K-12 – Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog https://engineering.curiouscatblog.net Science and Engineering: Innovation, Research, Education and Economics Sun, 15 Mar 2020 16:34:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.3 Regeneron High School Science Talent Search 2019 https://engineering.curiouscatblog.net/2019/04/19/regeneron-high-school-science-talent-search-2019/ https://engineering.curiouscatblog.net/2019/04/19/regeneron-high-school-science-talent-search-2019/#comments Fri, 19 Apr 2019 17:21:38 +0000 https://engineering.curiouscatblog.net/?p=5651 Continue reading ]]> $3.1 million in prizes was awarded through the Regeneron Science Talent Search 2019, including $2,000 to each of the top 300 scholars and their schools. The top award was for $250,000. If you want to watch the video without knowing the winner, watch it before reading the rest of this post.

Every year the accomplishments of high school students provide amazing hope for the future. I am glad for the organizations that highlight the efforts of these students and provide awards for a few of the most amazing accomplishments. The top 40 students all get at least $25,000 (with the top 10 getting more).

Ana Humphrey, 18, of Alexandria, Virginia, won the top award of $250,000 for her mathematical model to determine the possible locations of exoplanets — planets outside our solar system — that may have been missed by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope. The second place award and $175,000 went to Samuel Weissman 17, of Rosemont, Pennsylvania for his project analyzing the genetic makeup of HIV in two patients on long-term anti-retroviral therapy to understand why they continued to have “reservoirs” of treatment-resistant HIV-infected cells. The third place and $150,000 went to Adam Ardeishar, 17, of Alexandria, Virginia, for his project combining a classic previously unsolved math problem called the “coupon collector problem” with extreme value theory.

To learn more and see about applying next year see the Society for Science site.

Related: Intel International Science and Engineering Fair 2015MIT Engineering Design Workshop for Boston High School StudentsIntel Science and Engineering Fair 2009 Webcasts

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14 Year Old Signs $700,000 MOU for a Drone to Detect and Defuse Land Mines https://engineering.curiouscatblog.net/2017/01/14/14-year-old-signs-700000-mou-for-a-drone-to-detect-and-defuse-landmines/ https://engineering.curiouscatblog.net/2017/01/14/14-year-old-signs-700000-mou-for-a-drone-to-detect-and-defuse-landmines/#comments Sat, 14 Jan 2017 18:21:26 +0000 http://engineering.curiouscatblog.net/?p=5341 Continue reading ]]> Harshwardhan Zala, from Gujarat, India has signed an agreement worth Rs. 5 crore (US$733,940) to explore the possibility of commercial production of a drone created by him which can help in detecting and defusing landmines.

Harshwardhan started work on the prototype of the landmine-detecting drone last year after reading in newspapers about high army casualties due to landmines. Aerobotics7 is the company founded by the 14 years old.

Harshwardhan Zala, 14-year-old trends for Rs 5 crore deal at Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2017!

Explaining more about the drone, the zealous 14-year-old said, “The drone is designed to send out waves that cover eight sq. mt area while flying two feet above the surface; the waves detect land mines and communicate their location with a base station. The drone also carries a bomb weighing 50 gram that can be used to destroy the landmine.” Harshwardhan Zala’s proud father Pradhyumansinh is an accountant with a plastic company in Naroda, and his mother Nishaba is a homemaker.

[missing video – removed 🙁 ]

The video has Harshwardhan speaking a bit of English but mainly some other language that I don’t understand. If I understand right, his drone is 98% accurate at identifying mines (where the current solutions are 92% accurate – and much more dangerous for those having to walk around testing). His solution is 17 times faster and 22 times cheaper than the current solutions. Once the mine is detected by the drone through an infrared sensor, a 50 gram detonator will complete the task of defusing it (blowing it up).

This video shows a bit of the drone itself (non-English audio)

And here is a short video of Harshwardhan discussing Arduino from 2015 on a channel he helped create, The Kids Edutech (Intelligent Young Makers From India):

Related: The Boy Who Harnesed the WindAppropriate Technology: Rats Helping Humans by Detecting LandminesUsing Drones to Deliver Medical Supplies in Roadless AreasUS Fish and Wildlife Service Plans to Use Drones to Drop Vaccine Treats to Save FerretsToyota Develops Thought-controlled Wheelchair (2009)Make the World Better

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PISA Science Education Results Show Singapore, Japan and Estonia Leading https://engineering.curiouscatblog.net/2016/12/14/pisa-science-education-results-show-singapore-japan-and-estonia-leading/ https://engineering.curiouscatblog.net/2016/12/14/pisa-science-education-results-show-singapore-japan-and-estonia-leading/#comments Wed, 14 Dec 2016 15:41:11 +0000 http://engineering.curiouscatblog.net/?p=5316 Continue reading ]]> The most comprehensive comparison of student achievement in math and science around the globe is completed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The 2015 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) focuses on science understanding of 15 year olds (the 2012 report focused on math).

