Archive for March, 2009

100 Ways to Kickstart Your Brain On a Lazy Day

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

By Olivia Coleman

Everyone has those days at school or work when your brain is moving just a little slower than usual. If you find yourself up against a lazy day, give one of these tricks a try to get your brain going. With suggestions on brain-boosting foods and drinks, games, trivia, exercise and fun strategies, you are sure to find a way to wake up your brain from the list below.

Brain-Boosting Drinks

Sometimes all your brain needs is a drink to get it going. The following drinks will all give your brain that extra boost it needs to start pumping.

  1. Chai. This tea infused with a variety of spices and blended with milk or a non-dairy milk substitute will awaken your senses and your brain.
  2. Kombucha. In addition to the multiple health benefits of this unusual drink, it is primarily a detoxifier for the body. It also gets your brain pumping pretty quickly.
  3. Water. Staying hydrated benefits your body and brain by keeping you detoxified and oxygenated, so drink plenty of water for a brain boost.
  4. Matcha. This stone-ground, powdered form of green tea is a super-concentrated version of the green tea that comes in tea bags and provides a super blast for your brain.
  5. Caffeine. As this study indicates, a little caffeine may be beneficial to your brain, so have that cup of coffee when you brain feels a little sluggish.
  6. Kava kava. Long used in the South Pacific, kava kava is reported to induce both brain stimulation and anxiety reduction.
  7. Smoothies. A simple brain-boosting smoothie with fresh fruits and yogurt or a bit of protein powder will have your brain working again in no time.
  8. Ginkgo biloba tea. Ginkgo biloba tea helps promote blood flow, memory, and mental alertness.
  9. Ginseng tea. Tea made from the ginseng root provides better mental acuity as well as boosts blood circulation, reduces fatigue, and a host of other benefits.

Brain-Boosting Foods

From the instant benefit of cinnamon and peppermint to the longer-lasting benefits of blueberries, these foods are great ways to get the blood flowing in your brain on a lazy day.

  1. Cinnamon and peppermint. Research shows that cinnamon and peppermint stimulates the brain. Have some gum or tea and give it a shot.
  2. Fish oil. This nutrient, either obtained through eating fish or taking a good-quality supplement, not only increases overall physical health, it also helps boost your brain power.
  3. Apples. Long associated with healthy nutrition, an apple a day can provide brain health benefits.
  4. Salmon. Salmon is good for your body and your brain. This super food is high in omega-3 EFAs and protein, low in cholesterol and contains quite a few B vitamins, calcium, zinc, iron and magnesium.
  5. Avocado. Avocados have monosaturated fat (the good fat), which increases blood flow, which gives your brain a boost.
  6. Curry. Curry, and especially the turmeric in curry dishes, have been shown to boost cognition. The tantalizing taste will also help wake up your brain.
  7. Antioxidants. Eating foods that are antioxidants can help improve focus, problem-solving, and memory.
  8. Fruits and veggies. Fresh fruits and vegetables are a great brain booster. Learn about the benefits of fresh fruit and vegetables to your brain.
  9. Whole grains. Two and a half servings of whole grains a day can significantly reduce your chance for a stroke and keeps your brain in top shape.
  10. Olive oil. This healthy oil has been shown to break up clots in capillaries and generally help with blood flow.
  11. Blueberries. These little berries really pack a punch when it comes to brain health. Pop a few when your blood sugar and brain function feel low.
  12. Cocoa. Foods containing cocoa, like chocolate, may provide benefits for memory and learning, and the endorphins raised by eating chocolate will also provide a more immediate boost for your brain.

Simple Tricks

If your brain is stuck in a rut, try any of these fun and simple tricks to get it going again.

  1. Doodle. NPR reports how doodling can kickstart your brain when it is bored.
  2. Journal. Write down your thoughts, create a poem, or find some other way to express yourself in a personal journal.
  3. Music. Listening to music, whether it's a small chamber music ensemble or a full-out rock show, will stimulate your brain.
  4. Listen to Mozart. Learn about "The Mozart Effect" and how it can help your brain get going and work better.
  5. Study a foreign language. Listen to a bit of a foreign language tape or go online to study a bit to get your brain in gear.
  6. Switch hands. Try using your less dominant hand for simple tasks like eating or writing to stimulate your brain.
  7. Think positively. A simple change of perspective can perk your brain and make you feel empowered as well.
  8. Smile. Smile and laugh often. A silly joke or sharing a smile with a co-worker or friend is a fun way to get your brain going again.
  9. Aromatherapy. Aromatherapy offers a boost to your brain through various scents which work to stimulate, calm, energize, and more.
  10. Use your brain. Doing tasks such as avoiding the calculator for simple arithmetic or thinking through perplexing problems is sure to get your mind working.
  11. Write down dreams. Do this as soon as you wake up in the morning. This is especially effective if you are trying to come up with creative ideas or solutions.
  12. Send a note to a friend. Whether you send a quick text message or hand-write a note, the social connection and shift of focus will help kickstart your brain.
  13. Use chopsticks. The mental challenge of using chopsticks with a snack or lunch will give your brain a boost and teach you a new skill.

