Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Skwirk Blog – Late April 2013

Hi Skwirkers,
It’s fun and games in Skwirk HQ – not only have we had to deal with the end of daylight savings (our office manager Alice has been contemplating bringing a doona to work), but the early Easter has led to different school holiday times all over Australia! So:
·       Welcome back to our Skwirkers in Victoria, Queensland and the Northern Territory,
·       Happy holidays to everyone in New South Wales, the ACT, and South Australia, and
·       Hang in there for everyone in Western Australia and Tasmania – nearly at the finish line!
 New content for national site
As we align our content to the Australian Curriculum we’re continuing to remove the geoblocks on content that was previously only available to a few states. This month we’ve got some great content for students across years 5-10:
Media: Representation and Global Identity – this unit for Years 5 and 6 presents a great overview of how people form groups and how those groups in turn create cultures. It includes chapters on stereotyping, the role played by the media in the portrayal of various groups and how Australians have been represented in the past and the present. A great unit of work for media-savvy students who have been looking at Communities in Geography or text types in English. Includes over a dozen animations and over 40 colour images

 Stereotyping Animation

Reduce, re-use or recycle – this compact unit for Years 7 and 8 Geography students is an excellent addition to studying the ways humans interact with the environment. The chapter introduces an extended ‘waste hierarchy’ to help students think beyond ‘Reduce / Reuse / Recycle’ and considers the huge variety of materials we throw away on a daily basis. Great for linking Geography to the Environmental Sciences or investigating global citizenship.

Industrial Revolution – with the Australian Curriculum’s redesign of secondary history, this great unit now gets to shine on the national stage. Includes over 70 images ranging from maps of Britain’s global resources to diagrams of the machines that reinvented the production of everything from clothing to metal. This unit also examines the political and social events of the period and the effects on housing, employment and social structure. Podcast summaries at both the unit and topic levels provide teachers with a great tool to introduce or summarise the topic.

This. Site. Rocks. Showcasing a project that launched in 2005 and is still going, the Genographic Project combines bleeding-edge science with the ultimate story of discovery – mapping the origins and spread of humanity across the globe. The website includes an interactive ‘Human Migration Map’ and HEAPS of resources for educators. If you have EVER wanted to design a series of lessons that combine History, Geography and Science, look no further.

App of the week – World of Goo for Android and iPad, around $5
Forget Angry Birds. This four-year-old game (originally designed for the PC) is the best physics emulator game in the known universe. Help the insanely cute little Goo balls get to the end of each level by making them into structures that can traverse each level. The game has a perfect difficulty curve and students get immediate feedback on how well built and well-balanced their creations are. Add several doses of sweet, wacky humour and you have an amazing game that parents can play with their kids. I know at least one Science teacher that uses this game in his Year 10 Physics class!

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Skwirk Blog – Early April 2013

 Skwirk Blog – Early April 2013
Hi Skwirkers,
Well, here we are already nearing the end of Term 1 (how did that happen?). I hope you enjoyed the long weekend over the Easter period and haven’t eaten too much chocolate! Things are rolling along at Skwirk HQ, March saw a number of brand-new schools sign up for whole-school memberships, and a spike in teacher subscriptions. Welcome aboard to all of you!
Our mighty General Manager spent all of last week onsite with the development team for the new website and has come back incredibly excited about everything it has to offer. I’m personally looking forward to the new system for adding and updating site content, which I was told is ‘as easy as updating the blog’.
Great new media content for Stage 4 Science
The Science content for Years 7 and 8 includes units across Biology, Physics, Chemistry and Earth & Environmental Science. Our ‘Ecology’ unit is a monster – over 12,000 words spread across 16 chapters, with plenty of cross-curriculum connections for Geography.  We’re adding a heap of new media to this, including dozens of hi-resolution images, animations and videos, including content from the ABC. If you’re subscribed as a high-school teacher or student, head over and have a look!
Achievement unlocked – achievements!
Just before I started writing this I hit ‘send’ on the email containing the first 20 achievements that will be a part of the new Skwirk site. These achievements will cover a range of activities on the site and will be TOP SECRET on the launch date. The only way to unlock achievements will be by using the new site and looking around. And yes, there will be some prizes!
Professor Plum Rewards
Our recent additions to the Skwirk Store have been a huge success with all of the Liquifly Rockets and Construct-a-Clocks being claimed in a matter of days! Our friends at Professor Plum’s were delighted and will be providing us with more ace stuff in the coming months. Don’t forget that if you live in the Sydney area and are looking for some fun activities for the coming school holidays, the Professor Plum team runs science workshops that you can check out here.
Skwirk at the 2013 EduTECH conference
EduTECH is the largest education technology event in Australia. With over 3000 delegates from all states and territories coming together to hear from the likes of Alan November and Sir Ken Robinson. The Skwirk team is delighted to announce that we will be at the conference in force, showcasing the new Skwirk site and demonstrating everything that you can achieve with Skwirk. If you are going to the conference, please swing by and say hello!
Website of the week – The Opera House Project
The Sydney Opera House has always had a great sense of history. In 2011 the Ships Song Project combined an intimate look at the famous building with an all-star cover of the legendary Nick Cave song. 2013 is the 40th anniversary of Australia’s most iconic building and the SOH has teamed up with partners including the State Library and the National Film and Sound Archive to create a stunning virtual site tour. The website includes full-length documentaries, interactive timelines and 3d modelling of the building at every stage of construction.
App of the week – WWF Together for iPad
The WWF is a global voice for endangered animals of all shapes and sizes. They’ve released a lovely app that provides stories, information and gorgeous images of a broad range of these at-risk creatures. Every fortnight a new animal is unlocked, many with unique features – try using your iPad camera for ‘Tiger Vision’.  For an added bit of fun each animal is rendered in origami, along with instructions on how to fold your own! The WWF Together app is now available on the iPad. It’s free!