WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS TO TEACH NEW BUDDING INOVATORS?

In Creating innovators, Harvard University’s Tony Wagner sets out to describe the crisis facing education in a society that requires innovative workers and thinkers. He presents a systems perspective, and explores what parents, teachers, and employers must do to develop the capacities & capabilities of young people to become innovators. To make it happen, he argues we must invest more in enabling play, passion, and purpose in the lives of learners — and focus less on industrial modes of production (i.e., refocusing away from standardized tests).

Featuring interviews with innovators, thought leaders, and people working to make change happen in schools & public institutions, the book does not serve to produce new knowledge. It instead serves as a primer to what innovation is, why it is important for nations, and some of the best practices we can & should engage in now.

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As a nice addition, the book incorporates in-line video content that can be viewed through a mobile device. While the book claims they use QR codes, the scannable codes appear in a proprietary Microsoft format, and require readers to download an app from Microsoft. For users of non-Microsoft platforms (i.e., iOS or Android devices), this could present problems in the future. Thankfully, videos will be also made available at the book’s website, creatinginnovators.com.

While the book provides a nice survey into some of the thinking of innovation in education, it revolves around legacy models of what schools are, and falls flat when it looks toward the future of innovation as it still relies on these old structures. Wagner would have done better to ponder what a continuously innovative society looks like — and might even question whether we need “schools” any more.

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Maintaining a sharp focus on the old conceptualizations of education, Wagner focuses the bulk of his discussions on what to learn (i.e., STEM), rather than how to learn. Perhaps by exploring the how issues, the book could have provided critical insight into which skills and competencies are critical for success in a society that is driven by continuous, disruptive innovation. Play, passion, and purpose are just fine (and alliterate well), but their usefulness could be constructed within a broader framework (i.e., together with soft skills development) that enables contextually beneficial expressions of personal knowledge.

The bottom line: Creating innovators is an enjoyable primer for those who are just catching on to the innovation bandwagon, but it is not a jumping point for developing new ideas and practices that will transform our education futures.

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With the publisher’s permission, here is an excerpt:

How Do We Develop Young People to Become Innovators?

In the past, our country has produced innovators more by accident than by design. Rarely do entrepreneurs or innovators talk about how their schooling or their places of work — or even their parents — developed their talents or encouraged their aspirations. Three of the most innovative entrepreneurs of the last half century — Edwin Land, the inventor of the Polaroid instant camera; Bill Gates; and Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook — had to drop out of Harvard to pursue their ideas. Apple’s Steve Jobs; Michael Dell of Dell Computer; Larry Ellison, founder of the software giant Oracle; and the inventor Dean Kamen are other famous high-tech college dropouts.

So what would it mean if we were to intentionally develop the entrepreneurial and innovative talents of all young people — to nurture their initiative, curiosity, imagination, creativity, and collaborative skills, as well as their analytical abilities — along with essential qualities of character such as persistence, empathy, and a strong moral foundation? What can parents do to nurture these qualities? What do the most effective teachers and college professors do, and what can they — and the young people themselves — tell us about how schools and colleges need to change to teach these qualities? Finally, what can we learn from those who successfully mentor aspiring entrepreneurial innovators? These are the driving questions in this book.

How Do We Develop Young People to Become Innovators?

If we agree on the need to develop the capabilities of many more youth to be innovators, and if we agree that many of the qualities of an innovator can be nurtured and learned, the question now becomes, what do we do? Where do we start as parents, teachers, mentors, and employers?
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Encourage Play

Research shows that human beings are born with an innate desire to explore, experiment, and imagine new possibilities — to innovate.

How do children learn such skills? In a word — through play.

And it’s not just infants and children who learn through play. Joost Bonsen, who is an alumnus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and currently serves as a lecturer in the world-famous MIT Media Lab, talked about the importance of the famous tradition of pranks at the university.

“Being innovative is central to being human.” Bonsen told me. “We’re curious and playful animals, until it’s pounded out of us. Look at the tradition of pranks here at MIT. What did it take to put a police car on a dome that was fifteen stories high [one of most famous MIT student pranks], with a locked trapdoor being the only access? It was an incredible engineering feat. To pull that off was a systems problem, and it took tremendous leadership and teamwork.

