Paper Thin Speakers and Microphones

Paper Thin SpeakersMichigan State University Research

In an amazing research development, scientists at the Michigan State University, have created a transducer that is paper thin.

From the Michigan State University website posted by Andy Henlon, MSU associate professor Nelson Sepulveda states:

“This is the first transducer that is ultrathin, flexible, scalable and bidirectional, meaning it can convert mechanical energy to electrical energy and electrical energy to mechanical energy.”

This team created the FENG, the Ferroelectret Nanogenerator, and this research extends that development so that the energy conversion can be bi-directional, thus increasing its functionality.

In a really impressive video, they show how they converted a Michigan State University green and white Spartan flag into a speaker.

Fascinating work. A great way to show your students some cutting edge research that has huge societal implications.

Questions for Discussions

  1. What is FENG?
  2. Describe the difference between mechanical energy and electrical energy.
  3. What was the process by which they created the device?
  4. How are the ions added to each layer?
  5. What uses can your class brainstorm for this technology?
  6. Are there any negative implications they can imagine?

 

Creating a Song-VoiceGrooveSong at University of Chicago

voicegroovesong

One of the most exciting examples of the intersection between creativity and analysis is the “VoiceGrooveSong” project at the University of Chicago.

Steven Rings, associate professor in the Richard and Mary Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry developed the course to understand song structure in composition.

While this may seem like a reasonably straightforward endeavor, it is the process by which Rings and the “VoiceGrooveSong” students embark on this journey which is inspiring.

For them, it is a journey.

Ring has invited a variety of musicians, from  Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien, to Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche. With Kotche, also an acclaimed avant garde percussionist and composer, the class took on an interesting endeavor.

Kotche played his drum kit, while students improvised with a variety of digital clips serving as the vocals. So, students were able to delve into the details of the composition process to allow the  rhythmic and melodic structure of the words to serve as a catalyst for percussion experimentations and understanding the intricacies of composition.

Professor Steven Rings describes the intersection of analysis and creativity in the class, “In the class we don’t know where we’re going to end up,” Rings said. “Everyone is excited to just go along for the ride.”

I can’t imagine a better inspiration to challenge us to continually learn, grow, and develop our curiosity as educators and people. It also helps helps students understand that while creativity of course requires a mysterious element of inspiration, there are certain structures and processes that can facilitate this process-there are concrete steps a creator can take to manifest creativity.

For the excellent source article, written by Andrew Baud, which includes a brief  video sample, please click here.

Questions for Discussion

  1. According to the article, what is the focus of the University of Chicago, Gray Center?
  2. Why was Glenn Kotche chosen to participate in this project?
  3. What does Steven Rings hope to accomplish in this class?
  4. What were the details of how Kotche and the students “collaborated”? What was their process of creation?
  5. Starting with the same set of lyrics, the students developed widely varying musical compositions- what does this say about the creative composition process?
  6. How could you use this process in your own classroom to help create sparks at the intersection of creativity and inquiry?

 

Improving Test Scores

Improving Test Scores

Have you ever felt like you were spinning your wheels when it comes to studying for exams?

Do you notice your students studying, but still not getting results?

If so, you definitely want to check out Milenko Martinovich’s new article in the Stanford News. This article features the work of Stanford University psychology professor, Patricia Chen’s new work on how to help students study more effectively.

In the study, the intervention group was encouraged to utilize their meta-cognitive abilities- quite simply to “think about their thinking.”

Specifically, students were given an online survey prior to their exams in a statistics course and asked to “think about what might be on the exam and then strategize what resources they would use most effectively”  according to Martinovich’s article.

Importantly, students were then asked to self-reflect, recalling why they chose the resources they chose and how they believed it would be effective in their learning.

This intervention lead to an increase in grades in the course by almost a third of a letter grade.

Please click here to read the article.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What was professor Chen’s research hypothesis?
  2. What is meta-cognition?
  3. Describe their intervention- “Strategic Resource Use.”
  4. In what circumstances does professor Chen say this would likely be most effective?
  5. What might educators need to do to support students in a “resource-scarce” environment?
  6. Besides studying for tests, how else does Chen suggest this might be used?
  7. How would you develop further research to learn more about this topic?

Inspiring Video- Indiana University Faculty Builds Arm with 3-D Printer

Inspiring Video- 3-D Printing Creates New Hand for Young Girl

Looking for an inspiring video to get you going today?

Jon Racek, senior lecturer, at Indiana University, created a prosthetic arm for a nine year old girl born without a hand using a 3-D printer.

The four minute video is wonderful to share with colleagues and students reminding us about the importance of using our skills to serve those in need.

He shares a bit about his career path-from being a successful designer with his work featured in national publications, but changed paths as he found it ultimately unfulfilling. As he moved careers and began teaching, he looked for ways to give back.

