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James Crook
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James Crook

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Lovely exploration of almost lost masonry skills.
 
Thanks for sharing this. Very enlightening.
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I'm wondering about this.  To program it you need a computer or tablet.  It's designed to be programmed using TouchDevelop.  One million are being given away free.  

I somehow doesn't seem cool enough to catch on as a wearable.  For learning programming - if you need a tablet to program it, why not write apps for the tablet instead?  It's overlapping arduino-space, but without arduino's shield eco-system. 

The digital in/outs are the neatest part.  Suitable for croc-clips, banana plugs and a motherboard socket.  But for cost reasons it doesn't come with those.   For very first introduction to simple electronics, the Makey-Makey package looks better pedagogically.

So, someone tell me why it is wonderful please.
The BBC and partners today unveiled the BBC micro:bit - a pocket-sized, codeable computer that allows children to get creative with technology. In the BBC’s most ambitious education initiative for 30 years, up to 1 million devices will be given to every 11 or 12 year-old child in year 7 or equivalent across the UK, for free.
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I think the value may lie in the fact it will arrive in all classrooms in Sept, so some of our more reluctant teaching colleagues may "have a go" and more importantly, allow their students to have the same go. I hope that getting the rest of the "stuff" together isn't seen as a barrier.
I see there is a Microbit session in DojoCon this year, looking forward to learning more then.
Wonder will anyone have one at the Scratch conference?
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Günaydın ⛅🌞🌄🌻 Good Morning
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While at a risk analysis conference last week & our network was hit by lightning (again!). We went over all of our past strikes on our 18-acre campus and determined that we're most likely to get hit in buildings built in the 1920's with the switch closet near a power panel. Now onto the investigation if our stuff is properly grounded in those locations. It was like a game of clue for IT team. #chartsforthewin 
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I like the whole mood/ethos.  "Danger Wild Plants!"
 
Our allotments for teenager's under the spectrum alliance is blooming. Come up and have a look for ur self. Its on the grounds of the Ardmore hotel and prospect hill. Herbs vegetable s and lots of information and fun. MPAC
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James Crook

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This is a super idea, using a fractal and zoom to make a tree look good and be easily browsable, even when the nodes and branches of the tree are actually very different (unbalanced) in their sizes.

It would also work superbly with pictures.  You no longer have the worry about how to tile the pictures in to the space.

Any book that has a table of contents could be put into this format.  All of Wikipedia could be put into this format.
 
Climbing the tree of life

It's fun to explore the tree of life at http://www.onezoom.org

It only has amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals - and only those that are still alive today.  But still, it's fun to keep zooming in and see how your favorites are related - along with many others!

One nice feature is that you can see when branches happened.  And at first it seemed shocking to how new so many mammals branches are. 

To set the stage, remember that an asteroid hit the Earth and a lot of dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago.  About 24 million years ago, the Earth cooled enough that Antarctica becomes covered with ice.  This cooling trend also created the great grasslands of the world!  Humans split off from other apes about 5 million years ago: we are creatures of the grasslands.  The glacial cycles began just 2.5 million years ago... and Homo erectus is first known to have tamed fire 1.4 million years ago.

Now compare this:  the cats branched off from hyenas about 40 million years ago.  Cheetahs branched off from other cats only 17 million years ago.  That makes sense: we couldn't have cheetahs without grasslands!   But bobcats and lynxes branched off only 11 million years ago... and tigers just 6 million years ago!

So tigers are almost as new as us!  And the modern lion, Panthera leo, is even newer.  It showed up just 1 million years old, after we tamed fire.

This changed my views a bit: I tended to think of humanity as the "new kid on the block".  And okay, it's true that Homo sapiens is just 250,000 years old.  But we had relatives making stone tools and fires for a lot longer!  

Here's another fact that forced me to straighten out my mental chronology: the University of Oxford is older than the Aztec empire!   Teaching started in Oxford as early as 1096, and the University was officially founded in 1249.  On the other hand, we can say the Aztec empire officially  started with the founding in Tenochtitlán in 1325.

