Uncovering the Truth Behind the Salem Witch Trials with Google Expeditions

As a teacher from Danvers, MA, a town once known as Salem Village, I have been teaching the Salem Witch Trials to my students for years. Students often have difficulty understanding the gravity of what happened in their own backyard until they see the sites themselves during their 4th grade local history tours.

This year, when it came to covering the trials in our classroom, we incorporated a lesson from Google Expeditions allowing students to go through the sites in Danvers tied directly to the Trials again, but this time virtually. Seeing these sites within the classroom gave our students context, allowing them to see the physical places where these events unfolded while we discussed them. This in-classroom experience facilitated a deeper conversation into the mentality of the time. Mandi, an 11th grade student, said that the Expedition “brought a whole new level of understanding to what we are learning”. “It’s almost like we’re there in person” added 11th grader Sarah.

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Now, you don’t need to be in from Massachusetts to experience these sites. The new Expeditions invite you to explore the landmarks from the Trials including the Witch House, the home of Witch Trials Judge Jonathan Corwin, and The House of Seven Gables, which tells the story of the writer Nathaniel Hawthorne and his connection to the events of the Salem Witch Trials. This Halloween, students everywhere can take part in learning about this chapter of history.

Students can also experience a new Expedition for another holiday that falls this week, Day of the Dead. Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a two-day holiday that is celebrated throughout Mexico when families honor the role of death in life and connect with those who have died. Far from being a sad occasion, Dia de Muertos is colorful, humorous, and joyful. In this Expedition, students can visit sites like the Mexico City Plaza de las Tres Culturas, The Museo de la Muerte and The Dolores Olmedo Museum.

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This Fall, these Expedition experiences will allow students to explore their world and bring deeper meaning to their classroom discussions.

Recapping our support of Europe Code Week 2016

Interest in computer science education is booming across Europe, as it is being increasingly recognized as a critical part of a student’s academic preparation for the new global economy.  Yet not enough students are being given the opportunity to develop the technical skills necessary to allow them to be creators of future technological innovations. We want to do something about that. As part of our efforts to be a catalyst for developing the computer science education landscape, to encourage more school students to learn about computing, and to ensure that all of them have an opportunity to get the right skills, we participated in the European Commission’s, Europe Code Week 2016, initiative, which took place Oct 15-23.

To inspire students about future careers, we connected Googlers in our Zurich, Dublin and London offices virtually to students in classrooms from Ireland to Italy via Hangouts. This gave students an opportunity to interact with a Googler from their country despite the distance, to  hear from a professional in the tech field and ask lots of questions about how they got there.

Google Hangout Code Week 2016

Furthermore, we provided sponsorships to organizations who ran computer science outreach events: from Albania to Austria, Greece to Germany, and Spain to Serbia and in between, we were able to support 46 organizations in 29 countries who were doing innovative, inspiring and interactive things to get students excited about computer science.

In Ireland our awardees included Crana College, who ran their “Exploring Coding” event where students participated in a week of coding and programming related workshops, with plugged and unplugged activities.  In Italy, Fondazione Mondo Digitale ran “Simple Future” a training program based on coding aimed at students aged 6-18 from schools around Rome.

In Slovenia, Šolski center Nova Gorica ran an App Development with Android; In Turkey, Robincode ran “Code Your Dreams” with multiple sessions for four days to raise awareness of programming, coding and algorithmic thinking.

Other cool initiatives included Associació Eduin in Spain’s “Coding and robotics linking generations’ initiative to bring students and parents together to learn basic programming; Foundation Simplon’s Simplon.Kids in France and  Asociatia ADFABER’s Codeweek 4 girls event in Romania.

You can read more about the sponsorship recipients here. In Google supported 25,000 students to take part in coding experiences in just one week.

Overall, during Europe Code Week 2016 an incredible 20,000 events took place inspiring hundreds of thousands of students – an absolutely incredibly effort!   We hope to see the enthusiasm continue. See Code Week’s events page to see all the different activities still happening, and learn more about Google’s effort in computer science education at g.co/csedu.

