July 2008

Maybe something we can do for Robocamp next year? =)
Happy 10th Anniversary, Lego Mindstorms!r

H.A.L.E is an event that will carry LEGO Mindstorms-based payloads into the Earth’s stratosphere. At that altitude H.A.L.E. will be above 99.9% of the atmosphere. They payloads will be exposed to extreme the cold and radiation of near space. The sky looks black and the curvature of the Earth is evident. Individuals and teams from all around the world are busy designing and building payloads for this historic event.

High Altitude LEGO Extravaganza

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This is something we’ve been trying to impart to our freshman. Maybe it will help if major, currently-cool, corporations say it too.

Official Google Blog: Our Googley advice to students: Major in learning

It’s easy to educate for the routine, and hard to educate for the novel. Keep in mind that many required skills will change: developers today code in something called Python, but when I was in school C was all the rage. The need for reasoning, though, remains constant, so we believe in taking the most challenging courses in core disciplines: math, sciences, humanities.

And then keep on challenging yourself, because learning doesn’t end with graduation. In fact, in the real world, while the answers to the odd-numbered problems are not in the back of the textbook, the tests are all open book, and your success is inexorably determined by the lessons you glean from the free market. Learning, it turns out, is a lifelong major.

Members of our lab also work to teach an introductory programming class here in the College of Engineering. This video out of K State helps us see what its like for students today…

a short video summarizing some of the most important characteristics of students today – how they learn, what they need to learn, their goals, hopes, dreams, what their lives will be like, and what kinds of changes they will experience in their lifetime. Created by Michael Wesch in collaboration with 200 students at Kansas State University.

A Vision of Students Today

In addition to that, a UC Berkeley Professor Harold Rheingold made a video of a professor’s viewpoint of a class full of students on laptops. This is part of his work exploring attention in the classroom and elsewhere. One of my favorite quotes was when he worked with a student that said, “There is a marketplace for [the student's] attention, and if the professor couldn’t compete, that was the professor’s problem.”

Attention in the Classroom

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I was wondering that myself.  For that reason, I installed Google Analytics to all blogs that have a new post in this calendar year, as well as the Wiki (in the process, I upgraded our version of mediawiki to the latest: 1.12).

Let me know if you want to see the pretty graphs that Google generates on our behalf.