Video Games

Video games can get your brain working–research shows some games can even help fight Alzheimer's. Check out these games for a fun way to start your brain.

  1. MUO Games. MakeUseOf offers four games to help your brain start working.
  2. Truantduck.com Chinese Checkers. Play this classic game against the droid and practice your strategy skills.
  3. Simon Says. Practice your memory skills by playing Simon Says online. It's amazingly similar to the real thing.
  4. Legends of Elveron. Try this fantasy game that is all about strategy to get your brain working.
  5. Diner Dash. Serve diners with this popular online game where you make sure everyone gets seated, orders, and gets their food without getting angry.
  6. Super Money Ball. Try one of these mini games from Sega to improve your eye-hand coordination and really get your brain working.
  7. Escapa. Click and hold the red square and avoid getting hit by the blue squares or hitting a wall with this challenging game.
  8. Oregon Trail. Get on the Oregon Trail and download this old favorite.
  9. Hit the Dot. This game challenges you to click on each of the dots as they appear to see how many you can get in 30 seconds.
  10. The Blue Button Game. Click on the fast-moving blue button to keep playing, but if you click on a red or orange one, the game ends.
  11. Game Gecko Racing Games. Play several racing games online at this site.
  12. Dogfight 2. Using your arrow and space bar keys, participate in airplane dogfights with this flying game.
  13. Tetris. This classic game will sharpen both eye-hand coordination and quick, logical thinking.
  14. Breakout. This game requires you to keep the ball in play until it breaks all the blocks at the top.

Brain Games

The following games are all especially for you brain and will help you get your brain moving on a lazy day and strengthen it, too.

  1. BrainCurls. Exercise your brain with the games at this site that include jigsaws, memory games, and games that sharpen your observation skills.
  2. Games for the Brain. With popular brain games like Mastermind, chess, and Sudoku, you will find plenty of games for your brain.
  3. Brain Bashers. With 5 new games added each week, you can always find lots of video game fun for your brain here.
  4. Puzzability Sampler. The puzzles here include both interactive and non-interactive versions of word games like Hangman, Acrostic, and Slider.
  5. Thinks.com Jigsaw Puzzles. Work these jigsaw puzzles for a great online workout for your mind.
  6. BrainTraining 101. These brain games include many different logic, puzzle, memory, classic, and action games.
  7. Braingle. Brain teasers, riddles, trivia, and brain exercises are some of the fun activities on this website.
  8. Fit Brains. Play the free brain games here that are developed by scientists with the goal of providing the best fitness for your brain.
  9. Sharp Brains Brain Teasers and Games. These 50 games are especially meant to help exercise and sharpen your mind.
  10. Freedom Years Games. These brain games include jigsaw puzzles, memory game, Sudoku, and more.
  11. HAPPYneuron. Brain fitness becomes a science with the fun games and activities here.
  12. Brain Age. Available on Nintendo DS, this game is excellent for sharpening the brain, according to a study done by a competing software company, and keeping it going.

Other Games

From classics like Scrabble and checkers to word puzzles to knowledge quizzes that benefit those less fortunate, the following games will get your brain working.

  1. Word puzzles. Solve brainteasers such as anagrams, logic problems, rebuses any time you have a few extra minutes to get your brain going.
  2. Scrabble. Connect with others for an online Scrabble game to get your brain pumping.
  3. Chess. Learn how to play chess, or play online, so you can take advantage of the well-known brain benefits of this game.
  4. Do a jigsaw puzzle. Working jigsaw puzzles exercises spatial recognition, analytical processes, eye-hand coordination and will wake up a sleepy brain.
  5. Crosswords. The benefits of working crossword puzzles are many and even help keep dementia at bay as you age. Work one online or in the morning paper to jumpstart your brain any time.
  6. Logic Puzzles. Solve these free logic puzzles that provide an easy-to-use solving grid.
  7. Mahjong. Play free Mahjong games here with a variety for the casual player to the master.
  8. Checkers. Try to beat the computer in this checkers game or challenge a friend in person.
  9. Bridge. While you may not have time for a full-blown game in the middle of the day, play online or watch others for a bit to help get your brain moving.
  10. Backgammon. Nabisco brings backgammon to you for free with this online version you can play to give your brain a boost.
  11. FreeRice. Test yourself in several categories including English, Chemistry, Geography, Art, Math, and foreign languages to get your brain buzzing and help feed the hungry at no cost to you.

