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Big Learning News 1-26-05

Big Learning News
Karen Cole's Guide to Real-World Learning with Kids
Issue 3:3 January 26, 2005

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Table of Contents

Web Site: Math Cats
New on BigLearning.org: Fun Math for Kids
Book Review : Flash, Crash, Rumble, and Roll
Web Site: Bad Science


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Web Site

Math Cats

http://www.mathcats.com/

Great for ages 4 - 8, but the activities are fun for any age

Here's a whole bunch of fun, creative activities that build number sense, place-value understanding, estimation skills, and lots more. The site has both online activities and projects to do with real stuff (like paper) offline. Even though the activities are easy and creative, they allow for some pretty sophisticated mathematical reasoning.

Math Cats builds skills that all those number-facts drills miss. These skills are just as important to children's mathematical success as times tables are, but are often missed in traditional math instruction.

Some of the activities require you use Internet Explorer, but many work with other browsers too.

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New on BigLearning.org

Now it's easy to find lots of fun math activities for your kids. Check out our new Fun Math for Kids page - a handy index to all the math activities on BigLearning.org. The activities get your kids involved in real-world problem solving, creating patterns, improving their number sense and estimation skills, and lots of other skills that apply to school math and beyond.

http://www.biglearning.org/big-learning-math-activities.htm

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Book Review

Flash, Crash, Rumble, and Roll by Franklyn M. Branley, illustrated by True Kelley (Revised Edition, 1999)

Ages 5-8

If BLN's review of Lightning left you wishing for a similar book for your younger kids, here it is. Flash, Crash, Rumble and Roll explains the science and safety rules of thunderstorms clearly enough for the younger set to understand. The pages include bright, engaging cartoon illustrations that bring some humor to what could be a scary topic.

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Web Site

Bad Science

http://fraser.cc/

Ages 11 and up, younger with help. Great for science teachers and parents who like science.

NOTE: To see the Bad Science part of the site, you have to click on "Teaching " and then choose "Bad Science" from the menu. The writing is interesting, so we'll forgive them the bad web site design. Bad Science includes Bad Astronomy, Bad Chemistry, and Bad Meteorology. Scroll down to the bottom of the Bad Science page to see these choices.

 

Alistair B. Fraser has a mission - as he puts it, "to sensitize teachers and students to examples of the bad science often taught in schools, universities, and offered in popular articles and even textbooks." And it makes you feel so smart to know you, at least, won't be spreading any of the following misconceptions:

The sky is blue because it reflects the ocean (Not true).

Water spins down a drain in different directions in the Northern and Southern hemispheres (Not true).

The moon has a bright and dark side (Not true).

If you hold any of these misconceptions, Fraser writes, it's probably not your fault. Textbooks, teachers, and other reputable sources are responsible for much of the mess, but Fraser is happy to straighten you out in clear, non-technical language. Better yet, many of the articles have little experiments you can do to prove to yourself the fallacy of particular misconceptions.

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Big Learning News 2005 Karen Cole
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