Grounds of future play

21 09 2010

Two weekends ago I went to an education resources expo at the Brisbane Convention Centre – mainly as a bid to get freebs. I arrived a little late but still managed to catch some of a seminar, a few free posters, petted a snake and a lizard, and entered in as many lucky draws as possible (and possibly signing my boss up for swades of spam – sorry…).

Two things caught my eye in particular. And I’ll share one now – The SmartUs Digital Playground (their Finnish website).

The whole set up is very futuristic. Kids are issued with RFID smart cards that can be recognised by readers scattered throughout the playground. They login at the main portal and are assigned a task (run from point A to B via C three times, or something more complex) and the computer records their time. This time is recorded on an international online network where kids from different schools, or even different countries, can compare each others times and records.

Additional tasks and learning can also be integrated by assigning different nodes answers to a multi-choice quiz. This also comes into play by the presence of a dancepad hooked up to the main video monitor of the playground as well. This can be used for quizzes, fitness, dancing or simon-type games.

In Finland, it even became the basis of a family/children’s gameshow which involved celebrities and national atheletes, called FunTzu. Again, these TV scores were uploaded online, so schoolkids could challenge their idols. Unfortunately I can’t find any videos of the TV show – but after some searching I have found a news item of Asia’s first SmartUs playground in Hong Kong which shows how it works.

Tapping into children’s natural competitive behaviour, and then combining it with social media and massively multiplayer gaming Lappset have really hit the mark (or market). The only real downsides to it I can see are the initial outlay costs (which you can guess would be quite high) and also the pitfall of having ‘standardised cookie cutter playgrounds’ that don’t have their own individual community flavour. There also might be other hudles here in Australia given EQ’s stance on students and social networks.

Advertisements




Some teachers are pricks, and then some

12 09 2010

A simple investigation experiment looking at the pH of blood at a Tasmanian high school has turned into a biohazard scare after teacher somehow thought sharing needles would be totally fine for adolescent boys. In some muddled form of defence the teacher did “attempt to sterilise the needle with methylated spirits between tests.” (Methylated spirits its not really suitable for sterilizing).

Pretty much any official is saying that this was a major balls up by the teacher, and I’m finding hard to believe that with all the red tape (in the for of occupational health and safety) present in Australian workplaces these days, that this investigation was ever approved. I have no problem with hands on experiments. In fact, I think these should be encouraged. On top of that, if we expect to have smart and scientifically literate graduates from high school, experiments involving potential biohazards should be allowed. However (or even because of that) it still very important to recognise that risks are involved and the appropriate precautions be taken.

Do read the comments on The Mercury article too.

There seems to be some sections of the world who are somehow thinking that the teacher has not done anything wrong, because there are no schoolboys in Tasmania with bloodborne infectious disease. Perhaps they could do well to investigate the Health and Ageing website which show that historically (prior to vaccinations) they have been one of the highest risk groups for Hepatitis (which is probably the largest worry in this instance, rather than HIV). Blood-borne transmission is probably the number one risk that health organisations try to minimize to prevent the spread of disease.





Taking the buzz out of life

28 07 2010

Nature has an interesting article exploring the ramifications of a world without mosquitoes.

Overall the benefits appear to outweigh the negatives – but they are still given their credence. Mosquitoes, and their larvae, may be physicaly miniscule, but they are big players in the scheme of things. Their removal would have effects on food chains containing birds and fish, plus wider ecological effects – such as plants losing pollinators and changes to deer migration, and also possibly cause over-population in already stretched human communities.

Image: mosquito by tanakawho (CC by A from Flickr)





It lives on in you

5 07 2010

Ewwww…


see more hipster robot webcomics and pixel t-shirts





Don’t worry nurse, its a *healing* sword

30 05 2010

I’m all up for learning in gaming, and even for gaming in learning (more on that story later), so the story of Healing Blade intrigues me. It even has a trailer.

A company called Nerdcore Learning has released what looks like a Magic: The Gathering Style Trading Card Game (TGC) that is supposed to help medical students remember what antibiotics they should be using for particular infections. It also mixes things up with cards for antibiotic resistance, as well as broad-spectrum antibiotics. I’m am quaking at the sight of Bacillus athrancis and his hordes of sparkly butterflies.

Yes. Your future doctor will have learned how to cure your ails by playing a medical-themed version of Yugi-Oh. Oh, dear, what?*

I wonder if they will release an OVA, or at least a web-comic.

If your interested in medical card games for younger demographics, there’s always Zygote Games’ Parasites Unleashed.

*Actually I’m far more worried about the med student likening his practice of medicine to Mass Effect





Suspected zombie outbreak in Melbourne

1 05 2010

Warning: We have a possible patient zero

(Image: xkcd)

I hope this new-fangled national health reform has some sort of measures that prevent the dead just up and walking out into the streets and cause the zombie apocalypse.

To be fair, Mr. Thornton is still speaking, however may be deluded as he still professes disbelief in his death despite documents clearly stating otherwise. He may not be a zombie, perhaps a vampire or post-mortem deity?





Happy Returns

5 04 2010

Yes. Coming back at you like a thing that comes at you.

No excuses available. I just got lazy, bored, and otherwise pre-occupied with life. I was also sick of my laptop and getting money (or credit limit) to purchase an oversized heat screen (iMac i5) took almost as long as getting the damned thing delivered.

For those of you who are still hanging on from where I left you, below is the glory that resulted from last year’s moustache growing month was. In the end my team together raised just shy of $2.5K for men’s health.

This picture was created in GIMP (which I am having difficulty getting to run on Snow Leopard on my new iMac), with much thanks to my flatmate’s hat, gimp.org tutorial on creating sketch effects, and font Bleeding Cowboys.

This picture also highlights just how crooked my nose is. Shame.