Posted by David R. Wetzel, Ph.D.
Like everything else on the Internet, trying to find images is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Without the right tools for finding science and math images on the web it is often an impossible, or at least mind-numbing, task. What is needed are search engines which make the job easier.
This is where the tips and tricks provided below help this seemingly impossible task by using the top search Web 2.0 search engines and tools available today. These are valuable resources for both you and your students when trying to find just the right image for lesson or project involving digital media.
Image Search Engines
The search engines and tools discussed below are specifically designed to search the billions of images available on the web. The following are tips for finding images, along with selected tricks for using the features of each search engine or tool.
Google Images Swirl – organizes image search results based on their visual similarities and presents them in an intuitive interface. Image Swirl currently works for nearly over 400,000 queries and they have plans to include additional queries in the future.
The trick to finding the right science or math image is to type in a specific word(s) such as fractal geometry or bald eagles. A collection of images appear and clicking on one of the images provides the following.
You can continue clicking on images until there are no longer any images within the category for you to view.
Image Swirl also provides a list of additional search words which lead to additional images related to the initial search word(s).
For example: in a search for images of Bald Eagles you can also use the search words Endangered Species, Birds, and Aleutian Islands.
Fagan Finder – is a directory of search engines, data bases of stock photographs, photo sharing sites, science and education sites, news and blog sites, and others. If you’re in need of specific science or math images, this is a great place to begin the search. Fagan Finder is designed to help you and your students find things on the web, in this case images.
PicSearch – connects you and your students to the vast image resources of the Internet. PicSearch searches the web for images which are perfect for schools and educational settings. This search engine uses filters to ensure offensive images are eliminated from its data bases.
When a query is sent to PicSearch the result is received as a set of thumbnail images, which are then sorted to ensure that they are as highly relevant as possible. By clicking on a selected science or math thumbnail image, you are forwarded to the original web site where that image is located.
Tag Galaxy – is a search tool which provides an exceptional visual experience when searching for images on Flickr. You can make an initial search using a keyword or tag, for example geometry. This keyword or tag appears as an image of the sun in our solar system, with planets circling the sun. By clicking on the sun all Flickr images related to the search tag are displayed. Next a sphere appears with all the Flickr images related to the geometry tag.
The sphere can be rotated in any direction to find a science or math image of your choice. One trick when using Tag Galaxy is to use the advanced search feature by selecting one of the keyword or tag planets circling the sun. Clicking on a planet narrows the search to fewer related images. Continuing this advanced search technique narrows the search to find the desired image.
According to Educause Learning Initiative (February, 2008), the use of images provide both teachers and students with visual stimulation for critical thinking in any educational endeavor where projects use digital images for visual learning.
An important tip for your students is to ensure images are copyright free before using them for assignments, especially those which will appear on the web when complete.
Posted by David R. Wetzel, Ph.D.
Google is not just useful for conducting searches for information on the Internet. In fact, it can be used and manipulated with cool and tricks in ways which help you and your students search for information about science and math with more effectiveness. Along with all subject areas students are engaged in school.
The following are tips and tricks designed to help you and your science or math students take advantage of Google’s search engine.
Searching for Information
Exact Phrase – often students’ search efforts on the Internet a wasted by using phrases which results in the need to sort through useless information to find what they are searching. This can be eliminated by using “…” to narrow the search to an exact phrase.
Calculator – the next time you or your students need to do a quick calculation, instead of bringing up the Calculator applet, using a calculator, or pencil and paper. Just type your expression in to Google:
Example: 48512 * 1.02
Similar Words and Synonyms – let’s say you are want to include a word in your search; however, you want to include results that contain similar words or synonyms. To do this, use the “~” in front of the word.
Example: polynomial ~math
Word Definitions – if you need to quickly look up the definition of a word or phrase, simply use the “define:” command.
Example: define: newtons
Math Calculations – your students can use the search box as scientific calculator for metric conversions, unit conversions, and money conversions.
Example: sqrt(10) which represents square root of 10
Another Example : 5*9+(sqrt 10)^3= results in the answer 76.6227766
Measurement – your students can search for equivalent measurements.
Example: kg in pound which represents 1 pound = 0.45359237 kilograms
Another Example: how many teaspoons are in a tablespoon
Local Weather – you can use the search box to find the current weather in any city, anywhere in the world.
