website that includes a rating system for different educational apps and programs. According to the Graphite home page, “Graphite is a free service from Common Sense Education that makes it easy to discover the best apps, games, and websites for classroom use.” It’s a pretty intuitive site to navigate, with filters for age groups (K-12), subject areas, platform (iOS, Android, Windows, Linux), and product type (app, online, software). Ratings are based on both content and

Screen capture from the Lawrence Hall of Science.

Screen capture from the Lawrence Hall of Science.

One of the things I like as an educator AND as a parent of two school-age children is the “Field Notes” section, where people who are actually using the applications describe what they’re doing and evaluate how well it works.

Here’s a quick list of a few things I found through Graphite that may apply to my classes, and which you may find useful as well:

Screen capture from California Academy of Sciences.

Screen capture from California Academy of Sciences.