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Gus Van Horn blog

Reblogged:Friday Hodgepodge

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Four Things

I like to keep an eye out for web resources I can use to teach my kids about various subjects. Here are four you may not have heard of, in no particular order.

1. The relationship between the earth and the sun lies behind the day-night cycle and the seasons. Bartosz Ciechanowski has posted a thorough but accessible, illustrated and interactive guide to the complexities:
Over the course of this article I'll try to explain how the Sun and the various motions of the Earth end up making our planet look like in the demonstration below. You can drag the globe around to see it from different perspectives and use the sliders to change the date and time...
The interactive parts are fun, and provide a great way to get past Night is the earth's shadow and hand-waving about how axial tilt causes the seasons.

2. Here (and above) is a short video of the first moon landing.

3. In another short video is an animation of how the continents and oceans have changed over time, by Christopher Robert Scotese of Northwestern University:
Notice how the areas of green (land), brown (mountains), dark blue (deep sea), and light blue (shallow seas on continents), changes throughout time. These changes are the result of mountain-building, erosion, and the rise and fall of sea level throughout time. The white patches near the pole are the expanding and contracting polar icecaps.

The first part of the animation is a global view. The second part of the animation is a closeup view...
I once inadvertently frightened my daughter (then six) when I told her that where we lived at the time was once underwater. I don't know if this would have necessarily helped then since the time scales are so great, but I'm glad to have this available the next time such a subject comes up.

4. I am not one to push my children to try to gain early admission to college, but if one of them shows enough aptitude and interest, I want to be able to help. And yes, I'd heard of the Khan academy, which I suspect I'll use sooner or later. But there's more advanced stuff out there, too, like MIT OpenCourseWare.

-- CAV

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