Trivia

Learning a bit of trivia not only gets your brain working when it's going slowly, but it also helps strengthen it. Give these fun trivia resources a try.

  1. 100 Fascinating Facts You Never Knew about the Human Brain. Learn some facts about the human brain to get yours working on a lazy day.
  2. Kickstart Your Brain With 21 TRUE Trivia Tidbits. Read these factoids for an easy brain spark.
  3. Fun Trivia Quizzes. Choose from several different trivia categories and take the quizzes to test your trivia knowledge and give your brain a boost.
  4. Trivial Trivia Collection. Get celebrity trivia, unusual trivia, or select from specific trivia categories to learn plenty here.
  5. Useful Trivia. Choose from Bible, history, holiday, TV trivia, and plenty of other categories.
  6. Trivia Cafe. Trivia Cafe provides daily and weekly questions, contests, and more to get your brain in gear.
  7. Triviaplaza. Find fun facts about music, movies, geography, science, literature, and more at this site.
  8. Random facts. Browse through this listing of random facts in order to add to your trivia knowledge.
  9. Fun Funny Facts. With information ranging from cockroaches to the memory of goldfish, you are sure to find fun facts to stimulate your brain when it's moving slowly.

Exercises

Physical activity stimulates blood flow, which can help perk up your brain. Do these exercises to help get your brain going when it falls into a slump.

  1. Take a walk. When your brain begins to flag, stand up and take a walk to get the blood flowing and your brain working again.
  2. Tai Chi. This ancient form of exercise uses a graceful form of stretching to keep your brain physically fit.
  3. Sex. Enjoy sex with your partner. Not only will it stimulate your senses, it has also been shown to sharpen your mind through its cardiovascular benefits.
  4. Take the stairs. Skip the elevator and use the stairs to get your blood flowing and your brain pumping.
  5. Yoga. Not only is yoga an excellent low-impact form of exercise, its benefits also extend to mental well-being. Use simple yoga stretches any time of the day for an instant brain boost.
  6. Yard work. Mowing the lawn, raking leaves, or just picking up the twigs that have fallen on the yard are all great ways to get moving and wake up your mind.
  7. Walk the dog. Getting Fido and yourself outside for a walk to perk up your brain.
  8. Swim. Jump in the lake or take a swim at your neighborhood pool for a great way to wake your brain.
  9. Bike. A leisurely bike ride through a park or down a dedicated bike trail is not only a good way to stimulate your brain, but you will enjoy the scenery and physical exercise too.
  10. Dance. Stand up and dance to put your body in motion and wake your brain. Dancing also offers anti-aging benefits.
  11. Golf. Enjoy a round of golf or hitting at the range during lunch for exercise as well as a brain stimulant.
  12. Hike. Put on some sturdy shoes and head out. Hiking can be as easy as exploring a city park during lunch.
  13. Tennis. The mental and physical stimulation of this popular game will have your brain buzzing in no time.

Quiet Activities

You might think that quiet activities wouldn't help get your brain going when it's dragging, but give these a shot to find out how much they can help.

  1. Read. Whether you are keeping up the news online, sitting down with a good book, or checking out the latest gossip magazine, do some reading each day.
  2. Hobbies. Work on a hobby to get your creative juices flowing and keep your brain working.
  3. Knitting. Putting your hands to work and letting your mind wander a bit will get your brain back on track in no time. If you don't know how to knit, learn here.
  4. Breathing. The deep, relaxing form of breathing used during yoga practice oxygenates the body, which stimulates the brain.
  5. Relaxation exercises. Try some of these relaxation exercises and you will teach your body how to feel more calm and your brain more focused.
  6. Meditation. For improving focus and stress relief, mediation can't be beat.
  7. Surf the Internet. Not only does surfing the Internet provide plenty of new information to stimulate your brain, the combined requirements of decision-making and specific strategies necessary when surfing also provide benefits for the brain.

Best Online Colleges or Universities During a Recession

Friday, March 20th, 2009

Online education has become the best option for many students who want to save money during a recession and protect their future career possibilities at the same time.  They do not have to give up on an educational future anymore in lieu of keeping their job, but can now do both for a portion of the cost of most traditional colleges.  Therefore, in an unprecedented move, nearly all online colleges or universities are the best to enroll in during a recession.  The schools that offer both traditional and online courses continue to charge their same rates per course hour, although they do offer financial aid and you do not have to pay high dorm fees!

The biggest benefit of online education is the flexibility that the degree programs offer to their students.  This has allowed students to continue their current job schedule and still take their classes from home after the work day.  While this is still a tedious balance between work and school, cutting down the commute time to classrooms and allowing students the flexibility to take their classes late at night or early in the morning has attracted a wide variety of students.  Additionally, students in the retail or restaurant business who have unpredictable schedules can now continue their erratic work schedules and still attend classes. 

