Ms Stevenson's Enrichment Blog

Entries Tagged as 'Science and Technology'

Mongolia Chooses Addressing System Based on 3-Word Phrases

June 19th, 2016 · No Comments

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From what3words.com

(From Smithsonian.com)  “…The billions of people on Earth who live in rural areas, slums or sprawling urban areas, [have] difficulties in receiving mail and packages,…opening a bank account, getting electricity or just dealing with government bureaucracies.

Mongolia’s 3 million citizens, a third of whom are nomadic, live in a country that is approximately the size of Western Europe…The country’s postal service, recently adopted an addressing system created by the startup company what3words to help direct mail and parcels to its residents…

Instead of a street names and numbers, what3words divides the entire surface of the Earth into 57 trillion 3-metre by 3-metre squares.  Each square is assigned a three-word phrase… In this system, the White House, for instance, is no longer 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but sult.held.raves; Buckingham Palace is fence.gross.bats; the Taj Mahal is according.gloom.broads.”

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What are the advantages and disadvantages of such a system?  Do you think it is a good choice for Mongolia?

How do you think it differs from latitude and longitude?  

If you could choose a three-word phrase for your home or your bedroom, what would it be?

 

Tags: Current Events · Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges · Ideas, Discussions, Discoveries and Questions · Science and Technology

Your Arm Can Be a Touchpad!

June 12th, 2016 · No Comments

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Playing Angry Birds (Photo Credit: Carnegie Mellon University/Gierad Laput)

(From DOGONews)  “Controlling… a smartphone or tablet is…relatively easy…, given their large screens. However, the same is not true for smartwatches… Now, a group of researchers from… Carnegie Mellon University is trying to… [use] the arm into a touchpad

SkinTrack, in contrast, requires users to wear just a ring and their favorite smartwatch…

The ring uses high-frequency electrical signals to communicate with the watch and transfer the controls from the tiny screen onto the surface of the arm…

[Read more about how it works HERE.]

Can you think of one advantage and one disadvantage of incorporating a technology like SkinTrack into our daily lives?

Tags: Current Events · Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges · Science and Technology

15-year-old Canadian might have discovered a lost Maya city

May 29th, 2016 · 2 Comments

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Credit: Canadian Space Agency

(From ScienceAlert)  “William Gadoury, a 15-year-old school student from Quebec, Canada, has found… what appears to be a lost city of the Maya civilisation, buried deep in the Yucatan jungle of southeastern Mexico…

He discovered the incredible ruins from the comfort of his own home, by figuring out that the ancient cities were built in alignment with the stars above…

‘I did not understand why the Maya built their cities away from rivers, on marginal lands and in the mountains, [said Gadoury]  ‘They had to have another reason, and as they worshiped the stars, the idea came to me to verify my hypothesis. I was really surprised and excited when I realized that the most brilliant stars of the constellations matched the largest Maya cities.'”

What do you dream of discovering?

Tags: Current Events · Ideas, Discussions, Discoveries and Questions · Optical Illusions and Visual Challenges · Science and Technology

Laugh Every Chance You Get!!

May 25th, 2016 · No Comments

Share a good joke, because of the reasons listed below…

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(From Psychology Today)  Five ways that laughter makes life better:

  1. “Laughter improves your relationships…. [It] makes you more open to new people and helps you build and strengthen relationships.
  2. Laughter boosts your memory and lowers your stress.
  3. Laughter… may help you regulate your emotions in the face of challenge.
  4. Laughter… lowers stress and inflammation and increases good cholesterol…
  5. Laughter makes you a better learner… A good laugh while learning new material will help you engage with it more.”

Tags: Current Events · Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges · Ideas, Discussions, Discoveries and Questions · Science and Technology

‘Sign Aloud’ Glove translates ASL to Speech

May 25th, 2016 · No Comments

SignAloud gloves (Photo Credit: The University of Washington)

 

(From DOGONews)  “Hundreds of thousands of hearing-impaired people… rely solely on American Sign Language (ASL) for communication. But… there are millions of people with normal hearing that are unable to decipher the hand and finger gestures. That may change soon thanks to the ingenious “SignAloud” glove that converts sign language into speech.

