Dinosaurs and Many Ways of Learning!!

What is a field trip? It could be VR, AI or real. It could be short, a day field trip or long as in Earthwatch , or the Fulbright Experience. It could be online and after school in learning places in the neighborhood. I love it when they are journeys of the mind.  I love taking kids to a place prepared to stretch their minds with a head full of knowledge. We prepared for our field trips and profited from pre-learning.

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This was a field trip with students to the Science and Engineering Festival. It would be hard to prepare for this one, but we had been studying Dinosaurs, reading books, looking at images online, seeing videos, using ramification ( Dynotycoon) and making them out of clay. We can’t take a real dinosaur field trip, but we know where to go to learn more.

We could learn with a game. That is not a field trip, but a trip using ramification to explore a mythical Dinopark. Here

You can just imagine the shrieks of joy as students programming a robotic  dinosaur. This learning venture required some base knowledge, some reading, some knowledge of geography and study of a special kind of dinosaur. As far as I know the closest dinosaur field trip a real one is to Saltville , Va.

HISTORY

After nearly 100 years of study, the town’s ancient fossil beds continue to yield surprises.

ETSU paleontologists are the most recent in a long line of researchers to collect specimens in the Saltville Valley. This year is the 50th anniversary of a Virginia Tech agreement with the Smithsonian Institution to excavate and study specimens found here in the 1960s, including a 7-foot-long section of mastodon tusk.

Scientific digs began much earlier, in 1917, when a collapsed industrial salt well revealed a rich layer of prehistory that drew the attention of the Carnegie Institution. The town’s Museum of the Middle Appalachians, which now oversees the digs, is planning to celebrate next year with a centennial symposium, executive director Janice Orr said.

But accidental finds go back at least to the 18th century, and possibly much further.

In a letter dated 1782, Arthur Campbell wrote to Thomas Jefferson, former Virginia governor and future U.S. president, about the discovery at Saltville of the bones of a “large jaw tooth of an unknown animal lately found at the Salina in Washington County.”

MUSEUMS AND MAPS?

The Smithsonian used to have a dinosaur outside of the museum. I was missing a child from a field trip. He had been mesmerized by the dinosaur and climbed it. He could not get down. I spotted him from the bus and a parent went to help him climb down. That dinosaur is no longer available to climb.

WHO  WHAT  WHERE  WHEN AND WHY?

Those are the questions we asked.

Where in the world did the dinosaurs live? Here and a global map

Where in the US did the dinosaurs live? Here

You can learn a lot studying paleobiology at this Smithsonian web site. Here

Who can teach me more about dinosaurs?

What are ten things Kids need to know about dinosaurs?Here

Why do we care about dinosaurs? What are the known dinosaurs?

What did they eat? 

The first blockbuster movie that influenced my teaching was about dinosaurs, I was about Jurassic Park. I had never been interested in them but I had to rise to the challenge and fit the interest of those who loved the big beasts. First, I had to see the movie and then think of ways to add, augment, share , expand their knowledge in meaningful ways. The movie is online at Amazon Prime ( the whole movie).

Jurassic Park ( the movie)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5C7dqrAItM

I also needed to share the movie experience with the students who had not seen it and make available the book and the many books and magazines about dinosaurs.

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You may not know what the learning places and museums have to offer you and your children or students. Take a planning trip there. See how they do outreach. Talk to them.

I explained to a group of interested people that 2 field trips a year were often the most that children could take and suggested use of some of the budget for a bus. Or to do outreach to the school. My school scheduled a Museum bus on Saturdays for parents and students.

I also wrote grants and requests for field trips , movies, and realia for the classroom. Virtual field trips are good, real ones are good , a combination with Skype is good.

Museums have gone digital and they have much to share online.

https://learninglab.si.edu/news/creative-introduction-into-geography

Smithsonian

There are many experiences that are virtual

Walking with Dinosaurs

Virtual Reality Dinosaur Game

Dinosaur Art ( K-3)

High School   Geniversity ( Build a Dragon)

http://geniverse.concord.org/geniversity/

 

 

 

 

 

Mummies? Egypt?What Can We Learn?

IMG_9840I have traveled to Egypt by thought, by reading, by books, by lectures in geography and by invitation of a friend. My quest was to visit the museum of antiquties in Cairo. Before the newest of technology, I had a laser disc of a mummy, and how they prepared it and like many others , I had done a lot of reading about Sir Howard Carter and his discovery. I also followed an archaeologist on television to see them examine new sites and try to identify new mummies, or tombs.  In school for students I had a remarkable book to use with various movies and videos , by David McCauley.

