Posts Tagged ‘Fun’

It’s no secret that I am a big fan of Star Wars, but my boys passion for the saga, animations, video games and anything with a Star Wars logo on it is even bigger than mine. So, when faced with a new iMovie trailer on my iPhone to fill the time during our holiday, there was no doubt about the theme in our minds 🙂

Take a look at the video below and see whto we came up with. The special effects, which look pretty cool and got the boys really excited, were created with the Action Movie Fx app. This app is really good fun to use and you can spend hours messing around with the difference special effects. The ones we used are all free and the great thing is that you can save your action movie to your camera roll, and once a clip is there you can add it to your masterpiece iMovie trailer.

I would be interested to see someone applying these two great apps together in education. I am sure Gavin Smart, who first showed me some great iMovie trailers made by his learners will accept the challenge 😉

Enjoy the trailer below and please leave a comment 🙂

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Who said you need a class set of iPads to have a bit of fun in the classroom? In fact, with just two iPads, iPhones, or iPod Touches, or any Android tables, or smartphones by that matter, you could run a simple and fun game with an Olympic feel.

Yesterday I used two iPads and the App TestMaker to run a relay quiz. I sat fourty learners in two rows of ten pairs each and from the back of the rows I started the quiz and handed the iPads to the last pairs. Then, I let them pass their iPads to the pair in front once they’d answered their question. At the end the team that finished first and with the most correct answers won the relay quiz!

The children really enjoyed the quiz and I then projected all the questions on the screen with a data projector, so that we could go through the answers and consolidate learning. So, if you want to run a classroom quiz and give it an Olympic taste this could be a simple way to do it!

Today was the first day of NGfL Cymru‘s presence at the Skills Cymru (Cardiff Millenium Stadium) and we were showing ourFree Vocational resources and our links with National Learning Network (NLN) to teachers and students. We were also engaging the children who stopped at our stand with some fun activities, like building walls with Lego bricks, folding napkins (we have learnt many fancy folds today) and building loudspeakers out of plastic and paper cups which were kindly donated to us by Starbucks and Burger King. Unfortunately, McDonalds decided not to be quite so generous and gave us no cups (I was very surprised about that, but maybe they too feel the effects of the Recession). Check out the instructional video on how to make the speakers below.

I have adapted this activity from one of the workshop the Institute of Physics does, i.e. Son of New Ideas. The link takes you to the group about this workshop on TalkPhysics. The IoP version of this loudspeaker is made with cup cake paper stuck at the back of children exercise books and it is a really nice activity, but because there is a lot of noise at the Skills Cymru event we went for a more powerful version and a bit quicker to build!

This activity is really good to get students engaged with Electromagnetic Induction, because they all have speakers and getting to know how they work and make one in few very simple steps brings the Physics to life immediately. They actually were amazed to find out that there really isn’t much more in a commercial speaker than the version they made (well there is a bit more, but the basic principle is the same). They are also finding very interesting to discover that their friends’ speaker is louder than theirs, for example, and they ask a lot of questions about why this might be! This is a good opportunity to use this activity in the classroom, as you could investigate whether the volume of the cup makes a difference in the intensity of the sound emitted, or the number of coils, the material of the cup, etc. And it is a nice opportunity to dig out your data loggers to measure the sound intensity and develop some interesting aspects of How Science Works. I hope you will have as much fun as we at NGfL Cymru are having with this nice idea.

Thanks to IoP for their ever amazing bank of resources and winning ideas!

I saw this “Magic trick” performed as a lesson starter by one of the best Student Teachers I have ever observed, Bethan Rowland-Jones, who was at the time a Student Teacher in Swansea University. The lesson was an introduction to light aimed at an audience of yr 8 pupils and, as you can see from the video of the trick I reproduced below, she grabbed the children’s attention right from the start. The pupils were just spellbound!

This was an excellent icebreaker, especially because it generated many questions and discussions. But what is actually happening here? Well, there are a number of things that your students will notice.

First of all, while the level of water is rising the children can see the effects of light refracting from water to air, because it looks as if the coin is lifting up. However, they know this is impossible because the coin is under the glass and not in the water at all!

Then, when the water level is high enough, the coin seems to disappear. This is the effect of total internal reflection of light inside the water. At this angle the light reflected by the coin hits the walls inside the glass at an angle greater than the critical angle and it gets totally internally reflected back inside the glass. That is why we don’t see the coin anymore! What we see (at that particular angle) is the reflection of the wooden board on which the glass and coin are standing.

I cannot think of a smarter and simpler starter for this topic and I thought the lesson was outstanding!

