The New York Times reported last week that led by robots, roaches abandon [their] instincts. Specifically, when left to their own devices, groups of cockroaches followed their instincts and natually preferred a darker hiding place to a lighter hiding place virtually all the time. And when a minority group of robotic cockroaches replaced some of the bugs in the cohort and followed natual cockroach rules, again virtually all cockroaches sought the darker hiding place. But when the robots were programmed to seek the lighter, rather than a darker hiding place, fully 60 percent of the wild cockroaches teamed with the robots rather than obeying their instincts, thus demonstrating that even cockroaches are susceptible to bug peer pressure.… Read more
Teachers have an unlimited supply of interesting ideas for classroom projects, but have often been limited to the resources they could afford to contribute from their own pocketbooks.
Seven years ago, a history teacher in the Bronx started a Web site that directly connected teachers and donors to fund classroom projects. This week DonorsChoose announced that its program has expanded to include every public school in America.
This "open source" approach to supporting public schools encourages teachers to be innovative and entrepreneurial. Their proposals compete in the marketplace of ideas to attract support. Everyday citizens are invited to become philanthropists who can make a big difference by pooling their contributions, from $10 on up.
As a donor, I found that my experience on DonorsChoose channels reminded me of the thrill of an eBay purchase. But instead of making an impulse buy for something that I didn't really need, I was making a contribution to a worthy cause. In return, my family has received wonderful thank-you packets from teachers and students that include letters and photos of the projects we funded. … Read more
Thank you for participating in Give One Get One. Your donation will bring education and enlightenment to children of the developing world, and, in recognition of your gift, you will be receiving an XO laptop for the child in your life as well. If you have any questions or problems, please contact One Laptop Per Child at email@example.com. Should your employer wish to match your donation, we are a 501(c)(3) organization and our EIN# is 20-5471780. Thanks again, and welcome to the One Laptop Per Child community!
Why two?… Read more
This has felt like a heavy week all around, so I wanted to wrap it up with a little levity. My favorite article this week was Michelle Slatalla's New York Times piece, "These Naughty Gifts Don't Clutter a Closet." She put the utter absurdity of Facebook applications into perspective, as she described the various virtual Naughty Gifts that one can send to friends, "thigh-high black platform boots...foil-wrapped condoms, black thongs and cans of something called Mr. Whipped Cream."
You see, in real life I've been talking to mom-friends quite a bit about … Read more
The CNN article about the Aqua Dots product recall says:
U.S. safety officials have recalled about 4.2 million Chinese-made Aqua Dots bead toys that contain a chemical that has caused some children to vomit and become comatose after swallowing them.
We immediately did our own product recall, removing the unsafe toy from our house last night after our daughter went to bed. But how did this product get into our house in the first place?… Read more
As I have spent the past few years analyzing the differences between the Boomers and Gen X, a yawning chasm has developed between Gen X and the teens and twentysomethings behind us. Years from now I still think we'll be mulling over the cultural divide between people who came of age using MySpace and Facebook, and those who didn't.
While we geezers (aka parents in their thirties and forties) mull over the technological and privacy implications of social networking, the generation behind us is adopting it as a given, and pushing the frontiers of sharing.
Case in point: a start-up called Shoeboxed was launched last July by a group of Duke University undergrads and recent grads. At first glance, I could wrap my mind around Shoeboxed's main concept. The service allows you to input all your receipts in order to keep track of them in one place. Got it.
But then they added a strange social-networking spin. Users are encouraged to "flaunt" their purchases by sharing them publicly. And then other users are encouraged to "let out your inner Mean Girl and go nuts with our stereotyping feature. Using the mouse is almost as easy as real-life stereotyping!"
Because we all know that what the world needs is more stereotyping! The Shoeboxed labels include "ghetto fabulous, attention whore, trust fund baby, teenage mother, playa, playa-hater, white trash, techy geek dork"....you get the idea. The prominent butt shot of the "ghetto fabulous" icon stands out as being particularly gratuitous.… Read more
Lately, my daughter has been begging to see the new show iCarly, a spinoff of Drake and Josh.
Now, I'm not a big TV watcher, but I was a huge fan of it when I was a kid, and I do think that iCarly could have all the makings of a 21st century Zoom, given what we have available in the form of consumer technology around the house.… Read more
My wife, Amy, has done a fairly good job of convincing our daughter to wear sunscreen, at least when the sun is shining and the temperatures are soaring.
Amy also does a fairly good job of convincing her to wear sunscreen on cloudy summer days, arguing that just because you can't see the sun directly doesn't mean the rays cannot reach you. … Read more
A recent Read/WriteWeb post pointed me to a new Pew/Internet Survey that suggests that "teens" (defined in this study as 12- to 17-year-olds) may view contact by people they don't know as a "cost of doing business" in the online social network environment.
The Pew survey found that about a third of online teens had been contacted online by someone with no connection to them or their friends. Overall, studying all online teens, 7 percent of them had experienced stranger contact that made them feel scared or uncomfortable.
It is important to note that when you look at group of teens who had been contacted by a stranger, nearly of a quarter of them say they felt scared or uncomfortable. Girls were more likely to feel this way, 27 percent compared with 15 percent of boys.
What do these results mean for parents? Social networks are becoming the norm for kids and teens, and "networking" means meeting new people. The question is always how to help kids learn to safely negotiate the public contact that comes into our home through online exposure.… Read more
This week (parent.thesis) is reporting from Japan
For some Americans visiting Japan, Tokyo Disney would be the resort of last resort, but for our family, we decided that spending our first two days and nights there would be a good way to motivate our 8-year old to tackle the 11-hour jet lag head-on. The resort is made up of two parks, Disneyland, which is a near-exact replica of the California original, and DisneySea, a unique park that opened in 2001.
I have read that DisneySea was a design originally considered and rejected for an additional park in California, but to me DisneySea melds perfectly with Japanese style. It is amazing to see what can be done with current technology and design--going well beyond the 1960's "magic" used to create Disneyland. Instead of Sleeping Beauty's castle, there is an erupting volcano anchoring the center of the park, containing one of the best rides I have ever been on. Journey to the Center of the Earth is a combination themed attraction/roller coaster that culminates in a simulated free-fall shot "up and out" of the volcano.… Read more