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Elon Musk’s Next Frontier? Education

The SpaceX founder’s next moon shot could be aimed at a classroom near you.

These days, there is no shortage of billionaire education evangelists aiming to improve the way children learn. From Bill and Melinda Gates to Eli and Edythe Broad, moneyed activists have been feverishly investing in schools, scholarships, and political campaigns in the hopes of finding the antidote to the education system’s ills. Now the industry has another player: Elon Musk.

The Tesla and SpaceX founder’s latest move is to support the X Prize Foundation, which describes itself as a “catalyst for the benefit of humanity.” As a benefactor of the Global Learning X Prize, Musk – along with folks like Tony Robbins and Betsy DeVos – is helping the group find solutions to the learning challenges children in developing nations face.


Through the Global Learning X Prize competition, teams from around the globe try to develop open-source solutions that will help the estimated 250 million kids worldwide who are unable to read, write, or complete basic math functions. Marcus Shingles, CEO of the X Prize Foundation, said he thinks competing teams may be able to provide learning opportunities for the the world’s neediest children.

“Universal access to education is a major priority for X Prize, and we are proud to celebrate the change-making teams making impressive strides to ensure every single child has the opportunity to take learning into her own hands,” Shingles said. “The leading solutions born from this competition could provide the key to unlocking literacy for children most in need, giving them access to an education they otherwise wouldn’t have.”

X Prize announced five teams of finalists for the $15 million prize – Chimple, CCI, Kitkit School, RoboTutor, and Onebillion – each hoping to show how their organization meets the educational needs of the world’s most vulnerable children.

Over the next 15 months, each company will test out its educational solutions with approximately 4,000 children in Tanzania who’ll use Google’s Pixel C tablets to try out each group’s software. To pull this off and assess the children’s progress, X Prize is partnering with UNESCO, the World Food Programme, and the government of Tanzania. At the end of the 15 months, one team will be awarded $10 million while each of the five finalists will receive $1 million.

Matt Keller, senior director of the Global Learning X Prize, believes the competition will take help us move closer to ensuring all children will have access to education.

“As we move to the final field testing phase, we are one step closer to scaling transformative technology solutions that foster child-driven learning and provide a world-class education for all,” he said.

Education
Photo by Josh Couch on Unsplash

Christopher Columbus, Alexander Hamilton, William Shakespeare, and Sir Walter Scott are getting company. Statues of the famous men are scattered across Central Park in New York City, along with 19 others. But they'll finally be joined by a few women.

Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth are the subjects of a new statue that will be on display along The Mall, a walkway that runs through the park from 66th to 72nd street. It will be dedicated in August of next year, which is fittingly the 100-year anniversary of the 19th Amendment that granted women the right to vote.

Currently, just 3% of statues in New York City are dedicated to women. Out of 150 statues of historical figures across the city, only five statues are of historical women, including Joan of Arc, Golda Meir, Gertrude Stein, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Harriet Tubman.

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It's easy to become calloused to everyday headlines with messages like, "the world is ending" and "everything is going extinct." They're so prevalent, in fact, that the severity of these statements has completely diminished to the point that no one pays them any attention. This environmental negativity (coined "eco-phobia") has led us to believe that all hope is lost for wildlife. But luckily, that isn't the case.

Historically, we have waited until something is near the complete point of collapse, then fought and clawed to bring the species numbers back up. But oftentimes we wait so long that it's too late. Creatures vanish from the Earth altogether. They go extinct. And even though I don't think for a single second that we should downplay the severity of extinction, if we can flip this on its head and show that every once in a while a species we have given up on is actually still out there, hanging on by a thread against all odds, that is a story that deserves to be told. A tragic story of loss becomes one about an animal that deserves a shot at preservation and a message of hope the world deserves to hear.

As a wildlife biologist and tracker who has dedicated his life to the pursuit of animals I believe have been wrongfully deemed extinct, I spend most of my time in super remote corners of the Earth, hoping to find some shred of evidence that these incredible creatures are still out there. And to be frank, I'm pretty damn good at it!

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The Planet

For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

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Politics
NHM Vienna/Hans Reschreiter

Wealth inequality has been a hot topic of discussion as of late, but it's something that's occurred all throughout history. Class structure is a complicated issue, especially when you consider that haves and have nots have been in existence for over 4,000 years.

A study published in Science took a look at over 100 late Neolithic and early Bronze Age skeletons found in a burial site in southern Germany. The study "shed light on the complexity of social status, inheritance rules, and mobility during the Bronze Age." Partly by looking at their teeth and the artifacts they were buried with, researchers were able to discover that wealth inequality existed almost 4,000 years ago. "Our results reveal that individual households lasting several generations consisted of a high-status core family and unrelated low-status individuals, a social organization accompanied by patrilocality and female exogamy, and the stability of this system over 700 years," the study said.

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Culture
via Truthout.org / Flickr and Dimitri Rodriguez / Flickr

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

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Politics