Between the Folds: Reshaping Ideas of Creativity with Art & Science

Just because it’s summer, we’d like to share Independent Lens: Between the Folds for your learning pleasure.  (And shouldn’t what too many would see as an oxymoron — learning and pleasure — be our goal in teaching?)

shellIn this video you’ll watch an origami artist turn a flat square of paper into a three dimensional creation that’s magical! From a minimalist single crease to mathematical calculations to realistic creature, origami fascinates.  Around the globe, several fine artists and theoretical scientists are abandoning more conventional career paths to forge lives as modern-day paper folders. Through origami, these offbeat and provocative minds are reshaping ideas of creativity and revealing the relationship between art and science.

BETWEEN THE FOLDS chronicles 10 of their stories. Featuring interviews with and insights into the practice of these intrepid paper folders, the film opens with three of the world’s foremost origami artists, moves to less conventional artists, and also features advanced mathematicians and a remarkable scientist who received a MacArthur Genius Award for his computational origami research.  The Independent Lens site also offers links to the history of origami, behind-the-scenes information about the film and filmmakers and background on the origami artists.

Lesson Plan Feature: “Earth Days: Conveniences and Consequences”

earthdaysIn this lesson, students will consider both the benefits and the hazards of technology in today’s world through the lens of the environment. Students will realize that, while human inventions have made our lives infinitely more healthy, convenient and enjoyable, they have also introduced new threats, such as toxic pollution, that affect both human health and the health of our environment. The challenge confronting our society – and our students – is identifying the proper use of technology to improve our lives while still protecting the quality of the natural world.

This lesson is appropriate for grades 8-12 and requires 2-3 class periods; a portion of activity three will be completed as homework.

After completing this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Consider how technology has both improved our lives and created new threats to environmental and human health.
  • Consider how we can maximize the benefits of technology while minimizing the associated harm, largely by applying the “Precautionary Principle” to new technologies.
  • Reflect on how modern electronics are changing how we relate to the natural world.

View the full lesson plan at the American Experience website.

World of Water half day Teachers’ Conference – April 5

fabienJoin WGBY and Wilbraham & Munson Academy for a special half-day conference aimed at the professional development of teachers and professors in the area. Learn how to incorporate water and economics into your classroom.  A keynote lecture will be delivered by Fabien Cousteau, grandson of Jacques Cousteau.

When: Friday, April 5, 2013  •  8:30 – 11:30 a.m.

Where: Athletic Center  •  Wilbraham & Monson Academy

Cost: $20 Admission (includes lunch)

Participating teachers will receive 10 PDPs for participation with completion of short follow-up classroom work.    Teachers would also be welcome to bring their classes to the event for additional activities.  To register, visit the GEM conference website.

PBS KIDS releases two new apps for math and literacy

screenshotPBS KIDS is excited to release two new, educational apps for kids from their hit TV series DINOSAUR TRAIN and THE ELECTRIC COMPANY.   Meant to encourage math and literacy skills, the apps use familiar characters from the series and interactive, engaging games to practice skills such as counting, measurement, geometry, telling time and much more!

  •  In The Electric Company Party Game: Lost on Prankster Planet, children use their math and literacy skills to help Marcus and Jessica escape from Prankster Planet and get back to Earth.  Based on the show, THE ELECTRIC COMPANY,  the free app for iPad and Kindle Tablet allows kids to complete wacky challenges, counting races, silly brainstorms, math questions and more.  They will add, draw, discuss, think, act, problem solve, and dance their way back to Earth, all while practicing skills in subjects including geometry, data analysis and graphing, telling time and more!
  • In the Dinosaur Train Classic in the Jurassic, Jr. app, based on the series, DINOSAUR TRAIN, kids play through three math-based games focused on sorting, balance and counting to help Gilbert get Troodon Town ready for the big event – the Classic in the Jurassic, Jr. games! This app is available for the iPad for $1.99.


A Dr. Seuss Book List

ohtheplacesIn celebration of a local hero: Theodor Geisel, better known by his penname Dr. Seuss, is one of the most cherished children’s authors of all time. In celebration of his birthday on March 2, PBS Parents has put together a hands-down, all around, takes-the-crown book list featuring our top 12 Seuss books for your enjoyment.  Check out the full list.  Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!!!

“After Newtown” Special Programming on WGBY

“After Newtown” is a series of special programming set to air February 18-22, 2013.   On Wednesday, February 20,  correspondent Miles O’Brien investigates how much science can tell us about a brain at risk for violence on NOVA “Mind of a Rampage Killer.”  Check out a preview here:

Then, learn how schools can detect problem behavior and prevent violent attacks on The Path to Violence.  We hope this special series of programs will be helpful and informative to those in decision making positions for school policy and safety.

Report: Early Education Linked to Economic Development

A recent report released by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst outlines a very important connection between early childhood education and prosperous economic development.  According to economist Arthur MacEwan:

“It is highly desirable and valuable to society for state governments to support universal early childhood education. In doing so, governments will be putting in place an essential component of economic development, a component that will provide both a long-run foundation for their states’ economic development and an immediate boost to their states’ economic progress. Moreover, they will be providing an important service to families and strengthening equality of opportunity.”

You can check out the full report here or read more on the Eye on Early Education blog.

Mr. Steve to Perform at the Springfield Museums

20100714_SteveSongs_543%20%282%29Fans of Mr. Steve, the PBS KIDS personality and musician, will be able to sing and dance along with him when he visits the area on Saturday, February 23. Mr. Steve, a guitarist, travels to western Massachusetts as part of WGBY’s sponsorship of The Springfield Museums’ exhibit called GUITAR: The Instrument that Rocked the World.

When asked about his two upcoming concerts, Steve Songs, as he’s also known among the younger set, said, “I’m so excited for our shows in Springfield. It’ll be like a greatest hits event: We’ll be playing songs from my PBS interstitials, some of our older most requested band tunes, plus a bunch of fun new songs from our brand new CD, Orangutan Van!”

As a partner in a youth fitness campaign called  “Recess Rocks,” Mr. Steve promotes healthy living habits through his music. WGBY welcomes families to learn some dance moves ahead of time and post their own “Recess Rocks” videos on Facebook before or after the concerts.

Mr. Steve will perform live at the Springfield Museums in concerts at 11:00AM and 1:00PM. A “meet and greet” will follow each concert. Family activities at the Museums are planned throughout the day. More information is available at the WGBY website.