The public radio program 1A had an interesting episode recently on the World Health Organization categorizing video game addiction as an official mental health disorder. This new classification is quite interesting to me as a Generation X geek who grew up as video games were just beginning. My brothers and I did not have one of the early consoles when we were young (or cable TV when it came out either), but we did have a Texas Instruments TI-99/4A computer. We loved that system. It had a few games and you could program it. Later we graduated to an Apple IIe as a family. I grew up playing text adventure games (good old Infocom) and role-playing games on those computers. A family down the street had an Atari that we would play on from time to time. Later on another family in the neighborhood got a Nintendo when they came out and we used to play that as well. Much later, our family got a Nintendo. We also, of course, played board games. And we spent a lot of time playing outside with the neighborhood kids.
Here's an interesting podcast about how gamification works and how companies (including the army) use it.IRL Press Play Episode
Fantasy Flight Games has announced a new card game they will be releasing this year called KeyForge. I think this card game sounds like the most interesting modern card game I've ever heard of. First of all, the designer is Richard Garfield. Richard is the designer of the world's first and still most popular collectible card game, Magic The Gathering.
Here's a cool activity to use during a history lesson on Jamestown or a science lesson on the moon. We had a staff development recently where the presenter used the moon part of the activity. Anyway, I love how it ties two subjects together. The activity is produced by NASA. The activity takes two classes. In the first class students will read a background sheet setting up the scenario that they are imagining themselves trying to survive as a colonist at the founding of Jamestown. Students will then work in groups to rank 15 items in the order they think the items' importances for survival are. They must provide reasons for their ranking. Once that is done, there is an answer key which explains the proper order of items. On the next day the students do the same type of thing, except now they are on the moon in the future and need to travel 50 miles from where their ship has crash landed to where the lunar base is.
You can find the worksheet packet here: link
This is depressing news! Scientists published a study in the journal Nature Astronomy today detailing why we absolutely cannot terraform Mars in the forseeable future with our current understanding of science and technology. The short answer is that there simply isn't near enough CO2 stored on the entire planet to be released into the atmosphere to terraform it. Apparently, adding up all the CO2 trapped in the ice and other places on Mars only gets us to 1/50 of the amount we need to thicken the atmosphere enough for Earth creatures to live there. Turns out the game Terraforming Mars may be more fantasy than science fiction. Oh well, it's still a great game.Check out the journal article at: link
Here's a funny comic I ran across online. Playing tabletop role-playing games with your children is about as mentally stimulating an activity as you could hope to do with them. The amount of mathematical and creative thought those games generate in their players is simply stunning from an educator's point of view.
The children and I visited the Florida Museum of Natural History recently, located on the campus of the University of Florida in Gainesville. The museum is run by the state and is therefore mainly free to visit, except for the special exhibits. The main part of the museum is free and houses all the animal fossil exhibits from Florida’s past, a children's science room, and exhibits of the Calusas (an early Native American tribe in Florida). They also have a permanent butterfly garden and a temporary bat exhibit for which tickets must be bought. The butterfly exhibit costs $11 for adult Florida residents and the bat exhibt costs another $5. Children can see both exhibits for $10. You can visit the museum's web page at https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/
- Written by Daughter (Age 12)
- Category: Exploring
When we went to the natural history museum, they had tons of fun stuff to do. My favorite was the butterfly exhibit. The butterfly exhibit is a ginormous enclosed outdoor area with lots and lots of butterflies inside the net area. There is a winding path going through the area floating at the height of the flowers. When you walk through this exhibit, you can see a great variety and quantity of butterflies humming in the flowers, sitting on the leaves, and fluttering in the treetops. I really enjoyed how most butterflies would sit on there leaves and leisurely ignore the picture taking. At 2:00pm there was supposed to be a butterfly release happening were they let the newly hatched butterflies into the exhibit, but it got rained out when we were there. That was definitely the best part of the museum in my opinion.
We also went to a different exhibit. It was a classic fossil exhibit. In the exhibit they had a few different sections; the underwater exhibit, the normal exhibit, and the evolution exhibit.
The underwater section was really cool. It had the different sharks over the years, and boy was that megalodon big! You could probably fit 7 Me’s inside his mouth all at once. It also talked about how Florida used to be underwater.
There was also my favorite part of the three, the evolution exhibit. It showed how fish evolved into mammals on land and I really liked to get to see predictions of what the animals in between looked like.
There was also a normal exhibit. They had all sorts of cool and amazing fossils. They had amazingly big ground sloths to not so tiny snakes, as well as bear dogs and others you should find out for yourself.
Last but not least, (maybe just a little bit the least) the bat exhibit. That’s right, they have a whole exhibit on bats and echolocation only and how much bats eat. I don’t see the purpose of such a thing. Sure, you can put informational plaque beneath a bat model, but this is ridiculous. Not my favorite part of the museum, but if you want to know how much bats eat without asking or using the internet, go there. I didn’t like it though.
Overall, I know this looks like an essay, but I had a lot to write. I did really like the natural history museum in Gainesville.
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