University of Washington-Targeted Treatment of Essential Tremor Disorder

Any of us who know a friend or family with a movement or other neurological disorder, understand how difficult life can be.

The simplest tasks such as writing, drinking your morning coffee, or brushing your teeth are fraught with difficulty and frustration, or  the inability to complete the task.

Thankfully, there is hope on the horizon, if the initial success of University of Washington’s interdisciplinary researchers continues through additional clinical trials.

The treatment, a form of targeted brain stimulation, created by an interdisciplinary team of electrical engineers, medical researchers and ethicists, have created an innovation based on deep brain stimulation.

Essentially, deep brain stimulation is always “on” which reduces battery life and can create  the need for additional surgery. However, with this targeted treatment, the electrical stimulation can be delivered only when necessary.

Hopefully, this important research will continue to be successful and deliver additional relief to the over 7 million Americans who suffer with Essential Tremor Disorder.

Check out Jennifer Langston’s article for a more comprehensive look.

Teachers in any science class would find sharing this with their students a valuable endeavor to help create real-world connections to their content.

Questions for Discussion

  1. How does traditional deep-brain stimulation work?
  2. What does this treatment do differently?
  3. When are individuals with Essential Tremor least likely to be affected?
  4. How long does a battery last in the current treatment? How much longer will it last with this innovation?
  5. How are the neural signals decoded?
  6. What role did ethicists play in this research do you think?
  7. What additional uses will there likely be if this is successful?
  8.  How will this device be likely turned on and off in the future?

Soil Ecology-Claymation Videos

Digging Soil- (1)

Teachers of ecology and basic biology will definitely want to check out Cornell Unviersity’s Max Helmberger and his exceptional claymation videos.

These videos on a variety of topics such as The Soil Food Web and nematode’s are short, interesting and informative. Showing them to your class as an additional resource for an ecology unit will certainly help enrich the subject.

Check out Chrisna Ramanujan’s piece in the Cornell Chronicle for more info and links to the videos.

Questions for Discussion:

1.How long does it take Max to create his two minute videos?

2. What childhood experiences inspired his current work?

3. What is a nematode?

4. How does it infect its host?

5. How would you use these videos in your classroom?

Don’t Drive and Talk (on the phone at least)

New research published by the University of Iowa  adds to the growing body of research that reveal why talking on your cell phone while driving is dangerous.

Research conducted by Brian Lester and Shaun Vecera, from the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences shows that there is a .04 second delay in response time to questions asked of a driver while they were behind the wheel, or at least behind a simulated wheel.

In the novel design, the participants were asked to focus on a screen and were then asked a true/false question as a high speed camera tracked how long it took them to disengage and track a new object that appeared on the screen.

Since over 3,000 people die each year in car crashes related to cell phone use while driving and over 390,000 people injured, the “attentional disengagement” caused by distracted driving is an important topic to be studied.

Teachers in psychology, health, parents and drivers education instructors will find this article useful.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Where did Vecera first publish research on older adults and driving?
  2. What were the results?
  3. Are Lester and Vecera’s results limited to cell-phone use?
  4. Why would we want to know how many subjects were studied in this research?
  5. How do you think the author’s would define “attentional disengagement?”
  6. What would be additional follow-up research you might want to conduct?

For source material written by Richard C. Lewis, please click here.

 

 

 

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?