Thursday, June 30, 2016

Short, quick overview of OER

Here is a short but aesthetically pleasing animation/explanation of Open Education Resources. It covers many of the benefits previously explained  in earlier posts. For example, the ability for teachers to modify online materials.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Merck PTE as a Chemistry Reference

Often students taking chemistry classes will find a variety of data is needed to solve a problem. A great all-in one reference for chemistry data is found in the Application Merck PTE. Merck PTE is available at no charge and can be downloaded on both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store.

What is Merck PTE?

Merck PTE is essentially a three dimensional interactive periodic table. The periodic table is color coded for the type of element, such as Alkali metal or Halogens. Sliding your finger over each element pops up a window with the element's name, the original name (Greek, latin, etc...), and the atomic mass. This feature is  the simplest aspect of this App, but a very helpful one. If you click on an individual element, it provides three tabs of information, general, basic information, and discoverer.

In the tab labeled "general", information such as the designation, classification, group, period and relative atomic mass are provided. In addition, a brief summary of the element on where it is commonly found, and the element's daily uses are given.

In the "Basic Information" tab, there is more technical information given. (I know...I know it says "basic" but relative  to the general tab, it is more technical.) Information from electronegativity to ionization energy about the specific element is provided.

In the final tab labeled, "Discoverer" information about the year , the country  and the scientist which made the discovery is provided.

The three tabs above are the only tabs found inside an element on Merck's interactive periodic table. However, if you go on a side application tab from the periodic table, there are even more features.

The developers of this app  ranked all the properties of  the known elements. 

They created a molar mass calculator with elemental mass compositions.

They provided a glossary explaining many important chemistry terms and concepts.

You can filter the periodic table based on properties

Atomic Radius Chart

I strongly recommend both science enthusiasts and chemistry students to download this app because it is such a great all-in one tool! In addition it's a no cost app!

Have fun!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Why it is important for you and education to vote!

Seeing the title above makes you wonder why an article regarding the importance of voting would be present on an education blog. I decided to write about this because we are currently in voting season and  I had the honor of working a poll in my home district primaries this week. By connecting it with education, both myself and Ross Brenneman's article can explain why education is very much a part of politics. Everything which drives the progress of a school  is political. Politicians take part in funding, testing, and curriculum decisions. It is important to note that nothing in this world is obtained completely free. There may be many free online educational resources, but the research money behind each site is not a small amount. Many people have different opinions on funding priority on a government bill. Some politicians prioritize other government programs or prefer tax cuts and some politicians prefer raising funding for schools. However, a critical question pertaining to the correct amount and the most efficient method of support from the government is brought up. How much should the schools be receiving and how should this be done? This is for you to decide.

So why is it important to vote?

Representation- Our country was founded on the basis of democracy. The founders were upset that Great Britain taxed the colonists without providing representation from the Thirteen Colonies in the parliament. Hence, the famous phrase, "Taxation without Representation". After a war and several voting right bills over the last 240 years, American citizens can now select their representatives. It would be ludicrous for American citizens  not  to exercise a right which lives were taken to obtain. In education, especially at the local levels, many politicians, or so called representatives make critical decisions for the education of your children. Examine their views on education and their ability to represent people with similar views. Make an informed decision regarding their credibility and determine whether their decision is in the best interest of your children and the community. Every vote matters, and many elections at the local level can be decided by very slim margins. Local elections, even though not as advertised as national elections, are very significant to education. The fact that fewer people vote in these elections, makes each vote much more powerful. I'm not suggesting any type of opinion on school funding, but it is important to remember that education is POLITICAL! Politicians make direct impacts on funding, testing and curriculum. The easiest way to impact education is heading out to a school election and casting a vote free of charge.

How can I find out more about the candidates?

I would suggest directly calling the candidates or their representatives on the ballot several days before the elections. School elections are important and I'm sure they will gladly answer any questions you may have. If they dodge your questions, perhaps their credibility may be in question. Additionally, Google is a great tool for researching candidates. It may be more difficult to use at local level elections. However, at state and national elections, many websites provide an extensive view of each candidate's political ideals. If every citizen were to expect greater accountability from each politician, then the right leaders will find a position in our nation. Every vote counts for the spirit of quality education, your children and the community.