Category Archives: Interesting

Flashmob – Copenhagen Phil playing Peer Gynt in the Metro

Jenny Luca normally shares the flashmob goodness. I couldn’t resist this one. Just imagine hearing this spontaneous performance.

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5 things I’d like my teacher to know about me – meme and retrospective

The talented (and Pottermore expert) Judith Way tagged me in this meme – 5 things I’d like my teacher to know about me. You can read Judith’s post here. Why not? It’s short, it’s useful in preparation for school as a zoom-in on the student-teacher relationship. Okay, so here goes: –

1. Just because I get good marks doesn’t mean I don’t need encouragment. This happened to my older son too. Teachers often focus on boosting the confidence of struggling students, leaving the bright ones without any encouragement. All kids need to feel encouraged and appreciated.

2. I might present as a happy student because I’m well behaved, but inside I’m bored to death. Of course in my day (in primary school) you sat patiently for ages while everyone took their turn to read, particularly, the struggling readers who needed more practice. Bad luck if you’d already read the whole reader (yes, one reader for the whole year) before school started.

3. Just because I get good marks doesn’t mean I am confident. In fact I am far from confident and suffer over little things, beating myself up about my imperfections. (Just realised there’s a bit of a theme here, and also I should probably go to a counsellor! so many things stirred up here…)

4. I love the way you decorate the classroom (primary school obviously). I may not say anything but all the differently coloured papers, craft activities, displayed work makes a happy environment for me and I remember it all decades later. Visual, tactile, olfactory experiences are powerful and affect the learning experience. Okay, so  obviously all my answers focus on primary school.

5. I need more context. So many activities, simple as they were, left me feeling confused. I didn’t see the point of the exercise. Then I started wondering if I was the only one feeling confused, especially when everyone else seemed to accept the activities without any problems. Even as far back as prep grade, I remember wondering what the point of Tic Tac Toe was. Maybe I was missing the point. Do you think that perhaps I may have been a little paranoid? Still, kids are not stupid, a little context goes a long way. Remember, kids are learning so much every day, there’s a lot of information processing going on. Lots of discussion and question time will help with this.

So now I need to tag other people to write a similar post. Bearing in mind these people may not choose to participate given their busy lives. In hope, but with understanding in case you can’t do it, I tag you, @jennyluca @angelquilter @kimyeo @sujokat @Larrydlibrarian  Thanks and don’t worry if you can’t do it – busy time of year!

PS Yes, I know, I need therapy.

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Flashmob Moscow style

You’ve all seen the flashmob events made famous by Improv Everywhere, for example, Grand Central Station in New York. Here is a group doing the same thing  in a Moscow shopping mall singing a popular Christmas carol. The singers are from an Orthodox boarding school and include clergy (obviously the bearded ones).

A bit late for Christmas, I know, but just came across it.

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The world needs all kinds of minds

I agree with Temple Grandin, the world needs all kinds of minds.

We should stop celebrating normal and worrying endlessly about what doesn’t fit within that normal.

Temple’s ability to verbalise her own autism has broadened our understanding of what it means to be autistic. Instead of looking at autism in terms of what is wrong, Temple turns our perspective around by stating that we wouldn’t have evolved without those people who think and function differently.

I’ve pulled out some of what she said in her  TED talk, things which resonate with me, both as a teacher and just in general:

People are getting away from doinghands-on stuff. I’m really concerned that a lot of schools have taken out the hands-on classes

We’ve got to think about all these different kinds of minds. And we’ve got to absolutely work with these kind of minds, because we absolutely are going to need these kind of people in the future.

And this brings up mentors. You know, my science teacher was not an accredited teacher. He was a NASA space scientist. Now, some states now are getting it to where if you have a degree in biology, or a degree in chemistry, you can come into the school and teach biology or chemistry. We need to be doing that. Because what I’m observing is the good teachers, for a lot of these kids, are out in the community colleges. We need to be getting some of these good teachers into the high schools.

If by some magic, autism had been eradicated from the face of the Earth, then men would still be socializing in front of a wood fire at the entrance to a cave.

Question: So, most people, if you ask them what are they most passionate about, they’d say things like, “My kids” or “My lover.” What are you most passionate about?

Temple Grandin: I’m passionate about that the things I do are going to make the world a better place.

I would love to see the school that Temple would create if she were a principal or education department head, wouldn’t you?

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Linchpin

I have been so touched and uplifted by people’s comments (on this blog and in person) following my heart-on-my-sleeve post after an unsuccessful job application. Thankyou to everyone for your extremely kind feedback.

Today I was interested in a comment by Marie Coleman who called me a linchpin and asked if I’d read Seth Godin’s latest book, Linchpin. I haven’t but I’ve heard about it, and I want to read it.

After reading a review of Linchpin, I thank Marie for this enormous compliment, and I don’t know if I am a linchpin but I would certainly like to be one.

