What we’ve been reading, week 14

This week’s ‘best of the web’ round up is jam-packed full of interesting education, maker and technology stories. It’s time to put the kettle on, sit back and enjoy!


Many paths, many styles


We Make The Future: Amali de Alwis

Our guest for this episode is Amali de Alwis MBE, CEO of Code First: Girls, a programme that works with businesses and individuals to encourage more women into tech and entrepreneurship. Amali explains her love of making everything from electronic circuits and toy costumes as a child to strategies for blue chip companies in her career.


Rebooting high school

In high schools across the U.S., a quiet movement is underway to better prepare students for a hazy new future of work in which graduates will vie for fast-changing jobs being transformed by increasingly capable machines.

High schoolers are often being taught skills that will soon be handed over to machines, and they’re missing out on more valuable ones. As this article highlights, some high schools across the US are changing this and letting their students take control of their learning.


BYU researchers unfold new class of mechanical devices

This new class of origami-inspired mechanisms, called “developable mechanisms,” get their name from developable surfaces, or materials that can take on 3-D shapes from flat conformations without tearing or stretching, like a sheet of paper or metal. They reside in a curved surface (like, say, the arms of Iron Man’s suit) and can transform or morph when deployed to serve unique functions. When not in use, they can fold back into the surface of the structure seamlessly.


Collaborative syllabus design: students at the centre

We are used to thinking about the syllabus as a kind of “contract” that explains what the course is about, specifies what the requirements are, lists what kind of assessments will be used, and sets out a schedule of activities, lectures and assignments. While these documents serve a purpose, they are often formidable and make for dry reading. And they can marginalize students from courses they should be co-creating rather than taking.

A teacher shares his experience designing a collaborative syllabus, and how that built more collaboration and interaction in his classroom.


How I built a MIDI controlled Henry hoover pipe organ

James Bruton built a pipe organ using a, er, hoover. The project is powered by an Arduino MEGA and a Sparkfun MIDI shield to read MIDI data from a sequencer and control servo-driven air valves. Each of the recorders is set to play one of 12 notes in an octave.


U.K. Dept for Education (DfE) publishes its EdTech Strategy

The UK Department for Education has published their ‘EdTech strategy’ to transform technology in education. Teachers, lecturers and education experts will unite with innovative businesses to harness the power of technology to tackle common challenges, and to ensure those working in education are equipped with the necessary skills and tools to meet the needs of schools, colleges, and their pupils.


Now, especially in light of recent discussions of snowplow parenting in the wake of the college bribery scandal, I feel guilty instead for the help I gave her. I robbed my daughter of an opportunity to see me advocate on her behalf, and I also robbed her whole class of a learning opportunity.

“There should never be preschool homework,” said Jessica Lahey, author of The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed in this article by The New York Times. “Research shows it has no academic benefit, it’s a terrible idea for family time, and it’s just a waste of time.” And yet many parents, like Karen Barrow, the article’s author, find themselves helping their kids with assignments that might be beyond the child’s ability to complete themselves, or is perhaps too long for their attention span.


How to build a collision avoiding robot for less than £10

Can we build a robot for less than £10? Les Pounder attempted to do so. He documented the process, and the design iterations, in his blog.

Built around an Microchip ATtiny85 and a L9110S motor controller, the robot makes use of a cheap off-the-shelf infrared obstacle sensor module and a couple of DC motors.


Want to read more? Check our previous ‘best of the web’ reading list.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s