Investigating your geographical region

Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery
on DiscoverySchool.com
This is for the Senior Primary Class at ISOCS, who are watching the "Earth in flux."

Exactly how are you supposed to find information about the Earth changing your geographical area?

First, find your area on a map. Write down the country names for the area, (so that you won't miss anything that's listed by country, rather than area.) I'm going to do a practice search here for Central America.

I used Google to search for "earthquake Central America".  I used the Advanced Search feature to search for material on a  basic reading level.

(I immediately discovered that lots of search results turn up that have nothing to do with what I'm looking for.  I scanned down the results page, reading the little snippets of content.  When a page looked like it might be what I was looking for, I opened it in a new tab (by right clicking on the link, and choosing "open in a new tab"), but kept on reading down the results page.  When I reached the bottom, I went on the the second page of results, and also on to the third.  After that, I started looking at the sites I had opened in the new tabs.  If they still looked interesting, I kept them open.  If they didn't have the information I needed, I closed the tab, and moved on to the next site.  If, after careful reading of a page, I decided it would be useful, I bookmarked it, so I could find it again easily. This is the most time consuming, and the hardest, and most important part of your search.)

I found http://www.emsc-csem.org/Earthquake/earthquake.php?id=165348 and tracked it back to its source at http://www.emsc-csem.org/#2w 


At  http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/world/index.php?region=Central%20America
I found some great maps with details I might need, like this Seismicity Map for Central America.

I bookmarked that webpage so I could go back to it another time.

I started checking out the region on this map  http://www.volcano.si.edu/world/find_regions.cfm


and found Central America on this detail map.  From a link on the sidebar, I learned there are 13 volcanoes in Central America. I bookmarked that page.

The side bar on that web page has lots of details about Central America - dates of eruptions, etc. I'll bookmark this web page so I can get back to it.

Back on the Google search page, I clicked on "News" at the side of the  page. That limits the search results to news sources.   I found a interesting term to investigate further,  the "Ring of Fire" http://content.usatoday.com/communities/sciencefair/post/2011/02/new-zealand-earthquake-christchurch-ring-of-fire-geology/1  I bookmarked that page, too, because I see that Central America is included on the map on that page.

Next, I did a general Google search for "volcano Central America"
This page looks really useful.  I bookmarked it, too. http://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/camvolc.htm

I clicked on  the "News" choice for the search, and  found an article from the Sunday Times, titled "Volcanoes cause chaos in Guatemala and Ecuador" dated May 2010. I bookmarked that page.

Next, I looked at the recent earthquakes page from USGS that we talked about in class on Thursday. I saw several earthquakes in my region, that I can look at more closely by clicking on their little square markers.
I discovered that whether I search for "earthquake" or "volcano", information about both terms is likely to turn up.  So I will have to investigate that relationship...

So now I know which countries are in Central America, and where they are on the map.  I know that my region has many volcanoes, some of them active, and often has earthquakes.  I'll keep an eye on this earthquake rss feed on our wiki, and look for names from my region.

I'm going to download the two Google Earth layers mentioned on our Changing Earth wiki. There's information about Central America there, too.

Please Explain: Computer Viruses and Worms

Yesterday I listened to one of my favorite podcasts, Please Explain. The show, from radio station WNYC, New York Public Radio, features Leonard Lopate and guest experts, who 2get to the bottom of one complex issue. History, science, politics, pop culture or anything that needs some explanation" through a question and answer format.

 I thought this episode about computer viruses and worms might be of interest to my computer using friends.

"This week’s Please Explain is about computer worms and viruses. Richard Ford, from the Center for Security Science at the Florida Institute of Technology, and Lance Ulanoff, Editor in Chief of PC Magazine, tell us how viruses and worms are created, how they infiltrate individual computers, explain the damage they can wreak and how we can best protect our machines." Read more on the show page.

You can listen to the podcast here, or download it from the show page, or subscribe to the show on your favorite podcasting tool at this page.