“Pranks reinforce the cultural ethos of creative joy.” Joost added. “Getting something done in a short period of time with no budget, and challenging circumstances. It’s glorious and epic. They didn’t ask for permission. Not even forgiveness.”

These students were playing — just doing something for the fun of it. Play, then, is part of our human nature and an intrinsic motivation.

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Encourage Passion

Passion is familiar to all of us as an intrinsic motivation for doing things. The passion to explore, to learn something new, to understand something more deeply; to master something difficult. We see these passions all around us and have likely experienced them for ourselves.

In more than one hundred and fifty interviews for this book — lengthy conversations with innovators and their parents, teachers, and mentors — passionwas the most frequently recurring word.

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Encourage Purpose

Pure passion, by itself, is not enough to sustain the motivation to do difficult things and to persevere — in love or in work! In my research, I observe that young innovators almost invariably develop a passion to learn or do something as adolescents, but their passions evolve through learning and exploration into something far deeper, more sustainable, and trustworthy — purpose.
The sense of purpose can take many forms. But the one that emerged most frequently in my interviews and in the interviews by the authors of “the Innovator’s DNA” is the desire to somehow “make a difference”

In the lives of young innovators whom I interviewed, I discovered a consistent link and developmental arc in their progression from play to passion to purpose. They played a great deal — but their play was frequently far less structured than most children’s, and they had opportunities to explore, experiment, and discover through trial and error — to take risks and to fall down. Through this kind of more creative play as children, these young innovators discovered a passion. As they pursued their passions, their interests changed and took surprising turns. They developed new passions, which, over time, evolved into a deeper and more mature sense of purpose — a kind of shared adult play.
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These young innovators did not learn these things alone. They received help from parents, teachers, and mentors along the way. Their evolution as innovators was almost invariably facilitated by at least one adult — and often several. What these parents, teachers, and mentors did that was so helpful may surprise you. Each, in his or her own quiet way, is often following a different, less conventional path in his or her role as a parent, teacher, or mentor. They acted differently so that the young people with whom they interacted could think differently.

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Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

ARVIND GUPTA FOLLOWS A SCIENCE DREAM FOR ALL CHILDREN

Children in the developed world have a lot of choice when it comes to scientific toys. In fact, there are whole stores devoted to selling things like robotics kits, ant farms, and simple microscopes. In the developing world, however, such fancy toys are relatively scarce. So, what’s an adult to do if they want to get the local children interested in the sciences? Well, in the case of Arvind Gupta, he show the kids how to make scientific toys from throwaways.

Gupta’s story began in the 70s, when he was an engineering student at the Indian Institute of Technology. While he was there, he took it upon himself to teach the children of the mess staff, who couldn’t afford a formal education.

Upon graduation, he went on to work at Tata Motors, where he helped to build trucks. After five years of doing so, however, it was clear that it wasn’t the career for him. In 1978, he took a one-year leave from his job, and took part in the Hoshangabad Science Teaching Program. “The objective was to make science fun and exciting for village children using simple, low-cost materials available in their environment,” he told us. “This experience had a profound impact on me. I found it was much more satisfying than making trucks.”

Gupta proceeded to dedicatee his life to designing toys that demonstrate scientific principles, that children can build for themselves out of cheap or free parts. He’s written numerous instructional books on the subject, starting with 1986’s Matchstick Models and other Science Experiments, which has been reprinted in 12 languages.

Today, he is part of the four-person team that runs the Children’s Science Centre, at India’s Pune University. Together, they have designed approximately 800 trash-based educational toys … so far. Instructions and explanations for all of the toys are available copyright-free through their Toys-from-Trash website, as are all of their books, and over 250 linked YouTube videos.

“Every day over 50,000 children and teachers across the world watch these videos,” said Gupta. “Thousands of books are downloaded every day and this fills our hearts with hope and joy. We feel privileged to be able to share our work with at least some children across the entire world.”

