Here's a clip from an upcoming documentary by a fourth grader who snuck a camera into school to document his horrible school lunches and the vast distance between the food that the school claims to serve and food he and his friends end up eating.
Zachary is a fourth grader at a large New York City public elementary school. Each day he reads the Department of Education lunch menu online to see what is being served. The menu describes delicious and nutritious cuisine that reads as if it came from the finest restaurants. However, when Zachary gets to school, he finds a very different reality. Armed with a concealed video camera and a healthy dose of rebellious courage, Zachary embarks on a six month covert mission to collect video footage of his lunch and expose the truth about the City's school food service program.
Yuck: A 4th Grader's Short Documentary About School Lunch
Good to see America's educational priorities on such sound footing:
You may have heard that the highest-paid state employee in each state is usually the football coach at the largest state school. This is actually a gross mischaracterization: Sometimes it is the basketball coach.
Based on data drawn from media reports and state salary databases, the ranks of the highest-paid active public employees include 27 football coaches, 13 basketball coaches, one hockey coach, and 10 dorks who aren't even in charge of a team.
...Coaches don't generate revenue on their own; you could make the exact same case for the student-athletes who actually play the game and score the points and fracture their legs.
It can be tough to attribute this revenue directly to the performance of the head coach. In 2011-2012, Mack Brown was paid $5 million to lead a mediocre 8-5 Texas team to the Holiday Bowl. The team still generated $103.8 million in revenue, the most in college football. You don't have to pay someone $5 million to make college football profitable in Texas.
Infographic: Is Your State's Highest-Paid Employee A Coach? (Probably) [Reuben Fischer-Baum/Deadspin]
In The Atlantic, Jordan Weissmann does a very good job of summing up the New America Foundation's important new report, Undermining Pell:
How Colleges Compete for Wealthy Students
and Leave the Low-Income Behind [PDF], by Stephen Burd. The report documents how private universities in America have raised the cost of tuition to incredible heights, and reserve their "merit scholarships" (paid for with government grants) for wealthy students whose parents can pay the rest in cash, while poor students have to take out punishing loans, effectively subsidizing the rich students' education and career opportunities.
Sometimes, colleges (and states) really are just competing to outbid each other on star students. But there are also economic incentives at play, particularly for small, endowment-poor institutions. "After all," Burd writes, "it's more profitable for schools to provide four scholarships of $5,000 each to induce affluent students who will be able to pay the balance than it is to provide a single $20,000 grant to one low-income student." The study notes that, according to the Department of Education's most recent study, 19 percent of undergrads at four-year colleges received merit aid despite scoring under 700 on the SAT. Their only merit, in some cases, might well have been mom and dad's bank account.
There's nothing inherently wrong with handing out tuition breaks to the middle class, or even the rich. The problem is that it seems to be happening at the expense of the poor. At 89 percent of the 479 private colleges Burd examined, students from families earning less than $30,000 a year were charged an average "net price" of more than $10,000 annually -- "net price" being the full annual cost of attendance minus all institutional and government aid. Less technically, it's what students can actually expect to pay. At 60 percent of private colleges, that net price was more than $15,000.
In other words, low-income families are routinely being asked to fork over more than half of their annual income for the privilege of sending their child off to campus for a year.
How Colleges Are Selling Out the Poor to Court the Rich
The MIT Media Lab's Lifelong Kindergarten Group has shipped version 2.0 of Scratch, the justly famed and much-loved programming language for kids. Scratch makes it easy to create powerful simulations and games, even for small kids (basically, if you can read, you're ready for Scratch). The new version of Scratch runs right in a browser (no downloads or installs required), and is remarkable in its polish and power to excite. The programming environment is embedded in a sharing and shareable community, with millions of Scratch projects ready to be downloaded and remixed. It's just amazing
With Scratch, you can program your own interactive stories, games, and animations — and share your creations with others in the online community.
Scratch helps young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively — essential skills for life in the 21st century.
Share with others around the world
(via O'Reilly Radar)
Pablo Garcia and Golan Levin, two celebrated art profs and dead media specialists, have launched a fantastically successful kickstarter to recreate the Camera Lucida, a gadget much favored by the Old Masters. It uses an optical trick to superimpose the scene in front of you on a sheet of paper that you can trace in order to produce highly realistic drawings. They're producing a limited one-time run of them (a $35 pledge gets you one) (assuming, as with all Kickstarters, that this actually gets made -- caveat emptor!), and then the designs will be released as open source hardware for anyone to make.
The NeoLucida is designed to fit in a purse or bag, and the creators want to create a gallery of art made with it -- each one comes with a postage-paid card for you to send in one of your drawings
NeoLucida - A Portable Camera Lucida for the 21st Century
(via Beyond the Beyond)
Vincent sez, "Our high school film class from Oak Park High in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada made this zombie-themed PSA to spread the message about a worker's right to refuse unsafe work.
It's a big issue. In Canada, in 2010, 1014 workplace deaths were recorded in Canada - that's almost three deaths every day! Between 1993 to 2010, 16,143 people lost their lives due to work-related causes in Canada.
A 2003 survey showed that compared with other developed countries of the OECD, Canada isn't doing too well. Of the 29 developed nations 24 had significantly lower workplace death rates than Canada. Using the factor of deaths/100,000 workers, Canada was only safer on average than Korea (29 deaths), Turkey (20.6 deaths), Mexico (12.0 deaths), Portugal (8.7 deaths) and then Canada with 6.1 deaths per 100,000 workers.*
Our class used humour because we thought it would be an effective way to create a memorable message. Our PSA won first place in the Manitoba Safe Work video contest, and it is now competing to be the top Canadian video.
