So You Think You Know the Oregon Trail Game?The History?

pioneer dress
Meek's Cutoff

Subject: for ent On 2011-05-10, at 4:13 PM, Teplitsky, Ariel wrote: Meek’s Cutoff Ariel Teplitsky Movies Editor Toronto Star Twitter: @WhatsOnToronto meekscutoff_01.jpg

 

OregonTrailMap-600

As we enter a new phase of technology awareness, many of the technology pioneers got started on Gamification with a little game called ” Oregon Trail”?

USA Today “The 1990 MECC version of The Oregon Trail, where players face various trials and tribulations while trying to make it from east to west, is among them. The popular game was often used in schools to teach geography and history. It’s currently the top-viewed game on the archive with more than 170,000 clicks. (The 1992 version is also in the archive and has more than 37,000 views.) As we explore virtually, and learn history in depth , we learn more about the Oregon Trail.

OT

Did you know the game? You thought you did, right?

I had kids working on teams as we played Oregon Trail. We learned to negotiate the trail starting by hitching up the wagon and hit up the general store for supplies because it’s time to head West.

My students and I had a pull down map of the trail and seven other major trails, and the resources of the Smithsonian. Ever seen a porcelain potty, and or a replica of the wagon? We put on our Metro shoes to go look and see the artifacts of the trail. We had literature that described the life of the pioneers on the trail.

1024px-Conestoga_Wagon_1883

                                       WHAT WAS THE GAME ABOUT?

Here is how the game is described
“As a covered wagon party of pioneers, you head out west from Independence, Missouri to the Willamette River and valley in Oregon. You first must stock up on provisions, and then, while traveling, make decisions such as when to rest, how much food to eat, etc. The Oregon Trail incorporates simulation elements and planning ahead, along with discovery and adventure, as well as mini-game-like activities (hunting and floating down the Dalles River).” Here is the location of the game online

The 1990 version.

There is a National Park dedicated to the Oregon Trail , it covers several states.

Westward Migration
Imagine yourself an emigrant headed for Oregon: would promises of lush farmlands and a

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

new beginning lure you to leave home and walk for weeks? More than 2,000 miles of trail ruts and traces can still be seen along the Oregon National Historic Trail in six states-reminders of the sacrifices, struggles, and triumphs of early American settlers.

The National Park Service updates the images here on the Oregon Trail Road Trip.

The National Historic Trail covered these  states.A journey of about 2000 miles.
ID,KS,MO,NE,OR,WA,WY

National Geographic Education Division shares information about the trail here.

On the National Geographic site, listed above ( Click the Link) there is a file that can be downloaded.

On May 16, 1842, a group of more than 100 pioneers left Elm Grove, Missouri, on the 3,500-kilometer (2,200-mile) Oregon Trail. Pioneers had been trickling into the Oregon Territory for decades, but this was the first major wagon train to embark on the famous route.

The Oregon Trail stretched from the banks of the Missouri River to what is today western Oregon. The route had long been established by fur traders, missionaries, trackers, and military scouts. It crossed what are today the states of Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, and Oregon.

Pioneers packed up all they could in covered wagons, as well as on pack animals such as horses, donkeys and, crucially, oxen. Travelers had to be prepared for flat plains, steep mountains (the Rockies), and dry deserts (the Great Basin) before reaching the fertile valleys of Oregon. Many pioneers feared attacks by hostile Native Americans, but weather, landscape, and disease were much bigger threats.

Wagon trains to Oregon usually departed in spring, and took about four or five months to reach their destination. The settlers of 1842 arrived in September. More than 400,000 people migrated west on the Oregon Trail before the transcontinental railroad made it obsolete in 1869. Some history in this Video.

There is history that is left out. Want to know it? Click here. Amazing history at your fingertips. One excerpt to get your attention. These are fun.

At the National Geographic Workshop, we laughed out loud at the authentic lyrics of some of the songs that they sang. They are not what you think.

