This free app is incredibly engaging. You start with four elements (air, water, earth, and fire) and are required to combine elements to make new materials. Right now there are a total of 330 possibilities and that list keeps growing. While it is not a true scientific environment, it does afford the chance to think about the relationship between certain elements. For example, when you mix water and earth you get mud. Or when you combine lava with air you get stone. There are some silly combinations as well. My favorite so far is that a sword and the energy element combine to create a light saber. Add a human and you've got a Jedi!
The logic of this activity reminds me a lot of the crafting aspect in Minecraft. Some Middle School students at my school have been showing me how to create things in Minecraft worlds, and I soon learned about how intricate the crafting interface is.
Infographics are the new thing it seems for telling a story or supporting an argument. Easel.ly is a free web-based tool that lets you work with templates for creating really elegant visual representations of information. There are a bunch of templates and objects that can be added to the infographic, and you can upload your own content.
The interface is very simple and easy to navigate. While I love the updates to the Prezi editor and have generally thought that Glogster is a interesting presentation medium, I find that Easel.ly has better web-based interface design for visual content organization. My only gripe is that it doesn't work well on the iPad!
With this growing use of infographics, I like to remind myself about how easy it is to be persuaded by the arrangement of information rather than the facts. I think it is a skill to create persuavive materials, but I also think that a fine line has to be drawn between persuasion and deception. What would you think if you saw this infographic at the top of this post?
Header photo by Robert S. Donovan