The gloves are the brainchild of University of Washington sophomores Thomas Pryor and Navid Azodi…

The [glove]…is equipped with a series of sensors that measure the movement and position of the hands as a person is signing. [A computer then] ‘speaks’ the relevant words or phrase through a speaker…”

Another student is working on a similar idea: “Hadeel Ayoub, a student [in] London, has been working on a similar idea. Her SignLanguageGlove translates sign language into text that can be transmitted to a smartphone app or tablet device.”

Read more by clicking HERE.

Consider the differences between the two devices.  Which do you think has a greater chance of success?

 

Tags: Current Events · Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges · Ideas, Discussions, Discoveries and Questions · Science and Technology

Nano Starships to Search for Aliens

May 22nd, 2016 · No Comments

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The tiny nano-spacecraft would take 20 years to reach Alpha Centauri traveling at one-fifth the speed of light (Photo Credit: Breakthrough Starshot)

(From DOGONews)  “On April 12, the 55th anniversary of Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s historic launch to space, a Russian billionaire along with Nobel-prize winning physicist Steven Hawking and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, announced “Breakthrough Star shot.” The $100 million USD project aims to build a prototype for a wafer-sized propelled robotic spacecraft that can get to the nearby Alpha Centauri in a mere 20 years.

Though that may appear slow, it is a vast improvement over the current technology that would take a spacecraft between 30,000-40,000 years to cover the 25.67 trillion mile distance between Earth and Alpha Centauri…

The… team envisions a spacecraft the size of a postage stamp with a thin sail attached to it. Aboard the tiny “starchip,”  will be a camera, photon thruster and power supply. It will be launched to space aboard a mother-ship and then propelled to the distant star system with the help of laser lights beamed from a high-altitude area on Earth…

What do you think are some of the challenges to creating a message that can be universally understood by alien civilizations?

Tags: Current Events · Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges · Science and Technology

Wear the Planets on Your Wrist!

May 15th, 2016 · No Comments

(From Mental Floss)  “Most watches can tell time, but how many keep track of the planetary orbits?…The ‘Midnight Planetarium Timepiece’ does!…

Each planet is represented with a different coloured stone… Other celestial objects on the watch include a pink gold shooting star and sun…

This watch, made by maker Van Cleef & Arpels, is sold for $225 000.

The planets actually move in time with their real-life depictions… That means it will take your tiny Saturn 29 years to make its way around the watch’s dial, with Jupiter taking about 12 years, Mars 687 days, Earth 365 days, and Mercury 88 days. (Neptune and Uranus aren’t included as their orbits are longer than most human lifetimes at 165 years and 84 years respectively.)”

Can you think of any other cyclical events that could be shown on a watch?

Tags: Art, Creative Writing, Music and Drama · Current Events · Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges · Science and Technology

How to Make Yourself Feel Better…

May 15th, 2016 · No Comments

(From Huffington Post)  “When we’re having a rough day, many of us tend to treat ourselves to some form of retail therapy, a favourite dessert or going out with friends in hopes of feeling better.

But a new study…suggests that treating ourselves is no more likely to boost our mood than doing nothing, [whereas] giving to others or practicing acts of kindness can improve our mood and overall well-being…”

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Other research backs this up, showing that being kind can lower your blood pressure and reduce stress.

I think the most amazing aspect of this story is the fact that doing things for yourself doesn’t make you feel better!

If you were given one day OR $1000 with the condition that you had to use it to help someone else, what would you do?

Tags: Current Events · Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges · Ideas, Discussions, Discoveries and Questions · Science and Technology

The Great Escape – Octopus-Style!

