miércoles, 27 de febrero de 2013

Want to Improve Education? Change the Way You Talk About Teachers

by Lillie Marshall

In our Transforming Schools Together series, teachers affiliated with the Center for Teaching Quality invite us to re-imagine the very concept of school, and suggest small actions we can take to improve existing schools.
How people (you included!) talk about a profession shapes how people think about it. And this, of course, influences who chooses the profession for a career, and how the profession's members are treated.

I've been a teacher in Boston Public Schools since 2003, and am constantly jarred by how those outside the teaching profession talk about and to those of us who have chosen teaching as a career. The implications of such speech are massive.

Want to help improve education? Start with something simple: shifting the way you talk to and about teachers.

1. Don't say: "I could never be a teacher."

Why not: Me, I love being a teacher. If you got solid preparation and taught in a school that was a good fit for you, you probably would love it, too. Honestly. Teachers are made, not born! But the more that people badmouth the profession or act as though teachers must have some special DNA, the fewer smart, innovative people will recognize teaching for the great career option it is. The fewer top-notch teachers we have, the harder it is to improve education.

2. Don’t say: "Teachers have it easy."

Why not: Teachers do a ton of work outside of school hours, and also grapple with emotional and intellectual challenges worthy of the world's top minds. We have some nice perks that other jobs lack, but we’re also the ones grading 140 essays, weekend after weekend. We love having a change of pace during the summer, but most of us spend July and August doing professional development and taking extra jobs to make ends meet. Very few careers are "easy," and teaching is certainly not one of them!

3. On the flip side, don't say: "Ahh, you teachers are such saints. You have an impossible job."

Why not: Saints are individuals who die because of great pain and hardship. Yipes! Few people WANT to go into a field described in this way. Further, in a well-run school, it is not necessary to sacrifice one’s health and sanity to be a teacher. I have a nice, vibrant life outside of school, not a pair of wings! Less clinging to the destructive teacher-as-martyr fallacy, please.

4. Don't say: "I don't have the patience to be a teacher."

Why not: This phrase perpetuates the idea of teachers as low-level babysitters in a career that no one wants. Patience implies drudgery, not brain power. The truth is that teaching is a highly intellectual, interesting, stimulating career that requires thinking, ingenuity, and pizazz.

So what SHOULD you say about the teaching profession? 

DO say: "Oh, you're a teacher! Tell me more!"

Why: People assume they know what it's like to be a teacher, but in fact, "teacher" is radically different depending on the school, district, and person. Rather than making a declaration about the entire career, ask an open-ended question to learn more. Hopefully you will begin to see why so many of us love our teaching job!

We'll be interested to hear more about your career, too. By showing mutual respect and curiosity, we can find creative, fulfilling ways to combine our powers and improve our world’s education... together. And this starts in how we speak!

What would YOU add to or revise on this list? 

Lillie Marshall has been a teacher in the Boston Public Schools since 2003, and runs Around the World “L” Global Education Siteand TeachingTraveling.comalong with theEducation Bloggers Facebook Group. She is a member of the Center for Teaching Quality’s virtual community of teachers.

Google Glass offered for $16,000 on eBay

google glass prototype 2012

Google Glass prototype at Google I/O 2012 – the hi-tech glasses are set to go on sale at the end of the year. Photograph: Antonio Zugaldia.

Got $16,000 or so? If you have, and were quick enough, you might have been able to get hold of a pair of Google's "Glass" systems, which you wear like glasses and can shoot hands-free video, take pictures, and offer directions – via the auction site eBay. The listing has very recently been taken down – possibly at Google's behest.

Although Google Glass won't go on sale to the public until the end of this year, with a price tag expected to be above $1,500 (£990), the search giant has said it will invite some people to take part in a seeding programme to see how ordinary (but enthusiastic) users use the device, which can connect via Bluetooth to an iPhone or Android phone to get data connectivity.

And one person in Cleveland, Ohio, was claiming to have a pair of the glasses – or at least to be part of the seeding programme – which were up for auction. According to the site, they would have been available some time between Monday 4 March and Thursday 7 March, and at the time of writing the bidding had hit $15,900, having started at $1,500 on 21 February, and ramped up quickly in the past couple of days.

The seller said (all errors are as written in the listing): "i've been selected as an early adapter for Google's upcoming release. You are buying a brand new unopened pair of Google's Project Glass glasses. I will be personally attending and picking up my pair in either Los Angeles, or New York at Google's Project Glass launch event, which will take place some time after Feburary 27th. As for what colors will actually be available, will vary, if i am offered a choice, I will choose the color of your choice (see listing picture for variants). My cost to buy my glasses is $1,500 (USD), so obviously thats where ive started the auction at. Project Glass will be shipped with Insurance at my expence, and signature upon delivery, so please use an address you can accept delivery in person."