2015 results for the science portion (rank – country – mean score)(I am not listing all countries):

  • 1 – Singapore – 556
  • 2 – Japan – 538
  • 3 – Estonia – 534
  • 4 – Taiwan – 532
  • 5 – Finland – 531
  • 6 – Canada – 528
  • 7 – Vietnam – 525
  • 8 – China – 520*
  • 9 – Korea – 516
  • 13 – Germany – 509
  • 13 – UK – 509
  • 23 – USA – 496
  • 26 – Sweden – 493 (this is also the OECD average)
  • 56 – Mexico – 416
  • 61 – Brazil – 401

* I am merging several distinct Chinese locations reported in the official report.

The 2015 PISA include 72 participating countries and economies. From the PISA report:

On average across OECD countries, 25% of boys and 24% of girls reported that they expect to work in a science-related occupation. But boys and girls tend to think of working in different fields of science: girls envisage themselves as health professionals more than boys do; and in almost all countries, boys see themselves as becoming information and communications technologies (ICT) professionals, scientists or engineers more than girls do.

Related: 2009 results of science education student achievement around the globe2012 results for the science portion (math was the focus in 2012)The Economic Consequences of Investing in Science EducationCountry H-index Ranking for Science Publications

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MudWatt: Make Power From Mud! https://engineering.curiouscatblog.net/2015/04/11/mudwatt-make-power-from-mud/ https://engineering.curiouscatblog.net/2015/04/11/mudwatt-make-power-from-mud/#respond Sat, 11 Apr 2015 15:04:41 +0000 http://engineering.curiouscatblog.net/?p=4991 Continue reading ]]>

Keegan Cooke and Kevin Rand created MudWatt kits as a way to engage kids/students with science. From the website:

We want to show kids this brighter side of STEM, to empower them to become the great problem solvers of tomorrow. Because let’s face it, there are plenty of problems in the world that need solving.

Unfortunately, our experience in school wasn’t unique. In 2011, less than one-third of 8th graders in the U.S. were deemed proficient in science. Today, 70% of the fastest growing careers are in STEM fields. The supply of STEM education is not meeting the demand.

Most of the world’s mud contain microbes that produce electricity when they eat. That is the engine driving the MudWatt. Colonies of special bacteria (called shewanella and geobacter) generate the electricity in a MudWatt.

The electricity output is proportional to the health and activity of that bacterial colony. By maintaining these colonies in different ways, you can use MudWatt to run all kinds of great experiments. Thus the MudWatt allows kids to engage with science, using their natural curiosity to experiment and learn. Engaging this too-often-neglected human potential will bring joy to those kids (as kids and as grown-ups) and benefit our society.

With standard topsoils, typical power levels are around 100 microWatts, which is enough to power the LED, buzzer, clock, etc..

Related: Arduino, open source hardware (Introduction Video Tutorial)Teaching Through TinkeringAwesome Gifts for the Maker in Your LifeQubits Construction Toy

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Using The Building of Robots to Engage Students in Learning https://engineering.curiouscatblog.net/2015/02/07/using-the-building-of-robots-to-engage-students-in-learning/ https://engineering.curiouscatblog.net/2015/02/07/using-the-building-of-robots-to-engage-students-in-learning/#respond Sat, 07 Feb 2015 14:22:39 +0000 http://engineering.curiouscatblog.net/?p=4940 Continue reading ]]>

Fundi bots has a mission to use robotics training in African schools to create and inspire a new generation of problem solvers, innovators and change-makers. I believe strongly in this type of effort. We waste so much human potential by killing students design to learn. Instead we need to create systems that not only don’t kill that desire but allow it to flourish.

Fundi Bots focuses on the technological process of building robots as a way for students to look at the world around them from a practical, solution oriented perspective. By guiding students through problem identification, brainstorming, collaboration, construction, programming, final deployment and system feedback, we show them how the problems around them can be solved through a technological approach and persistent reductive analysis.

Fundi Made is an effort to create professional grade electronics right in our Fundi Spaces, and deploy the products in five core market segments; home-automation, agriculture, energy, security and health.

Related: Promoting Innovation in Sierra LeoneLetting Children Learn using Hole in the Wall ComputersGiven Tablets but No Teachers, Kids Teach Themselves (Having Never Seen Advanced Technology Before)Teaching Through TinkeringEncouraging Curiosity in Kids20th Annual US First Robotics Competition (2012)

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Math Education Results Show China, Singapore, Korea and Japan Leading https://engineering.curiouscatblog.net/2014/03/04/math-education-results-show-china-singapore-korea-and-japan-leading/ https://engineering.curiouscatblog.net/2014/03/04/math-education-results-show-china-singapore-korea-and-japan-leading/#comments Wed, 05 Mar 2014 00:55:07 +0000 http://engineering.curiouscatblog.net/?p=4730 Continue reading ]]> The most comprehensive comparison of student achievement in math and science around the globe undertaken by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) focuses on math understanding of 15 year olds (the 2014 report will focus on science). The 2009 report focused on the results of science education student achievement around the globe.

