Cards Against Humanity & Zach Weinersmith offer full-ride scholarships to women in science


Applicants need to be US permanent residents or citizens who's attending college in 2016/7. To apply, you'll need to record a short video explaining "a scientific topic you're passionate about." Read the rest

What it's like to do a lockdown drill with kindergarten kids


At Launa Hall's public school, they do regular "lockdown" drills with all the kids, including her 4- and 5-year-old kindergarten students, who have to be crowded into a locked closet and convinced to stay silent without terrifying them so much that they start crying. Read the rest

Why students are forced to buy this expensive and obsolete Texas Instruments calculator


Twenty years ago, Texas Instruments released the TI-83 graphing calculator, a stupidly expensive piece of old technology that most high schools still require their juniors and seniors buy for around $100. Why? Because. That's why. From

Pearson textbooks feature illustrations of TI-series calculators alongside chapters so students can use their TI calculator in conjunction with the lesson plan. The calculators also have a significant learning curve, and moving students over to new technology is a risky proposition when success in the classroom is so tied to the technology being used.

TI calculators have been a constant, essential staple in the slow-moving public education sector. Students and teachers are so used to generations of students learning the familiar button combos and menu options that TI provides a computer program that perfectly resembles the button layout of the TI-83.

However, even if teachers wanted to be bold and bring in better technology, they would end up right back at square one because of that infamous force in American education: standardized testing.

College Board and other companies that administer the country's standardized tests have approved lists of calculators. TI-series devices are ubiquitous — mobile apps are nowhere to be found.

"I'm actually at the point now where when I do parent conferences, I tell the parents it's in their students' best interest to buy one, because the device will become necessary," Bob Lochel, a math teacher in Hatboro, Pennsylvania, told Mic. "But you feel dirty, because you're telling parents they need to buy a device, and I know I can teach without it."

"Remember Your Old Graphing Calculator? Read the rest

The future of photography, education, sharing, news, privacy and learning (seriously)


Jonathan Worth is a celebrated, successful, internationally recognized award-winning photographer who saw the writing on the wall for his business -- selling pictures to magazines -- when he found himself threatening a young girl for pirating his pictures, and decided there had to be a better way. Read the rest

Don't discuss the environment if you're brown and British (Ahmed Mohamed with UK characteristics)


A 14 year old London student was questioned by school officials about his possible involvement with Islamic State after he raised the subject of environmental activism in a classroom discussion. Read the rest

MIT and EFF's Freedom to Innovate Summit: defending students' and hackers' right to tinker


The Oct 10/11 event is run jointly by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Center for Civic Media at MIT and will be hosted at the MIT Media Lab. Read the rest

UC Berkeley issues first-ever university transparency report


April writes, "The University of California-Berkeley has become the first university in the United States to publish a set of transparency reports that detail government requests for student, faculty, and staff data." Read the rest

Campus cops: all the powers of real cops, none of the accountability


Michael from Muckrock writes, "Want some transparency from your local police? Then public records law is probably on your side if you're in the US -- unless you happen to be a college student. MuckRock's Shawn Musgrave looks at the broad exemptions that give campus police almost all the rights and powers of regular cops, without any of the public accountability."

Read the rest

Watch Ahmed Mohamed's awesome press conference about being a rogue clockmaker in America


Zomg, the kid is charming. He reveals that he's switching high-schools, thanks his supporters, discussing his inventing and tinkering, and talks about his delight at being invited to the White House. Read the rest

Irving police violated Ahmed Mohamed's civil rights


Ahmed Mohamed was repeatedly denied access to counsel and to his parents, a direct and glaring violation of Texas Family Code section 52.025, which states "A child may not be left unattended in a juvenile processing office and is entitled to be accompanied by the child's parent, guardian, or other custodian or by the child’s attorney."

Also: every cop show in the history of America has made it clear to even the thickest planks that you get to have a lawyer present during questioning. This apparently escaped the notice of Irving's finest, though.