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Amazon.com Review
When children catch their first glimpse of a pyramid, a sea of questions inevitably tumbles forth. “Why are they shaped like that?” “How were they made?” “Who made them?” “What were they used for?” Perplexed adults can sigh with relief now that David Macaulay has found a way to thoroughly answer all those deserving questions. His exquisitely crosshatched pen-and-ink illustrations frame the engaging fictional story of an ancient pharaoh who commissions a pyramid to be built for him. With great patience and respect for minute detail (not unlike the creators of the early pyramids), Macaulay explains the sometimes backbreaking tasks of planning, hauling, chiseling, digging, and hoisting that went into the construction of this awe-inspiring monument. Just when the narrative teeters on the edge of textbook doldrums, Macaulay brings us back to the engaging human drama of death and superstition. This respectful blending of architecture, history, and mysticism will certainly satiate pyramid-passionate children as well as their obliging parents. ALA Notable Book. (Ages 9 and older) –Gail Hudson —

Talk about engineering!! STEM and STEAM

 

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A poor person’s mummy..

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The Egyptian and I.

Better than that I had large cardboard depictions of the things that Sir Howard Carter found. While in New York, a man in a fez bowed to me and called me a daughter of Egypt , handing me a rose. It may have been flattery but he was visiting a New York Museum and so we talked a bit . I have been studying about Egypt since I was eleven years old and heard about King Tut. Well let me revise that. I was often sent to the library in my Catholic school to read and I found these books about archaeology. They fasscinated me. He sent these huge , beautiful cardboard placards done in gold and blue. They were museum quality and I taught with them.

I was afraid of mummies, but there was a scientist who went ot Egypt who lived near my home. It was rumored that he had a mummy at the top of his apartment building and we kids went to see. It was a mummy. We were speechless and scared all at the same time. We never asked questions as we did not know him.

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The mummy  , or what I saw was I think the case of a mummy. My imagination set in and so my quest to learn about the geography of Egypt,the mummies and Hierogyphics began.

 

Definition of hieroglyphic
1
: hieroglyph
2
: a system of hieroglyphic writing; specifically : the picture script of the ancient Egyptian priesthood —often used in plural but singular or plural in construction
3
: something that resembles a hieroglyph especially in difficulty of decipherment

Source : Merriam- Webster ( online 2016)

There was in Old Town Alexandria, in an alley a shop of Egyptology. I went there and studied how to make papyrus, and ordered a gold hieroglyph , and studied astronomy using Egyptian science. You can convert your name to a hieroglyph here

WRITE LIKE AN EGYPTIAN

Write your name in a hieroglyh and make a cartouche.

EAT LIKE AN EGYPTIAN

Archeological discoveries have told us much about how ancient Egyptians worshiped, celebrated and mourned. But these scientific finds have also provided tantalizing clues about how–and what–this complex civilization ate. From grains like emmer and kamut to cloudy beer and honey-basted gazelle they dined sufficiently.

Bread and beer were the two staples of the Egyptian diet. Everyone from the highest priest to the lowliest laborer would eat these two foods every day, although the quality of the foods for the priest would undoubtedly be higher. The main grain cultivated in Egypt was emmer. Better known today as farro, emmer happens to be a fairly well balanced source of nutrition: it’s higher in minerals and fiber than similar grains. Breads and porridge were made from the grain, as well as a specially devised product that modern-day archeologists call “beer bread.”

Beer bread was made from dough that used more yeast than normal breads, and it was baked at a temperature that didn’t kill off the yeast cultures. Brewers crumbled the bread into vats and let it ferment naturally in water. This yielded a thick and cloudy brew that would probably disgust our modern palates. But it was also nourishing and healthy, and filled in many nutritive deficiencies of the lower-class diet.

But ancient Egyptians did not survive on carbohydrates alone: Hunters could capture a variety of wild game, including hippos, gazelles, cranes as well as smaller species such as hedgehogs. Fish were caught, then salted and preserved; in fact fish curing was so important to Egyptians that only temple officials were allowed to do it. Honey was prized as a sweetener, as were dates, raisins and other dried fruits. Wild vegetables abounded, like celery, papyrus stalks and onions.