2012 results for the math portion (rank – country – mean score)(I am not listing all countries):

  • 1 – Singapore – 573
  • 2 – Korea – 554
  • 3 – Japan – 536
  • 5 – Switzerland – 531
  • 6 – Netherlands – 523
  • 7 – Estonia – 521
  • 8 – Finland – 519
  • 9 – Canada – 518
  • 12 – Germany – 514
  • 24 – UK – 494 (this is also the OECD average)
  • 34 – USA – 481
  • 49 – Malaysia – 421
  • 50 – Mexico – 413

All 34 OECD member countries and 31 partner countries and economies participated in PISA 2012, representing more than 80% of the world economy. Portions of China participated and did very well including Shanghai-China (highest mean score of 613 points – if you ranked that as a country, I ignored these “regional results” in the ranks I shown here), Hong Kong-China (561, 3rd if including countries and regions together), Chinese Taipei [Taiwan] (560, 4th), Macao-China (538, 6th).

Boys perform better than girls in mathematics in 38 out of the 65 countries and economies that participated in PISA 2012, and girls outperform boys in 5 countries.

Related: Playing Dice and Children’s NumeracyNumeracy: The Educational Gift That Keeps on GivingMathematicians Top List of Best OccupationsThe Economic Consequences of Investing in Science EducationCountry H-index Ranking for Science PublicationsEconomic Strength Through Technology Leadership

Shanghai-China, Hong Kong-China, Singapore, Japan and Korea are the 5 highest-performing countries and economies in reading (reading comprehension was another area researched in the report) in PISA 2012.

Parents expectations for students has a significant impact on student performance. When parents have high expectations students have more confidence and put in more effort to achieve.

2012 results for the science portion (rank – country – mean score)(I am not listing all countries):

  • 1 – Singapore – 551
  • 2 – Japan – 547
  • 3 – Finland – 545
  • 4 – Estonia – 541
  • 5 – Korea – 554
  • 6 – Vietnam – 528
  • 8 – Canada – 525
  • 10 – Germany – 524
  • 15 – UK – 514
  • OECD average – 501
  • 21 – USA – 497

A quote from the report: “OECD countries invest over USD 230 billion each year in mathematics education in schools. While this is a major investment, the returns are many times larger.” I agree that the investment in science, math and engineering education is wise but I don’t see that they provide evidence for this assertion. This is what follows in the report: “The OECD’s new Survey of Adult Skills finds that foundation skills in mathematics have a major impact on individuals’ life chances. The survey shows that poor mathematics skills severely limit people’s access to better-paying and more-rewarding jobs; at the aggregate level, inequality in the distribution of mathematics skills across populations is closely related to how wealth is shared within nations.”

“The gender gap in student performance can be narrowed considerably as both boys and girls in all countries and economies show that they can succeed in all three subjects… Among girls, the greatest hurdle is in reaching the top: girls are
under-represented among the highest achievers in most countries and economies, which poses a serious challenge to achieving gender parity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics occupations in the future… girls outperform boys in reading almost everywhere. This gender gap is particularly large in some high-performing countries, where almost all underperformance in reading is seen only among boys. Low-performing boys face a particularly large disadvantage as they are heavily over-represented among those who fail to show basic levels of reading literacy. These low levels of performance tend to be coupled with low levels of engagement with school.”

“High-performing school systems tend to allocate resources more equitably across socio-economically advantaged and disadvantaged schools.”

Full report: 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) (in the past the OECD had broken links to the reports, so I don’t trust their ability to maintain useful web resources and don’t link to the most useful link in the body – since they break links)

One thing I found funny was Indonesia was first in students being happy at school and 2nd to last in science understanding. This is really likely just chance that it is so extreme. But it does seem inversely correlated (near the bottom of happiness and top of achievement are: Korea, Estonia and Finland). Near the top of happiness and bottom of student knowledge are: Peru, Thailand, Malaysia and Mexico). Singapore was near the top of both.

Another interesting piece of data, only Malaysia and Jordan pay teachers over 200% of median pay (neither country shows good results). Hong Kong and Korea are next (between 180 and 200%) and their results are very good. Shanghai-China (1st in results) pays just over 100% which is less than average. Singapore (1st in country results – a bit lower than Shanghai) pays about 135% of median (a bit above average). The USA pays 102% of USA median pay.

