humanoidhistory:March 7, 1969 — The lunar module “Spider” in a…


March 7, 1969 — The lunar module “Spider” in a landing configuration, photographed from the command module on the fifth day of the Apollo 9 Earth-orbital mission. The landing gear on the “Spider” has been deployed. Sensitive lunar surface probes extend out from the landing gear foot pads. Long story short, the Apollo 9 mission was essentially a space scrimmage for the historic Apollo 11 moon shot that took place just a few months later.


Physics With Portals Spring 2014

Above is a demonstration of harmonic motion using the game physics of Portal 2. I think the motion is more likely a general harmonic oscillator than a simple one but you get the idea. Yes, I know I made a grammar error in the annotation. Meh…

We spent a few days of the spring semester 2014 in AP/IB physics C/HL working on creating puzzles (game levels) for the game Portal 2 using the educational version of Portal 2.

The goal is to show that some element of physics either works as expected or does not by actually collecting some in-game data and analyzing the results. Individuals and small groups spent time learning the game mechanics, learning the basics of puzzle making (game-level design), and then learning how to test out physics ideas by collecting data. Then finally each group or person created an IB-physics-style lab report and we did a day of show and tell.

I got SO much help from Cameron Pittman at Physics With Portals including advice on capturing in-game video, lots of great examples of how to teach physics with Portal 2, and some hints and tricks on collecting data in game. Thanks Cameron! His videos are also really great for anyone interested in teaching physics with Portal 2.

Below is each level in a short video demonstration.

This one was just too crazy not to include. There was no associated paper. Just insanity…

Screencasting for Teachers

Summary: Learn the basics of screencasting for teachers. This is a common idea in the flipped classroom model.


If you are considering attempting to flip your classroom so you can be more interactive in class and have students get some short and sweet direct instruction at home for homework, at some point you may want to be the one doing the talking for that direct instruction. Some educators use TED talks, MIT OpenCourseWare, Khan Academy, YouTube content, or other teachers’ videos.

If you want to make your own lectures for a flipped classroom, you’re going to need to record content and get it online. Then of course you have to get students to consume your content. This post is all about HOW to make your own content for such a purpose. I’m going to use the term screencasting which has come to mean recording yourself using your computer. You can have your voice over the interactions with applications on your computer and you can also have a video superimposed on the computer.

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Trust the Schrockguide on educational technology

Software for screencasting ranges from expensive to free and quality varies a lot as well. If you have been in education for a while the name Kathy Schrock is likely familiar to you. She is one of the most prolific educational technology folks around. She has an entire section of her “Schrock Guide” dedicated to screencasting info including links to software downloads and HOWTO articles and videos. You can find info about software, web sites, mobile apps, and pedagogy stuff as well. It’s great.

I bought ScreenFlow a while ago for around $100 which is a lot to spend really. I justified the expense since I do a bit of distance education. The software lets me post to YouTube and Vimeo and add a lot of cool things to the videos. Here is a screencast about one of my recent lessons where screencasting was important. ScreenFlow has been a great tool for me. There are free and cheaper apps out there that do awesome stuff too so don’t think you need something expensive to screencast.

If you are a SMART Board user, then you are in luck. There is an app that’s part of SMART Tools called recorder which can record your actions on the SMART Board and can even record your voice. You can use the SMART Recorder without being connected to a SMART Board nor do you have to even use SMART Notebook. Here is a HOWTO video on using the recorder application. It works on a Mac as well. I tested it out. 🙂