Keeping an eye on the Changing Earth

For the ISOCS Senior Primary Class, which is investigating the Changing Earth

Keep an eye on the changing Earth with these websites:

You might prefer to use Twitter timelines:

For Earthquakes:

For Volcanos:

For Geology in general

More about seeing Chroma Key (Green Screen) effects

In the Senior Primary Class the other day, we were talking about green screen photography, and how the illusion of adventure, danger and destruction is created in TV and films. (Check back to this post about the Evian Babies.)

Here's a video from Stargate Studios, showing how they use green screens.  You may want to stop the video to check out the different scenes - the overlay with final footage and green screen filming is very quick.

Stargate Studios 2010 Virtual Backlot Demo from Stargate Studios on Vimeo.

Stargate's Vimeo channel is here, if you'd like to see their other 67 videos, and their web page is here. Some of the scenes in their videos are gruesome.  I guess it's good that they're there, so that you can learn how almost everything you see on TV and in films is not real!

I came across these videos this morning, with the same theme.

From National Geographic, Brian Skerry describes the exhiliration of an up-close encounter with a curious, 45-foot-long right whale.

Also from National Geographic, Paul Nicklen describes his most amazing experience as a National Geographic photographer - coming face-to-face with one of Antarctica's most vicious predators.

Chris Johnson describes photographing Kalahari lions, and how it took him 12 years to capture how majestic they can be.

I wonder if this ever happened to him?

If you're interested in animal photography, you'll like this page at National Geographic, and browsing the Photo of the Day/Animals pages.

Photographing animals requires patience and time. The Kodak website has good tips on how to take interesting pictures of animals, and dphotojournal has tips for taking photos of wild animals (even at the zoo).

Helvetas and Water

This is for the ISOCS Middle Primary Class, who are looking at Rights and Responsibilities, and Water

"Every day 4,000 children die from diarrhea, caused by bad drinking water. Helvetas improved access to clean drinking water and built wells."

"An African woman walks about 5,000 km a year to get to water."

Traveling exhibition "Water for all!"


Did you enjoy the movie "Toy Story 3"?  Have you wondered how it was made?  How long it takes?  How many people work on it?  Do you think "maybe (you) "push a button on a computer, and a movie pops out”? (link)

The New York Times published an article this week, in their Academy Awards series, about Pixar, the studio that created "Toy Story 3", Animation Advocacy, Pixar Style.  "Toy Story 3" has been nominated for  the "Best Picture" Oscar award.  Read the article and find out what it's like to create an animated movie at Pixar. Here are a few sentences from the story:

 photo by Loren Javier on Flickr
“'A character in the film is kind of like a puppet,' Bobby Podesta, a supervising animator at Pixar, explained. 'Imagine having Pinocchio in the computer that you move around frame by frame, but instead of having a dozen strings, you’ve got hundreds and hundreds and hundreds. It gets very nuanced.'”

"Computers are a necessity, but the acting — the voice-over work — comes before the animation. The animators themselves are cast like performers, with some specializing in comedy and others in emotional moments, Mr. Podesta said. And animated moviemaking uses many of the same tools as live action, including costuming, production design and cinematography."

"The Pixar people are big on research. For major set-pieces in “Toy Story 3,” they toured real day care centers and dumps, even once filling their lobby with trash and asking employees to run through it, to see how it moved."

Click here to watch a video tour of the Pixar Studios, near San Francisco, California. At this link you can watch trailers and clips from "Toy Story 3".

Seeing 100 times slower than real-life

More for our "Unseeable" series

This morning a post by Charlie White on Mashable sent me to Vimeo, and then on to the videographer and editor Tom Guilmette's web site, to watch this video, shot at 2564 frames per second:

Locked in a Vegas Hotel Room with a Phantom Flex from Tom Guilmette on Vimeo.

Here's another of Tom Guilmette's films clips, shot at 1050 frames per second.

Giant Rider Alex Couture High Speed Phantom Session from Tom Guilmette on Vimeo. More about this film at http://www.missinglinkfilm.com/

The Mashable post helps me make sense of what I'm seeing:

"Most video ambles by at somewhere between 24 and 30 frames per second when it’s shot and viewed, but when you play back this 2,564 frame-per-second video at the usual speed of 24 or 30fps, things are slowed down so much, you can see things you’d never be able to detect in real time.