The cost of attending online colleges or universities is also much lower than that of traditional schools.  Despite the recent recession, online colleges have not had to raise their tuition costs like so many other schools have had to, due to their for-profit status.  While we may see an increase in tuition in the future, the costs still remain much lower than any traditional university, thereby attracting students who previously had no opportunity to attend classes.  Some online schools are able to offer incredibly low rates due to their accreditation status: depending on the organization that accredited the school, the cost of their education may be worth more or less.  This is an important fact to keep in mind since you want a program that is well-accredited and can attract a future employer to your resume.

Online education has led to an increase in education for individuals around the nation, one feat which educators have acknowledged and praised, despite their skepticism about online colleges.  The best online colleges are those which offer endless course offerings to students who may be interested in a wide variety of subjects.  It then becomes difficult to choose between all the viable options!

 

100 Excellent Websites for Exploring the Ocean Online

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

By Megan Jones

The ocean is a beautiful and wondrous place, and we’re fortunate enough to be able to study it not just in person, but also online. Through various interactive sites, photo and video galleries, learning tools, and more, you can get a good look at the wild blue yonder without ever leaving your seat. Read on to find 100 great websites that will help you do just that.

Exploration & Expeditions

Get to go along with various explorations and expeditions through these websites.

  1. NOAA Ocean Explorer Explorations: Here you’ll be able to follow the explorations of the NOAA.
  2. Google Earth: Google Earth will take you beneath the surface to see the Mariana Trench, explore with National Geographic and BBC, and more.
  3. Living Fossils of the Deep: Go on an exploration of the Bahamian Seafloor through this expedition.
  4. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Online Expeditions: You can join the explorers of WHOI on these online expeditions.
  5. Life on the Edge: Exploring Deep Ocean Habitats: The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences will show you multimedia from a variety of explorations.
  6. The Voyage of the Odyssey: This interactive site from PBS allows you to experience the life of scientists and crew onboard the whale research vessel Odyssey.
  7. Cousteau Society Expeditions: On the Cousteau Society website, you can follow their expeditions.
  8. Dive and Discover: Be a part of expeditions to the sea floor on Dive and Discover.
  9. Search for the Giant Squid: Follow the Smithsonian Institute on their search for the giant squid.
  10. UN Atlas of the Oceans: Through this information system, you can learn about uses, issues, geography, and more.

Photo

Oceanography students and enthusiasts will enjoy these photographs of the sea, its creatures, and more through these photo galleries.

  1. NOAA Ocean Explorer Photo Gallery: See The NOAA’s explorations in photos here.
  2. Ocean–Above and Below: Check out this collection to see seascapes, marine life, and more.
  3. Ocean Living Photo Gallery: See ocean creatures and more through this photo gallery from the Smithsonian National Zoo.
  4. Image of the Day: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution offers a new ocean image every day.
  5. Wolcott Henry: Wolcott Henry’s website has portraits of marine life, conservation photography, and more.
  6. Ocean Oddities and Regular Residents: See the ocean’s road less traveled through these images.
  7. MUMM North Sea: This gallery offers a look at the North Sea.
  8. Wild Ocean Photo: Wild Ocean Photo offers a look at tiny creatures and blue water.
  9. Under the Ocean: This collection is exclusive to photographs under the surface of the ocean.
  10. National Biological Information Infrastructure Digital Image Library: Find nature, including oceans, in this digital image library.
  11. Deep Sea Images: Deep Sea Images offers photo stock of natural history images.
  12. Sea & Ocean: This group is full of the ocean, ports, beaches, and more.
  13. ARKive: On ARKive, you’ll find a unique collection of images of life on Earth.
  14. Christina Craft Photography: Christina Craft’s gallery is full of photographs from Vancouver Island ferry trips, as well as whale watching trips in British Columbia.
  15. Shuttle Views the Earth: Oceans from Space: See how the oceans look from space through this gallery.
  16. Ocean Conservation Photography: In this group, you’ll see photographs that tell a story about ocean conservation.
  17. Marine Photobank: The Marine Photobank aims to advance ocean conservation through imagery.
  18. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Image Galleries: WHOI offers a variety of images from their ocean work.
  19. Planet Ocean Photography: This photography site is full of galleries containing sharks, sea birds, fish, and more.
  20. Atlantic Ocean: Check out this group to see photographs of the Atlantic Ocean.
  21. National Marine Sanctuaries Media Library: This library is an online vault for high quality images and video clips from national marine sanctuaries.
  22. Ocean Photo: Reinhard Dirscherl’s website offers beautiful images of the ocean in a wide variety of categories.
  23. National Geographic Underwater Photo Galleries: National Geographic has a variety of underwater photo galleries. Currently featured are translucent creatures and underwater wrecks.
  24. MarineBio Photo Gallery: See photographs from MarineBio contributing photographers in this gallery.
  25. Pacific Ocean: Explore the Pacific Ocean through this collection.
  26. BetterPhoto Ocean Gallery: These ocean photographs are simply sublime.
  27. I Love the Ocean: Check out this group to see lots of photos of the world’s oceans.
  28. Living Ocean Gallery: In this gallery, you’ll see vertebrates, invertebrates, and the seafloor.

