For most people, high school science fairs yield amusing but not altogether practical results: your baking soda and vinegar volcanoes, your potato clocks. There are exceptions, of course—15 year-old Jack Andraka created a cheap, efficient pancreatic cancer sensor for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. And there are the finalists in Google’s annual Science Fair, which invites entrants ages 13 through 18 to compete for a variety of prizes. These kids are results are anything but amusing. They’re potentially world changing.
Below, we look at five of our favorite finalists (there are 15 in total). The winner will be crowned next month.
Gone are the days when schools and libraries were large, impersonal institutions of learning. Today, architects are pushing the boundaries of learning spaces, putting kids in environments that we may not recognize as a school.
Then, earlier this year, she donned an electric-blue bubble dress and a rust-colored puffy wig, and took to a very different kind of stage than she’s used to: The New York Hall of Science, where she spent a month-long residency doing multimedia concerts for adults and tech-science-music workshops for public-middle-school students. “I was kind of thinking of me when I was, like, 8 and what would be the best thing that could happen to me in music school, and the whole thing is kind of designed around that format,” Björk says.
The kids learned rudimentary music theory, played with the apps, then started creating their own songs. Björk’s work paired perfectly with the Hall of Science’s installations—her track “Moon” corresponded to a “Search for Life Beyond Earth” exhibit, for example—so that children could follow their interests to discover bigger ideas. Her audience cheered in their own way, especially after tapping a screen to make a Tesla coil spark. “I am Thor!” shouted a gaggle of 13-year-olds.
TED, the conference dedicated to “Ideas Worth Spreading,” took a step forward in its educational mission today by launching a TEDEd video channel on YouTube. Shorter than the 18-minute TED talks that have racked up 500 million views, these videos feature a combination of talking heads from TED stages and animation (artwork by Fast Company Most Creative Person Sunni Brown, among others) tackling topics like neuroscience and evolution for a high-school-aged audience.
Khan Academy, the wildly popular Youtube lecture series, is slated to launch its iPad app any minute now in Apple’s store. The enhanced version of Khan Academy will include time-syncing between devices—no Internet connection required—an interactive transcript of the lectures for easy searching, and a handy scrubber for moving between parts of the lectures.
“There’s an education bubble, which is, like the others, psychosocial. There’s a wide public buy-in that leads to a product being overvalued because it’s linked to future expectations that are unrealistic. Education is similar to the tech bubble of the late 1990s, which assumed crazy growth in businesses that didn’t pan out. The education bubble is predicated on the idea that the education provided is incredibly valuable. In many cases that’s just not true. Here and elsewhere people have avoided facing the fact of stagnation by telling themselves stories about familiar things leading to progress. One fake vector of progress is credentialing—first the undergraduate degree, then more advanced degrees. Like the others, it’s an avoidance mechanism.”
i don’t always agree with Peter but he’s spot on about education
“It’s like a writers retreat for computer programmers.”
David Albert, cofounder of Hacker School, which offers tuition-free computer programming classes. A separate arm of the company, Hackruiter, gets paid up to $20,000 when the students are recruited by companies including Airbnb. Read more->
There’s a world of opportunity to re-think and re-design the way we make stuff. (Bonus: Everything sounds nicer in an English accent.)
A new study lays out a vision of the future where we get most of our resources from things we’ve already used. The one trick: It requires making things so they’re easy to reuse in the first place. But if we do, we could save billions. Continued—>
“If you tell kids that they can get a book with sex in it for free, that might be enough to spark some desire for reading.”
That’s the thesis behind Uprise Books, a nonprofit that is sending low-income students all the good books that have been banned or challenged to promote teen literacy, fight censorship, and halt the cycle of poverty.