Yang Liu was born in China, but has lived in German since she was 14. A celebrated designer, Liu recently released a graphic exhibit that illustrates her observations about differences between East (China) and West (Germany). The exhibit has been re-interpreted as a series of Infographics. Just Google “yang liu east meets west.” Brain Pickings author, Maria Popova wrote,
Liu has a unique grip of this cultural duality — and she channels it with great wit and eloquent minimalism in graphics that say so much by showing so little. (Popova, 2013)
Two similar exhibits (left) were installed in Berlin, two in Beijing, and 1 in Nanjing. Liu, though initially apprehensive, says that the response to her interpretations have been positive in both Germany and China.
Perhaps the most elegant part of Yang’s graphic is its simplicity or minimalism. ..which might give learners a unique opportunity to draw conclusions about the differences between people and life in China compared to the West and then look for evidence that supports their conclusions.
- Blog - http://wp.me/peM2X-139
- Graphic – click individual images to the right
- Yang Liu’s Web Site - http://yangliudesign.com
Yesterday, Tim Holt wrote “Why I am At a Science Conference,” describing his work at this week’s Conference for the Advancement of Science Teaching (CAST), and why it is so important that we edubloggers and techspeakers should be sharing our messages into other communities of interest, science teachers for instance. I agree. I’ve tried, for years, to get into social studies conferences. When I succeed, it’s to do a concurrent session, and only 12 teachers showed up. It’s part of the nature of the profession, that we owe our professional identity to our particular area of specialty.
I have keynoted foreign language conferences, library conferences, administrator, and even book publisher, real-estate developer and farmer conferences. Perhaps the most receptive to my particular message are school boards conferences. But Tim is right. Little of this actually makes it into classrooms, especially the “Common Core” classrooms.
Holt referred to the fact that I too will also be speaking to Science teachers this week, in Charlotte, at one of the regional conferences of the National Science Teachers Association – and my efforts to tailor my presentation to that audience. I admit some concern about speaking to science teachers, because I taught social studies, and my examples tend to be more social studies oriented – though I would maintain that any good social studies teacher is also teaching science, math, health, literature, and everything else. It’s all societal.
Tim mentioned me because of a string of posts I made to Facebook and Twitter yesterday, reporting my progress in playing with Kerbal Space Program, a sandbox-style game that has the player designing, building, and flying space craft, on missions from the planet Kerbal. It’s been fun, regardless of my immigrant clumsiness with video games – though I am experiencing some pride in finally getting a manned (well a Kerban-piloted) space craft into orbit. It cost the lives of 12 fellow kerbans and several billion $kerbols worth of hardware.
And although (David’s) message is VERY general, it is at least a start. He is trying to tailor the message to the audience by demoing the Kerbal Space Program online game (https://kerbalspaceprogram.com) so good for him. But those opportunities are few and far between.
These opportunities rare and priceless. ..and forgive me if I seem overly sensitive and even defensive, but there is nothing general about this. The message is singular and it is revolutionary. It has nothing to do with, “Look, here’s something that you can do in your classroom with technology.” It is,
“Look, here’s what many of your students are doing outside your classroom. It’s fun, but it’s work. It’s hard work. And it is entirely about learning. The energy of our students’ youth culture is not based on how high you can jump or fast you can run. It is neither wit nor the appealing symmetry of your face. The energy of their culture is the ability to skillfully and resourcefully learn and to inventively employ that learning.”
My message is that children are entering our classrooms with learning skills that, although based on long understood pedagogies, they are skills that we are too often ignoring and sometimes even handicapping. When I say that we “chop their tentacles off,” it’s not about cutting them off from technology. We’re amputating their access to the learning skills that they are so effectively developing outside our classrooms – their avenues to personally meaningful accomplishment.
Perhaps those of us who have chosen to pursue education technology or have been seduced by its potentials are in a unique position to notice our children’s ’native’ learning skills – more so than science or social studies teachers. But we all must be careful to shed the glow of tech, and get right down to the point of being educated in this time of rapid change.
It’s not about being taught.
It’s about becoming a learner.
This is one of the infographics that is not so easy to read, but well worth the effort. It maps out the flow of scientific research talent across 16 countries. Created by information designer, Giorgia Lupi and here team in Italy, as a follow-up to several celebrated graphics (this and this), it was not initially apparent to me that it is a scatter plot.
Some things are better discovered than obvious.
The X axis represents the percent of the country’s GDP that is invested in research and development, with Sweden, Japan, Denmark and Switzerland leading the field. The Y axis represents the number of researchers in the country for ever one million people. At the top here are Denmark, Japan, Sweden and the U.S.A.
