Infographics in Abundance

I’m always a little bit wary of info graphics, largely because as a scientist/mathematician I want to see the raw data too, just to make sure sure I agree with the presentation of the data.  However, that doesn’t mean that all info graphics are incorrect and they are increasingly more popular, so teaching students to evaluate them is an important 21st century skill.

The Aside Blog has a fantastic page full of links to various info graphics for you to use in class.  I also love the video they highlight by Column Five which talks about specific visualization strategies for presenting data.  So if you’re interested in data visualization and info graphics, head on over to the blog and start indulging your inner data geek.


iPhone Microscope: just add water!

I don’t usually post hardware solutions to classroom technology issues here at Embed_Ed, but this one was too good to pass up!

Alex Wilde has posted at Scientific American about a simple trick to turn your iPhone camera into a microscope!  One drop of water is all you need.

I tried this out quickly, and found that indeed it did work.  Flipping the camera over quickly and smoothly seemed better than trying to slowly turn the camera in regards to getting the water droplet to stay in place.

It’s tough to hold it and shoot as well, which is why Alex suggested using something as a stand.  Moving the object would probably be easier than moving the camera!

If you’re interested in other DIY iPhone microscope tricks, check out Sallaha’s Blog.  She has some great examples of using various common lenses.

TED Talks

TED’s tagline is: Ideas Worth Spreading.  Sounds like education to me!  Some of TED’s talks are great at motivating teachers to teach better; some are great for motivating students to want to learn; others are great specific examples of ideas and topics you may be teaching.

Be careful when you head over to or you might find yourself chewing up 20 hours of time!  It is an addictive place to get motivated.

If you’re interested in using TED Talks on your own website, you can easily click the SHARE button just below the video.

After you have selected SHARE, then you will see various options for embedding.  If you are a WORDPRESS user make sure to grab the specific code so that it will show up appropriately in your blog.  Otherwise, grab the embed code and insert into your own page.

Here are a few of my favorite examples!

Wolfram Alpha Widgets

WolframAlpha has some pretty awesome Widgets in Beta testing right now.  In fact you can easily create your own widgets.

Some of these are great for higher level maths, but I think they could be quite useful in the lower grades as well, particularly for investigating patterns.  They’re also not just for Math, but could be useful for Biology, Chemistry, Business and Finance, Humanities, and are really open to any good query searches.

Finding the widgets is quite simple.  Head over to Widget Gallery and then browse for an appropriate  WIDGET.

Once you’ve located the widget that you want you can select the EMBED button on the right and it will give you the source code to EMBED the widget into your page!

If you use Blogger or WordPress, it’s even easier.  Just click the appropriate button and it will take you to your Blogger/Wordpress page and insert it straight away.

If you want to create your own widget then at the top of the page instead of browsing you can select BUILD A NEW WIDGET.

Or you can select this from the widget start page.

If you choose to build your own widget, I would recommend you watch the 6-7 minute tutorial video that is located on the widget building page.  It is very informative and easy to follow.

Suggested Uses for Teachers:
– Provide a calculator for specific functions you want your classes to investigate
– Create a widget for an investigation, or even use one of WolframAlpha’s Lesson Plans for investigations
Suggested Uses for Students:
– Create calculators for projects and investigations

You can even insert a Wolfram Alpha search right into your page by going to:

PhET Experiment Simulations

The PhET website (Physics Education Technology), is a source of great Interactive Simulations for Math and Science.  Many of the simulations can be easily EMBEDDED into your class site.  Unfortunately not all of the simulations are able to be embedded directly, as they are .jnlp files, which run on java script (such as the Acid / Base Simulation), but you can link to them from your page with an easy picture link that they provide.
To EMBED one of the simulations into your own page, you will need to find a simulation on the PhET page that you would like to embed, and then click the EMBED option.  This will bring up the code, and you can either grab the IFRAME code if your site supports it, or if you use WordPress which does not support IFRAMES, then you can grab the second code which will allow you to put a direct link in your page.
These simulations are great for Math or Science, and could be used as a quick way for students to grab data sets for manipulation that they might not be able to generate in your own lab.

Here are a few example simulations that are embeddable in your page!


Click to Run
Plinko Probability

Click to Run
Vector Addition

Click to Run

Frontline Videos

Who’s Afraid of Ai Weiwei?

Frontline is great program produced for PBS by WGBH Boston.  There are a variety of current events relating to the sciences and humanities.  Best of all, they have tons of FULL EPISODES available to EMBED right into your class page!  The videos can even be watched chapter by chapter.

Go to the Frontline page and find the video you would like to put into your page.  

After you choose the video and start to watch, you can select EMBED on the right hand side.  This will give you a quick pop up window.  Choose the size you want the video to be on your site, and then copy the code.  Use an EMBED gadget to put the video into your class site!
The videos even come with additional links for media resources.  For instance this video I use for my Science class has links (on the Frontline page) to an accompanying article in the Washington Post.

Data and Maps

The SocioEconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) has some great data sets and maps displaying various climate and population statistics.  This could be a nice set of data for class discussion, or you might use it as a starting point for a class activity that would require students to geotag data sets.  Students might be asked to generate questions for inquiry into a topic as well.