"I’m always amazed at the way extreme slow motion techniques can turn everyday occurrences into mind-bending art. Beyond that, I’m impressed with the way Guilmette makes his video so entertaining with convincing sound effects, music and sharp editing, further playing with speed differences to create an astonishing timescape."


A colleague's recent question about Web3.0 has sent me off to the web looking for a clear definition, and among 546,000 other results, I found this one, which I'll share here.  It's a  cleaver, clear, understandable introduction to the subject. I found it through The Next Web blog.  The presentation is on SlideShare, where you can share it to various other sites, and download it. The presentation was created by a Dutch internet strategy adviser Freek Bijl, and has been translated from Dutch.

Floating Paint

Another neat video in the "Being able to see things you can't see with your human eyes" or  our "Unseeable" Department.

floating from floating on Vimeo.

You'll enjoy how the colors, motion and music support each other because of the superb editing. Comments behind the video reveal that "we (the producers) have used an animated colorcorrection in the postpro, but the paint is real filmed with an highspeedcam." With a little searching I found this page, and "It took about 3 days to shoot the liquid paint with a highspeed camera and another 2 weeks of animation/editing and sounddesign". (There's a gallery of still shots from the video, of which one is shown below).
Still shot from "Floating" at http://www.motionserved.com/gallery/floating/907818
Floating's Credits:
Director of Photography: Johann Cohrs, Siggi Kuckstein
Editing & Compositing: Michael Koch, Michael Lübben
Music & Sounddesign: Kian Djalili
Support: MBF, Hamburg

Grammar Land

One of my favorite readers on Librivox.org ("LibriVox volunteers record chapters of books in the public domain and release the audio files back onto the net. Our goal is to make all public domain books available as free audio books.") is Kara Shallenberg. I was reading her blog post about having completed a new recording for Librivox in German, and decided to go to the site and see if I had missed anything else she had completed. I came to Grammar Land, by G. L. Nesbitt.

"In this charming 1877 book of grammar instruction for children, we are introduced to the nine parts of speech and learn about the rules that govern them in Grammar-Land.

"Judge Grammar is far mightier than any Fairy Queen, for he rules over real kings and queens down here in Matter-of-fact-land. Our kings and queens have all to obey Judge Grammar’s laws, or else they would talk what is called bad grammar; and then, even their own subjects would laugh at them, and would say: “Poor things!

They are funny fellows, these nine Parts-of-Speech. You will find out by-and-by which you like best amongst them all. There is rich Mr. Noun, and his useful friend Pronoun; little ragged Article, and talkative Adjective; busy Dr. Verb, and Adverb; perky Preposition, convenient Conjunction, and that tiresome Interjection, the oddest of them all." 

On the Librivox page, there are links to the entire Google books e-text, downloadable zip file of the entire book in mp3 files, download it through iTunes, or copy the RSS feed.

Click on the links below to hear the first few files on this blog (you will need to go to the Librivox page to hear the other 8.

What is being creative?

What is being creative? from Kristian Ulrich Larsen on Vimeo.

I found this video on the Art Education 2.0 ning, which linked to its home on Vimeo. You might want to watch it twice, like I did - the first time I was entranced by the phone, which I suspect is the reason for the film. The second time I was able to concentrate on the script.  It's a lovely, well-crafted video, that would be well used in our classrooms.  (There's a link on the right side of the Vimeo page, under "about this video", where you can download a 1280x720 mp4 file of it. Perfect for projecting in class.)


A friend  just showed me QWiki. What a useful tool for students and teachers!  QWiki pulls content for your request from Wikipedia, Google, Photopedia and YouTube. Content is presented as a multi-image montage, with audio narration. Here's the result if you search for "Volcano":

By clicking on the "Content" tab of the results page, you can see all the images used, and have a text transcript of the narration. Related search terms are suggested at the bottom of the page. Direct links for sharing on Facebook, Twitter, email and embedding are available.

As with all search results, some topics will be more reliable than others! The usual caution should be applied when viewing, as the material is only as reliable as what can be found at those 4 sites. But they are presented in a fine package for introductory understanding.

