Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Flesh eating robots

Either really creepy or really cool. I guess it depends on your state of mind. Machines that catch flies or mice and then digest them for power.

I'd like to see a robotic lawn mower that eats the grass it cuts to supply it's own power. Then deposits little pellets of whatever is left over onto the grass as extra organic matter. That I might buy. If it also brought me cool drinks while I sat under a tree in the shade, I'd have my credit card out now!

A table that eats mice....not so much.

[Image: Image captured from www.newscientist.com: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17372-gallery-domestic-robots-with-a-taste-for-flesh.html]

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Powerpoint Game Templates

Joe teaches in the computer lab the period before me and he is my hero. He is knowledgeable about his subject area. He has great relationship with his students. He is creative. Always seems to be on top of things....even when he's not.

Walked into his classroom recently and the class was broken into two teams and they were playing a trivia game off the internet. His previous lesson had run short. Really short. So, he fired up a site and had the kids working on something for the rest of the hour. They thought they were getting some free time. Joe had his kids on task....although not quite the task he had originally planned. I was envious of how quickly he changed direction on the fly. I probably would have tried to stretch the short lesson out long. Painful for me. Painful for the students.

So, one of the things I want to add to my bag of tricks for this next teaching year is some filler ideas. I want some of those web sites that I can send the kids to if I need to fill in a little time. I want to have some activities ready when I run short. Have a bad lesson. Need a change of pace. I want some fun ways to check for understanding before they walk out that door.

This site gives me a few tools I plan on adding to my repertoire. It has templates for creating games in PowerPoint like Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, and Bingo.

[via Free Technology for Teachers]

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Crack Garden

Here is a marvelous idea for re-claiming areas that have been covered with asphalt. Based on the idea that plants often will take root in the cracks you find in concrete. This happens to the sidewalk in front of my house every week. Left to their own devices they will slowly widen the crack and fill in with soil and more plants. So, why not take advantage of this process and help it along in areas of your choosing.

Whole project cost $500 and didn't take near the labor and time it would have to remove the concrete.

Interesting idea.

[Image: "crack garden"; Captured from Neatorama: http://www.neatorama.com/2009/06/04/the-crack-garden/]

Monday, June 22, 2009

Hey What's That?

Found this one via an application on my iPhone called Where. One of the functions on this little app is something called Hey What's That? Based on your location it will create a panorama showing the names of all the peaks you can see from that point. If you don't have a classroom set of iPhones to use, it has a more full featured version online.

I live with the Rocky Mountains to the west. So, if I was curious about that peak I've looked at every morning for the past ten years as I drove to work, I could enter the appropriate info into this program and it will give me a panoramic view that looks like this:

I can click on each of those little triangles and see the name of the peak and it's elevation. I also get a google map that shows the peaks in relation to where I am.

If I click on one of the little triangles on the google map, it will plot a line between that peak and my location along with the degrees from my location (based on a 360 degree panorama).

I am already planning a lesson using this program and pictures of the front range that we can take with our digital cameras from the front parking lot of our high school. Still working on the final product and objectives.

[Images all captured from website http://www.heywhatsthat.com/]

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Another cool toilet design

Came across this toilet design that actually looks like something that could catch on. It easily an convert to a urinal. The toilet also cleans itself which is a big sell for me!

Take a look

[Image captured from Freshome: http://freshome.com/2009/06/08/the-toilet-that-transforms-into-an-urinal/]

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

TED: Call to reinvent Liberal Arts Education

TED talk by Liz Coleman to reinvent liberal arts education by not narrowing our focus but broadening the scope of such a degree.

"The reality: No one has the answers. Everyone has the responsibility."

[Images captured from the video]

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Looking in the Past

Here is another idea of a project you could aim at your students. Take an old picture and hold it up in front of the location where it was taken. Take a new snapshot with both the new location and the old picture in frame.

Sounds complicated when I write it out, but take a peek at Looking into the Past Flickr group to see lots of examples. It's a terrific effect.

I'm going to set up a lesson around this idea for the fall. I'll update you once I run it through a class.

[via Neatorama]
Image: Flickr: "Looking into the past"; Uploaded on May 29, 2009by jntolva; http://www.flickr.com/photos/ascentstage/3577469096/in/pool-lookingintothepast (Creative Commons: Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic)]

Monday, June 15, 2009

Google Blog Search

I've used Blogger ever since I started this thing a little over two years ago. It has it's flaws. In particular, adding graphics to a layout often will not give the results expected. But my complaints are easily dismissed by ease of use. From the very beginning I wanted the software to be as transparent as possible. I didn't want to spend more time working with my blogging software than writing.

So far, this has been true.

I am approaching 500 posts over a two year period. I often have trouble remembering if I wrote about something and will do a search to check. I also search for things as a reference for my own teaching. Sort of a personal filing cabinet. Google recently added a new gadget that makes this process easier. You should be able to see the new "Search this Blog" box in top right corner of my page. As an example, I entered "stop motion" into the search field and got the following result.