Indian attacks were relatively rare on the Oregon Trail.

Contrary to the depictions of dime novels and Hollywood Westerns, attacks by the Plains Indians were not the greatest hazard faced by westbound settlers. While pioneer trains did circle their wagons at night, it was mostly to keep their draft animals from wandering off, not protect against an ambush. Indians were more likely to be allies and trading partners than adversaries, and many early wagon trains made use of Pawnee and Shoshone trail guides. Hostile encounters increased in the years after the beginning of the Civil War, but statistics show only around 400 settlers were killed by natives between 1840 and 1860. The more pressing threats were cholera and other diseases, which were responsible for the vast majority of the estimated 20,000 deaths that occurred along the Oregon Trail.

In my class we changed how the game was played and used it to probe the life of those on the trail through their books, diaries recipes, medicines, toys and the things they created.

What did they eat and how did they cook it? How did they celebrate events? What were the most valuable items? What was gathered along the way?

But wait, there is more…

Holy freaking wagon tongues! Don Rawitsch, one of the creators The Oregon Trail just did an AMA on Reddit all about Oregon Trail..Click here.That.. childhood computer game. Don answered questions from fans, and here the highlights. Here are all the things you never knew about the game including strategies, fun facts and more.

pioneer

Honestly, if you could go back in time with this information, you would be the coolest game player  in your class.I had students who were experts who could make that game last so long. I will never forget the time that the team of boys I was playing with let me die to see how long it took for a person to starve.We made it to the end of the game without dying. We were fifth graders and they nuanced the game in every way possible.

pioneers_wagon(color)

 

I alway hated it when the wagon overturned. Click here.
How Did People Die on the Oregon Trail?

Grab a chuckle and look at all of the ways you could die that were a part of the game.

Pioneer skills for Children to learn…Enrichment. Learning to be a Pioneer Child

Living History School  – Skills for Pioneer Children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The KKK? Let me count the ways I learned about it!!

lynching
stone mountain

Ku Klux Klan rally cross burning, Stone Mountain, Georgia. © 1986 Robin Nelson

Here is the exchange on television that caused me to write this blog.

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/jeffrey-lord-van-jones-cnn-kkk

 

With all of the the hype on the news about the KKK, and the recent CNN confrontation between two broadcasters, I thought we might revisit the KKK and what a minority person like me knows about it.

The featured picture was my go to, when I did not feel like studying. There were several pictures of people who were victimized for learning to read.

noose

 

From literature these are images in my mind. In college I saw the real photos. They were my motivation to learn, to read more and to be excellent in education. It was my revenge for the slaves and people who suffered , I thought.

iu

Wikipedia says

“The Ku Klux Klan (KKK), or simply “the Klan”, is the name of three distinct past and present movements in the United States that have advocated extremist reactionary currents such as white supremacy, white nationalism, and anti-immigration, historically expressed through terrorism aimed at groups or individuals whom they opposed.[6] All three movements have called for the “purification” of American society, and all are considered right wing extremist organizations.[7][8][9][10]”

“The first Ku Klux Klan flourished in the Southern United States in the late 1860s, then died out by the early 1870s. It sought to overthrow the Republican state governments in the South during the Reconstruction Era, especially by using violence against African American leaders. With numerous chapters across the South, it was suppressed around 1871, through federal enforcement. Members made their own, often colorful, costumes: robes, masks, and conical hats, designed to be terrifying, and to hide their identities.[11][12]”89118333ed6NEU

“The second group was founded in 1915, and flourished nationwide in the early and mid-1920s, particularly in urban areas of the Midwest and West. It opposed Catholics and Jews, especially newer immigrants, and stressed opposition to the Catholic Church.[13] This second organization adopted a standard white costume and used similar code words as the first Klan, while adding cross burnings and mass parades.”

