David Warlick Ryann Warlick Martin Warlick
Shakabuku Infographics Video

A new way to visualize the Solar System.

I’m guessing if you closed your eyes and thought about the Solar System you would see the standard flat platter of moving parts. Well this is all fine when you’re studying the relative positions of the different planets and how they orbit the sun, but it turns out just picturing the Solar System in that stagnant position is cheating it a bit.

This simple animation gives us a little bit more perspective of the amount of movement we’re doing. It’s pretty crazy to think that as still as the ground below us seems, we’re on a giant rock that is not only rotating and orbiting the sun, but also following the sun as it blazes through the universe. We’re going for quite a ride.

A new way to visualize the Solar System.

Finding Vivian Maier

This is a bit of a different kind of video to share, but I found it so interesting that I had to do it anyway. It’s a trailer for a documentary about a fascinating woman named Vivian Maier. She was an amateur photographer whose works were unknown to the world until after her death in 2009. Now I don’t pretend to be anything close to an expert on photography, but even I couldn’t help but appreciate the value of the images she took. It looks like the full film will be released sometime in 2013. I can’t wait to check it out.

Finding Vivian Maier

The Future 10 Years From Now

A few decades ago, it was suspected that today we would be wearing metallic space suits and eating food in pill or goo form. But life has changed very little over the past several decades. Our food has become much more processed, but we more or less eat the same things. Styles have changed, but they are recognizable in fashion from the mid to late 20th century.

This makes me wonder where this infographic got their information (although it does have a list of sources at the bottom). According to this infographic, we will be eating bugs and wearing billboards in 10 years. What do your students think about this? Do any of your students wear Hollister and American Eagle now? They are now walking billboards. What about the delicacies of the future? Have any of your students traveled? What things have they eaten that would be considered strange by American standards? Maybe this infographic isn’t too far off. Challenge your students to make their own guesses as to what the future will be like, with references.

Blog: http://visual.ly/future-10-years-now

Changing the world one step at a time.

This video is an inspiring example of one great discovery leading to another. I’ve never even heard of graphene before so I definitely had no idea it could be the key to what will be the batteries of the future. Check out how these scientists not only found a very easy way to produce graphene, but also the discovery that could change the way we charge our devices.

Changing the world one step at a time.

Extreme Weather Extracts Heavy Toll Across the States

What is the most devastating storm in your memory? For me it was Hurricane Fran, which swept inland into the heart of North Carolina, causing power outages for days and even weeks, and kept us out of school for around two weeks. Trees feel everywhere, and many roads were impassible for weeks. Then there was the crazy snow storm when I was in high school. Two feet here in Raleigh, leaving us out of school for two weeks again. They ended up just telling us to go to school if we could, but absences wouldn’t be counted against you. Power was out for days and even weeks again, but the aftermath wasn’t as bad.

What about for you? Depending on where you live, you may remember other storms. I don’t remember Hurricane Katrina very well, except for deciding to drive home from college that weekend and there not being any gas Charlotte and West. But I’m sure those along the Gulf remember things very differently.

This infographic shares information on how devastating storms were each year. Some may not have affected you at all, and you may have been in the heart of others. For those that you didn’t experience first hand, ask you students to find before, during, and after photos to get a better idea of the devastation. I did this for Hurricane Fran when I was in college. I found photos of flooded streets and had my father back home drive around and take photos of the same streets today, to show how busy the streets are. Everyone was very impressed and this particular project stands out in my mind.

Blog: http://visual.ly/extreme-weather-extracts-heavy-toll-across-states-1992-2012

How Do Germs Spread?

This infographic, brought to us by Pediatrics After Hours, is brightly designed to grab the attention of one group in particular, kids. Germs are gross, and kids get sick the most often. They are often too preoccupied to remember to do simple things, such as cover their mouths when they cough, or wash their hands before they eat. So it is important to pass along the information that tells them why they need to do these things.

This infographic shares the major ways germs are spread, through touching, eating, drinking, breathing, and bites. It is important to be careful with everything that you do, from cleaning your home regularly, to drinking clean water. One thing one teacher did once was to put glitter glue all over her hands, and we watched how many things she touched. Everywhere the glitter was, we could pass germs.

Post this infographic in bathrooms, by doors, and in eating areas. Make sure you get the word out so that your students can stay in the classroom and not constantly be out sick. Teach your students that we aren’t trying to waste their time by making them wash their hands, it is truly for their own good.

