General Assembly, founded in January 2011 in a 20,000-square-foot loft in New York’s Flatiron District by four friends in their late twenties and early thirties, is a campus for technology, design, and entrepreneurship. It’s not a degree-granting college; it’s not a high school; it’s not a traditional trade school. It’s something new—augmented education, a stopgap for the startup economy.
“Universe Sandbox” knows that even the most beautiful space simulator isn’t going to keep a kid’s attention very long unless she can break the rules with it. So it goes for broke right from the get-go, urging players to “smash moons in orbit around a fictional planet,” “watch moons collapse into one another,” and “collide galaxies for fun.” Talk about good user-experience design.
But of course, all that diabolically destructive fun is grounded in a rock-solid scientific fact. Yes, you can break the rules of how the universe actually looks in real life, but not how it fundamentally functions. Which means that when you bash the Milky Way into the Andromeda Galaxy, the resulting spray of star-stuff is a faithful representation of what such a cosmic apocalypse would actually look like.
Click through to see a video of what it lets you do. You’re going to wanna watch this EPIC teaser in full screen!
Nerds everywhere today are in mourning. Funding for the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., has dried up, meaning the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence lost one of its champions. In an letter dated April 22nd, reports the San Jose Mercury News, SETI Institute’s CEO, Tom Pierson, reported that the array had to be put into “hibernation.” The equipment will be maintained, but won’t be able to operate—the government funding simply isn’t there.
After choking back our tears and shaking our heads in remembrance of Carl Sagan, we began to wonder what the implications were for technology. Would the SETI@home project, which we’ve covered numeroustimes in the past, be disrupted, and if so, what of the general project of distributed computing?
Continue reading to see why the business community and private donors should pony up to keep the SETI Institute going.
BIG IDEA: To supply India’s booming economy with millions of young workers who come from rural and disadvantaged backgrounds. Bhatia’s company, Aspire, trains high-school and college students to become English-speaking, tech-savvy, problem-solving whiz kids ready for hire. The company then connects students to jobs, often in the technology and service sectors, at major corporations such as IBM, Accenture, Wipro, and Infosys. This year, Aspire will work with roughly 33,500 students at 45 universities and institutions across 25 Indian cities. “About 600 million Indians are under the age of 25,” Bhatia says. “And there are 40 million unemployed people, with the largest share being high-school and college graduates. Clearly, the students are crying for employability.”
Scot Osterweil, research director of MIT’s Education Arcade, is one of the masterminds behind a new science game made for the Smithsonian Institution. The game is a National Science Foundation-funded experiment in “alternative science education.”
See how this grand experiment in “alternative science education” is planned to unfold over the next two months, right here.
The future approaches: Georgia state senator Tommie Williams says legislators in the Peach State are toying with the idea of introducing iPads to middle school classrooms as a substitute for textbooks. Quoth the senator and our own analysis:
Georgia State spends about $40 million a year on textbooks “and they last about seven years. We have books that don’t even mention 9/11.” Digital editions of textbooks can be quickly updated as new prints are released, which is much simpler than recalling millions of physical paper textbooks. And there’s no shipping fees associated with digital textbooks—everything can be handled over a school’s wireless Net system, securely. There’ll be fewer problems with theft or lost books, and when a student leaves the school, they’ll simply pass their iPad back to the staff and it’ll be ready for a new student, with the latest books already installed.
Great idea—that is, if the proper barriers are enacted to stop kids from wasting time in Home Ec on Facebook. That kind of learning is a little too progressive for us.
The elite has become obsessed with fixing public schools. Whether it’s Ivy League graduates flocking to Teach for America or new-money foundations such as Gates, Broad, and Walton bestowing billions on the cause, “for the under-40 set, education reform is what feeding kids in Africa was in 1980,” Newark, New Jersey, education reformer Derrell Bradford told the Associated Press last fall.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is the latest entrepreneur to join this rush. He announced in late September that he planned to donate $100 million to the city of Newark to overhaul its school system.
In our February issue, we examine 13 Radical Ideas on How To Spend 100 Million to Really Save Education.
In light of all this reform talk, we recently took to Twitter to ask: How Would YOU Spend $100 Million to Save Education? Follow the tag #fixedu to see real-time answers.