Out of all of the toys, there are a few that have proven particularly popular. One of those is Matchstick Mecanno, in which little bits of rubber bicycle valve tube and matchsticks are used to make 2D and 3D shapes. Other favorites include the Simple Electric Motor and the Levitating Pencil, in which ring magnets are used to keep a spinning pencil floating in the air.

One of his young students, a girl named Hamsa Padmanabhan, found the pencil toy particularly fascinating. “She wrote a 12-page scientific paper on it, which won the second Intel International Award of US$2,500. Today a minor planet is named after Hamsa,” he told us. “Another girl, Durga Jetty, made the Bottle Turbine which won her 0.6 million Indian Rupees! This is indeed quite a feat.”

Needless to say, however, Arvind isn’t in it for the money, nor for the chance to become famous. Instead, he simply wishes to nurture a quality that he believes all children possess.

“Every child is born a scientist,” he said. “We kill this innate curiosity by rote learning and boring state texts. If we just remove some of the authoritarian structures in schools, children will naturally gravitate to science – simply because science is fun and exciting.”

An example of one of the instructional videos can be seen below.

Source: Toys-from-Trash

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

A DIY WEATHER BALOON COMES BACK WITH SOME GREAT SNAPS

Sydney space enthusiast Robert Brand and his 9-year-old son Jason recently launched a high-tech weather balloon a quarter of the way to space, retrieving images and flight data to help school children get a better understanding about space.

Mr Brand, of Dulwich Hill, has a history with space – at age 17 he wired up some of the Apollo 11 communications gear in Sydney during his term break from college. He was also stationed at the CSIRO Parkes Observatory in New South Wales at the request of the European Space Agency for spacecraft Giotto’s encounter with Halley’s comet in 1986 and Voyager’s encounter with Uranus and Neptune in 1986 and ’89. Also under his belt is an award from NASA for support of STS-1, the first orbital flight of the Space Shuttle program, presented personally by the commander and moon walker John Young.

So when it came time for Mr Brand to launch his own gear towards space he was well prepared, documenting his do-it-yourself journey on his personal blog wotzup.com for other space enthusiasts to watch and track.

“[The balloon launch] was being done to help science education in the Sydney area and anywhere else in fact because we were publishing [on the internet] all of the information and data that we got from the balloon launch,” said Mr Brand, 59.

Launch day was December 28, 2011 from Rankins Springs near Goolgowi in Central NSW. As the balloon got up to about 85,000 feet (25.9 kilometres) above Earth before it burst, Mr Brand and his son tracked it using amateur radio.

“During the flight we were actually relaying data back to the ground and off to a server and that allowed people from all over the world to actually participate with this flight and track it as it was going,” Mr Brand said. “We were getting back a lot of comments on some of the social media [services] such as Facebook just really helping us understand what they were sort of getting out of the whole project. People were sort of yelling loudly if you could put it that way, on the [wotzup] website claiming ‘Hey, they’ve reached this height and that height’, and so there was a lot of really great audience participation in this.”

The data being sent back from the balloon – which was later recovered about 50 kilometres away from where it was launched – tracked altitude, position, rate of climb, payload temperature, payload voltage and air pressure, Mr Brand said. The balloon also has a camera on board that captured still images. “We could actually see as [the balloon] hit different wind levels in the atmosphere and eventually we got up into a jet stream and actually found that we had two jet streams,” Mr Brand added.

When the balloon finally popped it came hurtling back towards Earth at about 40 metres per second, according to flight data.

“So this thing was falling a bit like a brick would fall at ground level but it slowed down and eventually the parachute dropped it on the ground at about six metres per second,” Mr Brand said.

What's in the box? Jason shows the weather balloon's payload.What’s in the box? Jason shows the weather balloon’s payload. Photo: Supplied 

The balloon was put together with the help of senior students at Sydney Secondary College at Blackwattle Bay, who Brand sought to get involved with the project and tasked them with doing a whole stack of materials testing. They tested the styrofoam and how it reacted in zero atmosphere as well as the glue, ensuring it would hold throughout the flight. “The students were putting these materials in a bell jar and sucking the air out of it . . . and checking all of the materials held together – and to protect some of the electronics from the very cold temperatures of about minus 50 Celsius we simply used bubble wrap. … You’d be surprised to know that bubble wrap doesn’t explode when it gets into pretty much zero atmosphere.”