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Although no recipes from the times remain, we have a fair idea of how the Egyptians prepared their food thanks to dioramas and other objects left in tombs. Laborers ate two meals a day: a morning meal of bread, beer and often onions, and a more hearty dinner with boiled vegetables, meat and more bread and beer.

Nobles ate well, with vegetables, meat and grains at every meal, plus wine and dairy products like butter and cheese. Priests and royalty ate even better. Tombs detail meals of honey-roasted wild gazelle, spit-roasted ducks, pomegranates and a berry-like fruit called jujubes with honey cakes for dessert. To top it all off, servant girls would circulate with jugs of wine to refill empty glasses: the perfect end to an Egyptian banquet.

It was fun to let children make their own hieroglyphs. To translate their name as a scribe might have done.

 

Today in Pennsylvania students and teachers can do a virtual field trip from the classroom. It is one of several that are offered to schools.

Mummy Makers: (Grades: 5 – 9)
Students will learn how and why ancient Egyptians mummified their dead by stepping into the role of apprentice to an ancient Egyptian embalmer! Using fabricated mummies, students will explore the artificial mummification process as they prepare Mr. Ulysses Penn for his journey to the afterlife. This workshop uses life-like mummies.

Here are some of the things we learned.

Ancient Egyptians believed in an afterlife, a real and beautiful place, where they played and lived after they died. To enjoy your afterlife, you couldn’t just die. You had to prepare. To achieve immortality, you had to satisfy some requirements.

Requirements:

(1) Your name had to be written down. You had to have your name written down somewhere, the more places the better. If it was not written down, you disappeared.

(2) You had to pass the Weighing of the Heart. You had to pass the weighing of the heart test in the Hall of Maat. Your heart was weighed against the weigh of a magic feather. If your heart was light, because you had lived a good, hard working, caring life, the scale would balance, and you would go to heaven. If it did not, well, that was another story.

(3) You had to have a preserved body. Another thing you needed to move on to the afterlife was a preserved body. One way to preserve the body of a person who had died was to dry them out and wrap them up with linen bandages. That process was called mummification.

You needed a preserved body so that your Ba and Ka, the two pieces of your soul, could find their way home at night back to your tomb. Without a body, the Ba and Ka would get lost. And they would no longer be able to reach the heavenly Land of Two Fields.

The poor placed the bodies of their dead relatives out in the desert sand. The bodies dried naturally in the sun. That was a perfectly good system. It assured the dead a place in the afterlife (provided their heart was light from doing lots of good deeds while they were alive, and their name was written down somewhere.) If they had a light heart, they would pass through the field of reeds and reach their afterlife. (The field of reeds is what the ancient Egyptians called death.)

The rich could afford to be more fussy. They hired professional mummy makers, to help them look their very best.

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These are from the British Museum.

 

The Kennedy Center had a booklet to tell us how to live, make music , make a flute, etc. and to make bread.

A teacher had an extensive website

We used it to do project based learning and thinking about Egypt.

He created a website for teachers to give them background

From The Smithsonian Anthronotes

The Egyptian Afterlife: What to Take with You and Why
Bryan, Betsy M. (2012)
Objects made for and placed in burials were a significant part of a proper Egyptian entombment and demonstrate the belief that life’s activities continued into eternity; for chronology of dynasties and dates mentioned in  this paper.

What Egyptians Took to the Afterlife
There are more than a few similarities between the ancient Egyptian religion, and our modern religions of today. However, a belief that you “could take it with you” is a prime difference. In fact, they thought the dead could take a considerable number of items with them.
What Egyptians Took to the Afterlife
In many cases, the king who were buried in the Valley of the Kings, as well as high officials and others began stocking their tombs with good long before their death. Our knowledge of what they attempted to take with them comes mostly from the intact tomb ofTutankhamun, but there is an abundance of other evidence, including remnants from the tombs of Tuthmosis III (KV 34),Amenophis II (KV 35), Tuthmosis IV (KV 43), andHoremheb (KV 55).

