Pretty sure I had gloves just like this when I was 7, only there was a tiny knit teddy bear in a pocket instead of a Russian flag…
It’s almost time for the Winter Olympics, and time for me to find friends with working TVs so I can play too. Before the torch reaches the Olympic stadium, however, there’s still time to work in some fun Olympics themed interdisciplinary awesome!
The Australian Olympic team has provided a set of interlinked Winter Olympics lessons for several grades and disciplines. (Despite its dubious educational benefit, my favorite is the coloring sheet featuring a kangaroo jumping out of a matryoshka, for sheer hilarity.)
From the Australian Olympic team, see link above
Science and Engineering
NBC Learn has a host of neat videos on the science and design behind the tools, gear, and execution of various winter sports. There’s even one called ‘Olympic Movement and Robotic Design’ that I am looking forward to watching when I get a free minute. (2010’s series of films are still available thanks to the NSF here.)
Every now and then I run across a link that is just too cool to wait for an appropriately themed post, and today is one of those days.
Today I discovered The Learning Network, a blog on education hosted by The New York Times. This extremely active blog uses content from NYT as the basis for lesson plans, quizzes, activities, and other materials directed at both teachers and students across all academic disciplines. You can investigate their archives based on subject matter (grammar, social sciences, math, etc.) or by type of activity (word of the day, ‘6Q’s about the news,’ poetry pairings, etc.), or search the blog for a specific topic, article, or event.
One of the currently featured posts is “Twelve Ways to Learn Vocabulary with The New York Times,” full of neat trivia regarding the main NYT website itself (did you know that double clicking any word in an article will bring up dictionary definitions of that word?), lesson suggestions on content based analysis (even for the sports pages!), and opportunities for student writing.
This blog and some other cool resources I’ve encountered will soon be showing up on the re-organized resource pages here at Brain Popcorn, so stay tuned!
*waves* Hello All! I have returned from my trip to Italy and essentially recovered from the Italian cold I brought back with me, and I’m back on track to keep bringing you fresh Brain Popcorn. Today’s post celebrates unusual music.
ASIMO conducts the Detroit Symphony. Click for story.
Music is a great interdisciplinary doorway. Though I ran as far as possible from the calculations necessary for the ‘physics of music’ class they offered in undergrad, the fact remains that music and physics *are* closely linked, and so are music and art, music and history, music and literature, music and myth, music and….you get the refrain. Today we’re going to focus on a few science connections.
Gravity Makes Music!
Gravité from Renaud Hallée: check out some very cleverly edited percussion work with falling tennis balls, forks and knives, televisions, basketballs, and light sticks. It reminds me a lot of the number “Trashing the Camp” by Phil Collins, from Disney’s Tarzan. (Thanks to Rob over on Politics et Alia Sensae for the heads up!)
For a slightly more complicated set of interactions (with some entertaining moments and some real physics –there’s a Newton’s Cradle in there!) check out the Rube-Goldberg-inspired “This Too Shall Pass” by OK Go. Once you’ve watched it once and have stopped laughing, go again and keep your eyes out for levers, weights and counterweights, wedges, and a number of other simple machines.
Vegetables as instruments?
Well, it beats eating them… If you missed my earlier link to the ViennaVegetable Orchestra, here it is. This is a great way to talk about materials engineering (what qualities are they looking for when they pick their vegetables? How do they change those materials to get the sound they want?), and also just to discuss the ways people make noise (beating, blowing through a tube or over a tube, plucking, shaking…how do these veggie instruments resemble or differ from what a regular orchestra/band/jam session uses?).
Did you know? The palm cockatoo is known to beat hollow logs with sticks to make loud drumming sounds. ~courtesy of @AMNH, the American Museum of Natural History’s Twitter feed
Animal Music–apparently not confined to cetaceans and songbirds! (Does anybody else have the lines from Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb running through their heads yet? “Many more monkeys drumming on drums! Dum ditty dum ditty dum dum dum!”)
The Stalacpipe Organ at Luray Caverns, photo from their website
And finally, for sheer amusement value, “Flight of the Bumblebee” played on an iPad. Is this cheating? Having played this piece on the flute, I’m going to say yes. If you’re not out of breath by the end, it doesn’t count. 🙂
Downhill skiing is fast. Ice skating’s got those nifty blades. Bobsleds are faster and those runners are longer, and they make that awesome ‘whooshing’ sound. What’s not to love? (Okay, so I was maybe influenced a little a lot by Cool Runnings as a kid. I’m not the only one.)
There was a tree at the base of the best side of the house for sledding when I was a kid. A really big pine tree that you didn’t want to hit, if at all possible. So my brother and I, assisted by our parents, got pretty decent at packing up snowbanks so that we would curve around the tree, around the corner of the house, and out into the backyard. It worked enough of the time to be worth it.
However, there are safer, smaller ways to build a bobsled course that don’t involve pine needles down your jacket collar. My favorite is the paper-towel-tube bobsled run. The simplest of indoor Olympic sports, all you need are paper towel tubes (wrapping paper tubes, mailing tubes, toilet paper rolls, you get the picture), marbles or toy cars (I’m more of a marbles fan, myself. Run 4 at a time for a four-man sled!), masking tape, and a whole lot of books, furniture, and boxes to form your ‘hill.’ Cut, tape, and go wild!
(To make ‘curved’ sections, I recommend cutting out triangular pieces from the paper towel rolls [which end up looking like diamonds once you’ve made the two angled cuts] and bending and taping them together. This takes some practice to get a reasonable variety of angles that aren’t going to make your marbles stick in the turns!)
For other examples, check out some of these snazzy runs for ideas!
I love the Olympics–talk about an interdisciplinary event! Theatrics, costumes, sport, science, art, international themes, history…a brain popcorn extravaganza if ever I saw one.
To get you in shape for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic celebrations and competitions, here are links to gear up your brain!
Official Websites of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics
Official Site of the Vancouver Olympics, including a fun interdisciplinary nod to native legends and local ecology with the three kid-friendly mascots, Quatchi, Miga, and Sumi. Have to admit that Miga is my favorite — how can you not love a ‘sea bear?’ Part orca, part endangered Kermode ‘spirit bear’, and relentlessly adorable.