Video

Learn more about the ocean through these video galleries.

  1. NOAA Ocean Explorer Video Gallery: Check out this gallery to see video from NOAA explorations.
  2. Cousteau on YouTube: See videos from the Cousteau Society here on YouTube.
  3. Oceana Video: Explore the ocean and learn what Oceana is doing to protect the world’s oceans in these videos.
  4. Ocean Footage: Check out this resource to see stock footage video clips from the ocean.
  5. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Video: You’ll see video and animation about ocean life, technology, and WHOI science here.
  6. The Ocean Channel: You can watch documentaries, video, and more on The Ocean Channel.
  7. Ocean Planet: Underwater Flyby: Enjoy an animated tour of the Pacific Ocean from NASA.
  8. USGS Multimedia Gallery Water Collection: This collection features photo and video of water from the US Geological Survey.
  9. NOAA YouTube Video Playlist: Here you’ll find a collection of videos posted on the NOAA Ocean Explorer YouTube channel.
  10. MarineBio Video Library: Check out this video library for expedition galleries and more.
  11. WHOI Web Cams: Watch various WHOI stations in real time with these web cams.
  12. Savage Seas: In Savage Seas from PBS, you’ll experience animations in the wave machine, deep sea simulator, and more.

Audio

These audio collections will allow you to hear the sounds of the ocean.

  1. Sound in the Sea: In the NOAA’s Sound in the Sea, you’ll hear audio recordings captured beneath the ocean surface.
  2. Audio Slideshows: Through these audio and image slideshows, you can learn more about WHOI research.
  3. LHS Whale Sounds: Listen to and identify whale sounds in this resource.
  4. The Ocean Project Multimedia Resources: Here, The Ocean Project links to a variety of mp3s.

Interactive

Learn more about the ocean through these interactive websites.

  1. From Sea to Shining Sea: In this interactive map, you’ll be able to explore America’s oceans.
  2. Virtual Sailor: Hop aboard this simulator to find out what it’s like to experience sailing.
  3. WHOI Jigsaw Puzzles: Complete ocean jigsaw puzzles including a comb jelly, coral, and more here.
  4. Sea and Sky: Play free sea games on this website.
  5. Ocean Climate Interactive: In this interactive site, you can see the systems at work in the ocean’s climate.
  6. Ocean Explorer: In this game, you’ll take underwater photos on a journey to the bottom of the ocean.
  7. MarineBio Ocean Quizzes: Test your knowledge about the ocean with these quizzes.
  8. Indian Ocean Tsunami: Interactive Guides: See how the tsunami happened and more through these interactive guides.
  9. Treasures@Sea Interactive Activities: This collection of interactive activities includes quizzes, crosswords, and word searches.
  10. WHOI Interactives: You can look into whales, submarines, and more in these Flash interactives.
  11. Blue Planet Challenge: Take part in this challenge to learn about habitats and adaptation.
  12. Ocean Challenge Puzzle: Solve the ocean challenge puzzle with players around the globe or in your classroom.
  13. Ocean Adventures: Take on fun and games in this ocean adventure.

Data & Monitoring

Get access to data, current conditions, and more for the ocean on these sites.

  1. Ocean Motion and Surface Currents: This site from NASA shares currents, temperature, motion, data, and more.
  2. NOS Data Explorer: Search for NOAA Data through the NOS Data Explorer.
  3. NASA Ocean Surface Topography Multimedia: View multimedia from the ocean surface here, courtesy of NASA.
  4. NOAA Shoreline: You can learn about shoreline data through this website.
  5. British Oceanography Data Centre: The BODC makes biological, chemical, physical, and geophysical marine data available for search and download.
  6. National Data Buoy Center: Through the NDBC, you can view data from collecting buoys and coastal stations.
  7. Cente for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science: Cefas provides data on salinity, temperature, waves, health and more.
  8. DChart: This project offers an ocean and weather data navigator.

Learning & Education

Check out these sites for teaching, or just learning about the ocean on your own.