The lines show the migration of scientific researchers. For instance, Denmark exports talent to Great Britain and the U.S. The U.S. exports to Canada, Germany, Great Britain and Australia. Just about everybody exports to the U.S.
Of particular interest are the percent of foreigner and emigrant researchers in the countries compared to the total foreign and emigrant residents.
All in all, it’s worth a study by teachers and STEM and social studies students.
The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) will be holding a conference this week in Charlotte, The Queen City of North Carolina. It is both ironic and opportune for science teachers, from around the country, to converge on my state to celebrate science education and to learn more about their chosen passion and techniques conveying it to their students.
I had planned to explain this event’s importance as part of my address to the audience. But, alas, I’ll have only 45 minutes, so will be getting right to business. Instead, I’ll explain it all here, sitting in a Raleigh coffee shop, and proud to be a citizen of this state that owes so much of its recent success to science and education – and a state that desperately needs to be snapped out of its stupor.
Dazed by $80,000,000 worth of campaigning in 2012 (“Follow the money,” 2012), we have witnessed an arrogant government, in effect, vilify science and education. Helping to spur this backward thinking is John Droz, a retired real-estate investor and fellow with the American Tradition Institute (which is tied to fossil fuel interests). In a recent presentation [a Droz slidedeck] to the General Assembly, he called smart meters “fascism in a box” and environmentalism a “new world religion backed by the United Nations.” Among his cited sources were,
Whistleblower, the monthly magazine companion of WorldNetDaily a website that promotes conspiracy theories about topics such as President Obama’s citizenship; Quadrant, a conservative Australian magazine that was involved in a scandal over publishing fraudulent science and the Institute for Creation Research a Texas outfit that rejects evolution and promotes Biblical creationism and the notion that “All things in the universe were created and made by God in the six literal days of the Creation Week.” (Surgis, 2013)
Also carrying some influence is John Skvarla, the newly appointed Secretary for the state’s Department of the Environment and Natural Resources. He apparently believes that oil is a renewable resource, saying “The Russians for instance have always drilled oil as if it’s a renewable resource, and so far they haven’t been proven wrong.“
And then there are the legislators of 20 coastal counties, where developers have been stifled by the notion of sea level rise. So to make things better for developers, They introduced a bill that outlaws the rise of the sea, or at least how it’s measured. From House Bill 819, Section 2.
This whole business prompted comedian, Stephen Colbert to say on the air, “If your science gives you a result you don’t like, pass a law saying the result is illegal. Problem solved.“
The dramatic decline in Tobacco farming in North Carolina, illustrated in this graphic (North Carolina Department of Agriculture), has meant an enormous hardship for rural NC. As part of Raleigh’s efforts to find a new cash crop, the Biofuels Center of North Carolina was established five years ago, researching, developing and testing a variety of crops biomass crops.
|The now defunct Biofuels Center of North Carolina web site|
The center closed its doors last week. The General Assembly cut the center’s entire $4.3 million budget. In the words of Steven Burke, the centers CEO,
“The center, a growing biofuels community statewide, and companies considering new facilities here share dismay that North Carolina has visibly pulled back from the nation’s lead state biofuels agency and from long-term commitment to comprehensive biofuels development.” “No longer pursuing advanced biofuels with a focused, comprehensive strategy will lessen opportunity to create rural jobs, strengthen agriculture, and create an enormous biofuels and biomaterials sector.”
There’s not much that a few thousand science teachers can do, except to be mindful that science is neither fact nor theology. It’s a way of looking at the world, observing, hypothesizing, predicting, testing, evaluating and adapting. It is both personal and social, and following someone else’s standards for what’s to know (to be taught) is as repudiating to what science is as outlawing the results.
I look forward to seeing many of you at the NSTA conference this week in Charlotte. I’ll be inBallrooms C&D at 2:00 on Friday afternoon.
Follow the money. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.followthemoney.org/database/state_overview.phtml?s=NC&y=2012
Surgis, S. (2013, February 7). Climate conspiracy theorist returns to NC legislature, warns of threat from science ‘elite’. [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://www.southernstudies.org/2013/02/climate-conspiracy-theorist-returns-to-nc-legislature-warns-of-threat-from-science-elite.htm
(2011). Coastal management policies (House Bill 819). Retrieved from North Carolina General Assembly website: http://www.nccoast.org/uploads/documents/CRO/2012-5/SLR-bill.pdf
North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, North Carolina Agricultural Statistics. (n.d.). Crops: Highs & lows, stocks & storage, biotech, varieties, floriculture, county estimates, fruits & vegetables. Retrieved from website: http://www.ncagr.gov/stats/2012AgStat/Page061_098.pdf
MasterCard has just released its Top 20 Global Destination Cities for 2013. Many will not surprise you, but some, perhaps, may. Here is an infographic that shows the top ten.
