How does GPS work?

One of my favorite podcasts, the Naked Scientists, from Cambridge University, posted an episode on 2 May (2010) about "GPS - Where in the World Are We?" There is lots of science news in the episode, but the part the Seniors Class will be interested in is "The Basics - GPS and Satellite Navigation":
"How does the GPS in your car actually work? And what does the future hold for GPS? Meera went to meet Dr Chaz Dixon and Colin Lee to find out more...

"Where in the world am I?  We're looking at the science of the Global Positioning System, or GPS, this week.  We find out how satellites can tell you your location, as well as communicate with the bossy little box that tells you which way to drive... In Kitchen Science, we get back to basics and locate ourselves using a map and compass!"

Click here to litsten to this portion of the broadcast.

You'll also need to listen to the following section, "The Cosmic Positioning System - GPS for Satellites" to find out how GPS satellites know where they are!

Click here to listen to this portion of the broadcast.

On the Kitchen Science portion of the podcast, you can learn how to find your position by triangulation, with a compass and a map. Click here to listen, and here to read instructions about how to be your own GPS (that's Global Positioning System).

If you're interested in science, subscribe to the podcast with this link, or through iTunes.  This is not particularly a show for children, but the some parts of each podcast episode are always easily understood - particularly the Kitchen Science section.

photo cc licensed flickr photo shared by mroach

Place and Time on LinoIt

I've been investigating a web tool mentioned by Richard Byrne this morning - LinoIt. I made this canvass to see how the site works, by taking a few of the web sites in our Units of Inquiry start page, and highlighting them here.

Click on this link to go to the page on linoit.  Below is an embeded frame from the page.  Use your mouse to push is around (when your cursor turns into a hand when you mouse over the cork board), and see everything there is on the canvass.

To use Lino It, you must create an account (free) and be 13 years old.  Primary students could create the account with their parents, and teachers could create an account for a class to use collectively on an interactive white board.  There are various privacy settings you can use on your canvasses, and you can send sticky notes with email, or with a bookmarklet.  Go to  How to lino - lino linoLink to learn about basic operations.  The site might be a useful tool for a start page, or brainstorming, or to do list, or scrap book... I found it much easier to use than a similar site, WallWisher.

Where In The World Are You?

Another video for the Seniors Class as they begin to investigate where they are in place and time:

Why Geography Matters

The Seniors will be starting a new unit, investigating "Where we are in place and time." This video was produced by Google Earth:

There are 96 other videos on the Google Earth Channel on YouTube, all of them interesting.

If you don't have Google Earth in your computer, tell your parents why it's a useful learning tool, and ask them to install it for you.


This morning I read about a website called Mutapic, (http://www.mutapic.com)
"What can I do with Mutapic?  Mutapic helps you to create artwork. It is a tool for designers, artists and craftsmen. It can be used to create logos, patterns, decorative elements, and just for fun!"
screen shot of Mutapic

In the free version, you choose 2 designs from the picture library, press the green button to generate a gallery of 16 variations, and choose controls from the side buttons to create more variations.  Click on one of the new pictures to enlarge it, and work on it with more changes.  Save your pictures by making screen shots.

Mutapic is an online application. You do not need to install anything to use it. Mutapic should run in any browser using Flash (Java script should be on).

Here are screen shots I took while I was experimenting on the web site.

and here my favorite picture for this experimenting.  

I think this would be an interesting way to create art for a CD cover, or logos for a web page, or avatars or online profiles...

Social Media Parenting: Raising the Digital Generation

Yesterday, Matt Silverman posted about Social Media Parenting: Raising the Digital Generation on Mashable. He focuses on these areas:
  • Take an Active Role, and Do Your Homework
  • Safety and Privacy
  • The Fine Line Between Participating and Spying
  • Setting Limits Without Being a Luddite
  • Good Parenting? There’s No App for That
and includes this Disney video, Phineas and Ferb - Rules of the Cyberspace Road Public Service Announcement

Click here to read the post on Mashable.

Symphony of Science

These videos are not new, but I think they fit well in the Seniors' UI into Ecosystems -

First is The Poetry of Reality (An Anthem for Science)

Then, watch 'The Unbroken Thread'

and 'We Are All Connected'

The project's web page explains more about the videos:
"The Symphony of Science is a musical project headed by John Boswell designed to deliver scientific knowledge and philosophy in musical form. Here you can watch music videos, download songs, read lyrics and find links relating to the messages conveyed by the music.

The project owes its existence in large measure to the wonderful work of Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, and Steve Soter, of Druyan-Sagan Associates, and their production of the classic PBS Series Cosmos, as well as all the other featured figures and visuals."

You can download the videos, and the read the lyrics.