There used to be two teams in every workplace: management and labor. Now there’s a third team, the linchpins. These people invent, lead (regardless of title), connect others, make things happen, and create order out of chaos. They figure out what to do when there’s no rule book. They delight and challenge their customers and peers. They love their work, pour their best selves into it, and turn each day into a kind of art. Linchpins are the essential building blocks of great organizations. Like the small piece of hardware that keeps a wheel from falling off its axle, they may not be famous but they’re indispensable.

(Linchpin pdf here)

The terms ‘art’ and ‘artists’ need to be explained here:

Art isn’t just for painters and poets. Art is “anything that’s creative, passionate and personal. […] An artist is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity, and boldness to challenge the status quo. And an artist takes it personally.” (p. 83)  You don’t create Art as something to keep to yourself, you share that talent or ability with others.

(from review on Squared Peg)

Do you think you’re a linchpin? Would you like to be?

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People are brilliant

Long school holidays have given me the time to browse online to my heart’s content. I’m overwhelmed by the constant stream of what everyone is reading, writing, thinking, commenting, asking, creating and sharing. How would I know about any of these things otherwise? I wouldn’t.

Examples of people’s creativity are shared online all the time. I love the way technology combines with basic skills like drawing and paper folding in this video. The creator of the following animation describes this as ‘a shot at animating the old flip book’.

I can’t upload the video so here’s the link.

parkour motion reel from saggyarmpit on Vimeo.

Thanks to @mizminh

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The story of the button demonstrates the power of social networking

Looking through my Flickr contacts’ photostreams, I noticed some photos of a button. Intrigued, I read a lengthy explanation, a short, true story, which I wanted to share. This is bigsumo‘s story.

A man sent an email via Facebook on a Monday morning in August. He was not sure if the email was being sent to the right people. He mentioned that whilst mowing his lawn in Corinda, Brisbane he uncovered a button. He notice some writing imprinted into the button. He decided out of curiosity to google it. He discovered that ‘TJ Moles Charters Towers’ referred to a man who was a tailor in Charters Towers. This was obviously his branded button to advertise his wares.

The man also discovered an old forum request on the family history site Rootsweb, from a couple looking for information on this person. Unfortunately, their listed email was no longer valid. He tried searching Facebook and discovered some names matching the description and within the hour sent a querying email looking for a connection.

An hour later that email from Facebook was answered by me. My wife and I were the couple looking for information on TJ Moles as he was the father of our adopted grandmother (that’s a whole other story) who herself was born in 1898 in Charters Towers.

I responded with great suprise at such an out of left field email. I explained our connection to the button’s owner and was very greatful to take him up on his offer to mail the button to us on the Sunshine Coast. To which he replied that he would pop it in the post on his way to work. The next day, Tuesday I was suprised to see, delivered to me at work, an envelope containing a button stamped with TJ Moles Charters Towers.

This button has travel long, somehow winding its way from north Queensland to Brisbane to be found late in 2009. It potentially started it journey somewhere between 1880 – 1940 (when TJ Moles passed away) when he ran his tailor shop (best guess).

More amazing is the very fast journey this button has been on in the last 24 hours, thanks to google and social networking! This button, though small is our only physical connection with our adopted family from that time. It’ll take pride of place in our family history collection!

What a great story! How else could you have discovered the button’s story without the online connections and collaboration? Another example of the power of Flickr.

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Eric Gjerde – Origami tessellations

twist

Still continuously amazed at what I find on Flickr. I used to think it was where people shared photos of their family, sunsets and the such, but I realise that its potential is far greater. It’s such a rich store of images, ideas, creativity.

Today I’m not feeling well, and so I’ve been living on the couch. No concentration for reading so I thought I’d browse flickr images.

Every discovery is like Christmas. Eric Gjarde is my discovery for today. On his Flickr profile, Eric describes himself as a geek.

I’m a massive geek. As with most geeks, I’m fascinated by all things technological; it’s what I do for a living, as well as a hobby (and obsession?)

What I really respect Eric for (apart from his awesome folding skills) is his willingness to share his knowledge and creativity about his specialty.

So while I enjoy folding all kinds of things, I’ve just been posting items which I have created myself. all of the items I post to flickr are independently created/invented/dreamed up by me, unless otherwise stated.

It’s a big deal for me, as I really dislike the lack of information sharing in the origami world- I want to bring some of the open-source style sharing to them, preferably via the Creative Commons licensing ideals. I’ve made some headway on that front by releasing diagrams and crease patterns under a CC license, available on my website – it’s located at www.origamitessellations.com.

Looking through Eric’s Flickr profile, I found the Flickr groups he has joined. Always good to see what else people are following.

Take a look at what Eric does when he’s not folding paper – it’s a mosaic film.

His origami sets are extensive and brilliant.

origamisets

Browsing through Eric’s other, non-origami, sets, I came across his mosaic set. If you have a look, you’ll be impressed with his mosaic tile photos. One of the best things about flickr is the possibility for conversation. And so, following this mosaic set, Eric answers questions about how he was able to make the mosaics, and offers links to further information. Fantastic.

mosaicphotoclose

Still discovering, and this time Eric’s comments led me to The digital library for the decorative arts and material culture. Anyone interested in the history of design and ornament for different cultures will love this.