Blog: http://visual.ly/how-do-germs-spread

The Game of School

I appreciate all of the valuable feedback so many people gave me regarding the initial posting of “The Game of School,” my first animation with a message.  I’ve decided to post it on the original blog article and re-date it to the present.  The original blog text follows.

As I ease into retirement (over the next five to ten years), I’m giving myself permission to learn some new skills that I always wanted to try my hand at, but never made the time.  One is learning to create animations.

Here is my first attempt at an animation with a message.  Its message is based on a blog post I wrote for Smart Blogs a few months ago but never got around to reposting here.  This is version 4.1 5.0 of the video, which has been edited and re-rendered MANY times and will likely be rendered many more times.  

I’m learning!

To create this video, I used Apple Keynote for the text flow, Poser Debut for the character animation, iMovie 11 for the video editing and iSequence on the iPad to produce the music.

Enjoy! ..and let me know what you think…

In Defense of Liberal Arts – Sort’a

This is something that has troubled my wife for a couple of weeks. It's an issue I have only, in the last couple of days, started to pay attention to — my state's recently elected conservative Governor. For me it's like this… We elect this guy and I think, “He's a Republican, sure! A conservative, but so am I in many ways. He's an adult, mature, and responsible. He isn't going to do any real harm.” My goodness, I should have learned my lesson by now.

In a January 29 interview with conservative talk show host, Bill Bennett, North Carolina Governor Pat McCroy began his attack on North Carolina's much admired university system. Announcing his advocacy of vocational education, he said,

“I think some of the educational elite have taken over our education where we are offering courses that have no chance of getting people jobs.”

Now personally, I feel that it is a little bit unfair to make judgements about a politician based on a short radio interview and it's important to acknowledge that one of the functions of conservative (and liberal) media is to say things that generate the most emotional energy. But McCroy's comments have been echoed pretty extensively through the local and national news – and the education discussion is a critical one for our state and nation — and future

You can read about the interview here, here and here, and also listen to it here.

Claiming that NC has the 5th highest unemployment rate in the country and that businesses here can't find qualified employees, he continued,

“I want to adjust my education curriculum to what business and commerce needs to get our kids jobs as opposed to moving back in with their parents after they graduate.”

With an adult son living under my roof and an underemployed daughter, who continues to rely on us for part of her monthly payments, I identify with this statement. But, at fault, is not the courses in literature, history and music they've taken. Fault is with a business sector of highly skilled financial experts, who manipulated the nation's economy, with little regard for the human and cultural impact of their greedy actions.

Apparently “Gender Studies” at UNC is a common target of conservatives – a Google search for [University of North Carolina, "gender studies" and conservative] yielded approximately 2.8 million hits),

Continuing the attack, Bill Bennett mentioned “gender studies” as an example, prompting our governor to remark, that if you want to take those classes, then “go to a private school and take it, but I don’t want to subsidize that if it’s not going to get someone a job.”

McCrory declared that,

“I'm looking for engineers, I'm looking for technicians, I'm looking for mechanics.”


“Its the tech jobs that we need right now. Even in my tech schools, my community colleges, which are fantastic in North Carolina, most people don't realize that 2/3 of my students are women, and most of them are going into health care or taking Jr. College programs, when in fact I have a lot of unemployed men who typically go into technology, or mechanics or welding or something. If they do, they can get six-figure pay right now, but instead they're in unemployment.”

OK, he's describing a real problem here, that I see among my own personal friends, that young men are not going to or finishing college. So abolishing history and art will solve the problem? A job search on the North Carolina Department of Commerce's JobConnector site listed only 42 welding jobs available throughout all regions of the state ranging in pay from $9.50 to $18.00 an hour. Again, the function of these shows is to generate emotional energy.

Pat McCrory is a graduate of Catawba College, a North Carolina private liberal arts school. He said that he believes in liberal arts. He continued,

“There are two reasons for education. One is to, as Dad use to say, exercise the brain. But the second is to get a skill.”

That's it?

This brings me to what seems to be a paradox in McCrory's thinking. When asked by Bennett, how he got 40% of North Carolina's Hispanic vote, he replied,

“I did not appease any one group and change my speech, I gave the same consistent message on building the economy and building jobs, and believe me, that's as important for the Latino or Hispanic community as every other community.” 1

At first he was describing an economy that is starving for qualified workers, and now an economy that needs to be stimulated to generate more jobs. I believe that these two problems co-exist, and that our governor is probably genuinely concerned about them both. But I would suggest that North Carolina's economy will not be stimulated by skilled workers alone, no matter how buff their brains are. New jobs come from innovation and not just in the business sector. It comes from people who are creative, outside-the-box thinkers, and who can see beyond “TIG welding an aluminum joint.”

