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Category Archives: Events

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!

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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

 

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Former copyboy, Scott Pelley’s optimism in the face of ‘bad information’

Last week, Scott Pelley, anchor of CBS News made some timely observations about the news business. Which, we should not forget is indeed a business. Pelley was awarded the Walter Cronkite award for Excellence in Journalism by the Cronkite School at ASU.

Now I regularly watch his broadcast, so I admire his candor  when he observed that:

“Never in our history have we had so much bad information.”

Let that sink in, against the other platitudes we hear that ‘never in our history have we had so much information at our fingertips’ etc. In 2013, Pelley warned that the media was getting the Big Stories wrong, over and over again. How prescient, considering most media misread the 2016 electorate. They are, after all our filters, and when their filters get trapped in the same gunk, we lose our faith in them.

At the ASU event he went further to warn, “We’re in our digital citadels, unchallenged by ideas. Biased reporting closes minds. Journalism is meant to open them.” Pelley, kicked off his career at age 15, as a ‘copyboy’ at a newspaper in Lubbock, Texas. If you’ve never heard of the job of ‘copyboy’ this person was, to put it nicely, a delivery boy who was given a sheet of butcher paper (on which stories were then written), to deliver it to the sub-editors’ desk.

Like Kelley, Cronkite was also optimistic about delivering the truth, alluring to the movie Network, when he said:

“We’ve got to throw open our windows and shout out these truths” 

Just for larks, here’s Walter Cronkite, as he signed off on March 6th, 1981.

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2016 in Arizona, ASU, Events, Journalism, Media, Technology, TV

 

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Martin Sensmeier visits school as Native American Recognition week kicks off

Last Thursday, we had a visit from Martin Sensmeier, the actor who plays Red Harvest in The Magnificent Seven.

The 31-year old Native from Alaska, spoke to our students about how perseverance in the face of rejection got him where he is. Beside his acting interests, he shared with us his passion for helping youth, and how he has partnered with Nike in support of the N7 Fund.

The Nike Air Native N7 brand was inspired by the wisdom of the ‘Seven Generations’ –how our decisions impact the seventh generation. The fund supports Native American and Aboriginal tribes in health programs.

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Posted by on November 14, 2016 in Education, Events

 

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Pictures from Space Day – Rockets, Satellites, Stars and Bots

This event couldn’t have been better timed. Unbeknownst to me, October 19th was a day that space pioneer, Robert Goddard had called his “Anniversary Day” — the day he thought that it just might be possible to humans to break free of gravity and travel to other planets.

Oct 19th, last Wed, turned out to be a day filled with hands-on experiences for our students who got to hear about (and see) rockets, small-space satellites, robots that could some day work in ‘teams’ or swarms on a distant planet, how to design a landing craft and parachute like the Phoenix Mars Lander, and of course sit inside a portable, inflatable planetarium

Here are some of the highlights in pictures.

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SpaceTrex Group from ASU launched a rocket and talked about Small-space satellites

Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft, which lifted off on an Antares rocket Oct 17th (two days before Space Day) carrying 5,290 pounds of cargo for NASA to the International Space Station.

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The little bot that runs on Arduino, could be part of a bot swarm!

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Autonomous Collective Systems Lab let students program and run robots in a Rover obstacle avoidance challenge

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Hands-on session on planets and what ‘designing’ a new planet might involve.

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StarLab, the inflatable planetarium was here for Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grades.

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My third year of collaborating with the Orbital ATK team

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Arizona State University’s teams

 

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StarLab team from ASU

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2016 in Education, Events, Robotics, STEM, Technology

 

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All set for SPACE DAY this week with rockets, rovers and StarLab

Getting back after Fall break with a big event this Wednesday, SPACE DAY. It’s my 5th year of bringing space science to our students from Kindergarten to 6th grade. Fascinating how things fall into place, thanks to the amazing support I get from the scientific community around us.

I am delighted to have Orbital ATK, a global leader in aerospace, conduct sessions for us, with many other groups. Today was supposed to be the launch of Orbital’s Antares rocket carrying cargo up to the International Space Station. The launch has been postponed for tomorrow, and should dock at the space station on SPACE Day – Wed Oct 19th!

Our keynote speaker will be Dr. Jim Rice, a NASA astrogeologist.

Sessions will cover these topics:

 

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2016 in Education, Events, STEM, Technology

 

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Smarter than Google? The hunt for a ‘research’ engine

In my attempt to differentiate between Search and Research (a topic that I return to around this time in the semester) I found a current event with a point of focus: ‘Chasing an asteroid!’

As luck would have it, NASA just launched a mission, Osiris Rex, that is basically a space explorer that will be chasing an asteroid for two years, before it grabs a piece of it and hustles back to earth. Students love events like this, and quickly dig deep into finding information around it.

omnityAnd as luck would also have it, there’s a new Search engine called Omnity that promises to do better, providing ‘constellations of meaning.’ Smarter than Google, even! I wish it was true, and plan to find out shortly.

Sometimes ‘research’ involves going down that rabbit hole and unearthing nuggets of information that seldom shows up on a simple search query. Students will find out that although the mission will take 7 years the return trip will take longer than getting there. Why? What determines the timeline? Google sometimes lulls us into being content with unspectacular answers. It makes us unwilling to do probe deeper.

 

After all, it’s not enough to teach today’s students how to use Google and Bing, or even Wolfram Alpha, but emerging tools, as we go chasing after asteroids in class.

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2016 in Ed-Tech, Education, Events, Search

 

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A Lesson from the conflicting ‘birthdays’ of the World Wide Web!

Yesterday, (August 23rd) was one of the birthdays of the Web. At least it is the day when non geeks got access to the ‘global hyperlinked information system’ that Tim Berners-Lee designed.

I began using this 25th Anniversary milestone this week in classes that introduce students to how to find and discern information on the wild and woolly Web.

When I posed this question to my 4th grade students: “What is the Internet? And where could you find out about it?” one of them responded without missing a beat, “On the Internet!”

“But,” I responded, “What if the Internet was wrong about the Internet? How would you know?”

Note I said today was one of the birthdays of the Web. Oddly, while media outlets, including the likes of Huff Post, ran features, claiming Aug 23rd as the date

So if the real birthday August 23rd, August 6th, or March 12th? Should we go to the ‘Mesh‘ to find out? Are our trusted sources wrong? Now there’s a lesson for my students far greater than helping them ‘research’ a few factoids.

 
 

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