2nd June 2013
I think it is rarely the right option to hide information from children. Some topics may need to wait for a certain maturity level, but no good ever comes from hiding the truth. I think people, children and adults, do need to think a lot more about what they put in their mouths be it food or medication. Children are smart and can understand a lot more than we give them credit for. Food groups should not be excluded, but responsible eating can be taught at a young age.
10th May 2013
Link with 2 notes
Every time a girl sees a shelf of science-related toys under a sign that says “boys”, she is being told that the world thinks science is not for her.
I don’t know if I would have paid much attention to whether toys were marketed for boys or girls when I was little. I often played with toys that were considered more boy toys: legos, matchbox cars, etc. I don’t think they were firmly labeled Boy or Girl though. I am not sure why you would do that. I am pretty stubborn and dance to the beat of my own drum, but a lot of kids are influenced by society and expectations. Girls don’t need that kind of bias against science and discovery toys.
7th May 2013
One of the country’s last remaining tuition-free colleges will charge undergraduates deemed able to pay about $20,000 starting in 2014.
This is sad, but not surprising. I suspect that America’s university landscape is going to change quite a bit as formal education costs sky rocket while the cost to get an education via extremely good online resources (Khan Academy) plummets. However, it is sad to see the end of a dream of free university education even if its highly competitive admission process means it hasn’t been for “everyone” in a long, long time. It makes me sad that it appears this is largely due to them taking out a loan so that “it could invest money in the stock market.” WTF? Investing an endowment is one thing, but taking a loan to invest money is pretty much not a good idea.
Source: The New York Times
28th April 2013
You won’t believe that these are all true.
Here is a fun slide show that goes over some of the classic twists in statistics (and some other fun math as well). These are very basic statistical questions that we intuitively get wrong. Experiment in any science hinge on being able to set the experiment up in a statistically significant way and then being able to properly interpret the results. You can’t do it intuitively or just with a “great idea,” you have to understand at least basic statistics which most people don’t.
Source: Business Insider
27th April 2013
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E.O. Wilson shares a secret: Discoveries emerge from ideas, not number-crunching.
Honestly, this article scares the hell out of me and I find it embarrassing it is coming from a Harvard Prof. No, you do not need a graduate degree in math to be a scientist, and in many cases once you have a “real world” job there won’t be a lot of long form calculation as there is plenty of software that handles most of that these days. However, you do need a basic understanding of the concepts and what that software is doing since software can often design un-manufacturable/ unsafe objects. If you stay in the pure sciences you still need a basic mathematical understanding and a strong understanding in statistics to be able to design meaningful experiments. Statistics is often not intuitive and I think it is important for everyone working in scientific fields to really understand that. Yes, for really complicated stuff, you can always consult a statistician, but you shouldn’t have to for every experiment you want to run and every result you get.
Oh, and I don’t know what this guy did to get a job at Harvard, but to get any kind of permanent academic position today you need to be the best of the best of the best which means you better assume you need a strong math background if you are considering the hard sciences or probably even the social sciences. *And* you need the great ideas.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
12th April 2013
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It is funny and educational as The Oatmeal often is. I want to see with 16 different types of cones!
12th April 2013
I don’t have children, but sometimes I ponder how I would raise them if I did. Of course, you can never be sure how you would do anything until you do it, but…. Growing up I never would have considered homeschooling a child, but I now think about it a lot. I am not sure I have a patient enough personality to do it, but as more people choose this route there are more and more resources. When I think about the positives of homeschooling, these are some of the same reasons I have come considered so I found this article interesting.
23rd February 2012
I wish my school had had cool 8 bit art on the walls. I think it would have given it a more fun atmosphere.
21st February 2012
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The racial and economic problems that plague Memphis are really quite sad. It is hard to explain all the issues to people who have not lived there, but this article does a good job of explaining some of the problems. The story of the Manassas High School is really quite inspiring though, and I hope that the changes to the school board do not upset the progress they have made. When I was in high school, I did some volunteering for a summer program for kids from that neighborhood and many of their stories were heartbreaking. To hear of kids from that area doing well in school is really impressive and gives one hope for the most impoverished parts of America.
21st February 2012
An nice article on microbats along the Murray River in Australia. Definitely watch the picture/ audio presentation at the top of the page. Microbats are so important to insect control though most people never give them a second thought because they are so rarely seen. World wide microbat declines are extremely worrying as it could lead to more farming problems if insects are not naturally controlled.
14th February 2012
This is a somewhat disturbing trend at a time where the natural world needs the support of as many children as possible if conservation on a wide scale is going to be at all possible.
Full text of Yale Environment 360:
“A new study finds a significant decline in the depiction of the natural world and animals in U.S. children’s books in recent decades, a trend researchers say may reflect society’s increasing isolation from nature. In an analysis of 296 Caldecott Medal-winning books from 1938 to 2008, a team of researchers led by University of Nebraska-Lincoln sociologist J. Allen Williams Jr. found that images of natural environments and interactions with wild animals have declined steadily. Meanwhile, depictions of built environments, such as houses and buildings, have become increasingly prevalent since the late 1960s, according to the study published in the journal Sociological Inquiry. “These findings suggest that today’s generation of children are not being socialized, at least through this source, toward an understanding and appreciation of the natural world and the place of humans within it,” the authors wrote.”
11th February 2012
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Human ignorance and bigotry never ceases to amaze me. This girl should be praised for first learning her cultural heritage and then trying to pass it on to her fellow classmates instead of chastised because her ignorant teacher didn’t know what she was saying. I personally think learning to curse in a foreign language is at least learning something new and different, but of course she wasn’t cursing at all, but sharing greetings and love.
10th February 2012
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Very interesting research that leads one to think the way we rank students may not lead to their optimum performance, but what other ways can you make sure that students are learning the material? I don’t have any good answers, but I think some experimenting should be done with out current education system and that more testing is not always the right solution for better student performance.
4th February 2012
I found some of the information in this article interesting, particularly about the upcoming technologies to replace waitresses, but I disagree with the final opinion that everyone in America should go to college. I think increasing post high school education is a good thing in general, but I also think that there are a lot of young people who are not interested in spending 16 years being educated and there should be a place for those people in the modern world as well. I also think there are students graduating today with a college degree that are not prepared for any 21st century jobs.
Thus I think it would be wiser to overhaul our current education system from primary through high school to prepare young people for today’s types of jobs and life skills. I had a classical education filled with Latin, Shakespeare, and Beowulf, and it was great because I was an interested student eager to learn. However, it was not all useful in today’s world and it was not nearly all that I had to learn. Kids today need excellent technology skills and those are easy to teach to the them. Technology skills are required in our personal lives and in our professional lives so they are no longer an optional educational requirement or rather, should not be. Much of our primary school system is based on the cutting edge of educational methods of the 1800’s and it is time for that to change. I think with an overhaul of the education system and bringing back job apprenticeships at the high school level, people could be ready for necessary technical jobs by the time they are 18. No, they would not be R&D engineers, but there are a lot of technicians required behind every engineer to make a company successful. Technician pay isn’t engineering pay, but it should pay better than being a waitress.
1st February 2012
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I find this trend disturbing when combined with the increasing problem of childhood obesity. The main thing I don’t understand is why people seem to have isolated play and learning as separate activities. Children learn through playing and with well constructed play they can learn even more. When you are a preschool child there should be no difference in learning and playing. Learning through physical activities is also so critical to children who are learning coordination along with everything else. Blocks with letters can teach building and the alphabet all in one go, jump rope jingles teaches physical coordination, rhyming, and memorization. The list could go on and on.