It might be useful to ask students to research one of the top cities, and/or the tourist attractions that draw people. Why do we go there? What interests us about them? Is it leisure, interest, adventure, or something else? An interesting research and report project with practical value, producing infographics to convince community members to visit their destination of choice.
There are a few things that are really difficult to convey to students. I remember how hard it was to help my social studies students understand what caused the seasons. Yes, I taught a lot of science while teaching social studies. Distance and time, on the outset, seem simple. But comprehending the vastness of time, when looking at history, and distance, when looking at science (or visa-versa), are hard for us to comprehend. In the words of the source blog for this infographic,
Humans are good at a lot of things, but putting time in perspective is not one of them. It’s not our fault – the span of time in human history, and even more so in natural history, are so vast compared to the span of our life and recent history that it’s almost impossible to get a handle on it.
There are lots of great infographics and visualizations that help to compare all manner of vastness, and here’s one.
Roald Dahl had quite an imagination. Reading through this list of books that Dahl wrote, it would be interesting to see what was going through his brain. What this infographic also shares is the inspiration behind his book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and some facts related to his book, James and the Giant Peach.
Choose a book that you are reading, or a favorite of a student, and try to find out the inspiration for the book. Is it based on an event, something that happened in to the author, or something they wish would happen? Using math and science, try to discover something factual about a book. How far do they travel in the Lord of the Rings?
Create an infographic based on this data, especially information discovered by science and math. This infographic shows the heigh of Roald Dahl next to his giant peach.
As you and your students may be able to imagine, our planet is filled with trash. Most of what we consume today is considered not to be used more than a few times, and so we throw it in a trash can and then put it on the street for the trash men to take it far away from us. Unfortunately, this is not the whole truth, it ends up in our quickly filling land fills.
But we do not only occupy this planet. For the past fifty or so years we, or things we have made, have also occupied outer space. Some of these items have been brought back, others have been destroyed reentering our atmosphere. But many are still floating in outer space. And even the tiniest object can cause major damage. Have you students imagine sand being thrown at them. Then imagine it being thrown at you at around 17,000 mph, the average speed of a space craft in low orbit. It can cause a lot of damage to you, or to a space craft.
This infographic goes through various methods being explored and tested to help clean up this debris. From giant fish nets to lasers, there are a variety of ways being explored to make space safe for continued exploration. Have you students discuss the merits of each method, and be able to defend what they think is the best method.
Don’t follow the herd. Don’t have a back-up plan. Word hard. Two of these are obvious, the third goes against common wisdom. But all three are things successful people do according to this infographic. You want your students to be successful, and most likely your students also want to be successful, so this is a great infographic to share with them to increase the chances of their success.
In addition, it is a very visually appealing infographic. Most likely, your students have never seen a chalkboard, and do not understand the background colors. But using a chalkboard background is a great idea. It portrays the idea of brainstorming, often associated with a chalkboard or whiteboard.
What backgrounds can your students use to entice viewers of their infographics? The background cannot be too busy, because it may distract, but it also cannot be too plain, because it may not draw the eye to the infographic. A tree trunk and some colorful leaves would be a great background for an infographic about fall. Faded hearts would be a great background for an infographic about Valentine’s Day. What else can your students come up with?
From Medieval to Postmodern, there have been many authors that can be divided into literary movements based on popular culture, scientific innovations, and political events. Using a standard timeline and colors for each movement, this infographic goes in to the major literary movements, but not into the causes of these movements.
Looking back on my own education, I do not seem to recall talking about the reason behind the Enlightenment or Realism. What was one of, if not the, most important innovation in our history? The printing press. It took literature and knowledge from our mouths to paper faster, and allowed more people to have access to the written word. Before this people, often monks, had to handwrite every word of a book, and so only the most wealthy could own books to be read and referenced. After this books could be produced faster and faster and cheaper and cheaper allowing anyone to have access to the best kept secrets, power and knowledge.
How did this, and other seemingly unrelated events, influence these movements? From social upheaval to peaceful passing of crowns, everything has influenced literature. In order to understand these movements more fully, have your students explore the background of them.
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