May 5th, 2016 · No Comments

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Inky the octopus is about the size of a soccer ball. (National Aquarium of New Zealand)

(From Scholastic)  “In the middle of the night, an escapee pulled off a bold getaway. After wiggling out of a tiny opening, he quietly slipped across the floor. Then he slid down a drainpipe to freedom… The runaway was Inky, an octopus that escaped from the National Aquarium of New Zealand earlier this year. He hasn’t been seen since…

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Inky’s escape route included this opening to a drainpipe that leads to the Pacific Ocean. (National Aquarium of New Zealand)

Inky was given to the aquarium in 2014 by fishermen who had caught him by accident. He impressed the staff with his intelligence, which octopuses are known for. ‘He’d . . . squirt water at you,’ Yarrall told reporters. ‘And he [figured] out how to screw the top off a jar.’

But one morning, workers arrived at the aquarium to find Inky missing from his tank… The watery tracks leading from the tank to the drainpipe showed where he had gone…

It turns out this escape wasn’t that surprising. “Octopuses…have a complex brain… ” They can also squeeze through extremely small spaces—even ones as tiny as coins—since they have no bones in their bodies.”

Click HERE to find out more about Inky’s Great Escape.

Some people think octopuses are so smart that they should have rights.  (Here’s what one person thinks.)  What is your opinion?

Tags: Current Events · Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges · Science and Technology

Japan’s New ‘Invisible’ Train!

May 1st, 2016 · No Comments

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A rendering of architect Kazuyo Sejima’s design for a new express train in Japan (Photo Credit SANAA architects)

(From DOGOnews)  “Japan is famous for its state-of-the-art high-speed railway system. In 2015, its Magnetic Levitation or Maglev train, which gets its name because it hovers 10 cm above the tracks, set a new speed world record of 375 mph (603km/hr). Now the innovative island nation wants to build a train that features a mirror-like exterior and blends in so well with the environment, that it will be practically “invisible.”…

Do you think high-speed railways could replace domestic air travel in the future? Why or why not?” 

Tags: Current Events · Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges · Ideas, Discussions, Discoveries and Questions · Science and Technology

Phone-Charging Coffee Mug was Invented by a Teenager!

April 24th, 2016 · No Comments

Popular Science has named Ann Makosinski their young inventor of the year.

Phone-Charging Coffee Mug

(From Mental Floss)  The university student’s invention of a phone-charging mug “is a layer of peltier tiles that use the temperature differences between their two sides to generate electricity. Users can harness this energy by plugging their phones into the USB port on the bottom of the cup and sip their coffee as it charges. eDrink produces enough electricity to charge a phone for 30 minutes at a time.

Makosinski was inspired to invent the high-tech mug after noticing her friends were always low on phone power. She also noticed that their coffee was taking too long to cool down, so she decided to solve both problems with one innovative solution.”

Can you think of two problems that could be solved together with one invention?

Tags: Current Events · Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges · Science and Technology

3-D Printed Jacket with NO SEAMS!

April 17th, 2016 · No Comments

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(From Mental Floss)  The clothing company ‘Ministry of Supply’ has made a jacket that is different than any other.  “It’s manufactured through a “3D Robotic Knitting” method that produces a single, seamless garment. The whole process takes around 1.5 hours, and supposedly results in a better-fitting jacket.”

The company says that “customers could have a body scanner take their measurements right in the store and then order an item that’s unique to them. And because 3D knitting machines know the precise amount of material to use, the rate of fabric waste drops down to zero.”

Would you wear 3D printed clothing?  Or do you prefer traditional methods, or natural materials?  Why?

Tags: Art, Creative Writing, Music and Drama · Current Events · Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges · Ideas, Discussions, Discoveries and Questions · Science and Technology

5 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know about the First Man in Space

April 12th, 2016 · No Comments

Today is the 55th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s becoming the first human to journey into space!

Yuri Gagarin prepares to board Soviet Vostok I spaceship (AFP/Getty Images)

27-year-old Yuri Gagarin (1934-68) wearing cosmonaut helmet prepares to board Soviet Vostok I spaceship, 12 April 1961 (AFP/Getty Images)

(From BBC History)

• Gagarin took off with the words ‘Poyehali!’ (Let’s go!)

• Gagarin was just 27 years old when he set off on his legendary flight

• Gagarin’s rocket was an adapted missile, called R-7 or ‘Semyorka’…

• Since 12 April 1961, the anniversary of Gagarin’s first flight has been celebrated in Russia as a holiday known as Cosmonautics Day”

Gagarin died in a training flight in 1968.

