The quest for better batteries and solar power
Panasonic reports that it will be using solar powered batteries to broadcast a full solar eclipse on May 20th from the summit of Mt Fuji – Well worth checking out the webcast with your students, but more importantly, signs of innovation in the battery and alternative power space.
Source: The Verge
Treehouse raises $4.75 million
Web design and development community Treehouse has just secured $4.75 million in funding from Chamath Palihapitiya’s Social+Capital partnership and the Greylock Discovery fund. The platform uses example videos, online quizzes and badges to teach people how to develop websites, web apps, iPhone apps and launch startups.
South Korea putting the brakes on digital textbooks
The South Korean government has backed off the plan to switch first- and second-grade classrooms to electronic readers. Older students will make the switch, but they’ll still have access to regular books as well. Whereas there aren’t yet studies about the impact of so much screen time on brain development, there are studies that show that college students who were forced to go without media for 24 hours can experience symptoms similar to drug withdrawal.
Missouri closes six charter schools
Missouri’s Board of Education has decided to close six charter school campuses run by the Virginia-based Imagine Schools Inc., saying that it “would be a disservice” to children to keep them open because of academic and fiscal issues.
The decision to close the schools at the end of the school year will mean that about 4,000 students will have to find a new school for next fall. A transition office is being set up to help families find new school placements.
Source: Washington Post
New Reading Tests for elementary school teachers
Wisconsin became the latest state to adopt a rigorous, stand-alone test of elementary teachers’ knowledge of the science of reading. Though such efforts to improve the quality of reading instruction generally have been pushed by a fairly small network of constituents, those proponents say that updating licensing exams is one of the few ways states can ensure that reading-instruction skills are taught in teacher training.
Source: Education Week
NYC Hispanic and Black kids highly disadvantaged
The New York City public school system is a “rotting apple” that is failing Latino and black students, says a new report by the Massachusetts-based Schott Foundation for Public Education. These strong words come as Mayor Michael Bloomberg has tried to make education a priority. New York University education professor Pedro Noguera wrote the study’s foreword and said the disparities are “tantamount to apartheid-like separations.”
The foundation concluded black or Hispanic students are four times as likely as Asian or white students to be enrolled in one of the city’s lowest-performing high schools. Students from low-income families also have little chance of being tested for gifted and talented programs.
Source: Latino Ed Beat
High school students launch rubber chicken into space
High school students from Bishop, CA, launched a rubber chicken (NASA’s mascot for their Solar Dynamics Observatory) into space aboard a helium balloon last month (along with a lunchbox full of instrumentation, insects, and sunflower seeds) with help from a local 5th grade class to study the effects of the recent solar storm. The chicken reached a final elevation of 119k feet and cleared 99% of the atmosphere. Later this year, the group will be sending microbes in a similar vehicle “ to see ‘if they can live at the edge of space.’”
Source: The Verge
$4.2 million settlement for student paralyzed by bully
Six years after receiving a punch from a bully that left Sawyer Rosenstein paralyzed, the New Jersey school board in the district where he was a student has agreed to a $4.2 million settlement. Rosenstein was paralyzed from the waist down due to a clot that had formed after the blow in a major artery above his abdomen. When the clot moved down to his spine, it burst, leaving him paralyzed.
PISA and environment
According to the latest issue of PISA in Focus, students who have high levels of environmental literacy are still the minority; but all students get most of their information about environmental issues at school.
Results from the PISA 2006 survey, which focused on science, indicate that an average of 19% of 15-year-olds across OECD countries perform at the highest level of proficiency in environmental science. This means that they can consistently identify, explain and apply scientific knowledge related to a variety of environmental topics. At the other end of the spectrum, an average of 16% of students perform below the baseline level of proficiency, meaning that they cannot answer questions containing scientific information related to basic environmental phenomena or issues. In four OECD countries, 20% or more of students score below this baseline level.
Drink water and you’ll perform better
Controlling for ability from previous coursework results, researchers found those with water scored an average of 5% higher than those without. The study, from the universities of East London and Westminster, also noted that older students were more likely to bring in water to exam halls. It says the findings have implications for exam policies on access to drinks.