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Thinkering: Mobile Maker Lab Hits the Road To Find High Demand

This workshop on wheels is delivering hands-on creativity coast-to-coast.


While budget cuts leave schools struggling to fill classrooms with bare essentials—including paper and ink—it’s a challenge for many teachers to bring creative activities into the classroom. To fill this void, in zooms SparkTruck, a DIY modern crafters' fantasy on wheels. This educational build-mobile arrives filled with an arsenal of paints, cardboard, adhesive googly eyes, craft feathers, glue guns, sewing machines, 3D printers, and even a laser cutter. The SparkTruck is touring schools across the country, on a mission to put the spotlight on hands-on learning.

The creators of SparkTruck hope to inspire grassroots change in an educational system increasingly emphasizing standardized tests. Above all, the truck is an educational playground for its target audience: 7 to 13-year-olds getting phased out of hands-on learning opportunities in schools.

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Dollhouse 2.0: Roominate Lets Girls Play Architect, Designer, and Technologist

Could a toy that encourages girls towards STEM be the best way to balace the gender gap in these fields?

Year after year, three female students sat through college engineering and math classes asking themselves the same question—where are the girls? The students—Jennifer Kessler, Alice, Brooks, and Bettina Chen—realized they all shared childhood experiences that drew them to technology, business, and math, fields typically dominated by men despite women’s educational asecendence. So they invented a toy girls can build from the ground up to inspire them to take on male-dominated fields.

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Can We Fix Traffic By Paying Commuters to Play a Video Game?

Congestion pricing penalizes commuters. A new approach uses creative incentives to modify traffic patterns instead.

Stuck in traffic this morning on the way to your desk? If you were paid to leave an hour earlier (or later), would you? You've likely heard all about congestion pricing, a system that requires commuters to pay a charge to access the city center or other critical areas. But what if these plans rewarded the desired behavior rather than penalized the undesirable?

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Why Stanford's Free Online Education Experiment Is Booming

Professors want virtual students to have the same experience as the ones in the physical classroom.


This fall, Stanford decided to experiment by offering its three most popular computer science classes to the public—for free. Within weeks, 200,000 people from around the globe signed up, with Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, taught by renowned Stanford professors Peter Norvig and Sebastian Thrun (pictured above), attracting a whopping 160,000 students.

Norvig’s tracking found that more than 3 million users have come to the page since the university announced the artificial intelligence class. And more than 35,000 of the people who signed up have stuck with Intro to A.I., turning in assignments and taking midterm exams right along with the 175 students paying to take the class in person.

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Why Google+ Is an Education Game Changer

When it comes to teaching and learning, Google+ has some pretty serious advantages over both Twitter and Facebook.


It's been a week since I snagged a Google+ invite, and while it's fun to hit the reset button on my personal social media life, what I'm really interested in is how the service is going to impact teaching and learning. There's a good chance that Google+ is going to become a powerful communication and collaboration tool in the classroom. In fact, it could end up being a serious education game changer.

Google+ has some clear advantages over Facebook in the K-12 arena, especially since students younger than 13 can't join Facebook. Some school districts even have policies prohibiting teachers from friending students of any age, period. There isn't (yet) any such prohibition around Google+, and because the Circles feature makes it simple for teachers to separate their personal lives from their professional lives, all the awkward possibilities of students seeing photos of their teacher from a party pretty much disappear.

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Will PayPal Billionaire Peter Thiel's Team of College Dropouts Change Learning?

Meet Thiel's inaugural class of super-elite "20 Under 20" fellowship recipients.

In April, Peter Thiel, one of the co-founders of PayPal and the first major investor in Facebook, announced "20 Under 20," his experiment that will pay students from some of the nation's most elite colleges $100,000 each to drop out and start companies. Thiel's views on college degrees are pretty controversial—he believes they're unnecessary for talented, entrepreneurially-minded students. After sifting through 400 applications, Thiel announced his inaugural class of fellowship recipients and their projects on Wednesday.

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