“…the Digital Learning Team are calling on Edinburgh pupils to use their creative powers to create a short video encouraging young people to stay safe online. The competition is open to primary and secondary schools.”
How can your school participate?
Request an extended free trial to BrainPOP. To claim your free access please email Rob Richardson (NB you do not need to enter the competition to claim your free access, nor take out a free trial to enter the competition).
We recommend your students watch our esafety videos to understand the various issues around esafety and use as a starting point for the activity
With their new knowledge be inspired to create their own 30 second esafety video
See the poster below for details. Good luck everyone!
It’s nearly time for the Elf on a Shelf to report back to Santa, the turkey to be defrosted, and the decorations to be taken down from the attic.
And, of course, it’s time for our annual look back at BrainPOP!
2015 – the year of computing in schools?
We launched lots of new resources on Computing in 2015. As well as being a vital part of the new English curriculum, it’s a topic that’s close to our hearts too, with lots of complex elements that need explaining.
(Technology wasn’t always our friend though when Chrome caused us an issue earlier this year. It’s easily solved though.)
Movie magic science
It appears 2015 was a fine year for movie science! in 2015, Tim and Moby explored the science behind Back to the Future, The Martian, and Jurassic World. We wonder what scientific wonders we’ll be able to see in the new Star Wars film? You’ll have to wait until 2016 for that.
Keeping our feet on the ground, but reaching for the stars
In 2015, Nasa’s New Horizons spacecraft completed its 3 billion mile trip to Pluto, and sent back some jaw dropping photos. So in July, we took an in-depth look at our solar system’s most distant neighbour.
Here at BrainPOP UK we like to encourage an inquiring mind and we get a lot of letters to Tim and Moby asking questions.
Sometimes when we get letters those questions get made into a movie, sometimes Tim and Moby write a letter back, and sometimes they even end up on the wall at BrainPOP HQ!
Today, we got a really great one that we couldn’t help but share. So, without further ado, here is Jowen’s fantastic question and Tim and Moby’s answer:
There are a few different reasons why we don’t have a part of our skeleton protecting our bellies, or abdomen.
Firstly, during pregnancy a woman’s organs need to be able to move out of the way of the foetus (that’s what a baby is called before it’s born) and her abdomen needs to be able to swell as the foetus grows. If there was a part of your skeleton covering that part of the body this wouldn’t be able to happen so there would be more risks for the mother.
On top of that babies would have to be born smaller and less developed due to the lack of space so they would have a lower chance at survival at birth. To learn more about pregnancy’s effects on women and how babies develop check out our pregnancy and foetal development topics.
Secondly, one of the skeleton’s main functions is support. Our skeleton helps hold us up and lets us move around.
If our rib cage extended down over our midsection then it could affect our ability to bend over, squat, sit down and other similar kinds of movements. Watch our skeletons topic to find out more.
And the rib cage has another job too. In tandem with the diaphragm the rib cage helps us to inflate and deflate our lungs so we can breathe.
We don’t need to do that over our stomach and if we had some parts of skeleton attached to the bottom of the rib cage it might make it more difficult to breathe. You can check out our respiratory system topic to find out more about how we breathe.
Genetics are a complicated business and sometimes a mutation that has an evolutionary advantage like for example resistance to malaria can have a big evolutionary downside like sickle cell anaemia.
So, it’s hard to say whether a mutation that led to a rib cage around the abdomen would have other side effects. Take a look at our genetics and genetic mutations movies to learn more.
Fundamentally, we don’t have skeletal protection for our stomach and intestines because not having it didn’t stop us from surviving.
“Visual literacy combines the use of a variety of visual products (lists, tables, graphics, graphic organizers, concept maps, mind maps, argument maps, timelines, systems maps, videos, movies and art) with teaching, learning and assessing processes, and creates interconnections of visual, oral, written, visual representation, numeracy and technological/digital literacy.”
Oakdale Junior school has been using BrainPOP for a number of years and this was an opportunity to reflect on how they use BrainPOP in their teaching practice.
The MirandaNet team spent time with the school’s senior leaders, teachers, and pupils to investigate whether their growing use of video, gaming and quizzes was enriching learning and what they could do to improve their practice further.
The process specifically looked at evidence of learning, from motivation to recall to improved practice.
The winner of the ‘Your Scotland’ competition has been announced!
This was a STEM focused competition, asking children to investigate challenges that their local community faces, and how they would solve them.
And the winning school is…drum roll…‘Raising Raisins’, 3R Class, Rosebank Primary School in Dundee!
Inspired by researching fighting hunger on BrainPOP, their entry starts with “We are Rosebank’s Raising Raisins and our mission is to “Do good in the neighbourhood”. One of the problems people have in Dundee, is that sometimes they don’t have enough food to eat…”
It’s such an important topic, and the pupils responded so well to the challenge of supporting their local foodbank by making flyers, collecting donated food, and spreading the word through the school and on their website.
