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Big Learning News 6-29-05

Big Learning News
Karen Cole's Guide to Real-World Learning with Kids
Issue 3:19 June 29, 2005

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Table of Contents

Math Moment: Universe Within (Powers of 10)
Activity - Fly around the world with Google Earth
Book Review: A Desert Scrapbook
Web Site : Robin's Nest Journal

Math Moment

Secret Worlds: The Universe Within

Ages 8 and up


It's a big week for Earth and space here at Big Learning News, and of course there's plenty of math to be found. The Universe Within web page takes you through the sizes of things, expressed in powers of ten. It starts with a view of space 10 million light years from earth, or 1023 meters away. Then it zooms, step by step one power of ten at at time, through space, down to a view of a Florida city, to a tree in the city, to a cell in the leaf, all the way down to quarks at a size of 10-16 meters. The page includes text that explains the powers of 10, and in the simulation each distance is also expressed more conventional units for that size - for example, 106 meters = 1,000 kilometers.


More math resources and our Math Moments archives on our Fun Math for Kids page on BigLearning.org - http://www.biglearning.org/big-learning-math-activities.htm

Activity: Fly around the Earth with Google Earth

Ages 5 (with help) and up


Oh, this is soooo cool. I'll say up front that it requires a high-speed Internet connection and a relatively new and fast Windows PC.

If you're still with me, download Google Earth and then call the kids, because they're going to love it. Google Earth lets you "fly" online to any address on Earth, and see a satellite photo of that place. You can actually type in your own address and zoom to a photo of the roof of your house (in our case, the photo is at least a couple of years old). Don't miss the "Tilt" controls - if you tilt the picture you get a better sensation of flying over the Earth.

There's a lot built into the tool - you can find famous landmarks, map out distances, see borders, latitude and longitude, and more. If you're interested in famous landmarks, the Google Earth Sightseeing Page will take you to the Grand Canyon, the Eiffel Tower, and eight other landmarks.


Book Review

A Desert Scrapbook: Dawn to Dusk in the Sonoran Desert by Virginia Wright-Frierson (Aladdin, 2002)

Ages 6-12

It's rare to find a piece of non-fiction nature writing with as much heart as this book has. It's written as a personal journal of an artist going out to paint in the Sonoran Desert. Written and illustrated to look like a scrap book, every page is both beautiful and informative. The artist takes us in first person through the things she sees and experiences during a day in the desert, and includes little asides about other days, like the time a vulture circled overhead as she painted, presumably waiting for her to die (she waived her arms to show she was quite alive!). There are plenty of interesting tidbits about desert plants and creatures, and also a fair amount about the process of a nature artist. Throughout she weaves a love of nature and especially of the desert.

Buying Information

More nature activities and resources for kids on BigLearning.org!


Web Site

Robin's Nest Journal

Ages 4 and up (with reading help)


My husband had the luck to have a pair of robins nest right outside his office window. With the single chick getting ready to fledge any day now, the fun is almost over, but we've all enjoyed watching the drama unfold. We couldn't get good pictures - the nest was just a little too high.

But anyone not so blessed can enjoy the same story thanks to Julie Corsi, who photographed a nesting period from her window, which looked down into the nest. The page has beautiful pictures of the empty nest, the eggs, and the chicks, plus commentary about each image.



Workshop Fun for July

Coming Soon...

Making Toys!

A New Big Learning Workshop for Families

More details soon...

Contact me about doing a workshop in your area.

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Big Learning News 2005 Karen Cole
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