Saving Magic Cat Academy from catastrophe!

Hi, I’m Momo, a student at the illustrious Magic Cat Academy. Heading to class this morning, I thought it would be just like any other day: learn a few new spells, drink some milk, and hang out with my awesome animal and vegetable pals. To my Halloween horror, hundreds of angry ghosts have invaded the halls of my beloved school — fur real! And now, I ask you to join me to try your hand (or paw!) at fending off these ghastly ghosts with today’s Halloween Google Doodle.

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With a swipe of your paw (or should I say wave of your wand), you can help turn these Halloween tricks into a real treat. But be warned, your spell casting must be quick and precise. To send these ghouls into a tailspin, you must draw the symbols that appear above the ghosts’ heads on your screen. Wow! Meow!

game demo

That’s not all: show your friends who’s the real expurrrrrt at casting spells by sharing your score after your sorcery is complete. After all, Halloween festivities are always more fun with your full litter!

goodwork

Saving Magic Cat Academy from catastrophe!

Hi, I’m Momo, a student at the illustrious Magic Cat Academy. Heading to class this morning, I thought it would be just like any other day: learn a few new spells, drink some milk, and hang out with my awesome animal and vegetable pals. To my Halloween horror, hundreds of angry ghosts have invaded the halls of my beloved school — fur real! And now, I ask you to join me to try your hand (or paw!) at fending off these ghastly ghosts with today’s Halloween Google Doodle.

halloweengif

With a swipe of your paw (or should I say wave of your wand), you can help turn these Halloween tricks into a real treat. But be warned, your spell casting must be quick and precise. To send these ghouls into a tailspin, you must draw the symbols that appear above the ghosts’ heads on your screen. Wow! Meow!

game demo

That’s not all: show your friends who’s the real expurrrrrt at casting spells by sharing your score after your sorcery is complete. After all, Halloween festivities are always more fun with your full litter!

goodwork

Saving Magic Cat Academy from catastrophe!

Hi, I’m Momo, a student at the illustrious Magic Cat Academy. Heading to class this morning, I thought it would be just like any other day: learn a few new spells, drink some milk, and hang out with my awesome animal and vegetable pals. To my Halloween horror, hundreds of angry ghosts have invaded the halls of my beloved school — fur real! And now, I ask you to join me to try your hand (or paw!) at fending off these ghastly ghosts with today’s Halloween Google Doodle.

halloweengif

With a swipe of your paw (or should I say wave of your wand), you can help turn these Halloween tricks into a real treat. But be warned, your spell casting must be quick and precise. To send these ghouls into a tailspin, you must draw the symbols that appear above the ghosts’ heads on your screen. Wow! Meow!

game demo

That’s not all: show your friends who’s the real expurrrrrt at casting spells by sharing your score after your sorcery is complete. After all, Halloween festivities are always more fun with your full litter!

goodwork

It takes a teach to engineer the classroom for creativity

Editor’s Note: As part of our ongoing celebration of World Teachers’ Day, we’ll be sharing stories that demonstrate the creative power of teachers worldwide, building towards a global online gathering of educators on December 3: Education on Air. Register today. And join the movement by sharing what teachers mean to you with #ItTakesATeacher

For Matt Martin, a chemistry teacher at San Diego’s High Tech High, teaching has always been about  sharing his passion for science and discovery. Matt knew early in life that teaching would be the best way he could inspire others to experiment, solve problems and explore their natural curiosity. Matt shared with us how he fuels students’ excitement for science by emphasizing experiential projects and self-reliance in problem solving.

