MIT Study Names Olin College World Leader in Engineering Education

A new MIT study has named Olin College of Engineering, along with MIT, as the top leaders in engineering education globally.

Source: MIT Study Names Olin College World Leader in Engineering Education

“We consider ourselves to be a national educational design laboratory and this study encourages our faculty and students to continue to explore the frontiers of learning. We seek to serve as a proof-of-concept that change can happen in academia and as a catalyst to help others evolving their learning practices and culture.”

Among the pedagogical features shared by the current leaders in engineering education are multiple opportunities for hands-on, experiential learning throughout the curriculum, the application of user-centered design principles and partnerships with industry, all of which characterize the learning program at Olin. In addition, Olin was cited specifically for its “multidisciplinary student-centered education that extends across and beyond traditional engineering disciplines and is anchored in issues of ethics and social responsibility.”

(Importance of “Early Learning Advantage™” in Science) Report: Science Knowledge Gaps in Kindergarten Harm Students’ Academic Futures – The Atlantic

When children start kindergarten, sizable gaps in science knowledge already exist between whites and minorities—as well as between youngsters from upper-income and low-income families. And those disparities often deepen into significant achievement gaps by the end of eighth grade if they aren’t addressed during elementary school. These are some of the findings in a new report by researchers from Pennsylvania State University and the University of California, Irvine.

The study, published this week in an American Educational Research Association journal, tracked 7,757 children from the start of kindergarten to the end of eighth grade, providing a rare glimpse into the state of science knowledge of America’s youngest students.

The findings suggest that, in order for the United States to maintain long-term scientific and economic competitiveness in the world, policymakers need to renew efforts to ensure access to high-quality, early learning experiences in childcare settings, pre-schools, and elementary schools. In other words, waiting to address science achievement gaps in middle or high school may be too late.

Source: Report: Science Knowledge Gaps in Kindergarten Harm Students’ Academic Futures – The Atlantic

Time names UCSD scientist (Darwin, Faraday)

Ramachandran cites an unexpected source for much of his success: Charles Darwin.”He had a huge impact on human thought, and on the study of natural selection,” Ramachandran said. “But he did so much more than that. Darwin did elegant, highly-detailed studies in other areas. He was always looking for insight into things that other people thought of as trivial.

“I have tried to emulate him. I hope that style rubs off on my students. I tell them that they need to read about the history of science. They need to know about the grand masters. People like Darwin and English chemist MIchael Faraday. Science should be a grand adventure. A lot of scientists today are 9-to-5ers. And 90-percent of brain science is technology driven. Scientists shouldnt be technicians. They should be thinkers.”

Thats how Time regards Ramachandran — as a thinker.

“Once described as the Marco Polo of neuroscience, V.S. Ramachandran has mapped some of the most mysterious regions of the mind,” the magazine wrote, explaining why he was chosen for the list. “He has studied visual perception and a range of conditions, from synesthesia in which viewing black-and-white figures evokes the perception of color to autism.

via Time names UCSD scientist among worlds most influential people –

Why I won’t buy an iPad-Maker Manifesto…

Infantalizing hardware

Then there’s the device itself: clearly there’s a lot of thoughtfulness and smarts that went into the design. But there’s also a palpable contempt for the owner. I believe — really believe — in the stirring words of the Maker Manifesto: if you can’t open it, you don’t own it. Screws not glue. The original Apple ][+ came with schematics for the circuit boards, and birthed a generation of hardware and software hackers who upended the world for the better. If you wanted your kid to grow up to be a confident, entrepreneurial, and firmly in the camp that believes that you should forever be rearranging the world to make it better, you bought her an Apple ][+.

But with the iPad, it seems like Apple’s model customer is that same stupid stereotype of a technophobic, timid, scatterbrained mother as appears in a billion renditions of “that’s too complicated for my mom” listen to the pundits extol the virtues of the iPad and time how long it takes for them to explain that here, finally, is something that isn’t too complicated for their poor old mothers.

via Why I won’t buy an iPad and think you shouldn’t, either – Boing Boing. Continue reading

For “Why Study Math?” First Week of School–Also Homework Design

I showed Dan’s video to my freshmen study hall. The first thing it showed me is how much they still need to read. They had a hard time following Dan’s vocabulary, which, while he is well spoken, he isn’t exactly Mary Shelley or anything.

Second, they totally agreed with him. I have a really great mix of high and low achievers in this study hall. All of them responded the same way. They said, why can’t we just ask simple questions that need math? One kid said he hates doing math, because he does every homework problem and repeats the same thing that he either understands or doesn’t. Notice that he said he can still do his homework whether he understands the concept or not. Yikes.

Test for math PROBLEM-SOLVING homework–if kids can do by dumb rote–is it really helping?

via Yahoo, Good News! Susan Ohanian Speaks Out.

via For “Why Study Math?” First Week of School–Also Homework Design.

Manual with Great Ecology-Energy Flow DIAGRAMS

Chapter II


  1. What are ecosystems and biological communities?
  2. How does an ecosystem work?
  3. Producers, Consumers, Decomposers
  4. Non-living environment
  5. How are energy and the environment related?
  6. What is energy flow?
  7. What is a nutrient cycle?
  8. What is the hydrologic water cycle?
  9. What are limiting factors?
  10. What is renewability?
  11. Energy, ecology, and the tropics
  12. What are environmental effects?


via Manual with Great Ecology-Energy Flow DIAGRAMS.

Strogatz on Math-Calculus 2: It Slices, It Dices

Mathematical signs and symbols are often cryptic, but the best of them offer visual clues to their own meaning. The symbols for zero, one and infinity aptly resemble an empty hole, a single mark and an endless loop: 0, 1, ∞.� And the equals sign, =, is formed by two parallel lines because, in the words of its originator, Welsh mathematician Robert Recorde in 1557, “no two things can be more equal.”In calculus the most recognizable icon is the integral sign:

via It Slices, It Dices – Opinionator Blog –

Rita Colwell-role of the environment and climate in cholera outbreaks

This week microbiologist Rita Colwell received the Stockholm Water Prize.  Dr. Colwell was recognized for her “numerous seminal contributions towards solving the world’s water and water-related public health problems.”I interviewed Dr. Colwell at the 2008 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science .

Q: What’s the most important thing you want people today to know about the environment and infectious diseases?

Rita Colwell: Infectious diseases are closely related to the environment. In other words, it’s important for us to understand seasonality, climate, and the drivers for infectious disease, and the fact that the ecology of the environment plays a very significant role in infectious disease outbreaks and their persistent patterns.

Q: Tell us more about this connection between infectious disease and the environment.

Rita Colwell: Let me give you an example. Cholera is a devastating disease in the developing world. It was a massive epidemic disease in the United States, but that was pre-1900, before water treatment and good sanitation was introduced to the country. The organism is resident on plankton, marine zooplankton –  the small, microscopic animals of the sea. The organism is a marine bacterium, but yet it can also live in fresh water associated with plankton.

via Interview with Rita Colwell, winner of the 2010 Stockholm Water Prize | Water | EarthSky.