So how do you accomplish this. How do you bring Silicon Valley-style inventive thinking to the mountains, valleys and coastal plains of North Carolina?

In 2008, technologist, turned academic, Vivek Wadhwa, co-authored a study called Education and Tech Entrepreneurship. They interviewed representatives of 1,800 successful (sales in excess of $1 million) tech startups with U.S. born founders. They learned that 92% of the founders held bachelor's degrees, 31% with masters degrees and 10% PhDs. Yet, less than half of those degrees were in STEM subjects. In fact, more held degrees in arts, humanities, and social sciences than mathematics – though both constituted only a small percentage of the whole. 2

In a more recent New York Times op ed piece, Wadhwa wrote,

“Gaining a degree made a big difference in the sales and employment of the company that a founder started. But the field that the degree was in or the school that it was obtained from was not a significant factor.”

He went on to write that,

“The most common traits I have observed are a passion to change the world and the confidence to defy the odds and succeed.”

Where in a purely technical course of study are you inspired to “defy the odds.” 3

I think that Steve Jobs said it best,

“It's in Apple's DNA that technology alone is not enough. It's technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities that yields us the results that makes our heart sing.” 4

McCrory's is a simplistic, unimaginative and potentially harmful approach and I hope that he and those who are excited by such approaches can be inspired to defy them.

Protect Liberal Arts Classes at UNC


1 McCrory, P. (2013). Bill bennett's morning in america[Web]. Retrieved from http://goo.gl/nlQXY

2 Wadhwa, V., Freeman, R., & Rissing, B. (2008). Education and tech entrepreneurship. Kansas City: Kauffman: The Foundation of Entrepreneurship.

3 Wadwa, V. (2011, August 3). The leaders of silicon valley.The New York Times. Retrieved from http://goo.gl/LMRrj

4 Jobs, S. (Performer) (2011). Steve jobs apple's dna = technology liberal arts [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZeOhnTuq2I


My, How Big Our Cars have Gotten

It’s no secret that there are larger cars on the roads now. The majority of cars on the road where I live are SUVs, and several decades ago these didn’t even exist. Your students may not be able to imagine a time when they were unable to stand up in their cars. But ask you students to research the history of SUVs. Why were they created? How were they marketed to be so popular?

This infographic compares the same cars over a series of years to show how they have grown in length and height, as well as weight. What is the benefit of these larger cars? In science class, discuss aerodynamics, and try to figure out which cars have an advantage, cars from the 1950s, or todays cars. Try to find similar sized model cars and make a wind tunnel, showing students the stream of air. Use other things on cars, such as the slant of cars and spoilers to show them the benefit of these.

Blog: http://goo.gl/o5ShI

Feeding Your Interests from Twitter

To me, one of the best and most potent aspects of the whole Web 2.0 revolution was RSS, a fairly simple technique of, as I often say, “training the information to find you.”

I’m not sure why, but RSS seems to be disappearing. Actually it’s not disappearing as much as it is going covert. The reason is APPs, those useful little programs we download on our phones, tablets and PCs designed to make certain aspects of navigating the info-verse almost effortless – just a few clicks and absolutely no acronyms.

Anyway, a long time ago, Twitter stopped offering RSS feeds for Twitter searches – and other search engines that did offer feeds either disappeared, extinguished the feature (like Twitter.com) or started charging – which is the case with Topsey, the service I’ve been using, demonstrating and wrote about in Cultivating Your Personal Learning Network.

So I searched and searched, and found some interesting w20 tools, such as this, this and this. But the best solution that I could come up with was a backdoor hack to get Twitter to send you the feeds. It’s easy, but not something you can easily remember how to do. But since its the only way I could find, I’m blogging it here, mostly for the sake of attendees of my PLN presentations (two coming up this next week) and readers of Cultivating Your Personal Learning Network.

It goes like this.

  1. Go to Twitter and type your search query. I’m searching for tweets with the tags #edtech and #byod.
  2. When the list of hits arrives, select and copy the URL from the address box. Something like this:
  3. Now here’s the interesting part. Paste the URL in a text processor, something you can paste and type into, and then add the parts highlighted and colored red below:
  4. This URL can be used with most RSS readers, even iGoogle. Here’s the feed block in an iGoogle page – the latest three tweets with #byod and #edtech.
keep looking »

Photo taken by Ewan McIntosh in a Taxi in Shanghai

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Cultivating Your Personal Learning Network
2nd Edition (2012)

Redefining Literacy 2.0 (2008)
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