Saturday, July 25, 2009

NYTimes EdLife Summer 2009: The Learning Tree

Education Life Your Story

College is a series of transformations — moments that change the way you view the world. And yourself. Where better to get a sense of this idealized passage than from the thick of it? In time for everyone heading back to campus, we invited students to tell us their experiences in their own words and pictures. We received about 800 contributions, from freshmen to Ph.D. candidates. Here are a few that struck a chord.

The Learning Tree

Friday, July 24, 2009

Science Friday 072409

Slide Show: Japan’s Robots Face Hard Times, NYTimes
Many robots in Japan are now being idled or returned as more manufacturers cut back on production, dealing a blow to the robotics industry. Article

Is the Sun Missing Its Spots? By KENNETH CHANG, NYTimes
Sunspots, a bane of power grids, have been largely missing from the Sun, and no one knows why...Some global warming skeptics speculate that the Sun may be on the verge of an extended slumber. Graphic: A Deep Calm

Searching for Extraterrestrial Life By CLAUDIA DREIFUS, NYTimes
Alan Boss has consulted with scientists for NASA’s Kepler space telescope on their mission of finding planets outside our solar system that might be hospitable to life.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

NEW Official CollegeBoard SAT Study Guide, 2nd edition

Guess what I found on the way to the King Tut Exhibit...

The Official SAT Study Guide, 2nd edition

Paperback: 1100 pages
Publisher: College Board; 2 Stg edition (July 21, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0874478529

The Official SAT Study Guide: Second Edition will help students get ready for the SAT with
- 10 official SAT practice tests, including 3 new recent exams
- detailed descriptions of math, critical reading, and writing sections of the SAT
- targeted practice questions for each SAT question type
- practice essay questions, along with sample essays and annotations
- a review of math concepts tested in the exam
- test-taking approaches and suggestions that underscore important points
- free online score reports
- exclusive access to online answers and explanations at
- $10 discount on The Official SAT Online Course to all book owners

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Counselors Make Their Tour of Colleges a Long Workout

Counselors Make Their Tour of Colleges a Long Workout By JACQUES STEINBERG, NYTimes
A group of college counselors from high schools across the country engaged in a 12-day bicycle tour of more than a dozen colleges.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Before College, Costly Advice Just on Getting In

Before College, Costly Advice Just on Getting In By JACQUES STEINBERG,NYTimes

The parents of some students are willing to pay $40,000 or so to try to ensure admission to select colleges. A growing field of independent admissions counselors is willing to accept it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

40th Anniversary of Apollo 11 Lunar Landing

Walter Cronkite, the broadcast news legend who spoke the words "And now we have two Americans on the moon" 40 years ago this week died in New York today at age 92. Here is astronaut Neil Armstrong's statement on Cronkite's passing. (from BoingBoing)

More videos from BoingBoing: NASA's new restored footage of the Apollo 11 moon landing

We Choose the Moon is an interactive experience recreating the historic Apollo 11 mission to the Moon in real time. Once where only three men made the trip, now millions can. Live event begins 8:02 AM EDT July 16, 2009, with launch at 9:32 a.m., exactly 40 years after Apollo 11 lifted off.

On Hand for Space History, as Superpowers Spar By JOHN NOBLE WILFORD, NYTimes
Hundreds of spectators, many of whom had camped overnight, gathered on the beach in Titusville, Fla., in 1969 to watch as Americans reached for the Moon with the launching of Apollo 11. A Times reporter who covered the Apollo mission describes the awe-inspiring days of the space race, from countdown to the history books in a giant leap.
Interactive Feature: Apollo 11, Mission to the Moon
Photographs: A Moon Odyssey

That One Small Step Is Still Hard to Measure By A. O. SCOTT
In the summer of 1969, the mood of the moment, as it survives in the literary and cultural record, was Utopian and apocalyptic, but also weary, anxious and confused.

Vocal Minority Insists It Was All Smoke and Mirrors By JOHN SCHWARTZ, NYTimes
Forty years after men first touched the lifeless dirt of the Moon, polling consistently suggests that some 6 percent of Americans believe the landings were faked.

Grand Plans for Moon and Mars, Budget Permitting By KENNETH CHANG, NYTimes
There are some questions whether the big lunar designs NASA has drawn up over the past five years will be built.