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Learn About Biology Online https://engineering.curiouscatblog.net/2013/07/27/learn-about-biology-online/ https://engineering.curiouscatblog.net/2013/07/27/learn-about-biology-online/#comments Sat, 27 Jul 2013 15:13:15 +0000 http://engineering.curiouscatblog.net/?p=4587 Continue reading ]]> Very cool site for learning about biology. I have tried the courses offered by Coursera but they are too structured for my taste. I want to be able to learn at my pace and dip into the areas I find interesting. Coursera is more like a real course, that has weekly assignments and the like.

Survivebio [site is offline, here a site you might be interested in – iBiology] is a resources that matches my desires exactly. You can go and learn about whatever topics you desire, when you desire. The site offers webcasts, games, flashcards, chapter outlines, practice tests and a forum to discuss the ideas.

In this webcast, Paul Andersen discusses the specifics of phylogenetics. The evolutionary relationships of organisms are discovered through both morphological and molecular data.

The aim of the SurviveBio web site is to aid AP (and college) biology students. But it is also a great resource to learn about biology if you are interested in that topic. Hopefully they will add more webcasts. The site uses webcasts from Bozeman Science which has a huge number of very good videos on biology and also, chemistry, physics, earth science, statistics, anatomy and physiology.

Related: Great Webcast Explaining the Digestive SystemsCell Aging and Limits Due to TelomeresHuman Gene Origins: 37% Bacterial, 35% Animal, 28% Eukaryotic

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Given Tablets but No Teachers, Kids Teach Themselves – Having Never Seen Advanced Technology Before https://engineering.curiouscatblog.net/2013/05/03/given-tablets-but-no-teachers-kids-teach-themselves-having-never-seen-advanced-technology-before/ https://engineering.curiouscatblog.net/2013/05/03/given-tablets-but-no-teachers-kids-teach-themselves-having-never-seen-advanced-technology-before/#comments Fri, 03 May 2013 10:28:38 +0000 http://engineering.curiouscatblog.net/?p=4501 Continue reading ]]> In a repetition of an experiment I have posted about here on the Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog before (Letting Children Learn – Hole in the Wall Computers): Given Tablets but No Teachers, Ethiopian Children Teach Themselves

The experiment is being done in two isolated rural villages with about 20 first-grade-aged children each, about 50 miles from Addis Ababa. One village is called Wonchi, on the rim of a volcanic crater at 11,000 feet; the other is called Wolonchete, in the Great Rift Valley. Children there had never previously seen printed materials, road signs, or even packaging that had words on them, Negroponte said.

Earlier this year, OLPC workers dropped off closed boxes containing the tablets, taped shut, with no instruction. “I thought the kids would play with the boxes. Within four minutes, one kid not only opened the box, found the on-off switch … powered it up. Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child, per day. Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs in the village, and within five months, they had hacked Android,” Negroponte said. “Some idiot in our organization or in the Media Lab had disabled the camera, and they figured out the camera, and had hacked Android.”

Nicholas Negroponte has tendency to overstate the fact from what I remember. I don’t think what he claims as “hacking Android” here is what a real scientist would claim as than is a write up of the results of the experiment. He could well mean they updated a setting or some similar thing. It is a shame to mislead when the bare facts are so cool. And possibly he isn’t misleading – I just am worried he is.

Also what does 47 apps per day mean? I can’t understand how you can usefully (including entertainment do that in any sensible way) – I doubt I use 15 applications in a month and I use the computer hours every single day. Makes me worry that “using” is not a very enlightening piece of data – instead just trying to make it seem like using 47 must mean they are engaged; it seems more likely to me to mean they are not used successfully so they have to go try something else or they are counting “used” in ways we wouldn’t.

Once a week, a technician visits the villages and swaps out memory cards so that researchers can study how the machines were actually used.

These kinds of experiments are very cool. They show how intrinsically curious we are are. Sadly our schools often beat the curiosity out of kids instead of engaging it.

Related: What Kids can Learn (look at the same idea in 2006)Providing Computer to Remote Students in Nepal (2009)$100 Laptops for the World

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Promoting Innovation in Sierra Leone https://engineering.curiouscatblog.net/2012/12/13/promoting-innovation-in-sierra-leone/ https://engineering.curiouscatblog.net/2012/12/13/promoting-innovation-in-sierra-leone/#comments Thu, 13 Dec 2012 13:58:23 +0000 http://engineering.curiouscatblog.net/?p=4377 Continue reading ]]>

Another inspirational kid that shows that the potential for human good is much greater than the talking heads and politicians that litter the TV screen so often.

In the video Kelvin says, “That is my aim: to Promote Innovation in Seira Leone, among young people.” See another video as Kelvin explains his homemade battery.

Support these young engineers in Sierra Leone via innovate Salone.

Related: Inspirational Engineer Build Windmill Using TrashSupporting the Natural Curiosity of KidsWhat Kids can Learn If Given a ChanceI was Interviewed About Encouraging Kids to Pursue Engineering

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