ChemEd X contributors and staff members are continually coming across items of interest that they feel others may wish to know about. Picks include, but need not be limited to, books, magazines, journals, articles, apps—most anything that has a link to it can qualify.
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Samuel Arbesman, a mathematician and network scientist, uses the idea a half-life as an analogy for the changes in human knowledge that science brings. He discusses both the changing rate at which new science is done and the speed at which old results are replaced by newer ones. The analogy is far from perfect, but it emphasizes some critically important aspects of the processes of science.
The respected education reformer Diane Ravitch, previously one of the major architects and proponents of No Child Left Behind, has not only taken a new tack, but reversed course. With her 2011 book, she became a leading voice critical of the Obama-Duncan version, Race to the Top. This essay by David Denby describes her evolution.
New York Times blogger Nate Silver demonstrates how probability and statistical thinking can be used to analyze practical problems in our society. A lively, practical, and informative book!
This is a lively collection of essays about some of the great (mostly English, but not entirely so) chemists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It brings to life many great names of our science.
Alexandra W. Logue, executive vice chancellor and provost of the City University of New York, reminds us that the ideas and tools we are finally getting around to using have been around for a while.
Professor Joe Schwarcz of McGill University is Canada's foremost public spokesperson for science. His columns in the Montreal Gazette and in Canadian Chemical News and his radio program on CJAD in Montreal reach thousands of readers and listeners, and have provided grist for his many popular books about science and especially chemistry.
In an attempt to get at least a little discussion of science policy into the Obama-McCain campaign of 2008, Richard Muller wrote "Physics for Future Presidents" and offered a popular course at UC Berkeley with the same title. While nearly all of the issues he raised were ignored by the campaigns and during the subsequent four years, he has returned with a book focused just on energy science and related issues.
Tammy Erickson states that our current approach to education was designed for a different age. It was modeled on the needs of industrialization, resulting in separate subjects, standardized curricula, conformity, and batch processing. The model worked well for 100 years because it satisfied the needs of employers. However, the needs of employers have change and the gap between the output of our educational system and the job demands of the current century is big. Traditional schools operate in ways that are foreign to the world in which students live. The students inhabit a technology-based world of multimedia, addictive games, and mobile access. They are living in the most stimulating period in the history of the earth. But then schools require them to put that all away and ask them to focus on one, often-not-that-engaging speaker. It is not surprising that students get distracted and are diagnosed with attention deficit disorder. A change the educational system is desperately needed.
Pamela Hieronymi wrote an interesting commentary about the increased need for teachers in the “tsunami” of technology. She readily admits that technology can enhance education and is here to stay. The plethora of technology options will force teachers to reflect on their role in the classroom and to become more effective. Hieronymi aptly describes teachers as “personal trainers in intellectual fitness”. The personal training and individual guidance becomes more necessary, not less, as the information options increase.