Example: weather Hong Kong
Wonder Wheel: A Search Thesaurus
Wonder Wheel is located in the left side panel on the Google search page. This wheel (of wonder) shows related search terms to the current searched query. It enables you or your students to explore relevant search terms which might be the ones you originally wanted to search for, or simply give you more options to gain more information.
Time Line is located in the left side panel on the Google search page, below Wonder Wheel. This Google application provides a timeline of all relevant events (date, person, event, etc.) related to a specific timeline.
Another Example: recycling
A Third Example: global warming
Most websites have a .com domain name. Sometimes it’s better to restrict student searches to other domains, such as .edu or .net. This ensures students to not stray to undesired areas of the Internet, also helping them to focus on specific resources.
Example: site:edu biomes
Another Example: site:gov algebra
A Third Example: site:net algebra help
This search tool offers students the ability to complete “better than” searches for comparing something against other known information, products, or services.
Example: better than recycling
Another Example: better than equilaterals
These Google search engine tools not only make a teacher’s job easier, they are useful for students in completing homework, projects, or other science and math activities.
These tips and tricks should be taught to students, because it is something they can use both during school and after their school years.
Another Google Resource
How to Integrate Google Docs into Science and Math Like a Pro
Posted by David R. Wetzel, Ph.D.
This is third and final installment on “Tips and Tricks for Podcasting” and focuses on GarageBand.
Garageband is a powerful software program for creating podcasts and offers enough sophistication to allow you to produce quality recordings.
Now let’s take a look at some tips and tricks for GarageBand.
Create a Template
Creating a podcast template in GarageBand saves hours of work. This is especially important when creating numerous podcasts for yourself or when working with students.
To create a podcast template:
- Select “Save as…” under file menu
- Then select “Create a Template”when editing a podcast session
It is important to create all the essential elements which will be part of every podcast. You will still have the ability to add any unique elements you need for a specific podcast in the future.
Although you may have taken many precautions to prevent noise from sources other than a speaker when recording, some will probably still be present.
Some tips and tricks to make a voice recording crystal clear include the following:
- To add a new effect, open “Track Info Pane,” then go to “Edit” tab and click on the empty spot that says, “Click here to add an effect”.
- Select “Speech Enhancer” for reducing noise background noise. It is preset for female/male voices and can be stacked to reduce of eliminate a loud noises.
- Select “AUBandPass” for filter high-pitched voices or enhancing a boring voice in an audio recording.
Adding and Editing Markers
If you want to upload podcasts to iTunes or other hosting services you will need to add markers to your podcast recordings.
When you add a marker to a podcast, it appears in the podcast track as a marker region.
Marker regions show how long the artwork or URLs you add to a marker last, and you can move them or re-size them to change their duration.
To begin – select a podcast track.
The podcast track appears above the other tracks in the timeline, and the editor opens showing the marker list, with columns for the start time, artwork, chapter title, URL title, and URL for each marker.
Note: A podcast can have either a podcast track or a video track, but not both. If you try to show the podcast track for a project that contains a video track, a dialog appears asking if you want to replace the video track with a podcast track.
To add a marker:
- Move the play-head to the place where you want to add the marker.
- Click the “Add Marker” button.
The marker appears in the editor, and the start time for the marker appears in the Time column in the marker’s row. The marker also appears as a marker region in the podcast track.
You can edit marker regions just like other regions in the timeline to control when artwork and URLs appear and how long they are visible when you play the podcast.
Watch your voice recording levels to prevent clipping. This is accomplished by ensuring strong recording levels do not enter the red zone.
In a digital world, recording meters which enter red zones result in clipping. Clipping causes broken and intermittent audio.
If you need to increase audio levels, do so after during editing.
Keyboard Short Cuts
Learning keyboard shortcuts can save a lot of time when recording, editing, and uploading. Check out the keyboard short cuts here.
Creating a Video Podcast
Creating a video podcast is similar to creating an audio podcast, except that the video podcast includes a video file and does not include artwork.
Use following steps to create video podcast:
- Send an iMovie project to GarageBand or import a video file from the Media Browser.
- Create the podcast audio in GarageBand.
When you have created your video podcast in GarageBand, you can send it to iWeb or export it to your website, blog, or wiki.
These are fundamental tips and tricks are not intended to be all inclusive, if you have others feel free to share them in the comments section for others to see.
Tips and Tricks for Podcasting – Part 1
Tips and Tricks for Podcasting – Part 2