Saturday, February 28, 2004

The ProScope - Order Online: "The ProScope USB 50X Imaging Kit

Light weight yet tough and easy enough to use by a first grader or an FBI agent, The ProScope comes with the 50X lens and is perfect for a wide variety of uses from science education, crime scene investigation, industrial inspection and more.
$229.00 "
Slashdot | DIY Computer Video Microscopy For Under $50: "DIY Computer Video Microscopy For Under $50
Posted by timothy on 12:35 PM -- Sunday April 21 2002
from the find-out-what-infests-your-house dept.
cybrpnk writes: 'The QX3 Video Microscope may have been an obscure commercial failure as an educational toy, but it is widely available (for now, at least) as a fantastic tool/toy for any geek. The QX3 hooks up to a USB port and delivers live color 10X, 60X or 200X microphotos at 512x384 pixel resolution. Its kid-friendly software even makes time lapse videos a snap, like this one of TNT synthesis - a whole new way to blow up the lab, do not try this at home! Educators are doing amazing things with the QX3 in their classrooms. Sourceforge even has documentation on the software command structure used by the QX3, so it may be considered an open source microscope. Get yours today for under $50 at surplus closeout or EBay before they're all gone!' The Toys-R-Us nearest to me has one QX3 left (now with my name on it) at $30, so I hope it really does work under Linux. And it's a lot less complicated than building a Scanning-Tunneling microscope."
Slashdot | Advanced DIY Science for Students?: "Advanced DIY Science for Students?
Posted by Cliff on 06:20 AM -- Monday October 21 2002
from the keeping-them-fascinated dept.
Adam Wise asks: 'I'm a high school senior planning a career in science, and I don't have any plans for the summer. I'd like to put these two facts together to entertaining and educational results of the do-it-yourself variety. Reading about the home made electron microscope got me thinking along the lines of a similar project. Are there any resources specifically geared towards DIY scientists beyond baking soda and vinegar volcanoes?'"

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Mike's List: ISSUE 72 * OCTOBER 9, 2003: "As a teacher I wholeheartedly agree that more technology is not necessarily better. The problem seems to be large number of computers in rooms with teachers who do not know how to utilize the technology. If teachers were trained in the integration of the technology into the learning environment students would be much more prepared. Many computers are simply expensive solitaire stations.

Our staff is trained a minimum of 90 minutes each week in the use and integration of technology into the classroom. Our students are very technology savvy due to the concentrated efforts of our teachers to bring the 21st century into their classrooms. Computers can"

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Wizard of the New Wordsmiths: "George Miller is still not sure what he was thinking when he set out to write his own dictionary. By his own definition he was mad (meaning 'brainsick, crazy, demented, distracted, disturbed, sick, unbalanced, unhinged - affected with madness or insanity').

Nearly two decades ago, the Princeton University psychology professor needed a decent computerized dictionary to help devise experimental tests to determine how children's brains learn language. The major dictionary publishers, however, all wanted several thousand dollars in fees before they would turn over their software.

'I said, 'The hell with you. I'll make my own dictionary,'' recalled Miller, 81. So the Princeton professor got a small government grant and a stack of dictionaries and set out to type in all the nouns. His wife took the adjectives, while a colleague took the verbs. With that, WordNet and the next generation of dictionaries were born.

Instead of just listing the words and their definitions, Miller decided to show how every word is linked to another. Type in the word 'tree' and the user gets not only the definition, synonyms and antonyms, but the hypernyms (a tree is a kind of what?), meronyms (what are the parts of a tree?) and more. The user can also find a list of thousands of trees, from yellowwood to the Tree of Knowledge, and even all words that contain the letters t-r-e-e.

At last count, the WordNet had grown into an unprecedented web of 138,838 English words linked hundreds of thousands of different ways. Linguists call Miller's project one of the biggest leaps for dictionaries since scholars sat down to write the epic Oxford English Dictionary in 1879."
WordNet: "WordNet´┐Ż is an online lexical reference system whose design is inspired by current psycholinguistic theories of human lexical memory. English nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs are organized into synonym sets, each representing one underlying lexical concept. Different relations link the synonym sets.

WordNet was developed by the Cognitive Science Laboratory at Princeton University under the direction of Professor George A. Miller (Principal Investigator)."

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Current Chaos Manor mail: Subject: The rediscovery of phonics


The reference to scientists proposing a cure for dyslexia http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,8122-1000267,00.html By rediscovering old methods got me to thinking. For one thing, this is what Roberta did for years, and she was able to teach almost every one of her dyslexic criminal children to read.

The alphabet is a powerful tool because it maps to phonemes. It makes reading much easier to learn. I once read a study, for example, with Chinese children who were taught Pin Yin (the PRC's method of Romanizing the Mandarin language) instead of characters in their early school years. These kids learned to read as fast as kids in Europe, and their misspellings could be deciphered. That was in contrast to learning the characters, where if you make a mistake it can make what you're writing unintelligible.

I was taught phonetically with Dick and Jane in the mid-1950's in Southern California, which was then an educational wasteland where outmoded methods were used. I have no trouble seeing and pronouncing new words. My wife, OTOH, is 5 years younger than I and was educated in Syracuse, where the presence of the progressive Education Department at Syracuse University insured that modern teaching methods were used locally. She was taught what words look like, not how to sound them out. In essence, SU and its partners had reinvented millennia-old Chinese educational methods--methods that long kept all but a few people illiterate. Even today my wife has difficulty decoding new words.

