RSS

Author Archives: Angelo Fernando

About Angelo Fernando

Author, business journalist, elementary school teacher, podcaster. I have been blogging since 2004, and a business and technology columnist for magazines, since 1994. Passionate about education, and media literacy.

Cartoonists and bloggers under siege

It’s odd how politicians hold a cartoonist and bloggers up to tough standards once reserved for ‘The Media.’

Political cartoonists in particular, hold a lens up to our world, enabling us to see events in a different perspective. I think of a cartoonist as more than a lens, in fact. A mirror and a lens – a kaleidoscope. You see something new every time you turn your head.

Malaysian cartoonist, ZUNAR, known for his powerful editorial cartoons for 20 years, has been getting under the skin of the ruling class. In 2010 he was arrested just before his book “Cartoon-O-Phobia” was launched. The crime? Sedition! Interestingly sedition laws exist in many countries.

We often hear of France’s Charlie Hebdo being threatened. But cartoonists have been under siege.

  • Likewise, bloggers, especially political writers have been attacked in countries such as Ecuador, South Africa, India, and Sri Lanka.
  • In Bangladesh, four bloggers have been murdered.
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 9, 2016 in Journalism, Media

 

Tags: , , , ,

Farewell to our quintessential Rocket Man, John Glenn

John Glenn was quite a guy. You don’t find many role models like him these days. The ones you could hold up for kids as examples of someone pushing the boundaries of science. He was the first American to orbit the Earth. To me he stood out as someone who put in the grunt work most people miss.

It’s easy to forget that before he climbed aboard ‘Friendship 7′ spacecraft on Feb 20th 1962 for his short (4 hrs, 55 mins, and 23 secs) flight, John Glenn was a fighter pilot.*

The story not often told is that before re-entry, NASA’s Mission Control told Glenn “not to jettison the retro-rocket package after firing” in order to better hold the heat shield in place. In other words, “Wait and see – you are part of the experiment!”

At the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum, standing beside Friendship 7, one marvels at the courage it took to climb into this over-sized tin-can in the interest of science, not knowing what might happen when being hurled into an orbit around the Earth at 17,000 mph.

john-glenn

John Glenn passed away today. He was 95.

* He flew missions in World War II, Guam, and Korea, and later served his country as a senator for 25 years. He even got back to space, briefly for a flight on the Space Shuttle.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 8, 2016 in Education, STEM

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Robotics team researches Dakota Access Pipeline for FLL project

When our robotics team picked the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (‘DAPL’) for their research this year, they never imagined a solution to the standoff would come days before they presented it.

It did.

Yet the insight they bring is even more powerful. But how does an oil pipeline relate to this year’s theme, Animal Allies?

Click to Enlarge

A quick thumbnailThe controversy began over a 1,170-mile  underground oil pipeline crossing 4 states (N. Dakota, S. Dakota, Iowa and Illinois). It had been approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but as Native American opposition gathered momentum (with activists from several tribes, including a group from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Reservation) president Obama stepped in, and the pipeline was stopped.

As for the robotics project: It is on the impact of the ‘dirty pipeline’ on animal life. They will present a case for how water and the land are sacred to the Native American people. And how it could adversely impact animal life.

The ‘problem’ may have a political solution. But their project board looks at deeper issues than that, as you could see in their brainstorming session earlier in October.

img_0972

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 7, 2016 in Arizona, Ed-Tech, Education, Robotics

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Entertaining ourselves out of Math

What killed our interest in math?

Is it our love for instant gratification? Or was it our ability to outsource our left brain to ‘calculating machines?’

No excuses are good enough. After all, the country that created the first graphing calculator, Japan, ranks 5th place in Math in the ‘PISA’ test (Programme for International Student Assessment), which tests Mathematics, Reading and Science among 15-year-olds in 72 countries. The test is administered every three years. In this latest ranking, the US, unfortunately is nowhere in sight.

pisa-rankings-2016In Math, we are way below Malta, the Czech Republic and Vietnam and some 40 other nations. In Reading, we rank 24th, with countries such as Estonia, and Macao doing better. Singapore tops Math, Reading and Science. What killed math in the US?