To read the rest of Raising Raisins project, what amazing work they did for their community please visit their blog and leave a comment. We’re sure they’d appreciate it.
Well done Raising Raisins, Tim & Moby think you rock.
We’d also like to congratulate the children at Antonine Primary School in Falkirk who took 2nd Place and 3rd places for their fantastic reports on ‘Cyber Bullying’ and ‘Immigration’. You read all about their work on the RM Unify blog.
It’s nearly November and aspiring novelists all over the world are getting ready for this year’s NaNoWriMo, but what is it?
In a nutshell it’s National Novel Writing Month (get it? Na-No-Wri-Mo), where writers commit to writing a 50,000 word novel… in a month. That seems pretty unachievable at first but that’s actually committing to writing 1667 words a day for 30 days; which sounds a lot less intimidating.
You don’t have to write a 50,000 word novel. It could be 50,000 words worth of short stories or a novel that keeps on going, anything you like really. And it doesn’t really even have to be 50,000 words.
The spirit of NaNoWriMo is to set a writing target and stick to it.
So why participate?
It helps to create a good habit – sitting and writing for a certain amount of time a day – even if it’s just to free write or write in a journal is almost meditative and a good opportunity for self-reflection. Plus we live in such a busy world it’s important to regularly seek out a bit of calm.
“Winning” NaNoWriMo by managing to complete your goal gives you a nice rosy glow of success.
You learn to do instead of procrastinate. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of something and just never get past the planning stage. For many writers with a loud internal editor it can be hard not to obsess over every word. But when you have a strict goal you have to meet you have to force yourself to just write, and leave the editing for after.
You get to actually make something, even if that something is just for you.
You get in touch with your imagination. You don’t have to make a masterpiece to achieve something with NaNoWriMo; sometimes it’s just about kick starting your creative side.
If you get a team together or join one online you can make it a collaborative experience.
During the edit, it’s a good opportunity to improve your grammar knowledge and writing skills. Especially if you’re using software like Scrivener which can tell you just how many times you wrote particular words and phrases you tend to overuse.
How can you use NaNoWriMo in class?
NaNoWriMo actually has a Young Writer’s Program(me) and although it’s American and aligned to the Common Core standards it has a lot of great resources and information that you can use in your classroom to get your students writing.
You can even connect with other classes doing NaNoWriMo all over the world!
Some Useful Resources to get started with:
NaNoWriMo’s Virtual Classroom can help you facilitate with your students such as tracking their progress and can help you connect to other classes all over the world
There are workbooks and lesson plans that you can use to get ideas. (Although they’re American a lot of what’s in them is very transferable and some other educators in the forums may already have UK based lesson plans.)
This word count calculator is really useful. Sometimes you just can’t get your words done on a particular day and this tool helps you adjust your target as needed so you don’t need to panic!
NaNoWriMo pep talks written by successful authors (including authors who write for children and young adults such as Holly Black) are great for a bit of inspiration. This past one by Neil Gaiman is a particular favourite.
Creative Writing Spotlight – a veritable treasure trove of English movies, quizzes, printable resources, and activities to provide you with the essential knowledge and skills for all types of creative writing and storytelling.
It’s finally here you guys! The future is here! Or at least it’s the date that Marty McFly travels to in Back to the Future Part II and we’ve taken a look at what it got right and wrong.
Moby does a great Doc Brown impression
Sadly, hover boards and flying cars aren’t ubiquitous and you won’t be zipping your way home through the air, but the movie did make some impressive predictions that have turned out to be true. So what made it and what didn’t?
What Back to the Future Part II got right:
While putting a fuel cell into a DeLorean won’t make it travel through time, fuel cells themselves are real and are a pretty cool technology. Check out how they work and the real world applications in our Fuel Cells topic.
And that’s not all, you may remember Doc Brown pouring rubbish into the engine when he needed fuel. Well, you can’t just throw banana skins into your car or pour old cola in but biofuels are a real thing and you can find out all about them in our Biofuels topic.
So, we might not all have hover boards but there is light at the end of the tunnel as Lexus have announced that they’ve made one! And they made a cool video to boot:
But how does it work? Well, magnets! It sounds like a bad punchline but it’s actually true and the board uses magnetic levitation a bit like a maglev train. You can find out more about magnetism and how it works in our Magnetism topic.
Back to the future was right on the money with plentiful flat screen TVs and was ahead of the curve with flexible or “bendy” TVs which exist but aren’t yet a consumer staple. To learn about the technology behind flat screen TVs you can check out our Television topic.
There are also robots and drones everywhere in Back to the Future and while that might not be a reality in everyday life yet we’re heading in that direction. Especially with companies like Amazon trying to create services like Amazon Prime Air where they would deliver your packages via drone! Learn about how robots work and what we use them for in our Robots topic.