It takes a teacher to incubate mad scientists

Matt sets his classroom apart by emphasizing the engineering design process (EDP), which is the central theme for his curriculum this year. This project-based approach to learning gives students room to fail and encourages them to analyze their results, regardless of the outcome. For his annual Mad Scientist project students designed and conducted their own experiments, such as building their own fireworks and igniting substances underwater. By discouraging duplicate projects and sourcing project ideas from the students, Matt brings creativity to the forefront. “You get to see all kinds of things changing color, growing — even creating colored fire,” he says.

While every teacher aims to engage and encourage their students, Matt’s teaching style enables students to learn through experimentation, problem solving and critical analysis. He emphasizes self-reliance while giving students the tools to problem solve themselves. “I learned how to persevere through my mistakes & grow confident as a student from the freedom given in Matt’s class.” said Savand, one of Matt’s senior students.

“I’m in awe of science and I love spreading that knowledge,” Matt says. By combining principles of engineering, an emphasis on student collaboration, and his contagious love of science, Matt created something larger: genuinely creative and curious students.

It takes a teacher to take smart risks

Matt looks to his school director, Robert, who functions as principal, for inspiration and guidance. “Robert really tries to cut through the nonsense and do what’s best for students,” Matt said. “He always encourages us and supports us in taking risks.”

This ethos of taking smart risks was put to the test when Matt and his students came up with a bold idea. They wanted to evolve one of their classroom projects —  making soap out of lye —  into a full-fledged business. Undaunted by the challenge of starting a company, Matt’s  students began researching different ways to get their business online. After weeks spent huddling around Chromebooks and poring over Google Docs of potential vendors, Wicked Soap Company was born. With help from some real-world scholars, John Cahalin and Elyse Burden, Wicked Soap Company has grown into a self-sustaining enterprise. “I’ve loved the opportunity to work with my classmates to run a business,” said Sophie, a sophomore student in Matt’s class. “Matt helps make chemistry fun.”

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Matt’s students making soap

The engineering and design principles Matt instills in his students reflect his love for making new things. When Matt and his wife moved into a new home this summer, he embarked on a home improvement project, leveling ground and importing bricks and tile to build a patio in the backyard. “I like to create and work with my hands,” Matt said. “If I find something I’ve never done before, I’ll experiment and try it out.”

Matt loves when his students come to him with creative ideas, and works with them to turn these concepts into tangible results. When one of his students wanted to see if the class could make bath bombs, Matt helped the students iterate and discover the best way to create them. His ability to turn students’ ideas into teachable lessons sets Matt apart from his peers.

To hear from Matt live, join us for Education on Air on December 3rd.

“Stranger Things” are happening in Google Allo

Mind control. Demogorgons. Barb. This Halloween, there’s no question we’ll see people out in costume as characters from this summer’s addictive Netflix original series, “Stranger Things.” To help bring you back into the ‘80s supernatural mindset, we’re partnering with Netflix to bring the Upside Down right to your chats in Google Allo, our smart messaging app for Android and iOS.

A new “Stranger Things” sticker pack is now available for download in Google Allo, featuring exclusive artwork inspired by the show. So whether you’re researching how to create a DIY Eleven costume with friends or debating whether Barb will reappear in season two, we got you covered.

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These stickers aren’t the only new thing in Google Allo this week. You can now reply to messages directly from your notifications on Android and iOS. So if you’re cooking up a French Onion Barb, you don’t have to stop what you’re doing to reply back to friends.

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We’ve also added support for Android N so you can take advantage of its features. With split-screen mode you can now chat with friends and rewatch season one at the same time. App shortcuts help you quickly start a new conversation from the home screen. And for iOS users, we’ve brought the ability to doodle on your photos to iOS, so you can craft a masterpiece before sharing in Google Allo.

Beware the flickering lights, and have a safe and happy Halloween!

P.S. Google Allo will help you unlock your powers today in New York City. Stay tuned to Google on Twitter for a hint on where the drop-off from Hawkins National Laboratories will take place.

Bringing virtual expeditions to classrooms in Spain

Discover the secrets of the ocean floor, soar through space, discover the hidden corners of famous museums or tiptoe through the house where Cervantes lived — all without getting up from your chair.

