Volcano watching

The Middle Primary class has been looking closely at maps, and the Senior Primary class was very interested in volcanoes last month. Because of the recent eruption of Grimsvötn, many clever people have posted maps, photos, videos and animations on the Internet. We can see the extent and movement of the volcano's ash cloud in real time, and experience the size and power of the eruption far more vividly than if we could only look at  a photo in a newspaper.

This ikiMap evolves in real time. The maps are archived as they are replaced with a more recent version; you can view all the maps here.

Screenshot from Flightradar24.com
This screen shot shows the  map at Flightradar24.  It shows live air traffic, from different parts of the world.  Use your mouse to move the map up to Iceland, and notice (today, 29 May 2011) that there are no planes flying in the area! Use the "ash layer" button to show the ash layer, and predict it's location up to 18 hours into the future.

Screenshot from OgleEarth
On OgleEarth, you can download a kmz file to view the ash cloud with Google Earth.
"Based on data gleaned every six hours from the UK Met office, the resulting network link visualizes ash density from Grimsvötn at different times and airspace heights, and can be played as an animation. Here it is — open in Google Earth."

Meteosat-9 visible channel images
You can see the ash cloud without maps (although we can see blue longitude and latitude lines overlayed on this image) at the Discover Magazine blog, which shows satellite video clips of the ash cloud erupting through the cloud layer over Iceland. (I embedded one image here.  Go to the blog to see the other, and a fine gallery of volcano pictures taken from space.)

Credit: NASA/GSFC/Jeff Schmaltz/MODIS Land Rapid Response Team
There is a Wikipedia page about the eruption. It is illustrated with this NASA MODIS satellite image, acquire at 05:25 UTC on 22 May  2011,  which shows the plume casting shadow to the west.

And of course, we can see many videos on YouTube of the Grimsvötn ash cloud. Here are just 2, one filmed from the air, and one from the ground:


This is for the Senior Primary class, which is investigating probability.

Video experiments

Two interesting short videos from a creative studio, Tell No One.  Can you figure out how they made these videos?

Making A Shell from Tell No One on Vimeo.
Lo Fi video experiments - tellnoone.co.uk

Seaweed from Tell No One on Vimeo.

Our Virtual Library

Thanks to a tweet from Miss Vicky, I've added a tab to our Virtual Library, with links and widgets from the Reading Rockets website.

"Reading Rockets is a national (USA) multimedia project offering information and resources on how young kids learn to read, why so many struggle, and how caring adults can help. Reading Rockets is an educational initiative of WETA, the flagship public television and radio station in the nation's capital, and is funded by a major grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs."

Using Scratch

As part of our "Here and There" inquiry, the Middle Primary class has been introduced  to Scratch, a visual programming software from MIT. Here are some of the student reflections after a few sessions:

"My mistake was that I did not know that Scratch has an imagination. If you don't click the green flag it won't start."

"I learned that you can record your voice and listen to music while you let your sprite move. I like watching my sprite move into the directions I tell him to go. I learned that it is really funny to play with the different program's on the computers."

"I learned all about directions.You can change character,color and directions."

"I learned some fraction words like 90 degrees and half turn. I learned the symbol for 90 degrees °. I also discovered that it has lots of different languages!"

Cartographers at work

The Middle Primary Class is investigating mapping, (among other things) in a Unit named "Here and There".  Looking at the school on Google Earth and Google Maps, we noticed that the field behind the school is not mapped correctly (i.e., is not up to date) because our town has created a beautiful nature park. We decided to create a new map of the area. We've been out in the field with our clipboards, checklists, and draft maps three times, discussed our work and compared maps, and are now almost ready to make a final drawing.

We work in our wiki; today students recorded their reflections on their work.  They were asked to write about two things they did right, and two mistakes they made.  Here are some (edited) excerpts:

"I made two mistakes. I did not do the key right and I scribbled too much instead of drawing.
Two things that I did right were following directions and not losing anything."

"I didn't put the benches the right way because I didn't have enough space. I drew quite big. I also made the BBQ too big. I drew the trees well. I also drew the roads correctly."

"1. My first mistake was when I put to many trees and did not have space. My second mistake was when I lost direction so everything was a mess.
2. My first thing I got right is when I got all the mane features so I can do the little features. My second thing I did right was when I  got the right direction so everything made sense."

"I made a mistake when I was doing my key because my keys were swashed together so I didn`t put the other large pylon on the map.
I also put my large pylon in the right spot but it was not connected to the other one in the park.
Something I got right was the paths they were in the right spot and going the right way.

I also did the right sort of fields in the place(the sorts of fields are the grass and wild flowers and the farmers fields."

"At first I noticed that I turned the rocks into trees by accident when I looked at it.  I put some of the features in the wrong place.
I corrected all my work.  I showed where North, South, East and West."

"My mistake was that I made the paths TOO fat. I had to think very carefully otherwise I could do it wrong and I was very happy with map."

"1. A mistake that I did was I made lots of roads that don't exist. This was because I got muddled up with the road from home.
2. I put features too close together so I could not do the other features that were near there.
3. I did the fields right that were supposed to be there but I was not sure.
4. I got the school right and the factory because I remembered were it was supposed to be."

Wolfram Demonstrations

For the Middle Primary Class, which is wondering where we are in place and time

Explore Wolfram Demonstration Which Country is Bigger?, with which you can compare the land area of any two countries in the world.  One of the images in the  Slider Puzzle  is a map - you can try to put the world back together.

There are lots of interesting projects listed on the "For Kids" index page:  

To interact with the projects, you'll need to download and install the free CDF player on your computer.

Thanks, Graham, for reminding me about this great site! 

Google Science Fair

Text from the YouTube Page:

Uploaded by  on May 8, 2011
The top 60 projects from around the world have been announced. It's up to you to vote for the winner of the People's Choice Award. Visit www.google.com/sciencefair to learn more and vote. (after MAy 9th)

Blowing Bubbles

This video is for the Junior Primary Class, who have recently been blowing bubbles themselves as part of their investigation into "Useful Air".

Stinson Beach Bubbles (canon 550D) from markdaycomedy on Vimeo.
Bubbles over Stinson Beach, music by Incompetech.com

My Farm

I saw a feature about My Farm on a BBC TV program the other day, and decided to investigate further.  The National Trust is asking the public to help run a real-life working farm via the web. In return for a £30 annual subscription, 10,000 people will take control of the farm on the Wimpole Estate in Cambridgeshire.

Screen shot of http://www.my-farm.org.uk/
Click on the link to go to the page; click on the image to see it full size.

"The first vote will go live on Thursday 26 May 2011. From then onwards Farmers will vote at least once a month on different issues to do with the everyday running of the farm. The three big themes are the crops we grow, the livestock we breed, and the wider impacts of the farm on our environment and wildlife."

You'll be able to follow the latest news on the News and Blog page, and follow the seasonal overviews on the On the Farm page. The project has a YouTube channel.  There's been a lot of media coverage: here's an article in the Guardian newspaper,

Street art à la Lego

Two videos (or rather, one video in two versions) from Deutsche Welle:
Text from the YouTube page:
"Jan Vormann restores crumbling architecture with what he calls dispatchwork with the emphasis on the patchwork. Instead of plaster or stucco,the German artist mends cracks,holes and fissures in buildings with Lego blocks. He's left his mark on the streets of Amsterdam,St. Petersburg and Tel Aviv,among other places."