Sophisticated language and technical, mildly uncomfortable content (like info about the sex appeal of orchids) means that the content will fit high school students best. If you find a topic of interest for late-elementary or middle school, try whole-group presentation via projector in order to increase teacher guidance and support.
High school biology teachers can compare the orchid and its partner bee side by side while studying form and function, co-evolution, or pollination. Definitely include the related video. Incorporate the Gunboat Philadelphia or the Wright Flyer into American history or even literature classes to deepen students’ connections to the time period, lifestyles, and experiences. Advanced art courses may use the site to explore lighting, color, and modeling. Across content areas, use the videos to introduce 3D imagery technology: Laser scanners, CT scans, and photogrammetry all appear in action with thoughtful commentary.Continue reading Show less
Smithsonian X3D provides users with interactive 3D images of museum artifacts. Beneath the home page’s impressive rotating banner are menu tabs for the 3D models (about 30), tours (for 10+ of the artifacts), and a video gallery. The Educators tab has a general welcome and intro to using the site, including tips for using the site with access to a 3D printer. From the home page, look for the “Getting Started” image (or link at the bottom) for a clear set of how-to’s.
The X3D artifacts are as diverse as mammoth bones and a Wright Flyer. The online collection also includes 3D images of archaeological sites and -- stunningly -- a supernova. Users can take 360-degree spins around the interactive objects, and many can be seen along cross sections. Tool let users manipulate lighting, color, and other visual elements to help them explore in greater detail. All images include (rather sophisticated) supporting text, and the tours walk through pinned locations within an artifact, focusing on interesting details.
Seeing these objects online isn't the same as seeing them at the museum -- and it might be even better. Kids can view objects from every possible perspective (like the back, bottom, or side). They can zoom in to see the structures of an orchid, zoom out, and even view along transects. Should you have access to a 3D printer, you can literally print your own Amelia Earhart suit or dolphin jaw. It's impossible to overstate how cool this is.
Kids can work through the prepared tours, reading thoughtfully developed content, or explore an object on their own. Short, captivating videos focus on the technology and techniques behind creating the 3D images and feature narration from diverse professionals who thoughtfully connect their work to creating a better world. While all of this is terrific, there's not actually that much for kids to do on the site. Adding some pop-up quiz questions, links to background or extensions, or tutorials on underlying science, social studies, or art concepts would all help. Additionally, giving teachers a little more guidance on how to integrate the content into their lessons would help, too. As it is, though, this site's rich potential for exploration could be a powerful asset in a teacher's bag of tricks.
Key Standards Supported
Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
Communicate scientific information that common ancestry and biological evolution are supported by multiple lines of empirical evidence.
Analyze and interpret data for patterns in the fossil record that document the existence, diversity, extinction, and change of life forms throughout the history of life on Earth under the assumption that natural laws operate today as in the past.
Apply scientific ideas to construct an explanation for the anatomical similarities and differences among modern organisms and between modern and fossil organisms to infer evolutionary relationships.
Earth’s Place in the Universe
Construct an explanation of the Big Bang theory based on astronomical evidence of light spectra, motion of distant galaxies, and composition of matter in the universe.
Communicate scientific ideas about the way stars, over their life cycle, produce elements.
Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.
Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.
Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.
From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
Use argument based on empirical evidence and scientific reasoning to support an explanation for how characteristic animal behaviors and specialized plant structures affect the probability of successful reproduction of animals and plants respectively.
Waves and Their Applications in Technologies for Information Transfer
Communicate technical information about how some technological devices use the principles of wave behavior and wave interactions with matter to transmit and capture information and energy.
Develop and use a model to describe that waves are reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through various materials.
Integrate qualitative scientific and technical information to support the claim that digitized signals are a more reliable way to encode and transmit information than analog signals.