Then, he became acquainted with the family of the 9 year old girl who was born without a hand. They share their story of loss and frustration and ultimately great joy as she adapts to live with her new 3-D hand.

A very well done video and article. 

Want more inspiring tech stories? Click here to read about college students focused on using 3-D printing to help those in need.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What field did Jon Racek start out in?
  2. Why did he ultimately leave?
  3. What were Violet’s parents’ reactions when she was born with one hand?
  4. What activities did Violet engage in despite this challenge?
  5. How did Jon and the family connect?
  6. What was Jon’s experience with 3-D printing?
  7. How does 3-D printing work?
  8. What are some of the challenges in 3-D printing a prosthetic limb?
  9. What other uses for 3-D printing can you imagine?

Secretary John Kerry Conversation at Yale

Educators teaching about current events, world affairs, government, politics or having an interest in those areas will want to see the inaugural Conversations with John Kerry- part of a series of initiatives occurring at Yale featuring Yale alum and former Secretary of State John Kerry.

In a lovely wood-panelled auditorium, Kerry hosts a wide ranging, insightful, and refreshingly candid conversation with students about issues as diverse such as Syria, the influence of Citizens United on current political discourse, and campus politics at Yale.

It is a reminder of the importance of citizen engagement, civil dialogue, accountability, and full engagement in thinking deeply about critical issues, including emphasizing the importance of “facts” as a foundational element in political dialogue.

Watching this reminds one of the importance of the university and how fortunate we are to be able to connect with these important initiatives wherever we are.

Please click here to watch the Yale News posting of Conversations with John Kerry. Please note it is approximately 80 minutes long. After the first approximately 15 minutes, you can break it up into small segments as he responds to the questions of the Yale students.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What does Secretary Kerry say is his biggest regret about his time as Secretary of State?
  2. What does he say about the impact of Citizens United?
  3. Why is it important to establish a certain agreed upon set of “facts?”
  4. Why is it important for citizens to keep politicians accountable? What does he say is the best way to do so?
  5. What does John Kerry say about his vision for a new Marshall Plan as an important tool for establishing peace in the 21st century?
  6. Why are we called the “indispensable nation?”
  7. What does John Kerry say might be the “life or death” issue of our time?
  8. What does he suggest is the solution to climate change?
  9. How many states have passed climate change portfolios?
  10.  How does Secretary Kerry describe the essence of diplomacy?

Falcon Cam at Bowling Green State University

Biology teachers and those interested in ecology and wildlife will definitely want to check out Falcon Cam at Bowling Green State University.

A pair of Peregrine Falcons, the mascot of Bowling Green State University have chosen to nest once again, the seventh year in a row, at the Wood County Courthouse. The county and the university have teamed up to provide Falcon Cam, a way for students, educators, and interested nature fans to have access to the amazing nesting process.

Educators will especially love the Peregrine Falcon facts on the webpage. Did you know that they have a wingspan of 40 inches and that females are more powerful than males?

Learn about these fascinating birds on Falcon Cam at Bowling Green State University. This is an excellent resource, worthy of a few minutes of your time.

Click here for Bowling Green’s Falcon Cam.

Questions for Discussion (answers on the Falcon Cam website)

  1. How long is an adult’s wingspan?
  2. What is the adult falcon’s diving speed?
  3. Describe the adult falcon’s appearance.
  4. Describe the nesting behavior of the falcon.
  5. How many eggs are usually in a nest?
  6. Who incubates the eggs?
  7. What is a young falcon called?
  8. Describe the process for falcon’s learning to fly.

March for Science Educator Resources

Educators and parents looking to help provide resources to enrich their discussions regarding the March for Science might want to consider the following:

Yale News: Truth in the Internet Age-Science Under Siege While the title is quite stark, this link takes you to a brief (about 3 minutes) video highlighting a series of symposia Yale has been offering regarding the issues related to science in our “post-truth” climate.

University of Michigan News: Stand Up for Science-Teach Out UMich wants to extend the conversation beyond today’s march. They are offering a free online “teach-out” on May 5 on the edX platform to help provide additional information. This link features a video and information about their intentions to help scientists and science supporters engage in effective communication and dialogue about science and its fundamental importance in a civil society.

March for Science Principles and Goals: The website for the organization has a list of their principles and goals, with a special emphasis on diversity and inclusion.

Harvard Gazette: Harvard Gazette features an interview with the European Union Science Commissioner regarding the role that scientists can play in being vocal about science, telling the story about the myriad ways in which our lives are enhanced by science and technology.

University of Alabama- Adam Jones wrote an informative article about how University of Alabama engineering students created a car for a child with special needs. The video is inspiring and at a great inspiration and reminder of why we believe in education and science.