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Big Learning News 4-13-05

Big Learning News
Karen Cole's Guide to Real-World Learning with Kids
Issue 3:12 April 13, 2005

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Table of Contents

Math Moment: Math with Mobius
Activity: Spy on Falcons
Book Review: Picture This: Fun Photography and Crafts
Web Site: Mappr photos


Math Moment

Math with Mobius Strips

http://www.questacon.edu.au/html/mobius_strip.html

Here's some advanced geometry - just kidding! Although the properties of a mobius strip are relevant to a type of geometry called topology, kids love them too.

To make a mobius strip, cut a 1-inch wide strip from the side of a sheet of paper. Holding both ends, flip one end over to make a half-twist, and then tape the ends together. Now you've made a weird object with only one side - if you trace a pencil line around the ring, you'll find your line on both the inside and outside of the ring, even though you haven't lifted your pencil. Thinking about why this is so helps kids practice visual thinking, which is so important in mathematics.

The Questacon Mobius page is the best I've found for kids - it starts with a real life application (they used to be used for automobile drive belts) and then has a page of cool things to try once you've made your first mobius.

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Activity

Spy on Peregrine Falcons

http://falcons.55water.com/

Mark your calendars for April 26th - that's the estimated hatch date for the peregrine falcons nesting at the 14th floor of 55 Water Street in New York City.

The falcon web site has a history of the pair (falcons mate for life, but this is Jack's second marriage), plus a live web cam where you can watch the falcons tend their nest. Right now you mainly see falcon Jill sitting on the eggs, but later you should be able to observe the babies hatching and growing.

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Book Review

Picture This: Fun Photography and Crafts by Debra Friedman (Kids Can Press, 2003)

Ages 8 -13

The activities in Picture This are simple to do and easy to understand, but there's enough room for creativity that even older kids will enjoy the ideas. The jazzy layout also keeps the book from seeming too babyish.

Picture This gives almost equal attention to taking good pictures and displaying them in an interesting way. After the project on taking pictures of everyday things, there's a project "Star Nameplate" where kids can take their pictures of everyday things and make a star-shaped sign for their door showing aspects of their everyday life in collage form. Within that project, there are tips for enhancing, cropping, and mounting the photos.

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Web Site

Mappr

http://www.mappr.com

CAUTION: SOME PHOTOS ON THIS SITE MAY NOT BE APPROPRIATE FOR YOUNG CHILDREN. Though I tried to make sure there were no explicit or violent photos on this site (and I never did find any), please check for yourself before you show the site to your child.

Here's a cool bit of U.S. geography fun. Mappr maps photos according to where they were taken in the U.S. Type a keyword, and you'll see a U.S. map littered with little photos - each photo placed about where Mappr thinks it was taken. Type "I-5" into the search box, and you'll get a U.S. map showing thumbnails (small versions of photos) taken at various places on that highway. The "architecture" collection shows architecture all around the U.S.

Mappr is a fun way to prepare for a trip by looking at photos of your destination. Even if you're not traveling, t's fun just to see what different parts of the country look like from the perspectives of many different photographers.

Mappr seems to require the latest version of the Flash player, which you can download for free at http://www.macromedia.com/ (look in the "shortcuts" box and click "download flash player").

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Big Learning News 2005 Karen Cole
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