Friday, August 21, 2009

Not Chess Spock, Poker

Four Hundred Seventeenth Post: Not Chess Spock, Poker (20090821)

I have yet to see the new Star Trek movie, but from the reviews those who are fans will not be happy it is just a fast paced action movie. It’s the little things like changing the phaser design.

But I was doing some thinking. The Star Trek book series are awesome, especially those written by William Shatner. I have an idea for a defensive weapon.

This weapon would work on transporter technology. When a weapon was fired at a lone person a transporter belt worn by would beam the person and area around them (the disruptor’s blast) and remove the fired disruptor’s blast from the transporter’s scheme. This has been done on STNG when a phasor’s discharge was removed before one of the crew appeared in the transporter room.

There are other applications too. This transporter belt could reverse the direction of the beam and send it towards the enemy. Do you remember when Kirk threatened an alien not to fire at the Enterprise because it would increase the strength of the beam and shoot it back to where it was fired?

Also if a disruptor beam does get through and hit a Star Fleet member, the transporter belt could reverse the effect of the disintegration cause by the disruptor. So as the atoms of the Star Fleet member where scattered, the transporter would have the information to put the molecules back together.

Live Long and Prosper

Thursday, August 20, 2009

2nd Post in Improving Education

Four Hundred Sixteenth Post: 2nd Post in Improving Education (20090820)

This is the second musing of how to improve education without spending more money. This post has to deal with improving students attitude.

You may believe that teachers are not to blame for children’s attitudes. And to some extent that is very true. But it can also just become another excuse for a failing education system. Teachers are more than instructors they are also the leaders of the classroom.

Ok, so that is easy to blog about, how do we motivate students. The method is simple and that is to teach them the things that interest them.

In public schools students range from many different abilities. After a standard lecture they should be working at their own pace. But instead of letting a student be on chapter 30 while another is on chapter 3, the teacher should have bonus work to explore. Have the student pick a relevant that interests them. So if a student finishes a story in reading class, let them read a book that interests them say a Star Trek novel. That is just simple. The teacher can latter ask questions about the book and take interest in what their students are interested in.

The same applies to math class. Puzzle books are as cheap as $5. The teacher could set up a “puzzle palace” on a table in the back of the classroom. Then encourage students to work together. What better way to motivate students then to know when they finish their lessons they can play with puzzles with the other students.

On the podcast “This Week in Tech,” it is often mentioned how the company Google encourages its workers to work on “creative works”. That is they work on special projects that interests them. They have had great success with this. So why should school be any different? Instead of punishing kids for not working why not give them an incentive to work?

Friday, August 07, 2009

1st Post in Improving Education

Four Hundred Fifteenth Post: 1st Post in Improving Education (20090807)

This is the first blogging of how to improve secondary education in the United States. Most of my ideas are simple and would not cost millions to implement. Here it is.

My first idea is really not original. My friend Curtis has argued with his son’s school many times. And that is to replace substandard textbooks. That is the ones were the student doesn’t have to read the chapter. They just answer question 1 through 20 in order because the questions are all in linear order in the textbook. It is a waste of time for the student just to reference answers. It would be more beneficial for them to read and answer no questions.

With math books these junk textbooks have nothing to do with problem solving. Instead they are plug and jug.

We should completely remove the textbook from shop class. When I was in school it was the schools requirement we spend half of the class semester using the textbook. A student gets enough book work from these junk textbook in other classes already, shop should be hands on. I always learned more building stick bridges, ice scrappers, bird houses, reading design plans, making a rubber band plane, or launching model rockets.

I’m not saying all textbooks are junk. In fact there are many great textbooks. They is nothing wrong with defining glossary words. I’m just pointing out that it tends to become more of a chore than a learning experience. When your in college and after you just realize there is so much to learn and explore. The junk textbooks give the impression that all answers are in order. It takes away the challenge and the wonder and enjoyment of learning. Later in life, you realize how much more you would know if the approach to learning was different. For example, when you study math in college the textbook is usually more difficult and thus more challenging. And there are math books that are not in textbook form. The approach to reading them is different. They require more work, but the reader is getting more knowledge from the work as compared to looking up answers.

In short, instead of the Government doing expensive and fruitless standardize test, they should review the textbooks and put an approval rating on them. That approval rating should not come just from the government but the teachers and parents of the students who they will be teaching.