You may remember our school, which has made other popular videos that you have featured on Boing Boing, including 'Jedi High,' 'Anti-Racism Girl,' and 'The Pink Shirt.'"
On May 14-15, Make is hosting its second annual Hardware Innovation Workshop
in San Mateo, CA. There's a pretty amazing speaker lineup, but perhaps most exciting is a "Maker Pro Master Class"
with Andrew "bunnie" Huang, one of the great hardware hackers of our age.
A Hal Pomeranz from 2010 suggests a great way to teach TCP/IP header structure to students: he builds header diagrams out of legos, then mixes them up and has the students reconstruct them.
The use of color here really highlights certain portions of the packet header. For example, the source and destination addresses and ports really jump out. But there are some other, more subtle color patterns that I worked in here. For example, if you look closely you’ll see that I matched the color of the ACK bit with the blue in the ACK number field. Similarly the colors of the SYN bit and the sequence number match, as do the URG bit and urgent pointer field.
Actually I wish I had a couple of more colors available. Yes, Lego comes in dozens of colors these days, but they only make 2×8 blocks (aka one “Lego Byte”) in six colors: White, Black, Red, Yellow, Blue, and Beige.
So while I tried to use Beige exclusively for size fields, Red for reserved bits, Yellow for checksums, and so on, I ultimately ended up having to use these colors for other fields as well– for example, the yellow sequence number fields in the TCP header. Maybe I should have just bought a bunch of “nibbles” (2×4 blocks) in other colors and not been so choosy about using full “Lego Bytes”.
Since 2010, the lego patent has expired and cheapish wire-extrusion 3D printing has become a reality -- and there's cool procedural models for generating arbitrary-sized bricks and labelling them with arbitrary type. Someone needs to make a printable TCP diagramming set on Thingiverse!
Practical, Visual, Three-Dimensional Pedagogy for Internet Protocol Packet Header Control Fields
(via Hacker News)
If you haven't heard about the insane letter
sent around to a sorority by its concerned and thoroughly awful social chairwoman
, you're probably doing something right. Nevertheless, there is a gem of good in every wickedness, as Funny or Die demonstrates with this
of the letter in question [NSFW]
Paul sez, "This past semester, three engineering grad students at the University of Toronto (myself and two others) created an Android app for a course project that allows for wireless and intuitive control of a robotic arm from an Android-powered smartphone. We're pretty proud of the results (the link is to a demo we put together) and have released the code open source."
Android Robotic Manipulator Demo
Dan Amira writes,
An unnamed English teacher at Albany High School who wanted to "challenge" his/her students to "formulate a persuasive argument" tasked them with writing an essay about why "Jews are evil," as if they were trying to convince a Nazi official of their loyalty
Time for a teacher training day!
You have, at some point, probably heard an academic wistfully daydream about what it would be like to have tenure, or (alternately) moan about the process that it takes to achieve that dream. Tenure is a promotion, but it's more than just a promotion. For instance, it's a lot harder to fire a tenured professor — something that is meant to make it easier for them to research and speak out on what they want without fear of administrative crackdowns. As a result, getting tenure can be a process that is nothing short of labyrinthian. This piece in the Harvard Crimson by Nicholas Fandos and Noah Pisner describes the phone-book-sized dossiers, decade-long preparations, and secret tribunals that are all a part of the standard Harvard tenure process
. — Maggie
Can you trust the headlines in your newspaper? What can you actually learn from reading message boards and random Facebook forwards? If you aren't sure what to believe, this guide by Gabrielle Rabinowitz and Emily Dennis can help
. It describes how to track "digested" information back to an original, scientific source, the questions to ask, and the red flags to for — all of which will help you sort bunk from stuff that's actually worth talking to your friends about. The problem, of course, is that this can be a lot of work. Essentially, they're describing a lot of what journalists do when we're writing a story about a scientific topic. — Maggie
Michael Geist sez,
Months after the Supreme Court of Canada delivered a stinging defeat to Canadian copyright collective Access Copyright by ruling for an expansive approach to fair dealing and the government passed copyright reforms that further expanded the scope of fair dealing, Access Copyright responded yesterday with what amounts to a desperate declaration of war against fair dealing. Access Copyright has decided to fight the law - along with governments, educational institutions, teachers, librarians, and taxpayers - on several fronts. Most notably, it has filed a lawsuit against York University over its fair dealing guidelines, which are similar to those adopted by educational institutions across the country. While the lawsuit has yet to be posted online, the Access Copyright release suggests that the suit is not alleging specific instances of infringement, but rather takes issue with guidelines it says are "arbitrary and unsupported" and that "authorize and encourage copying that is not supported by the law."
Most of Access Copyright's longstanding arguments were dismissed by the Supreme Court this past summer. To suggest that a modest fair dealing policy based on Supreme Court jurisprudence and legislative reforms is "arbitrary and unsupported" is more than just rhetoric masquerading as legal argument. It is a declaration of war against fair dealing.
Access Copyright's Desperate Declaration of War Against Fair Dealing
An unidentified person -- possibly an art student, based on the title -- has come up with a pretty seriously worded note to other people in the computer lab in order to remain uninterrupted while working on a deadline.
Art School gets busy sometimes
(via Geeks Are Sexy)