May 21, 2014
Our blog has moved!
For the latest Reflex and Gizmos updates and news, go to our new blog: blog.explorelearning.com/
May 12, 2014
Gizmo of the Week: Dichotomous Keys
In the parlor game “20 questions,” participants try to identify a mystery object by asking up to 20 yes-or-no questions. A dichotomous key uses a similar principle to help identify plants, animals, and other objects. At each step of the key, the student has two choices. Each choice leads to a new set of choices until the identification is complete.
In the Dichotomous Keys Gizmo, students can use keys to identify species of California albatrosses, Canadian buttercups, venomous snakes in Texas, Virginia evergreens, and Florida sharks and rays. For a fun contest, see who can correctly identify the most species in five minutes!
May 07, 2014
Site service interruption
Today the Gizmos website has been experiencing issues with displaying graphical content and Gizmos.
While there may still be some occasional interruptions in service, you should now be able to use the website and Gizmos.
If you are not seeing content load properly, please refresh your browser or failing that try quitting and re-launching your browser.
We will continue to publish status updates to this post.
May 05, 2014
Gizmo of the Week: Distance-Time Graphs
Sixty years ago, on May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister became the first human to run a 4-minute mile, an achievement once thought impossible.
Frustrated by finishing out of the medals at the 1952 Summer Olympics, Bannister spent the next two years focusing on the mile. Knowing his rival John Landy of Australia was also getting close, Bannister decided to run in a May 6th meet in Oxford despite blustery conditions. Using two friends to help set the pace, Bannister finished in 3:59.4 for a historic first. Bannister’s record only lasted two months, and today the world record is 3:43.13, set by Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco in 1999.
The Distance-Time Graphs Gizmo features one or two athletes running across a track. By manipulating a distance vs. time graph of their motion, users can see how the slope of the graph relates to the speed and direction of the motion it represents.
Educators at all grade-levels find countless uses for this versatile Gizmo, from teaching basic graphing skills to exploring piecewise functions. Be sure to watch this great 3-minute video on how to use this Gizmo to support an understanding of piecewise functions often studied in Algebra II. Or, explore all of our user-submitted Lesson Materials to see ideas from other educators like you.
April 29, 2014
Gizmos support integrated classrooms
“Gizmos are wonderful to illustrate concepts, such as weight versus mass, in a way that never could be done in an ordinary classroom. Students can explore math and science concepts on their own, over and over if they need to. The possibility of individually-adapted, timely learning is wonderful for an integrated classroom. Students love to try them out and can grasp concepts more easily. Results on situational problems have improved greatly since we started using Gizmos regularly.”
- Grade 5 Teacher, Eastern Townships School Board, Quebec, Canada
April 28, 2014
Gizmos nominated for 2014 REVERE Awards in three categories
ExploreLearning Gizmos has been named a finalist for the REVERE Awards. One of the largest and longest-running programs of its kind, the REVERE Awards (formerly known as the AEP Awards) are widely recognized by educators, administrators, and parents as a mark of outstanding educational value.
Gizmos are finalists in these categories:
- Golden Lamp Award: Supplemental Resources
- Distinguished Achievement Award: Science, Health and the Environment
- Distinguished Achievement Award: Mathematics
Winners will be announced June 4th at the REVERE Awards Banquet in Washington, D.C.
See the complete list of REVERE Award Finalists.
Update Flash to Resolve Weakness in Internet Explorer
As you may have already heard in the news, a highly-publicized vulnerability in Microsoft Internet Explorer can give hackers easy access to Windows PCs.
Early reports on the vulnerability suggested either using a different web browser or turning off Adobe Flash. However, now Adobe has released an emergency patch which resolves the vulnerability.
It is always a good idea to keep Flash up-to date, but in this case it is critical to update Flash immediately if you continue to use Internet Explorer.
Gizmo of the Week: 3D and Orthographic Views
Recent developments in 3D printing technology have enabled researchers to develop computer programs to print 3D body parts. One researcher in India was able to print a custom titanium plate for a large section of a patient’s skull that had been destroyed in a motorcycle crash. Researchers are even testing out printing with cellular ink and have successfully printed a mouse heart.
The 3D and Orthographic Views Gizmo is a great way to introduce students to the concept of three-dimensional shapes and figures.
In the Gizmo, students use blocks to try to create a 3D figure that matches the front and side views of a sample structure. Students can then optimize their figure by minimizing the number of blocks they use. This is a fun challenge and a great way to bring STEM concepts to life through 3D printing.
In addition to printing body parts, a Chinese company recently announced that they were able to build a village of ten structures in one day. As an extension to the lesson, have students read both articles. Then, facilitate a class discussion on the implications of this technology for global concerns like natural disasters, homelessness, and disease.
April 23, 2014
Gizmo of the Week: DNA Fingerprint Analysis Gizmo
April 25 is DNA Day! On April 25, 1953, a series of papers by Francis Crick, James Watson, Rosalind Franklin, Maurice Wilkins, and others were published in the journal Nature. These seminal papers established our understanding of the structure of DNA and suggested how DNA replication occurred.
In commemoration of this and other accomplishments in genomics, you and your students can celebrate DNA Day with a variety of Gizmos, including Building DNA, RNA and Protein Synthesis, and DNA Fingerprint Analysis.
The DNA Fingerprint Analysis Gizmo uses a simplified version of DNA fingerprints to establish the uniqueness of each individual’s DNA, and it allows students to connect DNA sequences to traits.
Happy DNA Day!
April 17, 2014
Lesson Material Updates: Polling
In February, we shared that several of the Lesson Materials for our statistics Gizmos were updated. We are back at it and have added three more.
Incorporate these and other statistics Gizmos into an integrated lesson, combining social studies and mathematics to teach students about polling and how using samples of a population can help predict elections.