National / International News

VIDEO: Fifty Shades cast at London premiere

BBC - Thu, 2015-02-12 11:42
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dorman, who play the protagonists in the film Fifty Shades of Grey, defended the movie after it received some critical reviews.

Tussle Over Electric Bill Plunges New York Mall Into The Dark

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 11:34

The lights suddenly flickered off today at Rotterdam Square Mall near Schenectady after what the owners say was "a total misunderstanding" with the power utility.

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Director jailed for foreign bribes

BBC - Thu, 2015-02-12 11:25
A Sussex printing firm's director is jailed for three years after being convicted of bribing public officials in Africa.

Caltech's little engineers that could

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-02-12 11:13

On a recent crisp winter morning at the child-care center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., a group of educators gathered to plan their big teaching initiative for the year ahead.

“One of the questions was: How are we going to make engineering work in an infant space?" says Monica Dolan, an early educator who works with infants at The Children's Center, as Caltech's child-care center is officially known.

The center has always focused on teaching through science and math principles – after all, it is attached to Caltech – but diving into engineering curriculum for little ones was new.

“Usually when you think of engineering you're usually creating something,” says Dolan. “Coming up with the ideas, the blueprints.”

While infants aren't about to sketch a blueprint, they can create – with some assistance. Teachers use a lot of big cushion-y blocks to create structures the babies can climb on. It’s part of a strategy to get all children to learn through basic engineering principles, Dolan says.

“If you can start with the infants, then we can take those skills and build upon them every year,” she says. “So if at infant age, if they are already good at stacking and balance, then in the toddler yard they may already be using scales.”

In the next yard, teacher Seadra Chagolla and her toddlers are building a train. They scour the yard for materials to make carriages and find empty crates.

“It would fall under 'engineering' for them because they are thinking about something they want to create and figuring out different ways to create it on their own,” says Chagolla. 

Then a classic engineering problem strikes: resource scarcity. The crates run out and there are still 2-year-olds without a seat on the train. The toddlers solve it by finding chairs to create the needed train carriages.

Yard time is over, and back inside, Chagolla quiets the toddlers with a story.

“Young Iggy Peck is an architect and has been since he was 2, when he built a great tower in only an hour with nothing but diapers and glue.”

It’s deliberate here. From story time to free play, everything is geared toward age-appropriate learning through engineering principles, Chagolla says.

“Because they’re between 2 and 3, they’re still acquiring a lot of language and so there’s a lot of ideas that they have that are nonverbal," she says.

But not speaking doesn't mean they don’t get complex concepts. Toddlers here know and verbalize concepts like stability and balance because they are constantly named and reinforced.

In the preschool classroom, 4- and 5-year-olds are building straw rockets using just three items: fat straws, thin straws and tape.

Teacher Veronica Dayag engages the 4-year-olds like college students. “So I want to see if you can get your straw rockets to shoot all the way from where you’re sitting to the other side of the room," she says.

She asks them to start by sketching a blueprint, but doesn’t give them any other instructions. Each one uses tape, plus the big and little straws, and through trial and error figures out how to turn the materials into a rocket that shoots across the room.

Using engineering curriculum with small children optimizes what new research shows are the capabilities of small children’s brains, says Carrie Lynne Draper, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) director at Caltech’s Children’s Center.

What this really is about is a process that is natural to children,” she says.  “To get them to ask, to create, to test their ideas. Believe it or not, in the grown-up world that’s called the "engineering design process.'”

But it’s not just preschool advocates who believe an engineering education can start young. The strategy has support at the top end of the education pipeline, too. Gregory Washington, dean of the School of Engineering at the University of California, Irvine wants more women, black and Latino engineers in the field, and he says starting young is key.

“If you’re starting at preschool, you’re right about right in order to prepare kids to be ready as inventors and as problem solvers,” he says.

Cricket World Cup team guides

BBC - Thu, 2015-02-12 11:06
Which team is seeking to win for a fifth time, who is appearing in his fifth World Cup and which squad has two 43-year-olds?

Hazard needs protection, says Nevin

BBC - Thu, 2015-02-12 11:00
Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard could become 'one of the best players in the world' if he gets protection from referees, says Pat Nevin.

Cricket World Cup to deliver rewards

BBC - Thu, 2015-02-12 10:52
Australia hopes to win wickets and profits

Senate Confirms Ashton Carter As Defense Secretary

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 10:49

Carter will take over the Pentagon for Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. Carter served as the No. 2 defense official under Leon Panetta.

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Plastic heading for oceans quantified

BBC - Thu, 2015-02-12 10:38
About eight million tonnes of plastic waste find their way into the world's oceans each year, a new scientific assessment suggests.

Scientist: 'Try to contact aliens'

BBC - Thu, 2015-02-12 10:38
Scientists at a US meeting have said it is now time to actively try to contact intelligent life on other worlds.

Gardener's Twofer: First Ketchup 'N' Fries Plant Hits U.S. Market

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 10:34

British horticulturalists have figured out how to graft a tomato plant onto a potato plant. This plant, called Ketchup 'N' Fries, has crossed the pond and is now available to gardeners in the U.S.

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US welcomes Ukraine peace agreement

BBC - Thu, 2015-02-12 10:33
US Secretary of State John Kerry welcomes an agreement aimed at ending fighting in Ukraine, but demands Russia end support for separatist rebels.

Why England won't win the World Cup

BBC - Thu, 2015-02-12 10:29
From slow scoring to leaking runs, the statistics suggest England have precious little chance of lifting the World Cup.

US man jailed for killing German teen

BBC - Thu, 2015-02-12 10:24
A Montana man has been sentenced to 70 years in prison for killing a German exchange student he found in his garage.

'Outrage' at Brian horse name change

BBC - Thu, 2015-02-12 10:18
Brians of Berkshire express "outrage" that a Thames Valley Police horse of the same name may have his name changed to a more "god-like" one.

Teenager injured at school dies

BBC - Thu, 2015-02-12 10:17
A County Fermanagh teenager injured in an incident at his school has died in hospital.

'Community' Actor Ken Jeong Might Be Getting His Own Show

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 10:12

ABC recently green lighted a sitcom starring the doctor-turned-actor Ken Jeong, who will play a frustrated MD in Dr. Ken.

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VIDEO: Fifty shades of Somerset

BBC - Thu, 2015-02-12 10:11
As Fifty Shades of Grey geared up to its UK premiere, a writing group from Wellington in Somerset was inspired to write their own erotica.

From Facebook To A Virtual You: Planning Your Digital Afterlife

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 10:00

Whether you appoint a postmortem account manager or opt for "virtual immortality," new online tools help us navigate how we will preserve our digital footprint after death.

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Fitbit says Surge can cause rash

BBC - Thu, 2015-02-12 09:54
Fitbit acknowledges that one of its new gadgets, the Surge, can give some people a skin rash.