“The third and current manifestation of the KKK emerged after 1950, in the form of small, local, unconnected groups that use the KKK name. They focused on opposition to the Civil Rights Movement, often using violence and murder to suppress activists. It is classified as a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center.[14] It is estimated to have between 5,000 and 8,000 members as of 2012.[2]”

lynch

“The second and third incarnations of the Ku Klux Klan made frequent reference to America’s “Anglo-Saxon” blood, hearkening back to 19th-century nativism.[15] Although members of the KKK swear to uphold Christian morality, virtually every Christian denomination has officially denounced the KKK.[16]”

The last photo , of a lynching, is the one that often comes to my mind. My mother and dad opened a black high school in Salisbury , Maryland.  I was born in Salisbury , Maryland. When I asked why they moved, my mom would say because it was too far from her family.My dad would say, it is all your mother’s fault.

My mother tried on a hat in Salisbury, Maryland . She put it onto her head. That was not allowed . Black women were not allowed to try on hats. My mom tried it on anyway.So the local KKK invited my dad for a ride. The people in town liked him so they did not lynch him. They showed him the tree where people were hanged and told him to take care of his wife to make sure she goes by the rules. They moved. Mother acknowledged the story.

The Ku Klux Klan sought to re-establish Democratic power in the South at the time when Radical Republicans and carpetbaggers dominated Reconstruction. It was founded by ex-servicemen of the Confederate Army in 1866, led by Nathan Bedford Forrest. The original group opposed the reforms enforced on the South by federal troops regarding the treatment of former slaves, often using violence to achieve their goals. Forrest ordered the Klan to disband in 1869, but many of its groups in other parts of the country ignored the order and continued to function.

As a teen I knew to avoid White men in groups, in a car, or in a crowd because of the fear of being raped or groped or being victimized. Black women were routinely assaulted in the south and there was little consequence to rapes.

       The Klan Gets Diverse in Hate, Adding more Minorities and Religions

A second distinct group using the same name was started atop Stone Mountain near Atlanta in 1915 by William J. Simmons. This second group existed as a money-making fraternal organization and fought to maintain the ways of the past by fighting against the increasing numbers of Roman Catholics, Jews, Blacks, Asians, and other immigrants into the United States. This group, although preaching racism, was a mainstream organization with 4 million members at its peak in the 1920s. Its popularity fell during the Great Depression, and membership fell again during World War II presumably because of mass enlistment or conscription to the Armed Forces.

                                         The Violence of the KKK

The violence conducted by the Klan was often sexualized in nature. Although the Klan openly stated their reason for existing was to protect white women from black men, some had no moral qualms about their members sexually abusing or mutilating black men and women in order to show their authority. Often, Klan members would both assault and rape black women (Hodes 66). An example of sexualized violence was given in by the U.S. Commissioner from Raleigh, A. Webster Shaffer, concerning a freed woman named Frances Gilmore. A group of disguised attackers had assaulted her by whipping and beating her, then taking her clothes off to be whipped with a board, and finally forcibly having her pubic hair burned off before she was cut multiple times with a knife (Report 36-37). Gilmore was unable to identify her attackers due to their disguises, and no arrests were ever made.

Another example of sexualized violence was committed on a black man who, because of a simple labor conflict, was forced to cut up his genitals with a knife (Hodes 65). The Klans use of sexualized violence on women and men shows their willingness to assert their social authority over blacks, by any means necessary.

Victims of Violence

The Klan seemed willing to use whatever means necessary to regain political dominance of the South, even if that meant instilling terror via sexual abuse.

Did You Know?
At its peak in the 1920s, Klan membership exceeded 4 million people nationwide.

Where can you find out more?

The Book, Mississippi Burning 

Photo: “Civil Rights and the KKK” At the link.

The Newseum  has lessons on Civil Rights and the KKK.