So what about what Back to the Future got wrong? You see CDs and laserdiscs all over the place in the movie rather than data storage devices like the USB drives you would mostly likely see on a day to day basis in the real world. While CDs still have uses, they’re nowhere near as common as they are in the movie. To find out how CDs work check out our Compact Disc/DVD topic and to learn about USB drives check out our Data Storage Devices topic.
A major thing the movie missed was smartphones and it really stands out in a modern viewing of the movie. Nowadays you often see people phone in hand – even when they’re walking about but personal devices like that weren’t really featured. Instead all of the tech was shared rather than belonging to individuals.
What it got wrong:
But the biggest thing that the movie predicted wrong?
That’s right, fax machines. They’re everywhere in the movie – even in the middle of the street but you hardly see or use them today. Even companies and organisations that still use faxes often use a digital version rather than an old fashioned fax machine. To find out how they work and what they were (are?) used for check out our Fax Machine topic.
Futurology, or predicting social and technological advancements, is an important part of advancement and all it takes is a knowledge of science and a healthy imagination. Can you imagine what technology and the world will look like in another 30 years? Perhaps movies in 30 years we’ll be looking at movies like The Martian to see how close they got. Check out our blog post on the technology in The Martian to find out how realistic it is.
You may be able to fit all of the planets in the solar system between Earth and Mars but that won’t stop us from going there (but hopefully without leaving anyone behind!)
There’s actually some pretty good science in Ridley Scott’s Sci Fi blockbuster The Martian and it’s pretty hard to watch it and not come out excited about science and the future of space travel. This is in good part due to NASA helping out with the movie which really adds to the realism.
Chiwetel Ejiofor, who plays the NASA mission director in the film, described it best as “an amazing merging of fact and fiction. I was really excited about the ideas in the movie and actually going to Mars. Because there was so much research and detail, everything had this feel of being deeply realistic.”
NASA is really trying to capitalise on the buzz and have made some great resources tied to Mars and The Martian that you can use to do the same in your classroom:
But you don’t have to rely on NASA for educational resources related to The Martian; there’s some great BrainPOP UK topics you can use as well!
Here are our top picks for topical Martian BrainPOP movies:
Obviously getting to grips with the red planet is top of the list. This movie covers everything we know about Mars and what we’ve done so far to find it out.
Space flight is pretty key in The Martian – you’re not getting to Mars without it. This movie covers what it takes to get into space; how to get around once your up there; and, probably most importantly of all, how to get home. The realities of space travel, particularly long-haul space travel, can be hard to communicate and this topic helps to get across the massive distances and huge technological advances involved.
The Martian is in many ways a love story about science, space exploration, and most of all NASA. Everyone part of the mission in the movie is deeply devoted to science and furthering human space exploration and the audiences feels incredibly invested as well. Check out BrainPOP’s Apollo Project movie to bask in NASA’s past successes and marvel at how we managed to get to the moon with computers less powerful than your smartphone. If we can go to the moon, just imagine what we could do with future technologies!
International Space Station
It takes international help and cooperation to get Mark Watney home in the Martian and nothing is quite like the international cooperation involved in the building, maintenance and staffing of the International Space Station. Not only is it amazing as a feat of global cooperation there’s also some pretty amazing experiments happening up there and new technologies are being developed all the time because of it. In fact, what we’re learning from the ISS as the only microgravity lab is absolutely critical to future missions to Mars!
Did we lose you? We know it’s not as exciting sounding as space flight but without his solar panels Watney really couldn’t have survived, plus we saw him dragging them around so much they might even count as a character (but not as much as the rover!) and as we don’t have a movie specifically on potatoes this one will just have to do.
The Martian is a really fun film but possibly the best thing about it is coming out of the cinema feeling excited about science and about heading to Mars in the future. Perhaps there’s a future astronaut in your class waiting to be inspired.
And finally we’ll leave you with a NASA promotional video with Ridley Scott, the director of The Martian, talking about the NASA’s exploration plans for Mars in the future!
Big news for our Antipodean friends! BrainPOP UK is now fully mapped to the Australian curriculum.
We’ve been working hard over the summer months to add a Australia to sit alongside our current English and Scottish curriculum mapping. To try it out visit our curriculum mapping tool, select ‘Australia’, and browse from there by year group.
It’s that simple!
When you’ve found the objective you’re looking for it will list one or more topics that best fit (bear in mind we don’t claim to have a topic for every objective – that’s not really what BrainPOP’s about).
If you’re looking for something specific use our predictive keyword search or drill down through the subjects.
We’d be keen to to hear from Australian teachers that use BrainPOP and hear your feedback. If you’ve got any questions then get in touch!