Whether the terms of Google's program will allow the participants to resell the devices – or whether they will instead remain the property of Google, which would make selling them problematic – isn't clear. But it suggests that there's already substantial interest in the company's new wearable computing product.

Sauce: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2013/feb/27/google-glass-augmented-reality?CMP=twt_gu

Sony Teases (But Doesn't Reveal) the PlayStation 4

by Glenn Derene

The gaming console wars of 2013 have begun, and in the weirdest possible way. Last night, Sony unveiled its next-generation PlayStation 4 console—without actually revealing the console. 

Company executives did dole out some tantalizing details. The PS4 is promised to have an X86-based 8-core AMD CPU and Radon graphics inside. That's some seriously powerful processing capability (estimated at around 1.84 gigaflops), but it also points to a future for the Sony gaming ecosystem that is more PC-like and less console-like. Sony also revealed a new "DualShock 4" controller that will work in tandem with 3D cameras to measure (and presumably integrate) the room in which a player is playing. The company also promised a host of social interaction, including video clip sharing and the ability to allow a friend to jump into your game remotely and give you a hand. 

What Sony didn't show was the console itself, or a price, or even a firm launch date (it's expected sometime before the end of 2013). That's a little like Ford throwing a big event to reveal the next-generation Mustang, then just delivering a PowerPoint on what a great engine it's eventually going to have. To be sure, the shape of the device's exterior should be largely irrelevant to its performance, but it's hard to get excited about an upcoming product if you can't imagine it in your living room. 

To many in the tech press, the event seemed like a sloppy hurry-up offense by Sony in an attempt to get out ahead of Microsoft's highly anticipated announcement of the next-gen Xbox at the E3 gaming convention in June. And it may have backfired: Within seconds, gamers on Twitter were howling their disapproval. 

That could be bad news for Sony. The company has been stumbling for years, and they desperately need a hit product. What's worse, consoles are losing much of their influence in the gaming world to mobile devices. Sony plans to integrate phones and tablets into the PS4 experience as second screens, but users are already starting to see those phones and tablets as the primary screen and may not be willing to invest in an expensive console to augment the experience. 

That said, the big screen is still a hot commodity, and Sony's biggest problems may come from the PC gaming environment migrating to the TV: Gaming powerhouse Valve is working on a SteamBox minicomputer to bring the rich world of PC games to the living room. And we've actually seen that thing. 

Souce: http://www.popularmechanics.com/

Hidden Moons Lurk in Saturn's Rings

Contact! The short, bright streaks of a propeller called “Bleriot” show the location of a mini-moon (NASA/JPL/SSI)

Like Jupiter, Saturn is orbited by a large extended family of moons — 62, at last count — ranging in size from the gigantic 3,200-mile-wide Titan, wrapped in thick clouds, to the barely 2-mile-wide Methone, smooth as a river rock. But there are even more moons in the ringed planet’s retinue, tiny worlds embedded inside the icy rings themselves. Even with the Cassini spacecraft they are nearly impossible to see… until they give themselves away with their shining “propellers.”
In the image above we get a view across 9,000 miles of Saturn’s A ring, the outermost of the main ring structures, with Saturn itself well off frame to the left. Inside one of the darker segments of the rings, at lower left center, are two short, bright streaks — one pointing up, one pointing down. This is what the Cassini science team calls a “propeller,” a clumping of ring particles in front of and behind a tiny moonlet located between the two “blades.”
The moonlet is too small to be resolved here directly — it’s less than half a mile across — but its gravity is still strong enough to affect the tiny particles that comprise Saturn’s rings. Made mostly of water ice, the more the particles gather together the more they tend to reflect sunlight — highlighting the moonlet’s location for Cassini.
Depending on the angle of sunlight, propellers can also appear darker than the surrounding rings.
A propeller called “Earhart” casts a shadow on the rings in Aug. 2009 (NASA/JPL/SSI)
This particular propeller is nicknamed “Bleriot,” after the French aviator who made the first airplane flight across the English Channel in 1909. (The Cassini imaging team has fittingly decided to name propellers — albeit informally — after famous aviators.) First observed by Cassini in 2005 Bleriot has been repeatedly revisited, most recently in this observation from Nov. 11, 2012.
By observing propellers over time researchers hope to gain a better understanding of how they move and evolve, and what their effects are on the ring particles around them.
Watch an animation of Bleriot traveling around the rings here, and read more on the Cassini mission page.
Image: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Souce: http://news.discovery.com/space/propellers-reveal-hidden-moons-in-saturns-rings-130227.htm

Robotic Exoskeleton Gets Safety Green Light

The Hybrid Assistive Limb, or HAL, is a pair of power-assisted legs designed to support a user's body movements.

