David Warlick Ryann Warlick Martin Warlick
Shakabuku Infographics Video

Learn by Doodling

Circuite Scribe

If you are a follower of this blog, then you’re aware that I am employing both of my children to curate their own teacher resource blogs (Infographic-A-Day & Vid-A-Day), and that I syndicate them into 2¢ Worth.

One, posted by Martin the other day, really caught my attention (Circuit Scribe, the new way to teach and use circuits). It’s an ink, developed at the university of Illinois, through which electrical current can be carried. Their (electroninks) intent is an innovative way to help youngsters come to understand circuits. They doodle their circuit ideas with Circuit Scribe pens, lay components on their drawings, and throw the switch.

Part of what intrigued me about the project was our education community’s growing interest in helping students learn by making things – with tools, wires and code. This product is such a threshold-free approach to learning circuit design.

The other thing that provoked me to comment here is my son – and I hope that Martin doesn’t mind my bringing his personal experience into this. You see, Martin is incredibly talented at becoming an expert in areas that interest him. Many of you know that he is a celebrated master musician. But he constantly surprises us when he suddenly can talk with us about that never seemed of interest to him before, such as some old movie we’ve just seen.  He’s telling us about the director, actors, academy award nominations, related works and stories about its production. He’s especially fond of the Coen brothers and Wes Anderson.

He can also tell you almost anything about the NBA and is currently learning a lot about the NFL, via his fantasy football league. He is definitely not the athletic jock type (band geeks were big on campus in his high school) and has never expressed any interest in sports until recently.

To the point of this writing, I find it interesting that my son zoomed in on this video about Circuit Scribe. You see Martin dropped out of the computer science program of one of our state universities, because he hated programming – and I think I know why. They were not teaching him to doodle. I don’t mean literally draw his programs with conductive ink. They weren’t helping him learn to code the way I learned to code. He was being made to learn programming in the same way that I was taught grammar. It was about memorizing proper syntax, instead of learning to make computers do interesting and useful things.

My children will both find their intersections of play, purpose and passion, and it will (hopefully) be something they can make a living at.

..and they’ll do it in spite of the “test-prep” curriculum that dominated their childhoods.

 

When water flows uphill.

When water flows uphill

I love it when people use science to create things that don’t seem physically possible. I think we all do. Using something called the Leidenfrost Effect, these students have been experimenting with ways to make liquids move up inclines. It’s really not that magical when they explain it but it still doesn’t fail to mesmerize.

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The Most Popular Books of All Time

This is a very confusing, but once understood very well organized infographic. It shares a variety of information in a concise manor. For each book, it shares the number of translations, and number of copies sold, and even the number of editors. I am puzzled as to why the number of editors would be important. What do your students think?

Make each of these books available to your students. In more advanced classes, have students read the books, and argue for or against their inclusion in this list (exclude books of religion if you wish). What made each of these books so important that they were read and shared so widely? Were they important culturally? Was there a certain following? Were they about a certain event that affected the lives of many people. Have the books been around a long time, allowing many people to read it? What books are you students surprised are not on this list?

Circuit Scribe, the new way to teach and use circuits.

Circuit Scribe, the new way to teach and use circuits.

This is one of the cooler products I’ve ever come across while looking for these videos. I’ve never really learned much about electronics or circuits, but I feel like this pen would be quite nearly the perfect tool to use to start to learn about that world. This thing could be invaluable to teachers of certain subjects in the future.

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Astronaut tries to pick up hammer

Astronaut tries to pick up hammer

I never thought I’d post a video of such a simple action, but I also never thought I’d actually see a video of something like this happening on the moon. This is apparently video of American astronaut Charles Duke trying to overcome a simple problem in an unusual setting.

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East Meets West

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. 

 

Popova, M. (2013). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2009/10/29/east-vs-west-yang-liu-infographics/

Engage or Empower

Note: Ramble and snark quotients: +99

When I was a student, I was taught to scratch paper. I scratched lines and loops and did it well or poorly, properly or improperly. I hide all of my scratched paper in my notebooks until it was time to give it to my teachers, who measured its correctness by marking what was incorrect.  If there was no incorrectness, then a got a 100 or an “A" ––––– 100 what? "A" what?