IMG_8416

According to John Hope Franklin (From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro Americans, 1967), “in the last sixteen years of the nineteenth century there had been more than 2,500 lynchings, the great majority of which were of Negroes.” The early twentieth century did not see a significant decrease: “In the very first year of the new century more than 100 Negroes were lynched, and before the outbreak of World War I the number for the century had soared to more than 1,100.” Lynchings declined in number but continued in ferocity during World War I. They were seized on so effectively by the Germans that, despite his Southern sympathies, President Wilson issued a statement against lynching and mob violence, But after the war more than a few returning black soldiers were lynched, some in their uniforms. The “Red scare” of 1919 was eclipsed by the racial violence and lynching fever of what James Weldon Johnson termed “the Red Summer.” Riots and killings, some of them lynchings, occurred in Chicago, Texas, Washington, D.C., and with particular brutality that October in Arkansas. Although lynching was by no means an isolated, aberrant occurrence in the 1920s when the Klan was resurgent or in the 1930s when the depression fueled the hunt for racial as well as political scapegoats, the phenomenon was no longer virulent enough to claim one victim every two to three days. In its sporadic occurrences over the next decades, lynching continued to be a vehicle of terror and a last resort in opposition to the drive for political and civil rights through the 1950s, 1960s, and beyond.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

51o7V71Yi+L._SX368_BO1,204,203,200_

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

 

base-pyramid-khufu-2-P

ginger

A poor person’s mummy..

pyramids-giza-P

BlackStudent

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.

IMG_9845

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.

hungry-history-eat-like-an-egyptian-E

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.

IMG_9842

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).

Ancient Egyptian Map 11

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

 

 

 

Virtual Reality and Memorable Learning, so Interesting!!

IMG_9808
IMG_0061

Teachers Exploring TACC

Education and technology has changed the way we are involved with museums. There are many museums that people may never get to visit. Virtually, there are resources to help students, teachers and community to use museums to learn. One resource that is wonderful is the Google Cultural Institute

I share this blog because often a museum trip is a quick hit and in the words of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the kids don’t really see much on the trip. So I offer you some ways of seeing, visualizing and being involved in learning.

The Google Cultural Institute has many ways of sharing collections, tours, and artifacts.

Wikipedia says:
“‘Google Cultural Institute is an initiative unveiled by Google following the 2011 launch of the Google Art Project. . It is “an effort to make important cultural material available and accessible to everyone and to digitally preserve it to educate and inspire future generations.”  The Cultural Institute has partnered with a number of institutions to make exhibition and archival content available online, including the British Museum, Yad Vashem, the Museo Galileo in Florence, the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, and the Museum of Polish History in Warsaw among others. Further you can :

Discover exhibits and collections from museums and archives all around the world. Explore cultural treasures in extraordinary detail, from hidden gems to masterpieces.

Create your own galleries and share favorite finds with friends.You can take a tour, Discover artworks, world heritage sites, cultural figures, and more. You can create your own..
Create your own galleries and share favorite finds with friends and take virtual tours.
Participants can Explore & Search

 

Explore to discover more categories and projects.
Or search for people, events, museums, and works of art.

You Can Share & Discover. This is a hearth. How would you cook on this? That information is available in the Google Cultural Institute.

IMG_9814

Share special finds with friends across all your social networks.
Compare two items side-by side.
Save favorite pieces and access them later, and even create your own gallery.
Or click Discover to see related topics and categories.

The Iron Age in Britain

I was a visitor to the British Museum and shared a few pictures with Facebook.There was so much to see and learn about. I found a new section to explore. Life in the Iron Age of Britain was fascinating. But there was not enough time to study the whole collection.

I live in Washington , DC  within walking distance of most of the Smithsonian Museums . It is always hard to choose which museum to visit and to grasp the new offerings. An entirely new offering is the 3-D Explorer.

Exploring the Smithsonian

You can explore online resources from A to Z online.

The Smithsonian has a new 3-D Explorer. They are excited about it.