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Other tombs have provided a few items, and in some tombs such as Sethos II (KV 15), we even have wall illustrations of items placed in his tomb.
In many cases, the king who were buried in the Valley of the Kings, as well as high officials and others began stocking their tombs with good long before their death. Our knowledge of what they attempted to take with them comes mostly from the intact tomb of Tutankhamun, but there is an abundance of other evidence, including remnants from the tombs of Tuthmosis III (KV 34), Amenophis II (KV 35), Tuthmosis IV (KV 43), and Horemheb (KV 55). Other tombs have provided a few items, and in some tombs such as Sethos II (KV 15), we even have wall illustrations of items placed in his tomb.
In the Valley of the King, burials usually included the mummified body of the king, which was placed in a series of coffins nested one inside the other and placed in a stone sarcophagus. The sarcophagus was most often surrounded by gilded wooden shrines. But there were also many other items, including magical items to assist the dead king, and a variety of mundane objects for his use.
The mummy itself was prepared with various items to protect and sustain the king in the netherworld. While some funerary items were very beautiful, items such as the mask had specific purposes. The face mask, a sculpture of the king’s own face, allowed him to be recognized by the deities in his death. Other items found on the mummy included various amulets, such as heart amulets and vulture amulets placed around his neck, all of which were to protect the king from specific threats.
Read more: http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/equip.htm#ixzz40XtAcxeX

 

 

 

Changing Education through VR

Have you ever tried to teach plate tectonics to kids? I have. I used lots of different ways to explain it. Children would yawn. I used movies, I used my hands to simulate the movement of the plates.. I used movies.

I went to the Keck Hall of Science at the Smithsonian and there was Science on a Sphere.I wanted to sit near the globe and see the program , but the kids were not moving. They sat as if they were enraptured watching the display on the globe. Wow, I thought. And then they bounced to the exhibit but many sat and sat and looked and looked.

I used to try to share this information, but ..I was never sure that kids understood it.

From the deepest ocean trench to the tallest mountain, plate tectonics explains the features and movement of Earth’s surface in the present and the past.

Plate tectonics is the theory that Earth’s outer shell is divided into several plates that glide over the mantle, the rocky inner layer above the core. The plates act like a hard and rigid shell compared to Earth’s mantle. This strong outer layer is called the lithosphere

That is how you know technology works.

This is the Science on a Sphere installation in the new Global Ocean Systems exhibit at the National Museum of Natural History. The sphere uses four projectors to wrap images around a six-foot diameter sphere.  There were four short videos on ocean system science that seemed to hold the audience’s attention. The small theater containing the sphere is a beautiful space – somewhat intimate but still connected to the broader exhibit. Lots of luck getting kids to move so you can sit down under the globe.iu

It is a beautiful learning space.cur

The exhibit answers these questions in visualization.
What best describes the ocean?
Ever-moving body of water?
Dramatic, yet hidden and slowly changing landscape?
Source of at least half of Earth’s oxygen?
Chemical mix of every element?
The ocean is all this and more.

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The multi-media experience—“Science on a Sphere”—includes four programs that highlight complex aspects of the ocean.

This huge, interconnected system comes to life on a six-foot sphere at the center of the Global Ocean Systems gallery. The multi-media experience includes six programs that highlight complex aspects of the ocean. Data from global ocean observations play on the sphere’s surface, providing a space-age perspective on the ocean.
ocean.si.edu/ocean_hall/Galleries/global_ocean_systems.html
Immersive , virtual reality based programs like this are yours to share on the desktop now. You can do a flat screen projection of this program.

Science on a Sphere Explorer is now available for download.

It is a program that you can load onto a PC or Mac, and then manipulate a 3-D view of the earth with the same kinds of weather, geological, environmental, geographical and astronomical visualizations, some with interactive displays, that are used on the spheres in museums around the world. Articles about the new program do alert us that it is a big download (it’ll require around 15 GB on your hard drive), so if you’re interested do make sure there’s plenty of space on your system.

I’ve included links here to a brief news article about the program, which includes several still and animated examples of the kinds of data you can display with it, and to NOAA’s “SOS Explorer” home page, where there’s more info and a link to download and install the program.

For folks who got super-excited when Google Earth came out, here’s another 3-D model of the world with similarly awesome potential. It’s called the Science on a Sphere Explorer, and it lets you view tons of animated planetary data, from the age of the sea floor to the airborne migration of CO2 to hurricane tracks dating back to 1950.

Science on a Sphere is a NOAA tool that projects different layers on a huge ball, creating a virtual earth you can walk around in museums and classrooms. It’s now available as a desktop program for Windows and Mac, so you can probe natural (and unnatural) phenomena from home in popping, 1920×1080 resolution. Be warned it’s a huge download that eats up to 15 gigs of hard-drive space, though those willing to be patient will reap fantastic rewards.