There have been a few people who were not convinced by the TIR explanation, so I have added the video below and you can see how it works in this great simulation. The video should convince anyone, or at least any Physicist, that this cannot be explained in any other way than TIR as you get two reflections of the coin inside the tall glass. If the disappearing coin were an effect of merely refraction, we wouldn’t see any reflection inside the glass!

I recently come across a really nice, simple and quick Web 2.0 Tool called vozMe. It is a fun application that turns whatever text you write in the text box provided into an electronic voice message. I used it a lot to freak out my classes as they came in and to build some rapport by having a laugh at the beginning of the lesson. It is also quite useful to share the lesson objectives in a fun way with your pupils and it works magic when you use it to rebuke a misbehaving child (only the first two or three times though), because they actually listen to the voice, more than they would listen to you, and do what it says!

You can choose a male or female voice and also the language you want to write on. This will change the sounds the computerized voice will make for given letters and syllables. I can see how this could be used in MFL lessons to get your pupils to check their pronunciation of foreign words, etc. But I believe it could be used in English Literature as well to show the importance of intonation and emphasis of words! Try writing one of Shakespeare poems in the text box and play it back to the children to see their responses! And if you have big school Drama Productions you might just need a robotic voice in some of your plays.

vozMe is very simple and many could think quite pointless, but sometimes the simplest ideas are great and can work wonders. Have a go with your classes and let me know how useful, or not, this tool has been to you!

You must have guessed I have a soft spot for comics and Superheroes by now. So, when @russeltarr (look at his excellent website here) twitted a link to a video made by his 14-years old Historians (as he calls them) I got immediately interested in this new video creator with animated characters; xtranormal.com. Believe me, it is really good fun and very easy and quick to use. The below video took me about 15 min to make and it was a simple attempt to create an example for my Yr 10 pupils, so that they could also use this tool to create fun videos about an area of Physics we have studied (if you can’t see the video from this blog click here). Because we have been amused by the Physics of Superheroes in a number of lessons, I though they would like the video I created to understand and remember the difference between Speed and Velocity!

The intent, however, was never to use this video creator as a teaching tool, but rather as a lovely way to get my pupils engaged with Physics and to get them talking about processes by explaining them through unusual situations (a bit like the Marvel Comic on Momentum).

Unfortunately there were two problems I had not anticipated:

1. To publish your videos you must buy credits

2. Our network let us down for the 1000th time and even this really useful tool was blocked

I might be able to get the IT Technician to unblock it, so the kids can at least use the story board and the effects. But I think I will use this great website to create one of those stories where each group writes a line and the next group continues it, so by the end of the lesson we will have a story about Physics that is created by the whole class. It would be even nicer if this  became a quick revision movie about all the topics covered made with the contribution of the whole class! I will let you know how it goes, but if you have some good stories with Xtranormal, please let us know by adding a comment to this blog post.

On the 18th November 2009 a group of Physics teachers from South Wales met in Caerleon School to build giant air cannons out of a 200 litres water butt. I organised the event with Cerian Angharad’s help (South Wales Network Coordinator) and the lovely cakes that Ann Dunster (Head of Physics at the school) provided! All the equipment could be found in Wickes (though the first time I went to buy some of these huge water butts in the Cardiff branch, they told me they either got lost, or stolen… Mmm I still have to figure that one out).

Cutting holes through the butt

These chaps were not very happy when I produced my electric saw after they struggled for 15 minutes to cut their butt with a wood knife, but certainly that’s part of the fun, isn’t it?

This workshop is very useful if you are organising some spectacular activities for your Open Evening. I trialled it in my school (Croesyceiliog School, Cwmbran) and both parents and children loved it. In fact, we filled the giant air cannon with fog from a smoke machine and started shooting at people, who would see these massive smoke circles getting towards them and eventually blasting in their faces! But the fun was not over because we used McFlurry cups and tops to get the children to make their own mini-airzookas. And again the kids loved it, because they could take a little present home that costed nothing to my department, but was good fun for them.

Blasting the cameraman!

The below video shows how you can make you mini-aizooka. All you need to do is going to McDonald and order a McFlurry icecream. The rest you probably have in your house!

But what is the educational value, you might think! Well, there are a number of projects and experiments you pupils could carry out with their mini-airzookas:

1. They could make some observations about what affects the shape, speed and distance travelled by the smoke ring. E.g. by tapping the rubber in different ways, by pulling it and releasing it, etc…

2. They could try to measure the speed of the smoke rings and/or the distance travelled when they tap using more and more force. This activity could generate some very good discussions about reliability of results and method.

3. They could also measure the diameter of the rings at a certain distance from the cannon.

4. A follow on from experiment 2 could be a project were they need to design and build the most reliable tapping mechanism they can. You could even embed this as part of a long term project on electromagnetism, as the children could try to make an eletromagnetic tapper, and so on.

Please, add some more suggestions as comments!

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