Screen Shot of QWiki on "Earthquake"

Chrome Web Store

The Chrome Web Store is available as a link when you open a new page or tab on Google Chrome web browser.  I explored a few of the apps available for free, and useful for Primary Students (There are some other nice apps for young children, sold for a few dollars). Some of these are true apps, and some are just re-directs to already existing web sites.  But whatever they really are, the sites below would make good use of the internet for Primary aged students:


"What is Carrotsticks? CarrotSticks is an online multiplayer game that improves math skills and understanding for 1st - 5th graders as they practice and compete with other students around the world!"


"Bomomo is... Bomomo! You will be surprised at what you can draw with it. Give it a try, as it wants to be explored, discovered, played with. Let yourself fall into the canvas and see what you can do with the different buttons at the bottom. Save your favorite creations to send them to friends."

"Explore the stars and planets! Click and move your mouse to look around the sky. Point at a star or planet to reveal its name, its constellation, its brightness (magnitude) and how far away it is in light years (LY) or astronomical units (AU). You can also adjust the time and your viewing location to see the sky from any point around the world."

Primary Paint
"Primary Paint allows chilldren to paint, draw, write and colour. Not only can one child get creative with this, Primary Paint allows multiple users allowing for a collaborative creative masterpiece!"

Primary Games Arena
"Get smart while playing games! 1000+ Games to learn with. So much fun!! Learning Games are the most fun way to learn. Can you beat your friends? Loads of fun at Primary School for 5 to 12 year olds, reception & early years, years 1 through to 6."

Making of the Evian Babies

The Senior Primary Class at ISOCS is working on writing to persuade; they've been interested in the Evain Baby advertising campaign.

How was this video created?
"The babies could barely walk, let alone skate. They were placed in front of green screens and Ludo Fealy of the Motion Picture Company and his team in London did the rest, turning the baby-auditioners into roller-dancers.

"'They would have rocked the baby gently backwards and forwards with that particular break dance move in mind,' Fealy said.

"Fealy and his team filmed a professional skater doing the moves, then programmed a computer-generated baby's body to replicate them. Then they added the heads of their baby models, attaching them to the dancing digital bodies. They put it all together over a park scene shot in Melbourne and made to look like Manhattan." (link)

"Evian 'Skating Babies' wins Gold Award at the London International Awards 2009 for Best Visual Effects and enters the Guinness Book of World Records as most watched viral of all times. The multi-national campaign directed by Michael Gracey brings together choreographed roller-skating babies and the re-mixed street sound of The Sugar Hill Gang's Rapper's Delight." (Read more of the production details at this link)

What are the skating babies selling?  What is the story (writing) behind the video?  You may want to visit the Evian babies web site, or their YouTube page. How much language is used in these ads? What's the hidden message, or the "unspoken language"?  What's the real relationship between the product and the message?


In both the videos above, you notice that the babies are filmed in front of a green screen. In some scenes the people who are holding them are wearing green clothes.

The green screen effect is a type of chroma key. The idea is to create a pure green background which is then replaced with whatever background image you want.

The Google Art Project

Explore 17 fameous art museums from around the world, discover and view a thousand artworks at incredible zoom levels, and even create and share your own collection of masterpieces. www.googleartproject.com

You can view the artwork, or explore the museum with Street View technology.

Here's the "Visitor's Guide" video:

"You’ll find a selection of super high-resolution images of famous works of art as well as more than a thousand other images, by more than 400 artists—all in one place. And with Street View technology, you can take a virtual tour inside 17 of the world’s most acclaimed art museums, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art and MoMA in New York, The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Tate Britain & The National Gallery in London, Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam." (link)

"Super high resolution" means you can look at a painting as though you had stepped over the barrier that museums use to keep viewers at a safe distance, and press your nose to the canvass to inspect the brush strokes and color through a magnifying glass. Here's a screen shot of a section of a section of Van Gogh's well known "The Starry Night" painting, in the Museum of Modern Art, in New York.
screen shot

You can use the “Create an Artwork Collection” feature, to save specific views of any of the artworks and build your own personalized collection. Comments can be added to each painting and the whole collection can then be shared with students, classmates, other teachers or schools (as well as friends and family, of course!)

Here's a video of how the Project was created:

The Project's YouTube channel is http://www.youtube.com/googleartproject You can see all the Street View imagery as videos on this channel.