The photos that came back from maximum altitude look “pretty much like that taken from a space shuttle”, Mr Brand said.

“So very dark skies looking at this very thin blue line around the Earth which is our atmosphere and protective layer. It’s a bit scary when you see that photo and realise how thin the Earth’s atmosphere really is.”

When it came time to recover the balloon it was tracked to landing on a field near the small town of Weethalle in NSW, Mr Brand said. “There was nothing growing on it. It seemed to have been abandoned.”

After knocking on a farm door to no avail, he and his son entered the field to locate the balloon. After driving “pretty much right on top of it” it was recovered, allowing for the father and son duo to publish the photos it captured that weren’t sent back live but stored on the camera attached to the balloon.

Mr Brand hopes to do more balloon launches and get schools involved.

“I’ll keep doing this each year and trying to get . . . more interest in the school year earlier in the year. I’m very keen to hear from people that might be interested in getting involved.”

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Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

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Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Smart Tape Like Gecko Feet

Posted on January 30, 2008 by dikidee

gecko feet

Inspired by the gecko feet, University of California, Berkeley have created a new kind of tape.

Conventional adhesive tape sticks when pressed on a surface. A new gecko-inspired synthetic adhesive (GSA) does not stick when it is pressed into a surface, but instead sticks when it slides on the surface. A similar directional adhesion effect allows real geckos to run up walls while rapidly attaching and detaching toes. The gecko-inspired adhesive uses hard plastic microfibers. The plastic is not itself sticky, but the millions of microscopic contacts work together to adhere. The number of contacts automatically increases to handle higher loads. A feature of the hard plastic gecko-inspired adhesive is that no residue is left on surfaces as is left by conventional adhesive tapes.

[Read more …]

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Mathematics and computers ‘solve’ Rubik’s Cube


PALO ALTO, Calif. (UPI) — U.S. mathematicians say they’ve solved the riddle of the minimum number of moves it takes to solve the Rubik’s Cube puzzle, a figure they call “God’s number.”

A team from Palo Alto, Calif., says every possible scrambled arrangement of the puzzle can be solved in no more than 20 moves, NewScientist.com reported Wednesday.

They combined computing power with mathematical insights to check all 43 quintillion possible jumbled positions the cube can take, says Tomas Rokicki, a programmer who has spent 15 years looking for the least number of moves guaranteed to solve any configuration of the Rubik’s cube.

“The primary breakthrough was figuring out a way to solve so many positions, all at once, at such a fast rate,” Rokicki says.

Previous computer methods solved around 4,000 possible cubes a second by attempting a set of starting moves, then determining if the resulting position was closer to the solution. If not, the computer would throw out those moves and start again.

Rokicki’s key insight was to realize these dead-end moves are actually solutions to a different starting position, which led him to a computer algorithm that could try out 1 billion cubes per second.

The team has dubbed the 20-moves solution “God’s number,” the assumption being that even the Almighty couldn’t solve the puzzle faster, NewScientist said.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Sourced & published by Henry sapiecha

Brain scans could steer career choices


IRVINE, Calif. (UPI) — Your talents and abilities could someday be revealed through a brain scan, possibly guiding your career choices, U.S. scientists say.

Neuroscientists at the University of California, Irvine, scanned 6,000 volunteers in an effort to build a brain “map” that could match particular areas to particular skills and knowledge, The Daily Telegraph reported Thursday.

While being scanned, volunteers performed cognitive tests to see if there was a connection between brain and aptitude, the newspaper said.

Researchers said the amount of gray matter, areas of the brain used for computations, and white matter, used for communication, and where they were positioned seemed to suggest how good someone would be at a number of tasks including arithmetic, learning and remembering facts and figures.

The results, though preliminary, suggest brain scans could eventually be used to help a person consider a career path, psychologist Professor Richard Haier said.