  1. NOAA Ocean Explorer Library: Check out this library to find important resources from the NOAA.
  2. Ocean Mysteries: Check out this resource to learn about some of the mysteries of the deep sea.
  3. Encarta: The World’s Oceans and Seas: Encarta offers information and exploration of the world’s oceans here.
  4. Oceans Alive: Oceans Alive has a variety of resources that you can use to learn about celebrating marine biodiversity and saving our oceans.
  5. MarineBio Facts: Learn fun and little known facts about the ocean from MarineBio.
  6. NOAA Ocean Explorer Maps: See animations, maps, and more of a variety of oceans in this gallery.
  7. WhaleNet: WhaleNet of Wheelock College is an interactive educational website focusing on whales and marine research.
  8. Ocean Literacy: Learn about the essential principles and fundamental concepts of ocean literacy here.
  9. Encyclopedia of Life: The Encyclopedia of Life offers you the ability to research each species of organism in the sea and beyond.
  10. Intute Oceanography Timeline: This timeline features the history of oceanography.
  11. Enchanted Learning: Find the answers to your ocean questions on EnchantedLearning.
  12. The Ocean Portal: Teachers can find learning resources from the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History here.
  13. NOAA Learning Objects: From the Monterey Institute, this resource offers learning objects on mid-ocean ridges, deep-sea corals, energy from the oceans, pollution, and more.
  14. Deep Sea Fishes: Find images, species, and more in this biological guide to deep sea fish.
  15. National Ocean Service Education: Find educational activities through this NOS education resource.
  16. The Bridge: The bridge offers a variety of free teacher-approved marine education resources.
  17. Ocean Classroom: Find curriculum, exemplars, and more from the World Ocean Observatory here.
  18. OceanWorld: Texas A&M’s Ocean World brings the ocean to the classroom.
  19. NOAA Ocean Explorer Education: Find excellent teaching resources from this NOAA site.
  20. Contrasts in Blue: Smithsonian in Your Classroom provides a look into life on the Caribbean coral reef and the rocky coast of Maine.
  21. Aquarium of the Pacific: This aquarium has an online learning center that will help you learn about different ocean species.
  22. Ocean Motion Teachers: Check out this resource to learn how you can use Ocean Motion in education.
  23. Planet Ocean: Discovery Education offers an excellent resource for learning about underwater life in Planet Ocean.
  24. Cultural Heritage: The NOAA’s Cultural Heritage site offers a look at artifacts, shipwrecks, and other underwater cultural treasures.
  25. History: Learn about early US ocean exploration from these images.

Are Online Education Degrees Necessary for Preschool?

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

Preschool teachers are in a type of limbo in the education field in the sense that many schools do not require their teachers to have an education degree, but other schools have found it increasingly necessary to hire teachers who have the education background.  With children in the preschool age, it is almost unnecessary to have an extensive educational background requirement for teachers, but many schools require a teacher who can stimulate students at an early age to better prepare them for beginning kindergarten.  However, the “warm, compassionate” spirit that many preschool teachers share cannot easily be learned in the classroom, making it a topic up for hot debate within many education majors.

The birth of online education has made earning a degree that much easier, as potential education degree-holders can earn their degrees online, with much less of a hassle than traditional college campuses.  As a result of this type of easy accessibility, more preschools have found it necessary to require a degree from their teachers and parents have flocked to these schools as well.  However, more questions have developed over the years as to how much education preschool teachers should hold: associates degree or bachelors degree?  And even more vexing is the knowledge that these careers are typically low-paying, meaning that most preschool teachers will not see a good turn around for the amount of time they put into the education. 

It has therefore become more pertinent of a question to ask whether preschool teachers should continue on course for an education degree, especially considering the advances in online education, or whether they should maintain their current status as knowledgeable in dealing with early education.  The traditional mindset of preschool teachers has changed, however, and many state schools now require a higher education and offer competitive salaries compared to the earlier salaries which were comparable to parking attendants.  There is now a greater need for education early education teachers who can help set the course for children early on, and online education degrees seem perfect for this type of advancement. 

This is still a major problem that plagues the early education community: while studies have shown teachers with colleges degrees can provide the best source of education for children, other teachers with no education background have provided the best care for students.  It is all a matter of what you want as a parent.  While this question will not be one which will be easily answerable in the coming years, preschool teachers have a new outlet in the internet to look forward to if they are required to earn an education degree in the coming years. 

 

100 Best Bookmarklets for Writers, Researchers, and Students

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

If you’re in the academic world or need to manage loads of research for your ongoing projects, you probably depend on the Internet to keep it all straight and connect you to libraries and information you wouldn’t otherwise be able to find. But what if there was a way to get it all done even faster? These bookmarklets can help.

Social Media and Blogging

Post, tag, update your Twitter account, and share sites faster with these bookmarklets.

