Sunday, November 28, 2010

Why Can't We Walk in Straight Lines?

Last week on my way to school I heard an interesting story on NPR. The story, A Mystery: Why Can't We Walk Straight? examines an excerpt of the book Right Hand, Left Hand: The Origins of Asymmetry in Brains, Bodies, Atoms and Cultures. In the story we learn that without visual, audio, or touch input humans cannot walk in straight lines for very long. The story examines a couple of possible explanations for why we can't walk straight, but in the end all of those explanations are wrong and it remains a mystery. Below there is a video from the story on the NPR site.

Applications for Education
Once a week one of my colleagues and I share a thirty minute Common Block class (homeroom is what most schools call it). In that time we talk about all kinds of things. Lately, we've been looking at some TED Talks and other interesting stories that don't necessarily fit in any curricula, but are interesting for us and the students. It gives us time as teachers and students to explore topics that are none of us are the perceived experts on.

When I heard this story on NPR I immediately knew what we would talk about this week. I think it will be interesting to have students try out a couple of the walking tests and develop their own ideas about why we can't walk in straight lines. It should be a fun exercise in hands-on testing of hypothese.

3 Years, 3800 Posts, And A Lot of Learning

Image Credit: robokow
Three years ago today I started Free Technology for Teachers. I didn't know much about blogging then, in fact I knew almost nothing about blogging. I didn't know that three years later I would have written more than 3800 blog posts and I certainly didn't expect to have nearly 30,000 people subscribed to anything I was writing.

Over the last three years I've learned a lot about blogging, I've learned a lot about education through reading other people's blogs, and I've learned a little bit about marketing too (at this point the IRS says I'm running a small business so I might as well admit that there is some limited marketing taking place). I've met some wonderful people who have been a tremendous help with many things, they know who they are. Thank you to everyone that has read, commented, shared, and subscribed to Free Technology for Teachers, but a special thanks to those who have been with me since the very early days of this blog folks like Jeff & Dan, Mark, Harold, Skip, Jim & Jim, Lee, Denise, and my mom.

Here's a post I wrote on this day last year:
What Kids When They Create With Digital Media

Here's a post I wrote on this day two years ago:
The Networked Student
Twitter 4 Teachers

Here's what I wrote the day I started this blog:
Getting Started

North Korea v. South Korea Incident Map

The Guardian's Data Blog has created a map of every incidence of diplomatic or armed hostilities between North Korea and South Korea over the last sixty years. The map was created using Google Fusion Tables and a database of incidents published by the Congressional Research Service.

Google Fusion Tables is a tool for creating a variety of data visualizations including maps. You can learn more about using Fusion Tables in this post I wrote last winter.

Applications for Education
Last week's violent incident between North Korea and South Korea has put their tensions back in the news. If you're planning to have students investigate this story in your classroom this week, this map of past incidents could help students understand some of the underlying tensions leading up to last week's outbreak of violence.

For more resources about tensions between North Korea and South Korea see Larry Ferlazzo's list.