Google Expeditions are virtual reality (VR) tours designed for the classroom, and the app is now available to educators and students in Spain and the rest of Europe. Photos and 3D imagery become reality through simple cardboard viewers, which kids can assemble in class. Each adventure comes with detailed descriptions and points of interest, and offers suggested questions so teachers can easily integrate them into the day’s lesson.

Students experiencing Expeditions

First-year pupils at Madrid’s Cervantes High School experience Google Expeditions for the first time using Google Cardboard, a simple, low-cost virtual reality viewer

Teachers guide the experience, from choosing the day’s journey to setting the pace. They can direct their students’ attention to the relevant areas or choose to let them explore on their own. In “From the Stratosphere,” children can watch as a helium balloon is sent into space to gather panoramic images of Earth. “Undersea Expedition” opens a window onto the ocean depths and some of the world’s most fascinating coral reefs.

And, in honor of this year’s Cervantes celebrations, we worked with experts to develop VR collections dedicated to the author and his work. Now, kids can virtually experience four brand new journeys to some of the places where Cervantes lived and traveled, like his birthplace in Alcalá de Henares, the navy port at Lepanto and the huge windmills that inspired Don Quixote’s adventures.

All of our Expeditions content comes from collaborations with cultural institutions around the world — National Geographic and the Guggenheim, to name a few. But for this launch, we’re particularly proud of the partnership between Google Arts & Culture and Spain’s National Museum of Natural Sciences, which resulted in a unique virtual tour of the museum.

We partnered with the regional Ministers of Education in Castilla y León, Andalucía and Castilla-La Mancha, who wanted to host and support the launch, and raise awareness of the tool. To celebrate, our Google Expeditions team went on a one-month tour to Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Toledo, Valladolid and Valencia, reaching more than 2,500 Spanish children.

Live the Day of the Dead

Mexican poet Octavio Paz once wrote, “Our cult of death is also our cult of life.” Those words capture the spirit with which Mexicans celebrate Día de Muertos. On November 1 and 2, families in Mexico honor those who have departed, setting up colorful altars at home and in public places with the images of loved ones. These ancestors are greeted with their favorite foods, drinks, sugar skulls, colored paper, marigold flowers, candles and incense. It’s a true celebration of culture and family — and has even been declared “Intangible Cultural Heritage” by UNESCO.

Day of the Dead: A Celebration of Life (English Subtitles)

Day of the Dead: A Celebration of Life (English Subtitles)

Today, we want to invite everyone to experience Mexico’s tradition of paying tribute to life, through the Day of the Dead exhibition on Google Arts & Culture. The content is curated by 10 cultural organizations from Mexico, Peru and the United States and explores the Pre-Columbian roots of this festivity, its many transformations through history and its contemporary manifestations as told by pieces of archaeology, folk art, prints, paintings, sculptures, street art and many other artforms. The collection includes over 500 artworks and artifacts, 20 exhibits, 11 Street View virtual tours through cemeteries and museums and two guided tours that users can experience with a Cardboard viewer. A Google Expedition also allows teachers around the world to take their classes on a virtual field trip through the history of the Day of the Dead.

Start the exhibition online at g.co/diademuertos or download the Google Arts & Culture app for iOS or Android to dive into the ancient roots of the Day of the Dead through codices and sculptures.  You can explore the different representations of death in folk art pieces from all over the country; savor the paintings of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, and learn about Jose Guadalupe Posada, Mexico’s most famous illustrator and father of the iconic Catrina.

If you’re new to this tradition, get to know the elements that make up an Offering; enjoy the calaveras crafted by the legendary family Linares, visit the colossal skulls made by Mexican artisans for the 2015 James Bond movie, Spectre and even take a stroll through the San Andrés Mixquic’s cemetery during Día de Muertos.

Whichever route you choose, we invite you to explore death as a celebration of life.