And that, in turn, might explain why cell phones don't work very well here in Oxford.  But I digress.  Check out the tree of life, here:

http://www.onezoom.org/ 
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I like the idea of doing a book in this format!  I also wish they'd include more data about the animals at the nodes of this tree, e.g. pictures of them.
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Mathematicians aren't the only ones with nice collections of three-dimensional models of the objects they study...
Model-XI – Thomas Sopwith [1841]. First produced in 1841 Thomas Sopwith's wooden models were some of the earliest three-dimensional representations of Earth's geological strata. Layered, glued, hand carved and polished, his models demonstrate the abilities of a skilled woodworker and ...
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The #DragonBox game starts out as a puzzle game, get a box on its own on one side.  As you progress the icons become mathematical symbols, little by little you progress towards "solve for x".  

The game gives feedback in a way that pencil and paper does not.  The feedback helps learners learn that they must "do the same thing on both sides".  After the videos I'm left wondering, why move back to paper and pencil?  Wouldn't it be better to continue working in an algebra environment that gives feedback?

The game does about 50% of what algebra teaching should do.  It practices the algebra manipulative skills.  The other half, how to use algebra on real world problems, in economics, engineering, physics, electronics, construction, these still need input from outside the game to learn.
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Reshared from +Pádraig Ó Dubhaigh 
 
Highly-regarded educator Bianca Ní Ghrógain passed away on 6 June, here her friend Mags Almond pays tribute to the edtech champion.
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A job that I never knew existed: "Metaphor Designer." Here's an essay by someone who does this for a living, about what the job is, how it's done, and why it's important. A good metaphor, as he points out, not only communicates an idea better, but opens up new ways of thinking about a problem. He gives the example of a consultant who was working with a paintbrush manufacturer in the 1960's, as they were trying to figure out why a new brush design wasn't applying paint smoothly. The key insight came in the form of a metaphor: "A paintbrush is a kind of pump!"

While this might seem a little facile, it's actually quite key to how many designs happen. For example, a few years ago I found myself tasked with designing a planet-scale data storage and serving system. A key step was visualizing each datacenter as a seaport, with shipping lanes connecting them in a tree; each local data storage subsystem as a kind of warehouse; and giant armies of screaming customers around the world, each trying to send and receive data. By recasting the problem in terms of shipping logistics, it suddenly became clear how to organize and schedule data transfer (not trivial because storage capacities have grown 100 times faster than transfer capacities over the past few years), and that in turn led to several fundamental design approaches that made handling of data at hitherto-unconceived scales suddenly quite feasible. 

(If you send attachments on GMail or store photos on Google, incidentally, that system is what holds your data)

But hidden in the description above was a second conscious choice of phrasing: "planet-scale storage." I coined the phrase and started getting people at the company to use it when it became clear that our storage systems lived in tiers (disk-, machine-, datacenter-, planet-scale), but also because the term conjures very different emotional responses from, say, "global storage." The latter has an implication of being the largest scale possible; "planet-scale" carries the subtle implication that the next project may well involve the Solar System. Oddly, that change of phrasing changes the way people think about things: it makes them approach problems knowing that there will be something bigger that they will have to ultimately deal with, and that causes people to make systematically better engineering decisions.

Erard isn't an engineer, and in fact most of the people for whom he designs metaphors do something very different: social welfare organizations. These showcase other aspects of the power of metaphor: not simply framing the way we think about problems, but the way we place them into the wider context of the world. 

It also highlights subtle ways in which metaphors can be effective but trigger the wrong additional thoughts: for example, when working on a project to improve childhood resilience, they found a very powerful metaphor of children as orchids and dandelions. Some children are like orchids, thriving beautifully only under a narrow set of circumstances, while others are like dandelions, doing well nearly no matter what. What this ran into, though, was a cultural value that preferred the fragile and the rare (which in turn comes from the fact that the fragile can only be maintained in delicate circumstances, and so is restricted to the nobility): people saw the metaphor, understood it, and didn't see any value in making more dandelions.

This is why metaphor design requires careful testing. (I would have been a terrible test case for this; if you ask me if I'd rather make a dandelion or an orchid, my immediate answer would be that I'd far rather make something robust, and fragility is a pain in the ass, not a virtue, something you do only when there's no other choice. But then again, I'm an engineer)
The metaphor designer isn’t trying to make something beautiful. She wants to change your view on things. Here’s how
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