Posts Tagged ‘desert’

Inca Geometry (with videos and much more!)

June 9th, 2008

Recommended Website:
GoGeometry: From the Land of the Incas

Age Range: 11-17 (Younger students will enjoy aspects of this site with parental assistance.)

“Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!!! Take some time to explore this site. You will be glad you did!” That was the recommendation I received from the ClickScholar who suggested this site that offers an array of resources including animations, science, and Incan history in order to help students learn Euclidean geometry.

She also wrote, “Did you know that from an airplane looking down at Peru you can see giant carvings (carved into the ground by ancient people thousands of years ago) in the likeness of a monkey, a hummingbird, and more? And did you know that this had anything at all to do with mathematics – or, more specifically, geometry?”

She is referring to the The Nazca Lines (sometimes referred to as “crop circles”). According to the website, “They are a set of zoomorphic, phytomorphic and geometric figures (lines, triangles, trapezoids, circles, spirals, birds, a spider, a monkey, flowers) that appear engraved in the surface of the Nazca desert…in southern Peru. The Nazca Lines are one of the mysteries of the ancient world. They are the most outstanding group of geoglyphs (drawings on the ground) in the world.”

They are believed to have been created by The Incas during the 15th and 16th centuries. The Incas were a civilization in western South America near Cuzco, Peru. You may have heard of Machu Picchu, an ancient fortress city of the Incas in the Andes Mountains. The Incas were superb craftsmen and architect-engineers.

When you get to the website you can explore the Nazca Lines while getting multi-media lessons in Geometry. You’ll find geometry problems with step-by-step solutions, proofs, colorful animations, quizzes, puzzles, quotations, videos, and more.

From the homepage, you can click on the featured illustration to enter the site, or scroll down the page to find the “Table of Content” and access the areas that interest you. Scroll below that to find an assortment of recent additions to the site including an exploration of “Stonehenge and Geometry.”

From the Table of Content, be sure to click on “Videos” where you’ll find an eclectic selection of geometry-themed “You Tube” presentations about the Nazca Lines and Indiana Jones, Crop Circles, Waldorf Geometry, Math Humor, music, cultural information, art, and even a video titled, “Teaching Geometry and Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land.”

Again, there is lots of content here – so much, in fact, that I wasn’t able to review it all. Therefore, as always, parents should preview the site to determine suitability for your own children. Bookmark this site, you’ll want to return often.

Virtual Field Trip to See Desert Tortoise

January 25th, 2008

Recommended Website: Desert Tortoise Natural Area

Take a virtual field trip to see the Desert Tortoise Natural Area (DTNA) in Kern County, California. Explore the environment of the Desert Tortoise that lives in this Mojave desert biome.

When you get to the website simply scroll down the page to follow the “Main Loop” virtual trail. Read the informative text and see the illustrative photographs. You can also take side trips along the “Plant Loop” and “Animal Loop” virtual trails to learn about the flora and fauna that thrive in this desert habitat home.

When you complete the virtual tour, click on “Tortoise” on the main menu bar to access information about the life cycle of the Desert Tortoise and read some interesting facts and trivia about these remarkable creatures. Don’t miss the “Commonly Asked Question” section — it’s loaded with great information that even explains the difference between turtles and tortoises.

Virtual Tour of Big Bend National Park

March 23rd, 2007

Recommended Website:

Big Bend National Park

This Texas national park is huge, encompassing the entire Chisos mountain
range and a large portion of the Chihuahuan Desert. The goal of this website
is to bring you as close as possible to actually experiencing every inch of
this spectacular natural wonder. Hence it features the latest in interactive
panoramas: with many of the photos (if you use your mouse to scroll around)
you will see an unbroken sphere of scenery not only on all sides, but also
above and below.

To embark on this breathtaking virtual adventure, you can click on any one
of the numbered locations on the map (located on the homepage), sequentially
or at random — or you can select a location from the menu to the left of
the map. If you prefer to browse by geographic feature, you can use the four
drop-down menus directly above the map. Whatever method you choose to
navigate the site, you will come away with an increased appreciation for
this national treasure.

Don’t miss the newly-added virtual tour of an ancient native dwelling as
high tech photography meets prehistoric petroglyph. The waterfall near the
bottom of the map also leads to a real treat for the eyes!

This site also features information about actually visiting Big Bend, if you
happen to be in the neighborhood; or you can order souvenirs of your virtual
visit from the virtual gift shop! :) If you like, you can also download a
screensaver and have this scenery always close at hand by subscribing to
their email newsletter, Virtual Big Bend Updates.

Note: Some sections, such as the forum and “In Memoriam,” are directed to an
adult audience. As always, parents are encouraged to preview the site to
determine suitability prior to introducing it to your children.

Math — Fun with Fractals & Platonic Solids

January 6th, 2003

Recommended Website:
Fun With Fractals & The Platonic Solids

This website is a curious blend of math, nature, and art photography. When you get to the site you will see an extended menu. Read the introduction for the artist/mathematician’s purpose. Then, you can explore platonic solids – especially the tetrahedron.

This is where the site really gets fascinating. The artist has photographs of a child building a tetrahedra (instructions are included so your kids can build their own). Then, the artist has a photo gallery of children of all ages placing their tetrahedras in nature settings – in the snow, in the desert, and with birds, flowers, trees, water and more. The contrast yields some remarkable photographs. Each picture is accompanied by an explanation of why a particular location was chosen.

But the artist doesn’t stop there. She hand-drew the photographs to create coloring pages that you can print out and color at home. So as you look at a photograph of a tetrahedra in nature on the website, right next to it you will see a coloring page. Click on it, print it out, and color it in!

This is a highly unusual and effective way to blend nature, math, and art. Just the sort of thing homeschoolers will appreciate! :-)

Cool “Fossil” Dig — Buried Bones!

June 30th, 2002

Recommended Website:
Paleontology: The Big Dig – Buried Bones

This site, sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History, offers an
interesting and fun activity for kids to do at home to help them understand
fossilized bones and paleontology digs. Kids create their own “dig sites”
and then try to excavate the “fossils.” Explicit instructions, photographs,
and a materials list simplify the organization aspects of the activity. You
will undoubtedly need to plan a day or two in advance, so that you have all
of the simple materials you will need.

This is a great way to introduce kids to paleontology, and after their dig,
they may want to check out the rest of this section of the kid-friendly site with detailed information and photos that describe some real digs in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia – with an emphasis on dinosaur fossils.

Virtual Tour of Great Wall of China

February 15th, 2002

Chinese New Year is in full swing! It began on February 12th, the first day in the Chinese Calendar year of 4699 — the Year of the Horse. I thought a virtual field trip to The Great Wall of China was an appropriate way to celebrate!

Recommended Website:
The Great Wall — A Virtual Tour

The Great Wall of China was built over 2,000 years ago and stretches about 4,500 miles from the mountains of Korea to the Gobi Desert. The wall was erected to protect various Chinese regions from invasion by barbarians. It is a remarkable spectacle of human engineering. At this website you will see breath-taking photographs of each of the major sections of The Great Wall. The photos are accompanied by text that explains the history of who built the wall, how it was built, and how it was used. When you get to the site the tour begins immediately. Just click the “next stop” buttons on each page to advance to the next part of the virtual tour. There are about 12 pages to view, so plan to spend at least 10-15 minutes to take the whole tour.