Smithsonian X 3D launches a set of use cases which apply various 3D capture methods to iconic collection objects, as well as scientific missions. These projects indicate that this new technology has the potential not only to support the Smithsonian mission, but to transform museum core functions. Researchers working in the field may not come back with specimens, but with 3D data documenting a site or a find. Curators and educators can use 3D data as the scaffolding to tell stories or send students on a quest of discovery. Conservators can benchmark today’s condition state of a collection item against a past state – a deviation analysis of 3D data will tell them exactly what changes have occurred. All of these uses cases are accessible through the Beta Smithsonian X 3D Explorer, as well as videos documenting the project. For many of the 3D models, raw data can be downloaded to support further inquiry and 3D printing. This video explains the topic.Some historic artifacts have been placed in this model and can be printed out in a classroom, or examined online to think about the model.

10422205_10153643669617802_5859067502412981041_n

If you come to Washington , DC , the problem is , which museum to visit. I like the Natural History Museum with the Science on a Sphere exhibits that help us understand the whole museums focus on the Earth.iuri

The Smithsonian Museums are competitive .

One of my favorite museums that wraps itself around you is the Monterey Bay Museum.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBA) is a public aquarium located in Monterey, California, United States. The aquarium was founded in 1984 and is located on the site of a former sardine cannery on Cannery Row. It has an annual attendance of more than two million visitors. It holds thousands of plants and animals, representing more than 600 species on display. The aquarium benefits from a high circulation of fresh ocean water which is obtained through pipes which pump it in continuously from Monterey Bay.

IMG_0963

The centerpiece of the Ocean’s Edge Wing, is a 28-foot-high (8.5 m), 333,000-US-gallon (1,260,000 l; 277,000 imp gal) tank for viewing California coastal marine life. In this tank, the aquarium was the first in the world to grow live California Giant Kelp. Visitors are able to inspect the creatures of the kelp forest at several levels in the building. The largest tank in the aquarium is a 1,200,000-U.S.-gallon (4,500,000 l; 1,000,000 imp gal) tank in the Open Sea galleries (formerly the Outer Bay), which features one of the world’s largest single-paned windows. It is one of the few aquariums to hold the ocean sunfish in captivity.iho

Sealife on exhibit includes stingrays, jellyfish, sea otters, and numerous other native marine species, which can be viewed above and below the waterline. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of very few in the world to exhibit both bluefin and yellowfin tuna. For displaying jellyfish, it uses a Kreisel tank, which creates a circular flow to support and suspend the jellies. The aquarium does not house mammals other than otters. These are a few of my favorite museums to share.

Other options? Sure

New? Augmented reality and the Hololens. This is how Microsoft wants to change the superbowl. Immersive Superbowl.??

There is of course Google Cardboard, and the use of Skype to talk to people in museums or classes from another country. We don’t want to just look at pretty pictures. Content makes the viewing much more memorable than eye candy.

IMG_1238

Monterey Bay Aquarium

To be in the museum in Monterey and to see this Octopus is one experience. Coming now are ways that are immersive , in that the virtual reality puts the person into the experience, well sort of.  Here is a teaser. A GIF

http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/-/m/images/animated-gifs/kelp-forest.gif?la=en( in case you want to download it.)

Here is one that I find especially awesome. the whale by Magic Leap. Amazing 3D Virtual Reality Leaping Whale. There are other examples within that URL that are awesome.
.
www.magicleap.com  This one has some other fascinating models. It does take a little bit of time to load. Be patient.

The virtual reality tool that I most liked was Google Glass. I could see my way through Russia , have translations, a way of going through the subways. I am sure that it will be back in another form. I can’t wait.

 

 

 

Changing Education through VR

iuri

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.

seai.gif

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

virtual-reality-6

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

CAVE_HDR_small

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.

szglorenz.3

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.

 

Creating Opportunity for All

530786_458585780849208_709306110_n

 CS is a “new basic” skill necessary for economic opportunity and social mobility. By some estimates, just one quarter of all the K-12 schools in the United States offer CS with programming and coding, and only 28 states allow CS courses to count towards high-school graduation, even as other advanced economies are making CS available for all of their students. The White House aims to change that. There is a new initiative.

