Archive for March, 2012

Via Scoop.itAjarn Donald’s Educational News

Introducing Students to the World of Invention
The InvenTeam initiative, created by the Lemelson-MIT Program, offers an unparalleled opportunity for high school students to cultivate their creativity and experience invention.

InvenTeams are teams of high school students, teachers, and mentors that receive grants up to $10,000 each to invent technological solutions to real-world problems. Each InvenTeam chooses its own problem to solve.

Learning Beyond the Classroom
InvenTeam students rely on inquiry and hands-on problem solving as they apply lessons from science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to develop invention prototypes. Interactive, self-directed learning coupled with STEM curricula are essential for experiencing invention.

Students learn to work in teams, while collaborating with intended users of their inventions. They partner with professionals in their communities to enrich their experiences. Most of all, students learn to move forward through challenges and celebrate “Eureka!” moments.

InvenTeams learn by doing.


Via Scoop.itAjarn’s Bits & Pieces

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Via Scoop.itAjarn’s Bits & Pieces

A winning ticket for Friday’s record-breaking $640 million Mega Millions jackpot was sold in Baltimore County, the Maryland Lottery said Saturday.



Via Scoop.itAjarn Donald’s Educational News

“Given all that we have accomplished over the past six years, I think this is a good time to step down,” Aldridge said in a prepared statement. Her resignation will take effect March 31. Javier Miyares, senior vice president for institutional effectiveness, is acting president.

Aldridge came to UMUC in 2006 and burnished its identity as the nation’s largest public online-focused college, according to state university officials, with 92,000 students in 27 nations. A onetime night school, UMUC has evolved into a vast network of adult and military education. The institution granted more than 35,000 degrees during the Aldridge years, with a growing share of those lessons conducted online.

But several current and former employees described an academic culture under Aldridge that prized enrollment and revenue over learning.

Last year, many undergraduate courses were shortened from 14 weeks to eight, and supervised undergraduate final exams were eliminated. UMUC leaders say those changes reflect sound teaching practices. Faculty pay is the lowest in Maryland’s public university system. Meanwhile, the school requested an extra $30 million last year for print, radio and television advertising.

Employees described a work environment under Aldridge that brooked little dissent. They said many workers were required to sign a confidentiality agreement, unusual for a public college, that forbade them to disclose institutional information to anyone inside or outside.

“It was an atmosphere of fear; that’s what really ran the place,” said Spedden Hause, a former academic director at UMUC, who left in 2009.

‘Hush money’ allegations

Those who raised too many questions were told to resign or face termination, the employees said, and those who left voluntarily were rewarded with generous severance packages if they signed nondisclosure agreements. What critics called “hush money” may have cost the state millions of dollars, according to a regulatory complaint a former employee filed this month with the state Office of Legislative Audits. It names more than 20 university employees who allegedly were fired or compelled to resign.

“It was the UMUC ‘poof,’ ” said Scott Perry, a former administrator in UMUC’s exams and testing department. “Some people would just disappear.”

Aldridge declined to address specific complaints. Miyares, the acting president, said the confidentiality agreements are “fairly standard in higher education.” He said no one was paid for silence.

“I don’t think there was a climate in which dissent was punished,” he said.

William “Brit” Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland, termed the Aldridge tenure a success and the school a vital resource to Marylanders.


Via Scoop.itAjarn Donald’s Educational News

The death of Leicestershire English teacher Gareth Davies is one of the most needless deaths to have occurred in Thailand in several years…


Abandoned and betrayed in Bangkok
With this rush to catch up, good, dedicated, native-English language teachers are in demand, with various countries trade missions actively promoting vacancies. However, rather than value those who answer the call, qualified teachers (and others) can find themselves abandoned and betrayed.

Mr Davies was one such man. A man who his students describe as being “very caring”, “very patient”, and so committed that “he spent money buying a laptop computer to help him with his classes instead of looking after his health” and seeking treatment for the Crest Syndrome he was afflicted with.

It wasn’t just his students who thought highly of him and in the days following his death various bulletin boards and forums saw numerous tributes being posted, particularly from those he worked with in Hua Hin prior to joining Kasem Bundit University, that paid tribute to his ability with a pool stick, describing him as “very intelligent and perceptive, with a fine, dry sense of humor”, and committed to his students.

While Mr Davies salary of Bt30,000 a month is high by working-class Thai standards, it could at best be described as “sufficient” for a single person with a fairly quiet social life and living in very modest accommodation.

In Bangkok Bt5,000 (£102 / $US169) a month doesn’t buy much of an apartment, and is typical of what two, three or four Thai people share, comprising little more than a four meter x four meter (13′ x 13′) unfurnished room with a private bathroom.

By the time utilities, transport and meal costs are taken into account there would be little to allow for a lavish life partying in the flesh-spots of Bangkok throwing back over-priced drinks while watching naked teenage girls attempt to feign enthusiasm for their second or third stimulated sex show of the evening.

For Thai teachers the salary is even less and a large portion of Bangkok’s nine million people earn well below Bt20,000 (£408 / $648) a month, making the range of safety nets that are theoretically in place to supplement for low wages and the lower cost of living increases the country has enjoyed in the past a vital necessity.

In many instances these same safety nets are also available to legally employed foreigners, with some, access to the public hospital system being one, available to tourists or anyone else who can produce an identity document.

