Archive: April 2013

April 30th, 2013 | By Mallory Smith | Posted in Art & Society, Innovation | 2 Comments

Changing the Odds: Fight for more than just modest education reforms

Changing the OddsLast week I had the pleasure of attending an event called  “Changing the Odds with Geoffrey Canada,”  hosted by  Stand for Children. The luncheon raised contributions for  Stand for Children Washington, but ultimately inspired us all to want to dedicate our time and raise our voices for better education everywhere.

Geoffrey Canada is charismatic and totally genuine. I am amazed by his ability to make me laugh while I reflect on the magnitude of unacceptable issues in the education system.  His refreshing common sense attitude towards quality education for everyone is both compelling and plainly justified. In this business there is endless red tape wrapped around every attempt at achieving any real change–and we need to do better business. “If you can’t teach, you should get another job,” Canada states obviously. That seems like a simple enough equation for most businesses, but for some reason even modest reforms are fought tooth and nail in education.

We’re making progress…slowly. The Academic Acceleration bill passed through the House and Senate last week. The bill automatically enrolls every student who qualifies into more rigorous advanced classes. The bill would help prepare children for college and has already had one example of successful implementation. In the Federal Way, the number of 11th and 12th grade students of color taking at least one advanced class increased by 76% in just one year with Academic Acceleration. That’s fantastic progress, and organizations like Stand for Children are truly making a difference in education.

Still, there’s much more to be done. And it should be everybody’s concern, not just a select number of passionate groups. Washington passed charter schools last year, but it was a close race. Opposition to charter schools does have its validity. There have been failed charter schools that should be shut down, but that’s no reason to give up altogether. Failure fosters innovation. We should be trying new methods instead of reinforcing what doesn’t work.  At the end of Canada’s speech, he leaves us with two challenges: 1) Think outside the box, and 2) Help young people gain a new sense of optimism. “There’s no one coming to save your children,” says Canada, reminding us that we are the ones that need to make sure schools are working. Schools need to strive to improve year after year, and we need to be the ones enforcing that.

If we take action and stand up and demand a high quality education for all, and if we especially make sure that children are growing up educated, we will surely see a positively drastic change in the world. Less crime, healthier citizens, and a bigger pool of innovative ideas to choose from. Those are the things I’m looking forward to most as more and more of our young people grow up educated. Education affects everyone, so it makes sense to donate some of your time and effort to making sure the effects are positive.  We can do it; we just need to get creative. To learn more about how Stand for Children Washington gets creative, check out how you can  get involved.

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April 24th, 2013 | By Mallory Smith | Posted in Art & Society, Science & Tech | Comments Off

Crowdfunded: From Movies to Microprocessors

Kickstarter- Veronica Mars

Screenshot: The Veronica Mars Movie Kickstarter page

I’m amazed to see the impressive things being funded on Kickstarter lately. Veronica Mars fans everywhere broke Kickstarter records by garnering support from 91,585 backers to revive the cancelled-too-early-TV-show for a Veronica Mars Movie. With over 63,000 backers, OUYA raised over $8.5M to create a TV game console, powered by Android and open for all app developer contributions. The system is inexpensive, crowdfunded and open-sourced, which to me confirms the exciting declaration on  OUYA’s Kickstarter page: “The possibilities are limitless.”

The idea of crowdsourcing as an endless source of possibility swept over me again when I found this Kickstarter for microprocessors the size and cost of a pack of gum. This exciting project was funded by 709 eager backers for more than $23,000 over the initial goal. A campaign for microprocessors doesn’t seem too exciting until you dig into the details:

  • This ultra-low cost development platform for micro-robotics can be easily assembled with through-hole components and a soldering iron
  • The purpose of this Kickstarter is to make a platform for future projects in the Robotics club, which will be documented and made open source for everyone to share

What if everyone had easy and inexpensive access to making their own microprocessors? What will we be able to achieve in minutes, without even leaving the house? What if we get to vote for the media we want to consume and fund the startups we want to see created? In this era of crowdfunding and crowdsourcing, we’re customizing more and more of our lives and it’s getting easier and easier to do. I’m excited to see projects like these succeed because they remind me that it’s not only possible for us to create our own customized futures for ourselves, but it’s seems likely that one day it will be  probable.

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April 16th, 2013 | By Mallory Smith | Posted in Art & Society, Business & Economy, Environment & Energy, Science & Tech, Space | 5 Comments

Top 10 Future Careers: 2050 and 2100

iStock_000005407395LargeIn 2001 Glen wrote a blog called Top 10 Future Careers.  Now here’s what we’re thinking about future employment.

Popular Careers in 2050:

• Dental Hygienist
• Human Resources Specialist
• Pharmacist
• Biotechnology Salesman
• Biomedical Engineer
• Entrepreneur
• Programmer/Software Developer
• Network and Computer Systems Administrator
• Lawyer
• Nuclear and Solar Power Engineer

Popular Careers in 2100:

• Gene Programmer
• Food Engineer
• Bioengineer
• Brain Augmenter
• Weather Controller
• Spaceport Traffic Control
• Human-related Spacecraft Maintenance
• Nature Conservationist
• Ethics Lawyer- for memory augmentation, genetic programming, etc.
• Domestic Robot Programmer

What do you think jobs will look like in 2050 or 2100? Let us know in the comments.

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April 2nd, 2013 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in New at | Comments Off updated with new features

Today finished a site update with new features mostly of use to those of us who write for the site but also for readers – the best new feature is that the site now is optimized for mobile devices and will resize automatically for each device. Give that a try. Also, videos will resize for devices.

In addition there are several pages that have better layout features to make them more readable, such as the schedule page. And the home page has been streamlined to provide quicker access to key areas of interest, and to include an excerpt from the latest blog post.

With full functionality restored we will be getting back to lots of new blogging for your reading pleasure.

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