I only ask this question because we are in the midst of student evaluation, and I am seeing an increase in student’s interest in programming. Yes, math is hard, but we seem to be entertaining ourselves to death, with ‘watching’ more than doing. Coding, and using mathematical concepts requires students to work through a problem. An ‘algorithm‘ is after all a mathematical construct.

This unhappy news of declining performance comes despite us having excellent hands-on, interactive resources such as Khan Academy. One recommendation is to “teach a lot less but focus at much greater depths,” says the director of education and skills at OECD.

Buried deep in the report are some good indicators of what works in the successful countries. It says, for instance that

students score higher in science when they reported that their science teachers “explain scientific ideas”, “discuss their questions” or “demonstrate an idea” more frequently.

and that raising students’ expectations of working “in a science-related occupation” have greater bearing on the outcomes than material and human resources.

Translated. Investing in new books or fancy devices won’t move the needle unless schools empower (and hire) teachers who could passionately ‘explain’ and ‘discuss’ the subject matter.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 6, 2016 in Ed-Tech, Education, STEM

 

Tags: , , ,

Planning for Star Wars class for ‘Hour of Code’ next week

I wish I had had the opportunity to learn JavaScript. But it’s never too late, since I can learn it while teaching some programming next week. You know, ‘He who teaches, learns twice‘ and all that!

hour-of-code-star-wars

I’m doing this because it is Computer Science Education Week from Dec 5 – 11 with a focus on the ‘Hour of Code‘. (It is also the week when I have to take my ‘Lab’ to the classrooms, while the computer lab is being used for NWEA evaluations.)

The ‘Hour of Code’ folk have added new tutorials featuring, Star Wars. Something my students are focusing on for an Image Manipulation class this week. It helps to have Kathleen Kennedy (seen in the video below), producer of The Force Awakens explain how programming is very much a part of movie production today.

Students will specifically learn to program a game in which BB8 must be sent on missions to recover objects and deliver messages.

In case you are interested, Hour of Code has several social media outlets, including

Twitter https://twitter.com/codeorg
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Code.org
Instagram https://instagram.com/codeorg
Tumblr https://blog.code.org

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Photoshopping the White House

No, this is not another fake news alert. It’s a teaching moment, however.

The subject matter is appropriate. While teaching Photoshop and image manipulation, it’s a perfect time to be teaching students how to become critical consumers of information often seen through imagery. And spot when someone has been tinkering with the truth.

student-4

The class begins with the ‘conspiracy’ around the 2003 Space Shuttle explosion, by looking closely at the Photoshopped images. We also look at doctored images of public figures.

When they get to the computers, their challenge is to add to, or ‘enhance’ fountains on the White House lawn.

Here’s are a couple of examples. student-3

Take a guess. How many fountains are really there on the North lawn?

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 1, 2016 in Communications, Ed-Tech, Education, STEM

 

Tags: , , , ,

Snowden movie’s ‘Whole kingdom, Snow White” line becomes real in UK

It’s hard to separate fact from drama in ‘Snowden.’

It’s not the typical Oliver Stone version of history (meaning ridden with conspiracy theories) for one reason: It deals with groups working in the shadows, conspiring if you will, to tap into networks.

I found the line by  interesting. When Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) asks who is being surveilled, his friend (played by Zachary Quintino) tells him that the NSA tracks everyone and everything in “the whole kingdom, Snow White!”

While it is true that the whole planet is now under surveillance, it’s more true of the ‘Kingdom’ across the Atlantic. BBC reports that bulk data collections had been going on for the past 10 years. The new bill passed yesterday legalizes the UK’s global and domestic surveillance program, including collecting web and phone data of people for the past 12 months.

Oliver Stone’s screen writer must be laughing.

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 30, 2016 in Social Media

 

Tags: , , , ,