Also, check out this trailer – a Russian film (with English subtitles) – about Gagarin’s achievement.

Would you have done what Gagarin did, if you had the opportunity?  Why or why not?

Tags: Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges · Science and Technology

Save our Monarchs!

April 10th, 2016 · No Comments

Butterfly

The butterfly is an amazing creature.  It has two pairs of wings that overlap, acting as one pair.

The butterfly’s overlapping wings are about ten times larger than other insects’ wings.  To stay airborne a butterfly has to flap less often.

How do you think this helps the butterfly?

Watch this video to find out the answer.

(From Save our Monarchs) “Monarch caterpillars ONLY eat milkweed. In fact, the monarch butterfly is also known as the “milkweed butterfly.”

The milkweed plant provides all the nourishment the monarch needs to transform the Monarch caterpillar into the adult butterfly.

But these plants are rapidly disappearing.”

Grow your own Milkweed.  Order seeds to plant.

 

Tags: Current Events · Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges · Science and Technology

Help Scientists study Murmurations

April 3rd, 2016 · No Comments

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“Flocking starlings are one of nature’s most extraordinary sights: Just a few hundred birds moving as one…

What makes possible the uncanny coordination of these murmurations?…

It’s easy for a starling to turn when its neighbour turns — but [how can it] happen almost simultaneously in two birds separated by hundreds of feet and hundreds of other birds?”

Scientists are asking for help in a study of the amazing formations made by starlings as they flock in the sky.

Watch the link showing a murmuration.  Have you ever seen one?  Can you think of anything that can be compared with this phenomenon?

If you see a murmuration, contribute your observations to this study, which will help scientists to better understand them.

Tags: Current Events · Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges · Ideas, Discussions, Discoveries and Questions · Science and Technology

“Make Molecules. Advance Science.”

March 26th, 2016 · No Comments

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Try Eterna, a game where you help design RNA strands, which are tiny molecules at the heart of every cell.  Described as “a beautiful visual puzzler”. 

Tags: Games and Contests · Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges · Science and Technology

This Game Helps Genetic Research!

March 20th, 2016 · No Comments

Try Phylo, the game that contributes to genetic research.

Move colour blocks on the screen to match patterns and come up with new combinations.Phylo

How does it work?

(From mcgill.ca) “The comparison of the genomes from various species is one of the most fundamental and powerful technique in molecular Biology. It helps us to decipher our DNA and identify new genes…”

Phylo is not just a game; it harnesses the computing power of mankind to decipher our DNA.

Tags: Games and Contests · Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges · Optical Illusions and Visual Challenges · Science and Technology

Eyewire: A Game to Map the Brain

March 20th, 2016 · No Comments

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Check out Eyewire.

This online game has you mapping and manipulating neurons in 3D.

Gameplay actually helps researchers discover how neurons connect and network to process information.  It works in collaboration with the Seung Lab at Princeton.  Anyone can play and you need no scientific background.  Give it a try!

Tags: Games and Contests · Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges · Optical Illusions and Visual Challenges · Science and Technology

Can you Find Gold at the end of this Rainbow?

March 5th, 2016 · No Comments

Just in time for St. Paddy’s Day…

Try this experiment to create your own rainbow!

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From Aliya Merali at http://physicscentral.com/

You will need:

  • A shallow pan
  • Water
  • A flashlight or sunlight
  • A white surface or piece of paper
  • A mirror

How do you think this works?

Where else do you see the full spectrum of colors? Mini rainbows? In a water sprinkler? In a glass of water? What’s happening there?

Tags: Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges · Ideas, Discussions, Discoveries and Questions · Optical Illusions and Visual Challenges · Science and Technology

Gravitational Waves Comic

February 28th, 2016 · No Comments

(From Phdcomics.com) A really cool explanation of Gravitational Waves!

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Tags: Art, Creative Writing, Music and Drama · Grade 4 - 6 Challenges · Grade 7 - 8 Challenges · Ideas, Discussions, Discoveries and Questions · Science and Technology