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.





Starts with Sue, ends with She

19 07 2010

Answer to my children’s question, “What’s for afternoon tea?”

Little do they know what it actually means.





It lives on in you

5 07 2010

Ewwww…


see more hipster robot webcomics and pixel t-shirts





Teenage attention span too short for Facebook

5 07 2010

An online gaming site has done a survey which reports that the main reason for teens leaving Facebook and other social networking sites is that it is not interesting enough for them. Obviously they need more ways to poke, bite, stab, tag, chat, and farm their friends.

While “It’s boring” ranked first amongst ‘lapsed facebook users’ (45%), not far behind was unsurprisingly “too many notifications” (27%), too hard to keep up with activity (21%), and too many ads (20%). Also coming up was the presence of parents and *shudder* other adults on Facebook. They do realise that it is meant for older people, right? (But not parents though, that is weird).

The gaming site obviously asked about social network gaming, and the economics related to it. I’m pretty happy that about two thirds of kids realise spending cash on virtual currency, clothes and power ups is a waste of money – but perhaps disheartened at the number of parents who have given children a special allowance to waste on virtual pitchforks and carrot seed. These parents should be really encouraging children to be online for at least tangible, if no less frivolous objects, such as crap on eBay, retail games (such as Steam or an MMORPG), or digital downlaodable content off iTunes. That would be the responsible thing, for sure.





It could the premise of a good movie…

5 07 2010
…or even a good book.

Bringing back into existence extinct animals through the use of genetic and reproductive technologies. I wonder where that idea came from, researchers at Scripps & San Diego Zoo?

Well, okay, it’s not quite extinct, but the Drill Monkey from equatorial Africa is pretty darn endangered, which might be a redeeming factor for this story. Instead of creating a whole range of new endangered species, we should be working on protecting the ones we already have. And we definitely should be trying to avoid resurrecting giant reptilian predators that will eat all our goats.





Game: I wanna play forever

30 06 2010
Kids hard at learning.Image: sean dreilinger (Creative Commons)

Play-based learning is used in the Early Years to provide children with an intuitive learning environment suited to activities that little kids do best – playing around with stuff.

This tends to be phased out around the end of year 3, as we move into constructive activities and even, ‘oh noes’, direct instruction. This is something one the children I look after lamented now he is in a year 3/4 class at his new school, “We never play anymore”. Boo hoo, little Johnny, boo hoo. You don’t think I don’t not want to not play games too, yeah?

With gaming returning to an acceptable past time for adults – just listen to Kevin Butler¹ at this year’s E3 – shouldn’t this be reflected in our schools and curriculum? Many of the kids I taught respond to questions like “What’s your hobby?” or “What do you do in your spare time?” with some form of console or another. Many child care centres, and even libraries, these days have consoles available for visitors to use. And if you want to get into economics, I’m sure you can go and find your own figures on just how much this industry is worth.

Games in the classroom do present some problems, mostly to do with moral panic. Firstly just about “games” in general – with some of the students I’ve worked with not allowed to complete teacher-set homework on Mathletics at home because carers won’t let them². Others more serious and understandable moral panics about inadequate classification, excess violence, and depictions of sexual and criminal activities. The ethics and other social issues surround video gaming culture and industry is probably enough to design a unit (or three) all on your own – but what I am interested at the moment is what recreational video games are out there that could provide the stimulus material for an entire trans-disciplinary unit on there own.

As this Dueling Analogs strip illustrates games today are becoming more and more complex – not only in gameplay and graphics – but in background stories, character development, dialogue, and even the style or genre of storytelling themselves (also known as interactive fiction). These components should make it easier to take a single game and safely stretch it into multiple learning areas.

Below the fold are just some ideas:

Read the rest of this entry »





The Future Could Be Sort of Okay

29 06 2010

Post-course linkdump and things that make me smile and breathe: