Due to safety concerns modern chemistry sets are completely lame. A year ago the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation ran a project with Society for Science and the Public to reimagine a chemistry set for the 21st century. Winners were announced and some were extremely clever .. I don't know what has happened since.
Manu Prakash, PhD (Stanford, CA), an assistant professor of bioengineering at Stanford University, and his graduate student George Korir – who created what could literally be a 21st century chemistry set - won the first place award of $50,000. Prakash and Korir developed a prototype of an inexpensive “lab on a chip” using a technology known as “microfluidics.” Microfluidics uses programmable microchips containing miniature pipes, valves, and pumps to carry out a wide variety of chemistry or biology experiments. Until now, the high cost of this leading edge technology has confined its use to major laboratories. Prakash has found a way to produce very inexpensive (about $1) yet fully functional versions of this technology that children can use to design and carry out their own experiments – much as they would with traditional chemistry sets, but now using a safer self-contained kit with nanoliters of chemicals, enzymes and other reagents.
Second prize ($25,000) in the prototype category was won by Robijanto Soetedjo, MD, PhD (Kenmore, WA), a neurophysiologist with the University of Washington. Dr. Soetedjo developed a toy set that children can experiment with to see the effects of the electrical signals produced by their muscles, their hearts, and even their brains. Electrodes are attached to a part of the body, such as the forearm, and to another device that shows them the effects of their electrical signals. For example, by tightening a hand grip, the child can turn on a light, spin a propeller, control a motor or (through an audio amplifier) emit a sound. The toy set can also interface with a range of computer devices and helps opens up the space of neuroscience and biofeedback as areas for children to explore in play.
Tying for third place ($10,000) were a team led by biologist and geologist Barnas G. Monteith (Tumblehome Learning, Inc.), of Brockton, MA, and including Pendred Noyce, MD (Weston, MA) and Peter Wong (Brighton, MA); and a group led by physicist Deren Guler (Brooklyn, NY), along with Michael Rule (Providence, RI) and Laura Miller (Brooklyn, NY).
The Tumblehome group, which also won second place in the ideation category for a related idea, developed what they call the “SenSay Sensor System.” The system is a modular all-in-one sensor and exploration kit with online supports. The kit lets explorers experiment with physics, environmental energy, biology, chemistry and engineering design without having to solder parts together or use a pre-existing bulky microcontroller. The sensor allows users to gather data, provides output on a computer, and provides immediate feedback via sound, light, and graphs. The kit provides a novel way to get children interested in – and interacting with – data and its analysis.
The Big Shot camera kit is an example of something in the category. Make Magazine encourages kids of all ages to play with technology and a few small suppliers have sprouted up, but there is probably a lot of room for innovation in exploratory learning.
The Bigshot is not a high quality digital camera by any stretch of the imagination, but it is one that will stretch the imagination. A neat little kit that allows kids to assemble their own camera and experiment with it. Check out its science page. It would be great for a kid who is curious about things - a budding engineer or scientist.
In my research on toy advertisements, I found that even when gendered marketing was most pronounced in the 20th century, roughly half of toys were still being advertised in a gender-neutral manner. This is a stark difference from what we see today, as businesses categorize toys in a way that more narrowly forces kids into boxes. For example, a recent study by sociologists Carol Auster and Claire Mansbach found that all toys sold on the Disney Store’s website were explicitly categorized as being “for boys” or “for girls”—there was no “for boys and girls” option, even though a handful of toys could be found on both lists.
That is not to say that toys of the past weren’t deeply infused with gender stereotypes. Toys for girls from the 1920s to the 1960s focused heavily on domesticity and nurturing. For example, a 1925 Sears ad for a toy broom-and-mop set proclaimed: “Mothers! Here is a real practical toy for little girls. Every little girl likes to play house, to sweep, and to do mother’s work for her":
The Chemical Heritage Fondation has a virtual chemistry set for kids - free and much more capable than current "safe" physical chemistry sets, but virtual probably doesn't excite or inspire the few who get hooked. Probably worth playing with and some kids may have fun.
About 130 researchers — spanning the globe from Hong Kong to the Netherlands to the United States — list KAU as a secondary affiliation on Thomson Reuters’ highly cited researcher database. That figure is four times higher than that of Harvard University, which has the next highest number of secondary affiliations: 32.
Four UC Berkeley researchers list KAU affiliations, but only two have active adjunct professorships with the university: plant and microbial biology professor Chris Somerville and mechanical engineering professor Xiang Zhang.
Somerville, a highly cited researcher, began his adjunct professorship with KAU early this year. Since then, he said he has helped KAU researchers with a grant proposal. He was supposed to travel to KAU earlier this year but said that, for one reason or another, it never worked out.
When asked what he would do if it turned out that KAU had hired him only for his citations, Somerville said he had “started wondering about it” but was not sure.
Zhang declined to comment, saying he didn’t want to “spoil” his newly formed relationship with KAU.
Other former KAU adjuncts report similar experiences to Somerville’s. They communicated with KAU researchers and drafted proposals, and many never heard back. Those former adjuncts view the program as an honest effort to establish international research collaborations, but one that ultimately fails in practice.
wow - such amazing cluelessness. Staying with it is painful, but the best part appears around 20 minutes in when she claims dinosaurs are dragons and scientists are covering up evidence that people see them to protect the sham of science.