The hope was that if it was ever necessary for me to write, in order to communicate across time or space, I would remember enough correct scratching to be coherent and compelling.

When I graduated from high school, writing was still a “just in case” skill.  A sizable portion of my class went to work in one of the local textile mills, planning never to ever have to scratch anything again that was any more important than a shopping list.  

This is an profoundly inefficient and disrespectful way to educate free people.

To say, "One day you'll need to know this," is to admit appalling lack of commitment and creativity.  This is especially true when insult to injury is what's not said, "You'll need to know this for the government test in May."

What conjured this internal conversation in me was a brief exchange in the backchannel transcript from a National Science Teachers Association conference in Charlotte a couple of weeks ago.  Diane Johnson tweeted:

..to which I commented in the transcript wiki,

Stop Integrating technology. Instead, integrate networked, digital and abundant information. It changes what it means to be literate, and it empowers learning. Empowered learners are better than engaged learners. - dfw

That last sentence came from something that David Jakes said at ISTE last year in San Antonio.  He said,

“We need to shift from a focus on’Engagement’ to focusing on ‘Empowerment.’“ (Jakes, 2013)

I, in my schooling, was neither engaged nor empowered, as I learned to scratch paper.  Of course, there were those who were engaged, or acted engaged.  They scratched eagerly and more correctly than I did, because they received more 100s and As.  I don’t know how their scratching was better than mine, because I never saw it.  I couldn't learn from their example, because their scratches were hidden in notebooks as well.  It had no more value or power than mine did.

I don’t scratch any more.  I write.  I put words to paper or to screen, and clarify their meaning with punctuation and capitalization, because I am writing to someone for some purpose.  

I’m still learning to write better. I question what I write and I Google things like, "proper placement of commas in sentences” or "italics quotation marks  and titles." I also use an array of digital tools to help me spell and choose the best words – tool that my teachers, 50 years ago, could not have imagined.  Their notions of our future needs and opportunities did not reach much further than cotton mills and the college that the “engaged" would attend – as well as a few of us who were not “engaged."

Today, engagement has become one of our most earnest pursuits, because we’re teaching children who are accustomed to being engagedRolling Eyes  ..and we continually ask, "How do I measure engagement?" 

You can’t, at least in any way that even suggests the quality of learned.

But empowerment can be measured.  You do it the same way that our value is measured after we leave classrooms, teachers and textbooks behind.  Learners demonstrate what they’ve learned, by what they’re empowered to do with it – what they produce, the problems they solve, the goals they accomplish.  Look at a produced video, crafted animation, clear and compelling article, or a creatively designed and marketed bird house, and you can see what was learned.

It's not clean.  It's not clinical.  But what does precision grading mean when the names of state capitals, the chemical symbol for magnesium and the proper placement of the comma can all be Googled.  Why are we so pressured to test our children's ability to live without Google.

Lets face it.  The only ones who want this for our children are those who would politicize and monetize education.

 

 

Jakes, D. (2013, June). In Steve Hargadon (Chair). an unconference discussion. A conversation that was part of Hack Education Iste 2013, San Antonio, TX. 

 

 

 

Why I’m Speaking to Science Teachers

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.

Part of my Kerbal Space Program Diary
One of my early attempts into orbit, achieving a spectacular fall after a 35 meter ascent.
At about 26 Kilometers, my Kerban pilot decided to do a space walk. Alas he locked his keys in the capsule and burned up during the descent.
These three Kerbans made it into an orbit whose apogee was around 1.4 million kilometers and perigee was somebody’s basement on the far side of Kerbal.

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. ;-)

Holt writes,

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.

 

A Visualization of Science “Brain Drain”

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.

Turning your smartphone in to a microscope

Turning your smartphone in to a microscope

This kind of experiment really blows my mind. You can take what is one of the simplest cameras we have around these days and basically add one accessory to it to turn it in to a serious microscope.

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Photo taken by Ewan McIntosh in a Taxi in Shanghai

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Books Written

Cultivating Your Personal Learning Network
2nd Edition (2012)

Redefining Literacy 2.0 (2008)
Classroom Blogging
(2007) • Lulu
• Amazon
Raw Materials for the Mind
(2005)

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