  1. Share on Facebook: This bookmarklet makes it easy to share links, stories, photos and more with your network.
  2. Vodpod Post to WordPress: Post videos to your WordPress blog using this system.
  3. Tag Editor: This Firefox extension will help you come up with tags for your blog.
  4. StumbleUpon: Add the Stumble thumbs to your toolbar for easy stumbling.
  5. + add: Add web pages to Stumble, Twitter, Digg or other social sites.
  6. Twit This: Twit This sends web pages to Twitter.
  7. Flickr- upload photos on a webpage: Here you can quickly upload Flickr photos.
  8. Oddiophile’s Rather Fab Technorati Tags Bookmarklet: Generate tags for Technorati blogs.
  9. Technorati and Del.icio.us bookmarklet: Manage both sites here.
  10. TweetBurner: Share URLs on Twitter and FriendFeed.

Google

Navigate Google with more mastery when you use these tools.

  1. Subscribe: Click on this button to subscribe to a blog via Google Reader.
  2. + gmail: Gmail users can quickly open up a new message to compose with this tool.
  3. Gmail to Gcal: Convert Gmail text into an event.
  4. New Doc: Open up a new Google Document.
  5. Bookmarks: Easily bookmark pages to your Google account with this bookmarklet.
  6. Google Cache: View the Google cache for your current web page.
  7. Definition: Look up definitions with Google using this one-click tool.
  8. Google Groups: Search Google Groups here.
  9. Send text by SMS: U.S. texts can be sent with this bookmarklet.
  10. Google Images Search: Click this bookmarklet to search Google Images.

Calculators and Conversions

For calculations and conversions, use these bookmarklets for fast math.

  1. Firefox calculator: Firefox users can do basic calculations with this tool.
  2. Days left this year: Instantly find out how many days are left in the year.
  3. Average: Calculate the average of a sequence of numbers.
  4. Salary calculator: This nifty tool calculates a salary based on wage per hour and number of hours worked.
  5. Temperature: Convert Farenheit to Celsius or vice versa.
  6. Weight: Convert U.S. measurements to metric.
  7. Scientific calculator: Instantly gain access to a scientific calculator here.

Bookmarking and Saving

Manage all of your school work, saved sites, favorite research spots and bookmarks online here.

  1. del.icio.us linkbacks: Find out a page’s del.icio.us history and del.icio.us reviews.
  2. + later: Save a web page for later using this tool.
  3. Password Saver: This bookmarklet makes your browser remember login information for different sites.
  4. Convert Me: Here you can convert YouTube videos to other formats. Uses Zamzar.
  5. Send Selected Text: Internet Explorer users can select text from a web page, click on this bookmarklet, and a new Outlook Express message body will open.
  6. Take Screenshot: Capture a screenshot of any web page with one click.
  7. Furl: Access Furl faster.
  8. Duplicate Page: Create a copy of your current page as an alternative to saving it.
  9. Bzzster: Share and save pages with Bzzster.
  10. Shareaholic: Share your current web page on Digg, del.icio.us, FriendFeed, Google Bookmarks, Google Reader, Magnolia, Twitter, and more.

Productivity and Short Cuts

These short cuts will help you keep all of your work and school research organized as you finish your degree program without slowing you down.

  1. Search and highlight: This tool scans your current page for the words and phrases you enter.
  2. Open URL: Open text-only links.
  3. Count selected words: Counts the words in a selected text.
  4. Go to Selected URL: Go to a selected URL without having to copy/paste it.
  5. Previous Page in New Window: Head back to the previous page you visited without losing your current page.
  6. Bugmenot: Bypass registration forms with Bugmenot.

People and Communication

Find people and communicate with your references and collaborators with these bookmarklets. 

  1. Append Signature: Add your signature to the end of blog posts using this bookmarklet from Stephen Ostermiller.
  2. Find Phone Numbers: This bookmarklet looks up all the U.S. phone numbers on a web page.
  3. Send Location: Send a web page’s location to someone without having to send the entire page.
  4. Mail To: Mail a web page to your friends with this tool.
  5. Create URL from Text: Create an HTML link from a plain-text URL.
  6. Search Biography: Look up a biography here.
  7. Search Discussion Groups: Using DejaNews, this bookmarklet searches discussion groups.
  8. Find somebody’s home page: Find a person’s home page with this Google search.
  9. Personal Note: Leave notes for yourself and research partners on a page with this bookmarklet until you exit the browser.
  10. Confidence Booster: This fun tool showers you with compliments when you’re feeling low.

Search

Use these bookmarklets for a faster, more streamlined search. 

  1. Amazon This: Search Amazon by clicking on this bookmarklet and then entering your title or keyword search.
  2. Google Site Search: Search your current web page using Google’s search power.
  3. Web Archive Search: Find a website using the Wayback Machine here.
  4. Ebay search: Search ebay here.
  5. Wikipedia Search: Search Wikipedia quickly with this tool.
  6. Search IMdB: Search IMdB for actors, titles and more.
  7. Google News Search: This bookmarklet for Safari searches Google News.
  8. Google Blog Search: Conduct a Google blog search faster.
  9. Song Lyrics: Look up song lyrics and music here.
  10. Search the King James Bible: Look up people, keywords and more in the King James Bible.
  11. Search the Quran: Search the Quran with this bookmarklet.
  12. Search American literature: English majors can find quotes, characters, references and more in American literature.
  13. Search Dogpile: With one click, search Dogpile.
  14. Search MetaCrawler: Search MetaCrawler even faster with this tool.
  15. Search CNN News: Look up news stories on CNN.
  16. Search Your Health Daily: Perform a faster search on Your Health Daily.
  17. Yahoo Picture Search: Find photos from Yahoo here.

