Learn How to Make Podcasts!

I’m excited to introduce the DIY Podcast Tutorials!

After months of work, we are proud to roll out a series of videos to assist you with using the DIY Podcast site.

Screenshot from the DIY Podcast Tutorial video

The series consists of six videos that begin with answering the question “What is a podcast?” and end with demonstrating how to make audio and video podcast files with the DIY Podcast resources.

Watch the processes of creating podcast files and start using technology in the classroom.

DIY Podcast Tutorial

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What's With the Green Screen?

Learn about using the green screen technique

Maybe you’ve wondered why many of the experts in our videos have a green background. Its purpose is to allow your students to add a “special effect” by inserting an image or video. This technique is used to do weather forecasts on the news and to create special effects in feature films.

The green screen effect is not just for the pros at the networks or in the film industry — it’s for you and your students too. Check your video editing software to find how to do it. Some editing software comes with a green screen tool. Others require a plug-in application.

Below are two examples of adding a photo background and a video background to a green screen interview. I am using clips and images from different modules. (Why not mix them when you can?) The clip is from the Colonel Mike Fincke video in the Exploration Careers module.

The background image is from the Micro-g image gallery in the Fun in Microgravity site.

The video background is from the Space Station video clips gallery.

Just creating a podcast or video offers the opportunity to be creative, but students can be even more creative by adding special effects to their video podcast.

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Production Ideas for Using Still Images in Video Podcasts

We’re wrapping up our blog series on using still images in video projects with a few production ideas for developing classroom projects with DIY Podcast materials. In the Sports Demo topic module, astronaut Clayton Anderson demonstrates sports in microgravity. He shows how it’s different to play ball or do gymnastics without the full force of Earth’s gravity. Your students could show the earthbound perspective by taking pictures with their digital cameras.

 It might be fun for your class to participate in the same sporting events that Anderson demonstrates on the space station. You could designate a few students to take action shots of their classmates playing baseball. Some of the students who play in the baseball game could serve as photographers for the next sporting event. By the end of your sports demo, all the students will get to shoot photos and play sports.

With the use of transitions and special effects, your class could create a video product exclusively using still images. If you take that approach, you could grab still images from the Sports Demo video clips to draw a contrast between sports in space and on Earth. You could mix in some of the stills on the DIY Podcast: Sports Demo Images page. Or your class may prefer to capture video and just drop in still images for titles, transitions or special effects.

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DIY Podcast: Sports Demo

Benefits of Using Still Images in Video Products

Video should usually be created with moving video, but still images are well suited for some video production situations. In our last blog post we discussed how a lack of moving video prompted Ken Burns to rely on the pan and scan effect to bring Civil War photos to life. When video you need isn’t available, you may choose to incorporate still images into your video project. An occasional still image may help to smoothly transition from one scene to another.

Using still images to make a video is sometimes faster, cheaper and easier than using live motion video. For example, it’s faster and easier to download an online image of Sir Isaac Newton than to have a student dress in costume to perform a vignette for a video podcast about Newton’s Laws.

If you don’t have access to a video camera, your students can still build a video podcast or digital slideshow by creatively blending still images with text. The DIY Podcast activity provides images related to the topic modules. Once you find images suitable for your project, insert them into the timeline in the order you want and then add transitions, graphics and music. You could spice up the project by dropping in a few of the DIY Podcast video clips.

Still images also make great backgrounds for project titles and are more visually interesting than a solid color background. You may want to manipulate the image in your photo editing software to give it a soft blur or some other effect before importing it into video editing software for inclusion in your project.

In our next blog post, we’ll share some production ideas for using still images in video products your class creates with DIY Podcast materials.

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Extract Still Images From Video

DIY Podcast topic modules feature images that you can use when building your podcasts, but you may occasionally wish to grab a still image from one of the video clips. A couple of videos that come to mind are Sunita Williams exercising on the space station, which you’ll find in the Fitness module, and Clay Anderson demonstrating sports in space, which you’ll find in the Sports Demo module.

Most video editing software makes it easy to extract a still image from video. Depending on the software you use, the still image function may be listed as “Export,” “Make Freeze Frame,” “Extract” or “Take Picture from Preview.” You also may want to try a simple Web search for a free image extraction tool.

Students can use special effects with still images to create supplemental video that runs with their narration. We’ll discuss some of the ways still images are used to create video productions in upcoming posts on the DIY Podcast Blog.

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Adding Still Images to Video Projects

We started a conversation on the DIY Podcast Blog last week about using still images in students’ video podcasts. Still images can be used in a variety of ways to enhance video projects. One technique, known as the pan and scan effect or move-on-stills photography, was introduced to most of us through Ken Burns’ documentary film “The Civil War.”