Interactive Graphic: Getting There: 1969 and 2020, NYTimes
NASA is preparing to send humans back to the Moon by 2020 using two new rockets that evoke the design of the Saturn V, the rocket that sent astronauts to the Moon 40 years ago.

Slide Show: After Apollo, New Adventures for Astronauts, NYTimes
After the Apollo program ended, the astronauts who traveled to the moon went on to varied endeavors.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Bet by Anton Chekhov

The Shareworld Saturday Morning Class analyzed a section from The Bet quoted in a SAT II Literature test. Here is another exerpt and a link to the full story...

The Bet by Anton Chekhov

"I'll bet you two millions you wouldn't stay in solitary confinement for five years."

"If you mean that in earnest," said the young man, "I'll take the bet, but I would stay not five but fifteen years."

"Fifteen? Done!" cried the banker. "Gentlemen, I stake two millions!"

"Agreed! You stake your millions and I stake my freedom!" said the young man.

And this wild, senseless bet was carried out! The banker, spoilt and frivolous, with millions beyond his reckoning, was delighted at the bet. At supper he made fun of the young man, and said:

"Think better of it, young man, while there is still time. To me two millions are a trifle, but you are losing three or four of the best years of your life. I say three or four, because you won't stay longer. Don't forget either, you unhappy man, that voluntary confinement is a great deal harder to bear than compulsory. The thought that you have the right to step out in liberty at any moment will poison your whole existence in prison. I am sorry for you."

And now the banker, walking to and fro, remembered all this, and asked himself: "What was the object of that bet? What is the good of that man's losing fifteen years of his life and my throwing away two millions? Can it prove that the death penalty is better or worse than imprisonment for life? No, no. It was all nonsensical and meaningless. On my part it was the caprice of a pampered man, and on his part simple greed for money. . . ." (continued)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Jazz Is the Sound of God Laughing

Rhapsody in Blue - Fantasia 2000 Music: George Gershwin Jazz Is the Sound of God Laughing by Colleen Shaddox - Hamden, Connecticut

I believe in the fundamental optimism of jazz. Consider the first four notes of “Rhapsody in Blue.” Can you hear it? It’s saying “Something monumental is going to happen. Something that’s never happened before. And you are alive to witness it.”

Friday, July 17, 2009

Why America is flunking science

CERN: Large Hadron Rap Why America is flunking science By Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum
Don't just blame poor education for our nation's scientific illiteracy -- but our politics and pop culture.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Envisioning Our Distant Past

Video: Envisioning Our Distant Past, NYTimes
Viktor Deak works from his home studio, crafting heads of distant human ancestors. His work can be found in the American Museum of Natural History.
Interactive: A Paleoartist at Work

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Regional Shift Seen in Education Gap

Regional Shift Seen in Education Gap By SAM DILLON, NYTimes

A study finds that black students have made important gains in the South, while in some Northern states, black achievement has improved more slowly.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Obama Attacks on Economy and Seeks Billions for Community Colleges

Obama Attacks on Economy and Seeks Billions for Community Colleges By JIM RUTENBERG, NYTimes
The president counterattacks on the economy in a speech in Michigan, and at the same time announces a plan to spend $12 billion to bolster community colleges.

Monday, July 13, 2009

I Hear America Singing

I Hear America Singing
Walt Whitman (1819–1892). Leaves of Grass. 1900.

I HEAR America singing, the varied carols I hear;
Those of mechanics—each one singing his, as it should be, blithe and strong;
The carpenter singing his, as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his, as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work;
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat—the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck;
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench—the hatter singing as he stands;
The wood-cutter’s song—the ploughboy’s, on his way in the morning, or at the noon intermission, or at sundown;
The delicious singing of the mother—or of the young wife at work—or of the girl sewing or washing—Each singing what belongs to her, and to none else;
The day what belongs to the day—At night, the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing, with open mouths, their strong melodious songs.

