Space units are always exciting. Part of it’s the history, but a lot is that space is our final frontier, a wild untamed land that man knows so little about. I have a list of over 20 websites I use to support this theme for K-8. Here are 10 of my favorites:
100,000 Stars is an interactive visualization of the stellar neighborhood showing the real location of over 100,000 nearby stars. You can zoom in on 87 major named stars including our Sun. There’s a brief introduction and a longer tour students can take to get acquainted with the program. From there, it’s intuitive to use with many of the same browsing tools students are used to from other programs.
100,000 Stars is programmed by space enthusiasts at Google. The introductory music is mesmerizing. Put your headphones on and fly.
Kids love field trips. They’re out of the classroom, get to travel by bus with lots of kids and not enough adults. What’s not to like?
A few items come to mind: Cost, staffing, potential for disaster. And that’s just off the top of my head. There’s a way to provide the field trip experience with few of the risks, no cost, and a fraction of the time away from what is likely an overstuffed education day:
Virtual Field Trips, via the internet.
There are so many options for real-time webcams, conversations with experts (via Skype and Google Hangout), and the opportunity to visit locations that are otherwise inaccessible that classes have embraced this new approach to seeing the world. This enthusiasm has encouraged a cottage industry that often is far from the exciting, realistic experience teachers want for their students. When I search the internet, it seems any site with a camcorder and multimedia resources calls itself a ‘virtual field trip’. Truthfully, many of them are a waste of time. Sure, I like the pictures and the movies, but I don’t feel like I’m there, immersed in history or geography, with a life-changing experience that will live in my memory for decades to come.
Intellectually, I know there are good ones out there. Finally, after wearing through my favorite virtual shoes, I have a list to recommend. These next nine virtual field trips cover topics from geology to history to the human experience. See what you think:
What’s not to love about a website that starts:
Welcome to Earth! It’s a planet having an iron core, with two-thirds of its surface covered by water. Earth orbits a local star called the Sun, the light of which generates the food supply for all the millions of species of life on earth. The dominant species on Earth is the human being, and you’re one of the six billion of them! Humans have iron in their blood, and their bodies are composed of two-thirds water, just like the planet they live on.
Enjoy your stay, and try to stay calm.
360 Cities contains the Internet’s largest collection of uploaded panoramic images. Let’s pause here for a moment. Panos–those wide pictures that cover up to 180 degrees left and right. Right?
360 Cities does panos differently. Let me show you. Here’s one from my iPad:
Here’s one on 360 Cities:
- Adventure Island
- Antarctica Environ—find the animals
- Biomes of the World
- Breathing earth–the environment
- Build a habitat
- Habitat Game
- Landform Detectives—cool game
- Observe Different Climate Zones
- Ocean Explorations—life
- Ocean Currents—video from NASA
- World’s Biomes
- Virtual tours
If some of the links don’t work (links go bad very quickly on the internet), click for the complete 4th grade list, then scroll to ‘Biomes’.
- California regions (only because that’s where my teaching centers)
- Natural Disasters
- Survival in the…
- General survival websites
- Virtual tours (some great sites here)
Wondering what’s out there, past our Earthly bounds? Here’s a great website to answer that question.
Every Friday, I share a website (or app) that I’ve heard about, checked into, been excited to use. This one is a math app. Since ‘math’ is by far the most popular search term of readers who seek out my blog, I know you’re going to enjoy this review.[caption id="attachment_8454" align="aligncenter" width="614"] Amazing wild animal pictures[/caption]
parents love. I think you’ll find they’ll be a favorite of your students as they are of mine.
My fourth graders just went through a unit of inquiry on natural disasters and we came up with a pretty good list of resources. I want to share them with you. Please add your own to the comment section:
- Earthquake simulations
- Earthquakes for Kids
- Natural disaster videos
- Natural disasters—National Geographic
- Natural disasters–resources
- Savage Earth
- Storm Chasing
- Tornadoes II
- Volcano Underwater
- Volcano videos
- 360 degrees Moon View
- Land on the Moon
- NASA City
- Satellite Fly-bys–by zip code
- Solar system–3D
- Solar system
- Space–explore it
- Space sounds
- Space station game
- We Choose the Moon
Do you have any I missed?
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Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and author of two technology training books for middle school. She wrote Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a tech columnist forExaminer.com, Editorial Review Board member for ISTE’s Journal for Computing Teachers, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything. Currently, she’s seeking representation for a techno-thriller Any suggestions? Contact Jacqui at her writing office, WordDreams, or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.