The results pop up in your blog and you can either follow a path to your search item or close out the results box and be back in the blog.


I've been using the gadget for a few days now and have found it a beneficial new tool to make my work easier and faster. The best kind.

Try it out and if you want to add it to your own Blogger blog, the directions are in this post by Google. (Takes about two minutes!)

Thanks Google.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Stop Motion: Wedding Invitation

Stop motion wedding invitation.

Can't make it to the wedding, but best of luck. Hope your lives together are as creative as your invitation!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ratio. A different kind of cookbook

I don't often write about cooking on this blog. I love to cook but rarely does my interest in technology and my interest in cooking cross. Ratio by Michael Ruhlman has blurred the lines somewhat.

Ratio isn't a recipe book so much as an explanation of the different ratios that go into making various dishes. For example a pie crust is a ratio of 3:2:1. Three parts flour. Two parts fat. One part liquid. Put the ingredients together in these amounts and in this order and you get pie dough. This is the fact. The science. The structure behind cooking. The art is determined by how skillfully you blend the ingredients. What changes you make in ingredients.

This book has me looking at cooking from a whole new perspective. I haven't made a pie dough in years. But, I did last night, thinking about ratios the whole time. When I was a boy, I could usually whip up a nice pie crust using an old Betty Crocker Cookbook as my guide. Somewhere in my adult years, I started overthinking the dough and they started turning out tough. Store bought crust was easier and tastier. Last night, I thought about the dough in a different way. How and why I put the ingredients together. I followed the ratio. I let my hands and eyes tell me when the dough was mixed enough. It worked beautifully.

If we still had a Consumer Family Studies class at any of the schools near me, I'd send a copy to those teachers. Teaching kids to cook in my district has gone away. If it ever came back, I think teaching kids to think about cooking would be a good addition to the curriculum. (And what a great crossover lesson between math and the real world.)

If you like to cook, check this book out.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


As a man who consistently has uneven sideburns, a crooked mustache and oddly trimmed beard. This device might be just what I need.

"It reflects your personality
It declares your individuality
Your goatee is much more than just facial hair
Your goatee helps fashion your identity"
Start dropping those Christmas hints for your very own GoateeShaver.

[Note: As you watch the video, the female actress break character as she moves off screen....right around 58 seconds.]

[via CraziestGadgets.com]

[Image captured from CraziestGadgets: http://craziestgadgets.com/2009/04/21/goateesaver-keeps-your-manscaping-in-check/]

Monday, June 8, 2009

Google Wave

Marvelous new development from Google. Think of a "wave" as a conversation Participants can enter this conversation and leave it at any time. The software helps you, as a participant, to keep track of the conversation, participate in a meaningful way, and invite others into the discussion.

The way the app handles an online conversation is so much more intuitive than anything I use now. Looks like it would be easy to follow the various twists and turns of real conversation. I'm excited to try this out when it comes available later this year.

It's still in development but watch the demo to get some examples. I think it has the potential to change the way we work together online.

[Image: captured from the video: Google Wave Developer Preview]

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Suco de Laranja--stop motion

Cool example of stop motion animation. Looking for examples to show my students as they are going to be creating their own in the fall.

do bem™ - Suco de Laranja 100% fruta (MPC de torradas) from do bem on Vimeo.

[via Neatorama]

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Product Evaluation Videos

I've been toying around with getting my video students to do product evaluation videos. It involves lots of editing and mixing of canned with planned footage. Good practice of their basic skills.

I'd considered it as a project a couple of years ago and then it fell by the wayside as time constraints took my mind and my students to other areas.

Watching this video from Slate comparing two of the "late-nite" miracle machines is a good example of the kind video the kids could do. They could compare two products. They could test a single product to see if it performs "as advertised". It could be straight up or a parody of the genre. I think it would be fun. (Of course my idea of fun and my students are often at odds.)

[Image captured from video: As Seen on TV: Slap Chop vs Vidalia Chop Wizard]

Monday, June 1, 2009

Schools Out

My school district is out for the summer. I have no work related commitments this summer. I just sent my paperwork in for re-certification so I have some breathing room before I need to take any classes. There were some rumors of writing some curriculum materials for the district but since no one called me, I can assume that fell through or I am an unattractive candidate or they forgot me.

So for a change I get to spend a little time working on my plans for next year
  • Not happy with my curriculum for web design. I need to improve my methods for remediating the students who don't get it while I keep the rest of the class moving forward.
  • Experiment with Boinx's iStopMotion. Going to be adding stop motion unit to my beginning media class and this software came in just before I walked out the door.
  • Watch a lot of movies so I have examples of various film techniques and shots for my media class. Want to start each class (or a majority of them at least) with a video clip related to that day's lesson.

Or.....I may just hike everyday and watch the clouds float by....

[Image: Boundry Waters: Al Gunn: Creative Commons (Attribution: Non-generic 2.0)]