“A person’s pattern of cognitive strengths and weaknesses is related to their brain structure, so there is a possibility that brain scans could provide unique information that would be helpful for vocational choice,” he said.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

NEW SCIENTIST EUREKA PRIZE [Australian Museum]

for science photography

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CALL FOR ENTRIES

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The new sceintist $10,000 Eureka  prize for science photography recognizes and rewards outstanding science photography.

The definition of ‘science’, for the purpose of this prize,is a comprehensive one. It includes all asp[ects of science [such as nature, technology, health] as well as work that addresses the social or economical aspects of science.

rosa-sericea-plant

Entries are invited from both amateur and professional photographers aged 18 years or over.

Enter now and view past entries >

http://www.austmus.gov.au/eureka

Sourced and Published by Henry Sapiecha 23rd May 2009

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Wheelchair operates by power of thought

wheelchair-legless

ZARAGOZA, Spain (UPI) — Spanish university scientists have developed a wheelchair controlled by the power of thought, promising to transform life for people with severe disabilities.

The wheelchair, developed at the University of Zaragoza, has a laser sensor and a screen that displays a real-time, three-dimensional virtual reconstruction of the wheelchair’s surroundings. To steer the chair, a user concentrates on the part of the display where he or she wants to go, and electrodes in a skullcap detect the user’s brain activity and work out the destination, the researchers said.

Sensors on the wheels keep track of the chair’s position as it moves. The laser scanner detects obstacles to avoid collisions, so the chair can be used in unfamiliar surroundings, the researchers said in a paper.

Volunteers took just 45 minutes to learn how to use a prototype chair safely and accurately, said associate professor Javier Minguez, an expert in mobile robotic navigation and brain-computer interfaces who headed the chair-development team.

colour-head-scan

The prototype can handle only two thought commands a minute and can be used for only about two hours since the wet gel used to fix the electrodes to a user’s head dries and loses its effectiveness.

An improved version that could go into commercial production is being developed, Minguez said.

The wheelchair is not the first to be controlled by brain waves, but is the first to incorporate mind-control in a system of real-time navigation, route planning and collision avoidance, computer science lecturer Palaniappan Ramaswamy of Britain’s University of Essex, told New Scientist magazine.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 4th May 2009

JVC to Debut 46-inch Professional

3D Display

Apr 14, 2009 18:55
Yousuke Ogasawara, Nikkei Electronics

Victor Company of Japan Ltd (JVC) will release the “GD-463D10,” a 46-inch three-dimensional (3D) liquid crystal display designed for business use.

The display has a resolution of 1920 x 1080. With the use of polarizing filters, it reproduces 3D images that can be viewed by wearing a pair of dedicated circular polarization glasses. JVC reduced the thickness to 39mm at the thinnest part and 75mm at the thickest part (excluding the stand).

Initially, the product will be targeted for use in production and promotion of 3D movies and various events. But the company plans to expand the sales, targeting scientific, medical and educational applications, as well as simulations.

The GD-463D10 employs the “Xpol polarizing filter method,” which allocates right and left images respectively to the odd- and even-numbered lines and displays the images through polarizing filters that have properties inverse to each other.

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To view 3D images, users need to wear a pair of dedicated circular polarization glasses that are lightweight and do not need batteries. The product comes with two pairs of glasses. It can reproduce 3D images with no flicker because it simultaneously displays the right and left images on the screen, JVC said.

The GD-463D10 supports the signal input by both the line-by-line and side-by-side methods. In the former method, video signals for the right and left eyes are alternately arranged in every other line. And, in the latter method, video signals for the right and left eyes are compressed to 1/2 only in the horizontal direction and arranged on the right and left sides.

The display has three HDMI input ports and supports the 1080/24p, 1080/50p, 1080/60p, 1080/50i and 1080/60i video signals. 3D representation at 1080/50i and 1080/60i are only possible by signals compliant with the side-by-side method.

The GD-463D10 is slated for release in early July 2009. There is no manufacturer’s suggested retail price. JVC plans to produce 2,000 units per year throughout the world. The company will exhibit the product at NAB Show 2009, which runs from April 18 to 23, 2009, in Las Vegas.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 22nd April  2009