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Technology at the interface of science & art

It seems you can’t escape today’s constantly evolving technological platforms and the resulting data deluge from their use. Whether we’re using a smartphone, or a sophisticated piece of scientific instrumentation, the storage capacity and price continues to rise with increasing demand for productivity (tech and commercial needs) and connectivity (social media). Does this mean we’re overwhelmed? tuned-in? or stressed-out from all these tools at our fingertips?

“The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.” —Joseph Priestley

Perhaps some aspects of this are true. Yet, the more tools we create and utilize, the more we increase the need for meaningful relationships and real communication. This calls for integrating different technological platforms across fields such as science, music and art.

How can we accomplish this?

If you’re not familiar with the acronyms being tossed around, you’re more than likely to understand that STEM is used in the sciences to describe  Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. In the United States, students are being encouraged to pursue their interests that fall within the STEM disciplines. STEM education initiatives have replaced the “no-child-left-behind” policy of our former President predecessor. 

In addition to science and technology education reaching the forefront of educational policies and teaching efforts, the arts have entered the picture to produce STEAM. In reality, no separate discipline deserves to be excluded from the educational curriculum. As an educator myself, I’m very pleased to see these approaches.

So, this is one example of how technology can serve as a tool to interface between disciplines. There are other less concrete but “teachable” approaches we can use:

  • Authentic conversations
  • Encouraging dialog through writing
  • Fostering positive models of professional success
  • Providing leadership opportunities

What I hope to see emerge from the focus on technology and interdisciplinary education is a more authentic conversation. Despite having intelligent devices at our fingertips, the need for intelligence, creative and critical thinking to apply our knowledge is growing more and more. We need to encourage face to face dialog and peer interactions in classrooms and public spaces. Let’s use the creative thinking power of people and the efficiency of technology to drive the next level of leadership in our society.

full STEAM ahead!

blame it on the weather …or climate?

I just heard an interview on WCAI’s show The Takeaway with Richard Seager of the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University in Palisades, New York.  He was asked the common, pointed question: “well, can you blame the recent weather on global warming?” First of all, does this journalist need a reminder that global warming is a completely different phenomenon than climate change? Have we not progressed far enough to understand the difference in this fundamental terminology? I am frustrated but not really surprised at the number of times I’ve heard this in the news media. What I’d really like to hear is ‘climate change’ not global warming!

Climate change is still a debatable term amongst climate scientists and one that deserves further clarification.  This past spring I took a seminar that discussed publications and new research topics in the field of climate change.  One of the first tasks we tackled in our discussion(s) was to define both weather and climate.  Then we went into more depth to analyze the differences between the two terms.  From a science viewpoint, it is much more complex than we realize.  However, to keep things simple from hereon out, I will try to define and utilize these terms relative to human time scale.

For now, let’s consider the topic of climate shifts, change or fluctuations and not global warming please. It’s so ‘1980’s and I’d like to believe we have moved past this problem.  The hole in the ozone layer, global warming and greenhouse gases may still be a problem on a shorter time scale, but changes in global climate patterns are extremely significant and not restricted to polar regions.

For more information about what’s happening (from Seager’s perspective) in Europe here’s some reading.

Peer reviewed science journalism

I came across this site by way of an AGU article mentioned.

It is the Knight science journalism tracker –

I thought it might be interesting to those of you that often wonder why science isn’t well represented in the general news media.

Science and the public

General science has been receiving some interesting news in the past week. I first heard a watered down summary of this report on npr that stated to the effect that scientists are still respected… but… the yahoo story seems to portray more. I was frustrated by the lack of clarity or should I say, ‘real science’ so I decided to source the information on the Pew Research Center’s webpage. I actually received a recent Science magazine publication that discussed this concept of measuring the results of science and how to quantify the outcomes or benefits of funding allocation.

In keeping with the distilled npr version that I heard, the Pew poll shows that scientists rank highly (among doctor’s, engineers, military and teachers) in the public’s perception of those that contribute to society. That is good news, but not entirely surprising. From a general public standpoint (that is, if I were not considering myself a scientist) we regard scientists among doctors and those that we look to for guidance, judgement and critical facts to make decisions that impact a great many lives. So, I am in agreement with the poll results and generally think it reflects society.

But, read a little further Read More…

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