Why?

The Opportunity

Providing access to CS is a critical step for ensuring that our nation remains competitive in the global economy and strengthens its cybersecurity. Last year, there were over 600,000 tech jobs open across the United States, and by 2018, 51 percent of all STEM jobs are projected to be in CS-related fields. The Federal government alone needs an additional 10,000 IT and cybersecurity professionals, and the private sector needs many more. CS is not only important for the tech sector, but also for a growing number of industries, including transportation, healthcare, education, and financial services, that are using software to transform their products and services. In fact, more than two-thirds of all tech jobs are outside the tech sector.

How Do We Prepare Students? Teachers ? The Community?

One of the problems is the lack of access, interest and the knowledge of computational thinking and learning and math. There also has been a limited supply of well trained teachers for all. Most of us are aware that there are teachers in rural, urban, tribal, minority based poor communities who don’t have a computer teacher anywhere near a school. There may be teachers who are available in after school program. The Coding week also gives some impetus to making a change but sadly , it may be only for that week. It is an excellent start. It is a way to get things rolling.

Computational thinking and cyber learning and math… we must start at the lower levels to be able to graduate those with the skills that they will need to meet a high school computer teacher.

Coding?Coding in the Classroom: What is Coding and Why is it so Important?

IMG_8970

Computational Thinking?
“Computational Thinking is the thought processes involved in formulating problems and their solutions so that the solutions are represented in a form that can be effectively carried out by an information-processing agent.”

Cuny, Snyder, Wing

Say it again? What was that?

Computational thinking is a way of solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behavior that draws on concepts fundamental to computer science. To flourish in today’s world, computational thinking has to be a fundamental part of the way people think and understand the world.

Computational thinking means creating and making use of different levels of abstraction, to understand and solve problems more effectively.

Computational thinking means thinking algorithmically and with the ability to apply mathematical concepts such as induction to develop more efficient, fair, and secure solutions.

Computational thinking means understanding the consequences of scale, not only for reasons of efficiency but also for economic and social reasons.

IMG_0909

There have been people working in this field for a very long time with limited success.  One must thank people like Henry Neeman, R.N. Panoff , Concord.org and those who sought to broaden engagement to all with limited resources. Scott Lathrop has certainly impacted broadening engagement.

Fortunately, there is a growing movement being led by parents, teachers, states, districts, and the private sector to expand CS education. The President’s Computer Science for All Initiative builds on these efforts by:

Providing $4 billion in funding for states, and $100 million directly for districts in his forthcoming Budget to increase access to K-12 CS by training teachers, expanding access to high-quality instructional materials, and building effective regional partnerships. The funding will allow more states and districts to offer hands-on CS courses across all of their public high schools, get students involved early by creating high-quality CS learning opportunities in elementary and middle schools, expand overall access to rigorous science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) coursework, and ensure all students have the chance to participate, including girls and underrepresented minorities.
Starting the effort this year, with more than $135 million in investments by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to support and train CS teachers, who are the most critical ingredient to offering CS education in schools. The agencies will make these investments over five years using existing funds.

857888_10151522587771327_1721823541_o

Early exposure and interest

Calling on even more Governors, Mayors, education leaders, CEOs, philanthropists, creative media and technology professionals, and others to get involved. Today, Delaware, Hawaii and more than 30 school districts are committing to expand CS opportunities; Cartoon Network, Google and Salesforce.org are announcing more than $60 million in new philanthropic investments, and Microsoft is announcing a fifty-state campaign to expand CS; and Code.org is announcing plans to offer CS training to an additional 25,000 teachers this year.

We still need parents and the communities to grasp the important of this project and to sign on. The initiatives mean nothing if schools don’t step up to the challenge. Has your school accepted Connect.Ed?IMG_0078