Who said Flickr was just a bunch of pictures? I’m going to try and showcase Flickr and its educational uses at school.

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Science and fiction – The Human Genre Project

The Human Genre Project

is a collection of new writing in very short forms — short stories, flash fictions, reflections, poems — inspired by genes and genomics.

Starting with just a few pieces at its launch in July 2009, the collection will grow and develop over time.

The Human Genre Project is an initiative of the ESRC Genomics Policy and Research Forum, part of the ESRC Genomics Network, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and based at The University of Edinburgh.

Wow. Creative writing inspired by science. I love the overlap in disciplines; it would be good to enable more of this at school, where subjects seem to live in separate worlds, as if life were cut up into mutually exclusive areas.

genome

The main page shows 24 different chromosomes: 22 autosomes, which are numbered, and two sex chromosomes, labelled as X and Y.

Here’s the unusual part – when you click on a chromosome, you get the title which takes you to the creative writing piece. This example links from chromosome #8:

The WRN gene on chromosome 8 is responsible for Werner syndrome, which causes premature ageing.

My hair goes grey and falls out, my teeth yellow and decay, brown spots bloom on my skin. I’m thirty-six years old. My world is a room, and a view of the sea beyond it.

I’ve been told that there’s something wrong with me. But I know my physics. I know that in this universe there has to be decay and disorder. I’m normal. I’m entropy.

I try to sip tea but my clawed fingers let the cup fall to the floor. Liquid spills out from its shattered remains and soaks into the carpet.

What I don’t understand is why the rest of them never change. My twin brother could be my son. His teeth are white and even, his hair is as glossy as ever. His skin always has a rosy blush. He comes here regularly to tell me about life outside my room. Life with other people, other women. There seem to be many women. Or perhaps it’s just tales.

But as I sit listening to him and his stories, I realise how they do it. While I stay here, they’re all travelling around. Einstein had a theory about twins; one sits in his small room, watching the sea, and the other zooms to the stars. As he accelerates to the speed of light, time slows down for him, so when he gets back he’s younger than his stay-at-home brother.

I ask my brother, “Where did you park your rocket ship?” I look outside, “I can’t see it.”

The rocket ship looked like a bicycle, but apparently it worked very well, and my brother frequently made trips to the centre of our galaxy.

“I got rid of it,” he replies, “I replaced it with a quantum teleporter. They’re all the rage now.”

All I can see out of the window is a little red car. “That’s it,” he says. “The women like it.” And sure enough a woman gets out of the car and waves at us.

This was written by Pippa Goldschmidt inspired by chromosome 8.

The WRN gene on chromosome 8 is responsible for Werner syndrome, which causes premature ageing.

My hair goes grey and falls out, my teeth yellow and decay, brown spots bloom on my skin. I’m thirty-six years old. My world is a room, and a view of the sea beyond it.

I’ve been told that there’s something wrong with me. But I know my physics. I know that in this universe there has to be decay and disorder. I’m normal. I’m entropy.

I try to sip tea but my clawed fingers let the cup fall to the floor. Liquid spills out from its shattered remains and soaks into the carpet.

What I don’t understand is why the rest of them never change. My twin brother could be my son. His teeth are white and even, his hair is as glossy as ever. His skin always has a rosy blush. He comes here regularly to tell me about life outside my room. Life with other people, other women. There seem to be many women. Or perhaps it’s just tales.

But as I sit listening to him and his stories, I realise how they do it. While I stay here, they’re all travelling around. Einstein had a theory about twins; one sits in his small room, watching the sea, and the other zooms to the stars. As he accelerates to the speed of light, time slows down for him, so when he gets back he’s younger than his stay-at-home brother.

I ask my brother, “Where did you park your rocket ship?” I look outside, “I can’t see it.”

The rocket ship looked like a bicycle, but apparently it worked very well, and my brother frequently made trips to the centre of our galaxy.

“I got rid of it,” he replies, “I replaced it with a quantum teleporter. They’re all the rage now.”

All I can see out of the window is a little red car. “That’s it,” he says. “The women like it.” And sure enough a woman gets out of the car and waves at us.

Pippa Goldschmidt is Writer in Residence at the Genomics Forum. I’ve mentioned Pippa in an earlier post; her writing is often inspired by science.

Chromosome 11 leads to a piece called Photophobia,

an eye disorder in which the iris is partially or completely missing. A person with aniridia frequently has photophobia (sensitivity to light). The mutation is in the PAX6 gene on chromosome 11.

The telomeric tale of the mouse’s tail (chromosome X) is a shape poem.

chromosome

You can find the original painting/collage here and it looks like this:

mousetale

Still in progress, this is a fascinating project, demonstrating the possibilities in the union between science and art.

If you like this, have a look at what inspired it: Michael Swanwick’s Periodic Table of Science Fiction.

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Problem-solving is for the birds

Problem-solving is not limited to the world of humans. It’s interesting to watch other species use thinking to solve a problem. Crows and ravens are, for me, associated with Grimms’ fairy tales and tales of dark forces, but here, thanks to Britannica Blog, we see a very practical crow persisting in reaching its goal.

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