Customization

Customize your web experience to make researching even more enjoyable and organized.

  1. TinyURL: Shorten URLs for Twitter and other uses with this tool.
  2. Mobilize Me: Mobile users can reformat web pages using this tool.
  3. Display Images: View all the images on a web page in a centered column.
  4. Center window: Keep all your windows at the center of your screen.
  5. Hide all images: Hide images on a web page.
  6. Resize window: Here you can resize a window to an exact width and height.
  7. Zoom: These bookmarklets let you zoom pages and/or images in and out.
  8. View cookies: View a page’s cookies here.
  9. Resize fonts: Change the size of a page’s fonts.
  10. Google Toolbar: This toolbar lets you search Google from any page you’re visiting, find out what pages are related, and more.

Reference

Look up words, translations, locations and more when you use these bookmarklets. 

  1. Google Translate: Drag a browser button for languages like Polish, Swedish, Korean or Arabic into your toolbar.
  2. Urban Dictionary lookup: Look up words in the urban dictionary when you’re online.
  3. Acronym lookup: Look up confusing acronyms with this tool.
  4. Map This: Just enter an address and get taken to the map.
  5. Movie Times: Look up movie times in your area with this easy tool.
  6. Wikipedia: Instantly get directed to a Wikipedia entry about your query using this bookmarklet.
  7. OneLook Search: Look up definitions with OneLook here.
  8. Oxford English dictionary: Look up words in the Oxford English dictionary.
  9. Alexa site profile: Get information about a web page’s traffic.
  10. Merriam-Webster Thesaurus: Get synonyms here.
  11. Dictionary.com Lookup: Look up words at Dictionary.com.
  12. NASDAQ stock quotes: Look up stock quotes on the NASDAQ here.
  13. MapBlast: Look up non-U.S. cities using MapBlast.

Miscellaneous

This collection of bookmarklets can help you find recipes, keep track of your passwords and more.

  1. View passwords: See what you’re typing into a password box instead of ****.
  2. Find a Recipe: Look for a specific recipe here.
  3. Page freshness: Verify when a page was last updated.
  4. Date and Time: Quickly check the date and time.
  5. Backdrop: This tool blacks out the windows you aren’t looking at.
  6. IP Address: This bookmarklet will tell you your current IP address.

Open Courseware in Music from Major Universities

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

Traditional schools around the country began offering “open” courses years ago in an attempt to join the online education community and additionally attract a new variety of students.  Open courses are simply lecture notes and sometimes lectures from courses that schools offered a few years ago, but leave online for interested students. These open courses have ranged in subject from engineering to poetry, to the even more surprising topic of music.  We mostly consider music to be a class which cannot be taught through the internet, but online education has taught us that nothing is impossible in education.

MIT jumped on the bandwagon years ago and began offering free online courses to students around the world who were interested in what courses at MIT were like.  While these courses do not count toward any type of degree and are simply offered to any individual, they offer a new peak inside the Ivy League programs and may attract potential students to their programs.  Their most popular programs were ones in the science and math fields (what the school is most known for), but they have offered surprising open courses in music as well.  Their current open courseware offerings in music range from world music courses to introduction to “Composing for Jazz Orchestras.”  With more than twenty courses in music offered at MIT’s online open courseware site, the school has delved into its foray with online education and attracted a new class of students since it posted the courses.

Columbia has also joined the online community through its open courseware listings, although the school currently only hosts one music seminar on its website.  While the course, “Music from the Renaissance and Baroque”, is appealing to many students of music, the wide variety of MIT’s music courses is major competition to the smaller offerings of Columbia. 

Harvard is in the same boat as Columbia, offering minimal open courses, although the school is different from the other two since it continuously updates its site according to the school year.  It currently features classes from the 2008-2009 school year, featuring one music course in the “History of Blues in America.”  Like the other two schools, Harvard offers a wide range of classes in different subjects, focusing on computer science and liberal arts programs.

Open courses are an ongoing experiment, as it has yet to be revealed whether the free lectures attract more students to the colleges.  One thing is for sure though: the many available lectures that can now be downloaded allow interested individuals to gain a more thorough knowledge of a topic which may be difficult to research on their own.  How else would you get the information offered in MIT’s “Schubert to Debussy?”