The Texas ACLU is all over this, and points out that MacArthur High principal Daniel Cummings's attempt to get Mohamed to sign a confession could have given the police the tools to arrest him on terrorism charges and secure a conviction.

Irving Police Chief Larry Boyd said he did “not have answers to [that] specific question” when reporters asked him Wednesday why Mohamed was not allowed to speak to his parents.

The executive director of the Texas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union said that answer is not good enough.

“Once they’re being questioned, they have a right to refuse answering,” Terri Burke told The Daily Beast. “And, unless it's something like a traffic violation, [police] immediately need to release the child to their parents.”

At the very least, Mohamed should have been able to speak with his parents.

“If a child seeks to have a short conference with his parents, [the police] cannot deny them that.

Read the rest

UK Open University plans mass closure of regional call centres


I'm a visiting professor at OU, and dearly love the institution. It's a remarkable, multidisciplinary institution with a long history of educating people who've been excluded from the traditional university system.

The regional call centres are hugely important to the OU's success. They are the university's front line, staffed by dedicated, local people who help their neighbours to navigate the OU system, and connecting current OU students with alumni and prospective students, acting as a force for social cohesion in the OU's community.

My OU Computer Science colleague, Ray Corrigan, has written a stirring and important piece about the OU regional call centres' role in the OU system:

Understanding the OU deeply takes a long time. It is full of incredible people who care deeply about our students and who have repeatedly shown they will go to the ends of the earth for this place, even to the point of putting their own health and welbeing at risk. Staff in the East Grinstead regional office which was shut down by the University at the end of November 2014, worked evenings and weekends, even in the knowledge they would be unemployed by Christmas, to ensure the students were settled with experienced, well qualified-tutors for our courses starting last autumn. In the thick of all the complexity and accommodation of massive structural changes of the past few years, though, it's worth noting that fundamentally the OU is simply about putting people in touch with people, people who care.

Historically the OU turned a discredited education method - correspondence courses - into hugely effective supported open learning at a distance which, for over 40 years, has outstripped the personal support provided by most of the conventional university sector by a street.

Read the rest

Making while brown: Texas schoolchild arrested for bringing homemade clock to school UPDATED


Ahmed Mohamed is a gifted, driven maker-kid who's in the ninth grade at MacArthur High in Irving, Texas. When he showed the homemade clock he soldered and pieced together to his engineering teacher, he was told to keep it in his bag. But when the alarm went off in English class, his teacher accused him of bringing a bomb to school.

He told the teacher, and then the principal, and then the police offers who'd been summoned, that it was a digital clock he'd made and brought to school to show as evidence of the kinds of things he was making. He'd loved robotics club in middle school and was hoping to connect to a similar peer group in his new high school.

He was arrested, handcuffed, and paraded through the school with an officer on each arm, wearing his NASA shirt.

When he was brought before the school police, the officer who arrested him looked at him and said, "Yup. That’s who I thought it was." Ahmed Mohamed and his family (and the Council on Islamic American Relations) believe that the officer was referring to the color of his skin and his name.

Police spokesman James McLellan admits that Mohamed always maintained that the device was a clock, not a bomb, "but there was no broader explanation." When the Dallas Morning News asked him what "broader explanation" he was looking for, McLellan said, “It could reasonably be mistaken as a device if left in a bathroom or under a car. Read the rest

Knuckle-scanning anti-cheating software won't say what it's doing with Rutgers students' data

Rutgers students taking exams are required to pay $32 in fees for Verificient's Proctortrack, an anti-cheating program that collects, audio, video, web activity and "scans the ID, face and knuckles" as well as voice-prints. Read the rest

MIT and Boston U open legal clinic for innovative tech projects

The Entrepreneurship & Intellectual Property Law Clinic was partly inspired by the death of Aaron Swartz, who was hounded by federal prosecutors with MIT's complicity. Read the rest

Missing from the computer science curriculum

"Unlearning Object-Oriented Programming," "Classical Software Studies," "Writing Fast Code in Slow Languages," "User Experience of Command Line Tools," and "Obsessions of the Programmer Mind." Read the rest

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