Last month, NYSCI entered the publishing world with our new book: Design, Make, Play: Growing the Next Generation of STEM Innovators. Published by Routledge, the book includes case studies of innovative programs throughout the country that get young people interested in science and technology. Programs like the Tinkering Studio at San Francisco’s Exploratorium, the MAKESHOP at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, and Design Lab here at NYSCI.
With a shortage of Americans in science and technology fields, this is a book everyone should read. As Ursula Burns, Chairperson and CEO of Xerox Corporation, said,
“If you care about the future of our country, you should read this book and then put its lessons to work.”
Last week, new guidelines for K–12 science education were released. The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were developed by 26 states, along with the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Achieve. The standards emphasize critical thinking over content memorization and identify science and engineering practices that students should master to be fully prepared for college and careers.
NGSS also recommends that students learn about climate change. For the last two years, we have partnered with Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management on a program called My Carbon Footprint, an educational initiative designed to build awareness about climate change science. As a result of this project, we have developed two climate change curriculums – one for middle schools and one for high schools – that include hands-on activities that give students the foundation they need to understand climate change. Both curriculums align to the seven crosscutting scientific and engineering concepts identified in the NGSS framework: patterns; cause and effect; scale, proportion, and quantity; systems and system models; energy and matter: flows, cycles and conservation; structure and function; stability and change. The curriculums can be downloaded for free and can help guide teachers who implement climate change science lessons into their classrooms.
The NGSS guidelines are voluntary, but many educators are applauding the move away from rote memorization. Our president and CEO, Margaret Honey, said in a recent USA Today article that children should be taught
“how to learn and how to be discerning…When I was a kid, education was memorizing and learning lots of facts — that methodology of teaching absolutely no longer makes sense. That’s not the world we live in anymore.”
As New York City gets ready to implement its ban on big sodas, the issue of obesity once again takes center stage.
We’ve heard from nutrition experts, soda corporations, consumer agencies, politicians and Joe Schmo about whether we should have a tax and if it will do any good. But why do we crave all these bad-for-you foods in the first place?
Turns out it’s partly evolution’s fault. Our prehistoric, hunter-gatherer ancestors didn’t have regular access to high-energy foods, so when it was available, they gorged on it. Think ice-cream-binge-after-being-dumped kind of gorging. Only instead of ice cream, they feasted on animals they were able to hunt, and fruit and nuts that were in season. Those high calorie binges helped fuel their big brains. But today, we have access to far more sugar and fat than our bodies need, which can lead to overindulgence and obesity.
This link between how our species evolved and the foods we crave today is explored in our new exhibition, The Evolution – Health Connection, which is open through June. Along with obesity, The Evolution – Health Connection also looks at the evolutionary reasons behind some other very human problems: painful childbirths, sunburns, lactose intolerance and back problems.
So the next time that little voice in your head says that you need a soda and fries, resist! Stand firm! Distract yourself! Because after all, it’s just your ancestors talking.
FutureWeather: Official Trailer from Jenny Deller on Vimeo.
Beginning March 1, the NYC premiere of Future Weather will launch at the reRun Gastropub Theater along with a series of post screening events centered around making science more accessible to youth.
Future Weather is about a 13-year-old loner passionate about nature and worried about global warming. Her grandmother, is a fiery nurse jaded by alcohol and disappointment. When Lauduree is abruptly abandoned by her dreamer single mom, she decides to take survival into her own hands, forcing her and Greta to rethink their futures.
On March 5, come join NYSCI’s Liz Slagus along with Flora Lichtman (NPR’s Science Friday), Molly Webster (WNYC’s “Radiolab”), and Future Weather director Jenny Deller discuss Bringing Science to the People.
Stay tuned for an upcoming Explainer TV interview with the film’s director.
A quirky fashion trend has been spotted around the city: crazily patterned pants with blue plaid, harlequin checks, and orange and brown swirls. The pants have crossed age and gender lines, with males and females, young and old, wearing the trendsetting garments.
The pants can’t be found at your neighborhood Gap store or at your favorite vintage clothing shop. In fact, they’re not really clothing at all, but a small photograph of pants attached to a thin stick. Using the “StickPic”, the camera on your mobile device, and a willing fashion victim, you can create a fun photo of someone wearing the crazy pants. But to make the photo truly come alive, you’ll need to use a little math.
StickPics are part of Digital Design Lab, a new project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that will create mobile apps for use in classrooms throughout the country. The Fancy Pants app, to be released later this year, will be the first of four apps that will turn your mobile phone into a scientific and mathematical tool. Fancy Pants will focus on proportions and forced perspective photography – math concepts that allow you to take a photo of your friend “wearing” those outrageous pants. Digital Design Lab will also include web videos with science-based design challenges and a website where students can post their ideas and solutions.
The central part of this project, however, are the apps, which will allow users to measure and document unexpected phenomena – like that guy wearing those pink psychedelic pants.