Sunday, July 12, 2009 Student Essays Student Essays Published: June 9, 2009

As the school year concludes, young people across America are writing statements of belief as a final classroom exercise. And thousands of those students are submitting their essays to our series. Click the links below to hear a sampling of what young people believe.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Bicycle Film Festival 2009

**LIVESTRONG Challenge, Sun. July 12, San Jose

The Bicycle Film Festival celebrates the bicycle.
We are into all styles of bikes and biking. If you can name it-Tall Bike Jousting, Track Bikes, BMX, Alleycats, Critical Mass, Bike Polo, Cycling to Recumbents- we've probably either ridden or screened it. What better way to celebrate these lifestyles than through art, film, music and performance? We bring together all aspects of bicycling together to advocate its ability to transport us in many ways.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Plastiki Expedition 2009

The Plastiki Expedition 2009

In Summer 2009, David de Rothschild and a crew of experts, scientists and creatives will sail 12,000 nautical miles across the Pacific Ocean from San Francisco to Sydney in a boat made out of plastic bottles and recycled waste products. This epic voyage is named The Plastiki taking inspiration from Thor Heyerdal's 1947 expedition The Kontiki. Plastiki Blog

Located at San Francisco’s Pier 45, Plastiki Mission Control was built to educate and inform people about the Plastiki expedition by showcasing the groundbreaking thinking, technologies and sustainable design solutions that are transforming 10,000 plastic soda bottles into a seaworthy vessel. HP is a major sponsor of the Plastiki Voyage.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Obama’s Student Loan Plan Wins Support in House

Obama’s Student Loan Plan Wins Support in House By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN, NYTimes
The plan, which would end the role of banks in federal student loans, faces strong industry opposition.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

University of California Makes Cuts After Reduction in State Financing

University of California Makes Cuts After Reduction in State Financing By TAMAR LEWIN, NYimes
The university will mandate furloughs, defer hiring and cut some academic programs in an effort to make up for a large reduction in state financing.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

In Malaysia, English Ban Raises Fears for Future

In Malaysia, English Ban Raises Fears for Future By LIZ GOOCH, NYTimes
The Malaysian government's decision to stop using English to teach math and science has raised concerns that the country's competitiveness will suffer.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Teenagers Are Building Their Own Job Engine By EILENE ZIMMERMAN, NYTimes
Inspired by entrepreneurial celebrities like Steven P. Jobs of Apple, many teenagers are choosing to create their own jobs rather than rely on a sagging job market.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Frederick Douglass: "The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro"

Frederick Douglass Mural, Western Belfast, N. Ireland

During the 1850s, Frederick Douglass typically spent about six months of the year travelling extensively, giving lectures. During one winter -- the winter of 1855-1856 -- he gave about 70 lectures during a tour that covered four to five thousand miles. And his speaking engagements did not halt at the end of a tour. From his home in Rochester, New York, he took part in local abolition-related events.

On July 5, 1852, Douglass gave a speech at an event commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence, held at Rochester's Corinthian Hall. It was biting oratory, in which the speaker told his audience, "This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn." And he asked them, "Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day?"

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?

I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim.

To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sound of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants brass fronted impudence; your shout of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanks-givings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy -- a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.

There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.

--Frederick Douglass: "The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro" 1852

Saturday, July 4, 2009 Independence Day! When the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. Many essayists for This I Believe share that dedication to the principles on which our country was created. Click the links below to see how a former President, a renowned comic book artist, and others explore their beliefs in freedom, democracy, and government.

Friday, July 3, 2009 Science Nourishes the Mind and the Soul Science Nourishes the Mind and the Soul Brian Greene - New York, New York, as heard on NPR’s All Things Considered, May 30, 2005

Physicist Brian Greene believes that in unraveling the mysteries of the universe, we can find an appreciation for our own place in the cosmos, and be inspired by the drama of exploration and discovery. Click here for the full essay...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Carvings From Cherokee Script's Dawn

LETTERS Characters in a Kentucky cave that may be the earliest examples of the script.

Carvings From Cherokee Script's Dawn By JOHN NOBLE WILFORD, NYTimes
The illiterate Cherokee known as Sequoyah watched in awe as white settlers made marks on paper, convinced that these “talking leaves” were the source of white power and success. This inspired the consuming ambition of his life: to create a Cherokee written language....

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Paleontology and Creationism Meet but Don’t Mesh

Paleontology and Creationism Meet but Don’t Mesh By KENNETH CHANG, NYTimes
Seventy paleontologists visited the Creation Museum in northern Kentucky for a jarring alternate view of geological history.