Stories tagged education


Q-drum: credit: P.J. Hendrikse
Q-drum: credit: P.J. Hendrikse
Ninety per cent of Earth's population does not have regular access to food, clean water, or shelter. The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum currently has an exhibit titled "Design for the other 90%".

Design away poverty.

“The No. 1 need that poor people have is a way to make more cash,” says Martin Fisher.

Martin Fisher, an engineer who founded KickStart, says Kickstart's mission is to help millions of people out of poverty. Pumping water can help a farmer grow grain in the dry season, when it fetches triple the normal price. Dr. Fisher described customers who had skipped meals for weeks to buy a pump and then earned $1,000 the next year selling vegetables.
Another successful pump is the bamboo-treadle pump. Over 1.7 million have been sold in Bangladesh and elsewhere, generating $1.4 billion in net farmer income in Bangladesh alone.

Design and transporting water.

How can a child transport over 100 pounds of water more than a mile? The Q-Drum is a durable container designed to roll easily. With a Q-Drum even children can carry more than 100 pounds of water more than a mile.

Read about dozens of designs that make a big difference.

The Design for the other 90% exhibit is divided into categories. By clicking on each you will be able to learn more about these life-changing designs.

Source: New York Times


Barbara Morgan
Barbara Morgan
Astronaut Barbara Morgan is also a teacher. Several educational sessions are scheduled for the STS-118 mission.

Students from Challenger Learning Centers interact with Astronauts on Wednesday August 15th at 11am and 3pm; Shuttle Downlink with astronauts Barbara Morgan and Rick Mastracchio on Thursday August 16.(more info)

I am watching Barbara Morgan live on the NASA TV as she uses the shuttle's arm to install the external stowage platform. Yesterday a new gyroscope was installed. To follow activities I recommend these links:

I use the windows media link because it allows full screen viewing. If you want to use other video formats they are here.

Science Hack is a search engine that lets you look for pre-screened educational science videos.

Stanford, MIT, Caltech, U C Berkely, and others are providing lectures online for free.


Does the wrong kind of praise discourage schoolchildren?: Photo courtesy of Community Consolidated School District 15, Chicago, and NIST

All parents face the challenge of motivating their children to do well at school. Many tell their kids how smart they are to encourage them. But now comes a study showing that too much praise can be a bad thing:

The researchers would take a single child out of the classroom for a nonverbal IQ test consisting of a series of puzzles—puzzles easy enough that all the children would do fairly well. Once the child finished the test, the researchers told each student his score, then gave him a single line of praise. Randomly divided into groups, some were praised for their intelligence. They were told, “You must be smart at this.” Other students were praised for their effort: “You must have worked really hard.”


Then the students were given a choice of test for the second round. One choice was a test that would be more difficult than the first, but the researchers told the kids that they’d learn a lot from attempting the puzzles. The other choice... was an easy test, just like the first. Of those praised for their effort, 90 percent chose the harder set of puzzles. Of those praised for their intelligence, a majority chose the easy test. The “smart” kids took the cop-out.

A second round of tests actually showed that students praised for their intelligence did worse on later tests than students praised for their efforts.

The lead researcher explains the phenomenon:

“Emphasizing effort gives a child a variable that they can control. ... They come to see themselves as in control of their success. Emphasizing natural intelligence takes it out of the child’s control, and it provides no good recipe for responding to a failure.”

Of course, a lot of this was explained by John Holt in his 1964 classic How Children Fail. But it's always good to get a reminder.


The British charity Sense About Science is encouraging celebrities to make sure they have their facts straight before they go talking about scientific issues. A lot of people enjoy reading and hearing what celebrities have to say. Unfortunately, a lot of what they say is nonsense.

Sense About Science has issued a list of especially silly celebrity statements. And while most of these stars are British, I don't think we'd have any trouble putting together a list of Bad Science spouted by American celebs -- or any country's, for that matter. Any nominations?

Elementary School Tools is a site for sharing ideas and lesson plans. It is really new but the community is growing. As of today, I see eleven Halloween themed activity ideas.


Science is boring?  Wha wha?
Science is boring? Wha wha?

Do you think science is boring? Then we aren't doing our jobs right. True science nerds love this way of looking at the world because its exciting and answers our questions. I think I can easily say there is nothing boring about it. An editorial in today's StarTribune points out that educators aren't doing a good job at communicating that. If there's nothing boring about science, then it just might have something to do with how we are presenting it.

So really, do you think science is boring? If so why? If not why?


Sneaky videos
Sneaky videos

Cy Tymony, author of the great book, Sneaky Uses for Everyday Things, is sponsoring a contest for science fair projects on conservation. Just make a how-to video about your project on alternative energy or conservation, upload it to You-Tube, and you can be entered to win a DVD player, a portable MP3 Player with thumb drive and a USB WiFi adapter. If you post your videos make sure to add them to the Recycle Reuse Rethink Energy Usage group.

I'm excited for this project because it not only inspires kids to hunt out alternative energy and conservation ideas but also encourages them to document their work. This will help support the idea that science is a process involving research as well as communication.

To get inspired check out the videos that Cy has already posted. My favorite is the cool hidden pocket how-to. I know its not energy focused, but it's still a great example.

Earning a bachelor's degree in science or engineering serves the degree holder well in the workforce, regardless of what job they do, according to a National Science Foundation (NSF) survey. The survey found that science degree holders generally report that science and engineering knowledge is important to their job, even if the graduate ends up doing non-technical work.