Here are a few of the ways you can explore the planet. Note you can rotate the screen to find and zoom in on any spot on earth. This is the basic Blue Marble view with real-time clouds—peep all those hurricanes in the Pacific:

Go here to see all of these remarkable graphics.
Hurricane tracks from 1950 to 2005 color-coded by strength, red being the strongest and blue being tropical storms and depressions:
Density of cropland:
The atmospheric transport in 2006 of various aerosols like dust (red-orange), carbon (green), sulfates (white), and sea salt (blue):
Satellites and space trash circling earth (this one’s really fun to zoom in and out of):

A nearly real-time map of earthquakes:d7dcde951

Need more?

The educational material created to support SOS is available here, including scripts, lessons plans, and evaluations.

 

 

Virtual , or Real..Augmenting Learning

Learning has new ways of introducing ideas and ideational scaffolding. Virtual reality is one way of changing the learning.

“virtual reality”
noun
Simple Definition of virtual reality

: an artificial world that consists of images and sounds created by a computer and that is affected by the actions of a person who is experiencing it.

The internet of things renders this simple definition to be limited.

Here is a Virtual Reality Site that gives nuances to the definition. We will start with the definition and then go from the research to simple projects.

“The definition of virtual reality comes, naturally, from the definitions for both ‘virtual’ and ‘reality’. The definition of ‘virtual’ is near and reality is what we experience as human beings. So the term ‘virtual reality’ basically means ‘near-reality’. This could, of course, mean anything but it usually refers to a specific type of reality emulation.”

“We know the world through our senses and perception systems. In school we all learned that we have five senses: taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing. These are however only our most obvious sense organs. The truth is that humans have many more senses than this, such as a sense of balance for example. These other sensory inputs, plus some special processing of sensory information by our brains ensures that we have a rich flow of information from the environment to our minds.”

“Everything that we know about our reality comes by way of our senses. In other words, our entire experience of reality is simply a combination of sensory information and our brains sense-making mechanisms for that information. It stands to reason then, that if you can present your senses with made-up information, your perception of reality would also change in response to it. You would be presented with a version of reality that isn’t really there, but from your perspective it would be perceived as real. Something we would refer to as a virtual reality.”

So, in summary, virtual reality entails presenting our senses with a computer generated virtual environment that we can explore in some fashion.

At the University of Illinois, I encountered , the Cave.

The Cave

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This shows the hardware. The CAVE was immersive.

The term “CAVE” refers to any virtual reality system that uses multiple walls with multiple projectors to immerse users in a virtual world. The first CAVE was built in 1992 as a method of showing of scientific visualizations. Now, many universities have their own CAVE systems. The CAVE is used for visualizing data, for demonstrating 3D environments, and for virtually testing component parts of newly developed engineering

. The examples I saw were one walking tour of Florence, a Roller Coaster Ride, a Walk in a Garden, and a program that shows children how to cross a street. There was also a farm scene but what I remember about that was touching a flower and hearing a bee coming at me. That was fun.

Another iteration of it was the “Cube”

You can explore some projects of the cube online at this site.

The ISL Cube is an immersive, stereo-capable (true 3-D) visualization chamber manufactured by TAN Projektionstechnologie of Dusseldorf, Germany.

It is located in a specially-constructed wing of the ISL building. The six surfaces of the Cube are 3-meter-square acrylic panels coated with a dark rear-projection screen material. The walls are 10mm thick and the floor and ceiling are 35mm thick. The front wall slides open to permit access and closes completely to ensure immersion of the user in the space.

You can’t take this example home, but it is amazing to explore. There are high school installations of the cube.

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At Wayne City High School in downstate Illinois, the students have downloaded the Syzygy source code and are developing Cube applications in their school’s computer lab. In 2003, they coded a visualization of the dynamics of the lorenz attractor.

But that is high level immersion. As a school teacher I could just visit and hope to be invited to learn at the University of Illinois. It was a great introduction to VR.

The Internet of Things, IOT has some examples to share. It did not matter that I knew about these things, I had no tools to share them with students except through NASA and the University of Illinois . Here is the video of the Internet of Things.

The ultimate gift is this online link to ESRI

Instructional Materials

A variety of subject-focused, standards-based instructional materials is available to enhance inquiry-based learning with students. All activities are free and completely online. The instructional materials require no installations or logins and are device neutral.

– See more at: http://www.esri.com/connected#sthash.acu6xMIF.dpuf

This is the first of a two page sharing.