Archive for December, 2012

Surprising Students

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

I’m a bit of a Science Fair geek. My daughter was a regional winner years ago and I have been a judge at more of them than I can count. At Intel’s International Science Fair this year, a young man came forward with an idea that just may save your life.

A fifteen-year-old boy named Jack Andraka has developed a cheap, easy, and highly accurate paper sensor for the early detection of pancreatic cancer. In May, he won the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in the medical and health sciences category, earning a $75,000 prize. Jack explains:

So, what I did; is create this paper sensor and it basically has single wall carbon nanotubes which are atom thick tubes of carbon mixed with anti-bodies to this one cancer bio-marker called mesothelin. An anti-body is basically a molecule that binds specifically to one other molecule. So, what happens is; when I compared it, to the current gold standard of protein detection called called ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay), it was actually 168 times faster, over 26,000 times less expensive and over 400 times more sensitive. And what I found is that my sensor in a blind study it actually had a 100% correct diagnosis, in diagnosing pancreatic cancer and could diagnose the cancer before it actually became invasive.

I did not expect for it to be this good at detecting pancreatic cancer, anti-bodies and stuff so – I was blown away by how sensitive it was.

I actually got into this kind of work because my uncle he died due to pancreatic cancer it metastasized and I got interested in early diagnosis and I found the blood tests where the only practical way to detect it in routine screening, so then I got interested in mesothelin and actually loved single wall carbon nanotubes, they are the superheros of material science and so then I was just thinking how I could apply them here and it came to me one day in biology class.

You can never tell what deep thoughts the quiet kid in class is thinking. But you can be ready with supporting materials, enthusiastic answers to questions, and guidance to deeper levels of thinking . . . regardless of your field of study or teaching area.

Cyberbullying, Trolls, and Free Speech

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

I came across a fast-paced video broken into three short sections: Cyberbullying, Trolls and Trolling, and Free Speech Online. To generate some excellent discussions with your own students, there is plenty to share with students in this from issues raised by anonymity to psychological effects such as online disinhibition effect  Bad Behavior Online features commentaries by Alice Marwick, Professor at Fordham University, Whitney Phillips, Lecturer at New York University, and Andy Sellars, Berkman Center For Internet & Society, Harvard University.


Technology Ripples

Saturday, December 22nd, 2012

The Museum of London recently unearthed audio recordings on wax cylinders of “outstanding” quality. I believe their original author, Cromwell Wall, was one of “us.” In 1904, Wall took a wax cylinder audio recorder around with him to capture the happy voices of family celebrating Christmas. It was a treat to listen to some of these recordings. You can listen to a report on The World if you wish.

The Wall family in 1908

As I listened to Grandpa Wall speaking from 1904, it struck me that he was just like those of us who write blogs, create videos of our classes, take pictures, and try to capture the sounds and sights of our times. They may only be recordings for limited consumption, perhaps for family or friends. However, once saved and packed away, they ripple outward to future generations who may be looking back and wondering about our lives.

In addition, as the technologies required to play them become as obsolete as our floppy drives have become, we need to to preserve artifacts that today we may easily overlook.

The podcast that records the thoughts of an elderly neighbor today may become an archival treasure of our living history tomorrow and intensely valuable to some future scholar.

World Internet Report

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

The Center for the Digital Future just released their fourth World Internet Project report. You may find it interesting to view how other nations regard online privacy, purchasing, work on the web, and other aspects of life on the Internet.

One interesting tidbit from the report:

Students in Spain spent an average of eight hours per week online at school, followed by those in Australia, who averaged 6.4 hours per week. On the other end of the spectrum, students in Italy spent just above one hour a week online at school.

I would have thought there would be little difference between European nations in school internet use. Data from the United States is not available as we did not participate. Interested students may be able to figure out the reason for these national differences.

Virtual Choir Kickstarter

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

Undergraduate EDMT student and musician Matthew Saxe brought an interesting Kickstarter project to our attention. According to virtual choirmaster Eric Whitacre:

For those of you who don’t know about the Virtual Choir, the concept is pretty simple. Singers from around the world upload their videos. They’re singing alone in their living rooms, their dorm rooms, their garages; we cut all the videos together and start them at the same time to create a Virtual Choir. Somehow it all comes together and we’re making music as one choir.

 You may be interested in looking at Whiteacre’s third virtual choir on YouTube.

Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir 3, 'Water Night'

The credits at the end of this one run for almost 3 minutes. No wonder . . . it used 3746 videos from 73 different countries