Saturday, June 21, 2008

Johnny Rotten on Judge Judy

When I was a kid, I loved the Sex Pistols. They were everything that was cool for me. My taste for that sort of thing has waned over the years, but they held a place in my mind of youthful rebellion and protest. And then I ran across Johnny Rotten on Judge Judy. I have no comment.

Take a look here and you can almost hear my youthful identity shatter in the background.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Virtual Dissection

ESchoolNews has an article on a movement to replace the traditional dissection in biology classes with a "virtual dissection". I don't quite know where I stand on this issue -- I can see both sides on this one. The ethical issue comes to mind, but the proponents of dissection argue that one needs to have a fully sensory experience to to a proper dissection.

My only real memory of dissection was from 9th grade biology class. We were given the frogs and the entire class proceeded to go to the back of the room and throw them out the second story window onto a crowd of unsuspecting students. This incident wasn't any protest against dissection; we were just a collection of boneheads.

Here's a selection from the article.

Animal-rights organizations are using software donations and other outreach efforts to spur interest in the use of "virtual dissection" tools among schools--adding a new chapter in the debate over whether these tools offer a viable option for teaching biology.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Math and Gender

The AP reports that the gender gap in math performance declines or disappears in countries where greater gender equity exist. The study, conducted by a Northwestern University professor, shows that U.S. is right in the middle of the pack in terms of gender equity and math scores. Gender equity was determined by such factors as the World Economic Forum's gender equity index and the math was based on the PISA exam.

According to the AP article, the report does not look at the reasons behind the findings, but I'd be curious to know what others think about this. Why does the gap still persist? How can we bridge it?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Yearbook Spelling Nightmare

A school just outside Seattle had a pretty unfortunate encounter with a spell checking program.

Max Zupanovic is listed as "Max Supernova" in Middletown Area High School's yearbook.

William and Elizabeth Givler's last name is "Giver" in the book, and Cameron Bendgen's last name was changed to "Bandage." Student council member Kathy Carbaugh became "Kathy Airbag."

And Alessandra Ippolito isn't sure what to think after seeing a caption listing her as "Alexandria Impolite."

For the whole story, go here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Blogging -- Good for You

Scientific American has a great article on why blogging may be really, really good for you.

Self-medication may be the reason the blogosphere has taken off. Scientists (and writers) have long known about the therapeutic benefits of writing about personal experiences, thoughts and feelings. But besides serving as a stress-coping mechanism, expressive writing produces many physiological benefits. Research shows that it improves memory and sleep, boosts immune cell activity and reduces viral load in AIDS patients, and even speeds healing after surgery. A study in the February issue of the Oncologist reports that cancer patients who engaged in expressive writing just before treatment felt markedly better, mentally and physically, as compared with patients who did not.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Put A Little Science In Your Life

A colleague sent me a really great op-ed piece in the NY Times about science and how it's taught in the U.S. Here's a passage that struck me: teaching our students, we continually fail to activate rich opportunities for revealing the breathtaking vistas opened up by science, and instead focus on the need to gain competency with science’s underlying technical details.

For the full article, go here.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

This Is What I've Been Trying To Say...

Robert Darnton at Harvard just published an amazing article in the New York Review of Books on the "information revolution". His argument is that the current hand-wringing about the internet's destruction of textual stability is untrue. Texts have always been unstable. Here's a brief passage:

Each change in the technology has transformed the information landscape, and the speed-up has continued at such a rate as to seem both unstoppable and incomprehensible. In the long view—what French historians call la longue durĂ©e—the general picture looks quite clear—or, rather, dizzying. But by aligning the facts in this manner, I have made them lead to an excessively dramatic conclusion. Historians, American as well as French, often play such tricks. By rearranging the evidence, it is possible to arrive at a different picture, one that emphasizes continuity instead of change. The continuity I have in mind has to do with the nature of information itself or, to put it differently, the inherent instability of texts. In place of the long-term view of technological transformations, which underlies the common notion that we have just entered a new era, the information age, I want to argue that every age was an age of information, each in its own way, and that information has always been unstable.