A robot suit that can help the elderly or disabled get around was given its global safety certificate in Japan on Wednesday, paving the way for its worldwide roll-out.
The Hybrid Assistive Limb, or HAL, is a power-assisted pair of legs developed by Japanese robot maker Cyberdyne, which has also developed similar robot arms.
A quality assurance body issued the certificate based on a draft version of an international safety standard for personal robots that is expected to be approved later this year, the ministry for the economy, trade and industry said.

NEWS: Bionic Legs Allow Paraplegic to Stand and Walk

The metal-and-plastic exoskeleton has become the first nursing-care robot certified under the draft standard, a ministry official said.
Battery-powered HAL, which detects muscle impulses to anticipate and support the user's body movements, is designed to help the elderly with mobility or help hospital or nursing carers to lift patients.
Cyberdyne, based in Tsukuba, northeast of Tokyo, has so far leased some 330 suits to 150 hospitals, welfare and other facilities in Japan since 2010, at 178,000 yen ($1,950) per suit per year.
"It is very significant that Japan has obtained this certification before others in the world," said Yoshiyuki Sankai, the head of Cyberdyne.
The company is unrelated to the firm of the same name responsible for the cyborg assassin played by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1984 film "The Terminator."
"This is a first step forward for Japan, the great robot nation, to send our message to the world about robots of the future," said Sankai, who is also a professor at Tsukuba University.

VIDEO: Man Controls Robotic Arm with His Mind

A different version of HAL -- coincidentally the name of the evil supercomputer in Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" -- has been developed for workers who need to wear heavy radiation protection as part of the clean-up at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.
Industrial robots have long been used in Japan, and robo-suits are gradually making inroads into hospitals and retirement homes.
But critics say the government has been slow in creating a safety framework for such robots in a country whose rapidly aging population is expected to enjoy ever longer lives.

'Dead' Stars May Host Living Worlds

by Irene Klotz 

David A. Aguilar (CfA)
Earth-sized planets that host life should be far easier to find around parent stars that are white dwarfs, the ultimate incarnations of stars like the sun, a new study shows.
White dwarfs are the dense stellar cores that remain after a sun-like star runs out of fuel and goes through its expanding, red giant phase, a process that will consume its inner planets. In our solar system, for example, Mercury, Venus and possibly Earth will be destroyed when the sun evolves into a red giant some 4.5 billion years from now.
But the system won't necessarily be doomed.

PICTURES: Exquisite Exoplanetary Art

Outer planets may migrate inward, closer to the star, and new worlds may form. Not all will be in stable orbits, but an Earth-sized world located about 1 million miles away from a host white dwarf star would have a temperature roughly the same as Earth’s. At that distance, the planet could have liquid water on its surface, a condition believed to be necessary for life.
Scientists are developing techniques to scan the atmospheres of planets beyond the solar system for oxygen and other chemical signs of life. It's a laborious and time-consuming process to separating out light passing through a planet’s atmosphere from all the background starlight.
But Earth-sized planets circling white dwarf stars, which are themselves about as big as Earth, make for much bigger needles in extrasolar planet haystacks.

ANALYSIS: Could Dead Stars Support Life?

Avi Loeb, a theorist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, figures the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope, a successor to the Hubble observatory, would need only about five hours of observing time to look for biomarkers in the atmosphere of a planet circling in a white dwarf’s habitable zone.
“Usually the background star is so much brighter, it’s so much bigger than the planet that absorption (of light) due to the atmosphere is a very small signal that you have to fish out of the much more prominent emission from the background star,” Loeb told Discovery News.
“In the case of the white dwarf, it’s sort of the best of all circumstances, where the object that is blocking the star is of the same size as the star itself. That offers the best prospect for detecting the absorption due to the atmosphere, relative to the background light,” he said.


Lost Continent Discovered Beneath Indian Ocean

by Tim Wall

A small, sunken continent was recently discovered beneath the Indian Ocean. The ancient mini-continent, called Mauritia, lies beneath the lava flows that created the islands of Reunion and Mauritius.
The lost continent dates back to when the early Earth’s super-continents, Laurasia and Gondwana, were shattering into the more familiar geography that we know today. Mauritia was once part of the chunk of Gondwana that gradually split into Madagascar, India, Australia and Antarctica after approximately 170 million years ago.
The micro-continent later broke away from Madagascar between 83.5 and 61 million years ago. The mini-continent was shredded as it passed over mid-ocean ridges. Lava eruptions then covered the sunken continent.
Volcanic eruptions on the island of Mauritius brought fragments of the lost continent to the surface. The fragments were crystals known as zircons that dated to 660 and 1,970 million years ago, far older than the rock making up the overlying crust and volcanic islands. This suggested that the rock beneath the crust was actually a part of the ancient mini-continent, according to the study documenting the discovery in the journal Nature Geoscience.
The study’s authors, a multinational team of geoscientists from Norway, South Africa, Britain and Germany, suggested that there could be other lost micro-continents buried beneath lava in other parts of the globe.