Archives for the month of: July, 2013

From Popular Science
Private space exploration is coming to the Moon, and soon. The world’s first mission to the Moon’s sunny South Pole will put a private telescope on the lunar peak Malapert Mountain as early as 2015. Moon Express, a private ‘lunar commerce’ startup, and the International Lunar Observatory Association, a nonprofit devoted to moon observation, have teamed up to put the International Lunar Observatory, a 2-meter radio antenna, on the Moon to observe the galaxy without the interference of Earth’s atmosphere, which absorbs some kinds of radiation.

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From Technology Review
By adapting a programmable device used to manufacture integrated circuits, researchers have devised a semi-automated process to build polymer scaffolds for guiding the development of three-dimensional heart tissue. The method, which entails layer-by-layer fabrication, will enable more precise investigation of the three-dimensional cues that drive cells to organize and form tissue – and could serve as a platform for the development of implantable organ tissue. Tissue engineers can already make three-dimensional constructs of relatively simple tissues. But highly ordered cellular architectures essential to the function of complicated organs like the heart are much harder to replicate.

From Education Week:
A report released today offers an “innovation index” meant to help school leaders and teachers, education company leaders, and investors determine whether digital innovations deliver on their promised classroom benefits. The index allows evaluators to rate digital products and services based on three broad criteria: pedagogy, system change, and the quality of the technology.

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From The Economist
In a small school on the South Side of Chicago, 40 children between the ages of five and six sit quietly learning in a classroom. In front of each of them is a computer running software called Reading Eggs. Some are reading a short story, others building sentences with words they are learning. The least advanced are capturing all the upper- and lower-case Bs that fly past in the sky. As they complete each task they move through a cartoon map that shows how far they have progressed in reading and writing. Along the way they collect eggs which they can use to buy objects in the game, such as items to furnish their avatar’s apartment. Now and then a child will be taken aside for scheduled reading periods with one of the two monitoring teachers.

From The New York Times
For the first time since No Child Left Behind, President George W. Bush’s signature education law, passed with overwhelming bipartisan support a dozen years ago, a bill seeking to rewrite the law came to the floor of the House for debate on Thursday, dividing legislators along party lines. Lawmakers tussled over the role of the federal government in public education, with Republicans calling for a return of control over curriculum standards, testing and spending to states and districts. Democrats, by contrast, assailed the proposed bill, saying that it reduced financing designated for the students most at risk, failed to set high standards and watered down efforts to hold schools accountable for student performance.

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From The Chicago Tribune:
The fallout from the Chicago Public Schools’ decision to lay off almost 3,000 teachers and school-based staff will be felt citywide when classes resume next month. Schools will be forced to increase class sizes, eliminate field trips, slash art and music programs and cancel intervention initiatives for struggling students, said principals and parents group leaders on a day when more than 1,000 teachers were let go. “You can’t lose programs at this rate, staff at this rate and maintain a quality curriculum at your school despite what CPS says,” said Clarice Berry, president of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association.

From The Huffington Post:
STEM equity continues to elude educators. Often assessed in terms of undergraduate degrees awarded to women and traditionally underrepresented populations – STEM equity (outside the life, medical and social sciences) remains a source of concern and frustration for many. Over twenty years of extensive research by authors such as Seymour, Tobias and Carnevale articulates the nations’ shortsightedness in addressing the challenge resulting in an inability to engage and retain women and minorities in many STEM undergraduate programs. If years of research have illuminated the problem, why do we continue to lack equity in STEM education?

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From Scientific American:
Ayah Idris, 14, spent two weeks of her summer isolating strawberry DNA at a Seattle cancer research center, watching heart cells pulse in a dish and learning about ethical guidelines for animal research. This type of inspiring dive into the rigors and rewards of a career in science would seem to be a perfect antidote to the national hand-wringing over the slipping state of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education in the U.S. In addition to offering the kinds of inquiry-based experiences that have been shown to best promote science learning, programs such as Ayah’s bring kids in contact with the latest scientific advances that have yet to be published in textbooks. Now, the funds that bolster these programs are in danger.

 

From Technology Review
Today’s 3-D printers can generally only build things out of one type of material—usually a plastic or, in certain expensive industrial versions of the machines, a metal. They can’t build objects with electronic, optical, or any kind of functions that require the integration of multiple materials. But recent advances in the research lab—including a 3-D printed battery and a bionic ear – suggest that this might soon change. Last month, researchers unveiled what they say is the world’s first 3-D printed battery, made from two different electrode “inks.” Led by Jennifer Lewis, a professor of biologically inspired engineering at Harvard, the group used tiny nozzles to precisely deposit the anode and cathode inks, which contain nanoparticles of lithium titanium oxide and lithium iron phosphate, respectively.

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From Popular Science:
NASA’s next Mars rover mission, set for 2020, will search for signs of ancient life, according to a new report from the Mars 2020 Science Definition Team, a NASA-appointed group tasked with outlining the mission’s scientific goals. The team calls this the “next logical step” in looking for signs of life on the planet, building on the discoveries made by the Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity missions. The new rover’s payload of scientific instruments will be selected through a competition, and include a drill to extract cores from rocks (rather than the powder the rover Curiosity extracts) and collect samples for a possible return to Earth in the future, though the methods for such a return haven’t yet been worked out. The rover itself will likely be designed much the same as Curiosity, with the same entry, descent and landing (EDL) system.