It's heartening to see scientists returning to what works, but it's sad that educators have taken us on a fifty-tear educational detour. I guess they never looked at the data. It reminds me of how geologists would not accept Wegener's data about moving continents until they had a mechanism to explain it. I wonder what other data is being ignored?


This is one reason why I do NOT believe "peer review" is the best method for allocation of grant money. It's fine for the bulk of the money, but once Big Science gets determined that things are a certain way, they will allocate nothing to test hypotheses contrary to those views.

Now of course many "radical" views are sheer crackpottery. Martin Gardiner did us a big favor with Fad and Fallacies IN THE NAME OF SCIENCE by showing us what crackpots look like and how they act; but every now and then a crackpot turns out to be right, ie. wasn't a crackpot at all. Ignatz Semmelweiss is the best example I know but there have been others.

And when it comes to the Voodoo Sciences (usually called the "Social Sciences") it's generally worse. Big Education with its Big Unions is the worst offender here: you get hot new theories by generally second rate minds in University Departments of Education and they are applied by third raters, then passionately defended by everyone else in the union. It took real brain power to set reading back 5,000 years to ideographs: but in fact most of the teachers defending "look-say" had never heard of the Phonetic Alphabet in its historical context, and never understood why reading was widespread among the Phoenicians and later the Greeks while restricted to priestly classes in ancient Egypt. Hieroglyphics for the hierarchy indeed!

California was among the worst. I am sure Honig and his cohorts "meant well" but they imposed illiteracy on a generation, and ruined what had been an excellent school system. We have not recovered and will not recover in my lifetime from the attentions of these well meaning morons who insisted that the latest "scientific" fad be imposed and enforced in all the classrooms, and never quite understood why Catholic schools had higher literacy rates than the products of the much more expensive public schools.

Education is a Voodoo Science as is nearly all of Sociology and "Social Psychology", and the one thing you can be nearly certain of is that a PhD in the Voodoo Sciences will know neither real science nor real humanities: will know no history, and so far as science is concerned, will know mostly how to apply cookbook statistics without any understanding of statistical inference. The exceptions are rare.

Once Big Science, especially the Voodoo Sciences, gets off onto the wrong track, "peer review" sees to it that it stays there. Once again let me bring up Duesberg: he may be off his head, and his hypothesis the HIV is not the "cause" of AIDS but something associated with it may well be entirely wrong, or may be wrong in part (the real truth may be some kind of synergistic causation) or merely statistically wrong (certainly some cases of immune system collapse are brought about by more traditional stresses -- Senator Gann being one of the best examples -- and HIV is entirely incidental to that particular case). The point is that it would not cost much to do the crucial experiments Duesberg advocates -- but in a decade he hasn't been able to get funding. Now he may be a crackpot, but he wasn't always -- heck he discovered retroviruses to begin with -- and given the amounts being spent on AIDS research it wouldn't be out of place to put 1% of that into tests of alternate hypotheses generated by people whose opinions would be respected if they put forth almost anything but an alternate hypothesis. But it won't happen.

And Education "Research" is still the same, most of it being spent to justify the methods in use now; just as "peer review" of professionalism turns out to be unionized defense of really awful teachers who anyone with common sense wouldn't let within a mile of a classroom, as well as mismatched people -- some of those who would be excellent in teaching really young kids are awful when they have to do 4th grade and above where facts and knowledge of some real history and science are important, but the unions will defend their "right" to a job even if they are no good at it.

And I see you managed to push a button. I have work to do and I have said most of this before.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Ed-X: Online Education and Distance Learning Search Engine: "Ed-X.Com is a search engine and web resource for distance learning and online education with comprehensive information on over 20,000 online courses and degree programs from 700 online colleges worldwide. Use the Ed-X online education index below to locate online college courses or distance learning certificate and degree programs"

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Times Online - Health: "
Health news

February 13, 2004

American Association for the Advancement of Science conference

Scientists propose cure for dyslexia
CHILDREN with dyslexia need not be doomed to a life of reading difficulties, even though there is generally a genetic component to the disorder, scientists said yesterday.

New research in the United States has suggested that the brains of dyslexics can be "

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Bush Space Policy Responses: "Some would argue that the money would be better spent on education. That by adding the $11 billion planned for this new initiative to the $600 billion US department of Education budget over the same time would solve all the problems with the educational system.

How about the story of Homer H. Hickam, Jr, a boy growing up in Coalwood West Virginia in the late 1950's. A company town where you joined your father and grandfather in the coal mines when you grew up. In 1957 Homer greeted the news of Spunik with awe and decided to build his own rocket. He spent weekends and evenings learning engineering, math and physics, his friends joined in, and in 1960 they and their rockets came in first place at a national science fair and won full scholarships. As a result of the space program the US gained 4 engineers and 2 bankers rather than six young boys destined to a life in the mines.

This story was repeated thousands of times throughout U.S. in the 1960's. Convincing children to pursue science, technology, and math, and setting the stage for the computer revolution of the 1970's.

The U.S. is dependant on the knowledge based economy and if we are to remain competitive, we need to have more and more students entering the fields of engineering, technology and science. What better way to contribute to the educational excellence of our nation than to support and contribute to a program that will inspire thousands of children to enter the fields that our modern economy requires. After all study after study shows that children learn most effectively when they are genuinely interested in the topic and want to know the subject for its own sake and not because the teacher tells them to.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Google Guide: Interactive Tutorial Making Search Even Easier: "What Google Guide Teaches You

In this tutorial, you'll learn

* How to select terms and search (more) effectively
* How Google interprets your query
* How Google works
* What information and links may be included with your results
* How to search using Google's special tools and shortcuts
* What's new in Google
* What to do when you can't find the answer you want


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