The technique is used primarily when film or video material is not available. It gives life to still images by slowly zooming in on subjects of interest and panning from one subject to another. For example, if your students include DIY Podcast clips of an astronaut in their video project, they could use this effect on an expedition or space shuttle crew portrait. Your class videographer could slowly pan across crew members’ faces and settle on the crew member being discussed by the narrator. The pan and scan effect also can be used to transition from one scene to another.

You can achieve this technique with a camera or with software that incorporates still images into a video project using slow pan and zoom effects. If you scan an image, it’s important to determine the right scanning resolution for your work. You need enough data in the scanned image to allow you to zoom in without causing the image to break into blocks of pixels, but you don’t necessarily need to go with the highest scanning density because the resulting file will take a lot of hard drive space and slow your computer processing.

We’ll consider some of the benefits of using still images in video projects in our next blog post. How are you using still images with video in your classroom? Post a comment and share your experience.

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Amateur Radio on the International Space Station

Most of the DIY Podcast topic modules feature astronauts on the International Space Station explaining or demonstrating scientific concepts. Your students can create audio podcasts with the sound clips we provide on the Audio Clips page of each topic module. But what if your students could interview an astronaut aboard the space station and ask the specific questions they want answered? Amateur Radio on the International Space Station, or ARISS, offers this opportunity.

If you or one of your students’ parents is a ham radio operator, you may be able to contact an astronaut aboard the station. Record the conversation audio, and then your students will have unique content to add to their podcasts. As students prepare for a 10-minute session with a space explorer, they could study a topic related to a DIY Podcast module, listen to the clips provided in the module, and then ask informed questions to get answers they would like to include as sound bites in their own podcasts.

International Space Station Reference: Ham Radio
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Deciding Between Audio and Video Podcasts

As you start a new school year, our NASA education team hopes you’re planning to include the DIY Podcast as a classroom project. It’s a ready-made resource for engaging your students in STEM topics. You may be trying to decide between audio and video as you set the stage for your students to create their own podcasts featuring NASA astronauts and technical experts.

A good starting point is to pinpoint what you’re trying to achieve. Is your focus on sharing knowledge and information, or do you want to demonstrate a concept or activity? Demonstrations are usually enhanced by visual productions. Straight information and content-rich interviews and sound bites are well-suited for audio productions.

Try to anticipate how people are likely to use your product. If you think they’ll take time to watch it on their computer or mobile device, video may be the right choice. If it’s more likely they would want to listen to your students’ podcast while doing other things, audio may be better. Audio works well for multitaskers who might not stop what they’re doing just to watch a video. Generally speaking, video is a foreground medium and audio is a background medium.

An important consideration is the time and equipment required to produce your podcast. Audio usually takes much less time to produce than video, and the equipment costs less. Audio files are smaller than video files, which may be a key factor if bandwidth is a concern for you.

The popularity of online video continues to soar. Educators recognize the power of visual communication. Research suggests that more than 80 percent of human learning occurs visually. Combining audio and visual elements leaves a strong, long-lasting impression.

Since the whole point is to engage your students, you may want to ask them which medium they would prefer to create. And remember to create a podcasting rubric before you begin the assignment.

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Scriptwriting Idea for Solar Arrays Production

In the DIY Podcast Solar Arrays topic module, Expedition 12 Commander Bill McArthur details some of the uses of electricity on the International Space Station. Electricity is a lifeline for astronauts on the space station. They can’t even breathe without it. While electricity is very important on Earth, it’s not generally considered a necessity for survival.

It might be fun for your students to compare or contrast uses of electricity on Earth to those in space. When you create your student podcast, insert a NASA video clip of McArthur listing one of the ways electricity is used in space and follow it with a student listing a similar or different way they use electricity on Earth. Repeat this several times to create a montage of students and functions of electricity in their everyday lives. Video clips 9-v through 14-v or audio clips 8-a through 12-a are well-suited for this approach to your script. You can download the files from the Audio Clips and Video Clips pages of the Solar Arrays module.

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DIY Podcast: Solar Arrays

Lab Safety in Schools and in Orbit

The lab safety topic module gives you and your students a lot of room for original content. You can create products demonstrating that lab safety is just as important in the school environment as it is in the dazzling environment of space.

While the NASA audio and video clips talk about safety in the world’s largest orbiting science laboratory, you can create your own audio and video discussing and demonstrating safety rules that apply to your specific experiments. Students who might otherwise get bored with a discussion of lab safety may be fascinated to build a multimedia product that compares similar safety rules on Earth and in space. And for the students with hands-on involvement in the podcasting project, it’s extra reinforcement of your school’s lab safety rules.

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