3 secrets to Chromebook success from teachers of the 2016 graduating class

Editor’s note: In 2012, Google CEO Sundar Pichai shared his excitement that the Council Bluffs, Leyden, Fond Du Lac and Richland Two school districts were about to go “all in” on technology by providing Chromebooks for their students. Pichai said, “I can’t wait to see the impact it has on the education dynamics in the classroom.” Now, four years later, the first wave of students who used Chromebooks throughout high school have graduated, so we reached out to the schools to find out what they learned along the way. To learn more tips on using Chromebooks in the classroom, join us for Education on Air on December 3rd.

Four years ago the Council Bluffs, Leyden, Fond Du Lac and Richland Two school districts gave each incoming ninth-grader a Chromebook to use in class and at home as part of a 1:1 program. Here are tips that teachers and administrators from each of these schools on how to be successful introducing Chromebooks:

Allow for a transition period

It takes time for people to adapt to any new device or technology, so be patient when integrating it in schools. “Our faculty loves using Chromebooks in the classroom, almost as much as our students do, but first they needed an initial transition period to adapt to the new technology,” says Dr. Tatiana Bonuma, a principal for Leyden School District in Illinois. To make the transition easier, Leyden has student technical support interns who are available to answer teachers’ questions and troubleshoot any issues that arise.

Students also may go through a short transition period while they learn different ways to use the devices, not just as word processors, but for research and deep learning. “At first, our students used Chromebooks as a replacement for paper and pens,” says Samantha Adams, a high school language arts teacher for Council Bluffs School District in Iowa. However, this changed fast as students dived into the internet to do research for science projects, history papers and other assignments.

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A high school student shares his latest class project on a Chromebook with Dr. Tatiana Bonuma, principal for Leyden School District in Illinois

Level the playing field

In many schools students with computers and internet access at home have a significant advantage over those that don’t. But with a Chromebook in every student’s backpack, every student in the class has the same opportunity to spend time learning, working on projects and expanding their knowledge. “There has been a significant shift at our school in student technological and research capabilities because we use Chromebooks and Google Apps. This program has been a great equalizer, giving every student the ability to learn and understand technology,” says Susanne Liggett, a high school teacher at Richland County School District Two in South Carolina.

Using Chromebooks on a daily basis means students are more prepared for college and that they are learning skills that will help them throughout their lives, no matter what field they choose. “All of our graduating students are now able to use technology to work on digital projects, such as creating websites, YouTube channels and interactive Google Drawings, at the level a university will expect,” says Renee Nolan, an educational technology coach at Fond du Lac School District in Wisconsin.

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2016 graduates from Fond Du Lac School District in Wisconsin using Chromebooks in the classroom

Balance online and offline interactions

Chromebooks can be powerful communications tools for young people who are developing social, interpersonal and other life skills. “Some of our students who were shy or reluctant to work with their classmates on a project became more willing to do so electronically,” says Michaela Gray, a high school teacher at Council Bluffs School District. For example, students who might normally avoid engaging in the classroom are eager to use Hangouts and Docs to communicate about assignments and collaborate. At Council Bluffs, Gray saw an increase in student participation as a result of Chromebooks.

The devices are so easy and fun to use that students take to them very fast. This is a good thing, but the enthusiasm must be balanced with face-to-face interactions. “Sometimes I have to remind students of the importance of discussion and collaborating in person to build communication skills,” explains Liggett.

It’s been exciting to observe these freshman classes learn to use Chromebooks for the first time and learn that they feel better prepared for the next chapters in their lives because of their experience with the technology. “Students that visit after graduating say their experience with Chromebooks makes them feel ready to take on college and the professional world,” says Dr. Tatiana Bonuma, Principal at West Leyden High School. Imagine what we will be able to learn from graduating classes in the future as the role of technology continues to expand in the classroom.

To learn more tips on using Chromebooks in the classroom, join us for Education on Air on December 3rd.