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Understanding science an important gift

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

We are the cusp of modifying, controlling, and creating life. Human to human brain sharing, artificial life forms, and robot swarms are all reality. Even though these technologies are in the early stages of development and are still too expensive and complicated for widespread use, it is not too early to start preparing for the eventual impact these discoveries will have on society.

Unlike earlier scientific advances, these breakthroughs come with a myriad of ethical issues. What kind of security is necessary to protect individuals from having information shared or removed from their brains? What are the safety issues and risks associated with releasing artificial life forms into the environment? Should man be playing God and creating life that does not exist in nature? What happens if robots work together without humans?

Unsettling, certainly. Terrifying, if our children are not able to keep their brains and bodies safe.

There is a delicate balance between the benefits of these new technologies and safety. Used in the right ways, these scientific advances could provide everyone with a much higher quality of life. Used in the wrong ways, these discoveries could lead to the destruction of humankind.

As a result, it is imperative that parents prepare their children to ask good questions and make wise decisions about the use of these new technologies.

First, parents must embrace change. Even though it was not imperative to understand science 30 years ago, it is now. This means science education needs to be a top priority for all children. Science, especially chemistry and physics, requires a strong math background, so kids need high math proficiency as well. Fortunately, there are many free online tools available to supplement what children learn at school including courses and materials available through the Kahn Academy, MIT, and Stanford.

Academic learning alone, however, is not enough. Everyone needs to be aware of the latest technical advances. Many articles about scientific discoveries are now written for a lay people, so it is possible for the general population to stay up to date on the latest innovations.

In addition to encouraging children to read about cutting edge scientific research, it is also important to talk about the potential positives and negatives of these new technologies. As with drugs and alcohol, discussion and awareness helps prepare kids to make wise decisions about how they will allow these technologies to interact with their bodies and lives.

White House announces boost to computer science education

The Hill – Ali Breland

“The White House announced on Monday new initiatives to bolster computer science in K–12 education. Citing the rapidly expanding demand for technology jobs, the Obama administration outlined new efforts by two federal agencies: The National Science Foundation plans to spend $20 million on computer science education in 2017, on top the the $25 million it spent in 2016, with an emphasis on training teachers.”(more)

Kick off your Hour of Code with Minecraft’s help

E-School News – Staff Writer

“Just in time for Computer Science Education Week and the Hour of Code, Microsoft Corp. and Code.org have unveiled the Minecraft Hour of Code Designer, a coding tutorial for students and educators. The Hour of Code is an annual global campaign held during Computer Science Education Week, which this year runs Dec. 5–11.”(more)

10 Hour of Code and computer science resources

E-School News – Laura Ascione Devaney

“Every year in December, students and teachers have a chance to participate in nationwide computer science and coding activities during Computer Science Education Week. Computer Science Education Week, running from Dec. 5-11, is sponsored by the Computing in the Core coalition and is organized by Code.org. This year, the event is even more significant–after intensive work, Code.org and partners launched the K-12 Computer Science Framework to help more students access programming opportunities.”(more)

The Case for STEM Education in Cybersecurity

Inside Sources – Lauren Willison

“Our growing dependence on the internet and the convenience of technology is not without its challenges. From smart phones and online banking to passwords, attackers are constantly trying to steal sensitive data and cripple systems. That’s driving the rising demand for highly trained cybersecurity professionals, especially as our digital economy becomes more complex. Here are four reasons why an education focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is beneficial to cybersecurity:.”(more)

Is the internet killing our brains?

The Guardian – Dean Burnett

“Throughout history, people have always worried about new technologies. The fear that the human brain cannot cope with the onslaught of information made possible by the latest development was first voiced in response to the printing press, back in the sixteenth century. Swap “printing press” for “internet” and you have the exact same concerns today, regularly voiced in the mainstream media, and usually focused on children. But is there any legitimacy to these claims? Or are they just needless scaremongering? There are several things to bear in mind when considering how our brains deal with the internet.”(more)