Read more: Betrayal in the land of smiles – the death of Gareth Paul Davies


Via Scoop.itAjarn Donald’s Educational News

After the Royal Belize Island vacation we spoke of recently, the other way to make your vacation truly unique is the Six Senses Soneva Kiri Resort in Thailand. After from being cocooned in the middle of nature’s most generous endowments, …


Via Scoop.itAjarn Donald’s Educational News

On This Day: United States Purchases Alaska
March 30, 2011 05:00 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff

On March 30, 1867, U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward paid Russia $7.2 million for the 586,412-square mile territory of Alaska.

Seward Buys Alaska From Russia

Russia set up a presence in Alaska in the 18th century,when Danish explorer Vitus Bering, with the backing of Russian Czar Peter the Great, surveyed the region. The territory was wild and inhospitable, but it was rich in natural resources, attracting Russian explorers and traders.

Russia did not have the money to establish permanent settlements, however, and its position was further weakened by their defeat in the Crimean War. By the mid-19th century, it was looking to sell off the land.

It offered Alaska to the United States, which was in the midst of a steady march westward, in 1859, but the threat of Civil War put off the sale. After the war, Secretary of State William Seward, a strong proponent of expansion, reopened talks with Russia, and agreed on March 30, 1867, to buy Alaska for $7.2 million, less than 2 cents per acre.

Many in the U.S. criticized Seward’s purchase. “Critics attacked him for the secrecy surrounding the deal with Russia, which came to be known as ‘Seward’s folly,’” writes the Library of Congress. “They mocked his willingness to spend so much on ‘Seward’s icebox’ or President Andrew Johnson’s ‘polar bear garden.’”

The Senate passed the treaty to buy Alaska by just one vote. The Alaskan territory was officially transferred to the U.S. on Oct. 18, 1867.
Settlement and Statehood

The U.S. did almost nothing to settle or explore Alaska for decades, and the majority of Americans believed the purchase was indeed a folly. This perception changed in 1896, when gold when discovered in Canada’s Yukon territory, sparking a gold rush in and around Alaska.

The U.S. government granted Alaska territorial status in 1912. During World War II, Japan invaded Alaskan islands, prompting the U.S. to establish military bases and build a major highway.

Alaskans appealed for statehood and received approval from Congress in 1946. It adopted a state constitution in 1955. And in 1959, President Eisenhower formally recognized Alaska as the 49th state.


Via Scoop.itAjarn Donald’s Educational News

In Vancouver last winter, the United States proved its competitive spirit by winning more medals—gold, silver, and bronze—at the Winter Olympic Games than any other country, although the German member of our research team insists on pointing out that Canada and Germany both won more gold medals than the United States. But if there is some dispute about which Olympic medals to count, there is no question about American math performance: the United States does not deserve even a paper medal.
Maintaining our productivity as a nation depends importantly on developing a highly qualified cadre of scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and other professionals. To realize that objective requires a system of schooling that produces students with advanced math and science skills. To see how well schools in the United States do at producing high-achieving math students, we compared the percentage of U.S. students in the high-school graduating Class of 2009 with advanced skills in mathematics to percentages of similarly high achievers in other countries.
Unfortunately, we found that the percentage of students in the U.S. Class of 2009 who were highly accomplished in math is well below that of most countries with which the United States generally compares itself. No fewer than 30 of the 56 other countries that participated in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) math test, including most of the world’s industrialized nations, had a larger percentage of students who scored at the international equivalent of the advanced level on our own National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests. Moreover, while the percentage of students scoring at the advanced level on NAEP varies considerably among the 50 states, not even the best state does well in international comparison. A 2005 report from the National Academy of Sciences, Rising Above the Gathering Storm, succinctly put the issue into perspective: “Although many people assume that the United States will always be a world leader in science and technology, this may not continue to be the case inasmuch as great minds and ideas exist throughout the world.”


Via Scoop.itAjarn Donald’s Educational News

BARONESS LOLA Young has said she swapped the House of Lords for teaching a lesson in the classroom during the recently held Teach First Week because of her great respect for teachers.

Young, a successful Arts and Heritage consultant who has been a House of Lords member since 2004, taught a history lesson to pupils at Parliament Hill School, in Highgate, north London, on March 13.

The Baroness, who participates in the House of Lords Peers in Schools programme, told The Voice: “I have great admiration for what teachers do. They can make all the difference to a young person’s achievements. But an external speaker can offer students a window on different worlds, suggesting new areas of interest that they may not have thought of before.”

She added: “I really want young people to see that, with support and encouragement, they have options. That’s why I agreed to participate in Teach First Week and also why I participate in the House of Lords Peers in Schools Programme.

“By taking some time to work with young people we can help them to identify and articulate (and hopefully realise) their ambitions.”

Among the many high profile Brits who taught in schools during the Teach First Week, which ran from March 12 to 16, was BBC TV children’s presenter Michelle Ackerley. She said: “I was able to learn from the children as much as they hopefully learnt from me.”

I think it’s really important for others from the black community to do the same. The chance to get out there and connect with children from different ethnic minorities and hopefully provide a role model for these communities, I think is key.”


Via Scoop.itOn This Day

1848: Niagara Falls stops. No water flows over the great cataract for 30 or 40 hours. People freak out.

The falls were already a tourist attraction by 1848, and villages had grown up on both the U.S. and Canadian sides of the river to accommodate the sightseeing throngs. Residents also built waterwheels to harness the Niagara River’s power to run mills and drive machinery in factories.
An American farmer out for a stroll shortly before midnight on March 29 was the first to notice something. Actually, he noticed the absence of something: the thundering roar of the falls. When he went to the river’s edge, he saw hardly any water.


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