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Is the definition of smart going down the drain?


There’s these things called books, it’s like television for smart people

Bill Bryson, Movie A Walk in The Woods


A few days ago, we watched the movie A Walk in the Woods, bearing some similarities to Wild (a much better movie in my opinion). It, however, had a wonderful exchange which I jotted down immediately and reproduced as the quote above.

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Exams vs Learning or Yin vs Yang?

Not so long ago, we were having an open exchange among the Faculty of our department on learning and evaluating how new concepts were acquired by students. In particular, we exchange on the value of frequent testing (quizzes) versus the famous “finals”. This interesting  article was pointed out to me Tests That Teach | Arts & Sciences (and of course this always interesting Sir Ken Robinson on Ted Talks, about creativity and the fear of making mistake e.g. exams!), which seems to indicate that the type of exams, and their frequencies, you used in your class is impacting learning…

Diversity in evaluation methods used in probably the key in both being able to gage the level of understanding and knowledge retention of students and, at the same time, make sure that each and everyone can also get frequent feedback in order to apply course corrections…


Sakharov Prize – Nobel Peace Prize…

Rarely has the Sakharov Prize caught more the attention than the Nobel Peace Prize, and the Sakharov prize winner got more press than the Nobel Peace prize winner. Of course both prize target different cause. However, rarely did a single young individual which such strong convictions ever touch some many for a cause that should concerns us all: education.

Education is the only solution

– Malala Yousafzai

The One Day Initiative

As expected, December 21st 2012 has passed. Earth and humans are still there, no end of the world in sight, no apocalyptic scenario (though we had a nice winter storm 😉 )

It is quite impressive that almost 1 Canadian out of 10 believe in these dooms day announcements. See this link: One in Seven (14%) Global Citizens Believe End of the World is Coming in Their Lifetime | Ipsos.

Even sadder, is when a society that thrived on science and technological advances (which is impossible  if the fundamental discoveries were not performed), a society that has split the atom and uses its power for energy, medicine… and yes military applications, believes at a level of almost 50% of the population, that Earth age is orders of magnitude younger than science tell us and that the bible provides an accurate account of the creation (In U.S., 46% Hold Creationist View of Human Origins.).

When this happen, we as scientists have failed to communicate efficiently with the public. We, scientists, need to get involved and educate on a larger scale.

Last year, I spent one day meeting over 500 students from a high school talking about radiation, radioactivity and its use in medicine. I intend to repeat the experience this year. If  I alone, during that single day, was able to reach hundreds of peoples, together we can reach out to millions, covering hundreds of topics.

Wouldn’t it be nice if one day per year would be dedicated officially to science and technology education conferences by experts for the general crowd, coming back every year at a similar date? Every school would have to get this day planned in their calendar year. In return, every University would make their advance graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, researchers and professors available on that day (no classes!)… Wouldn’t it be an exceptional day!

In the mean time, for 2013, I challenge you to give one day: let’s call it the one day initiative (it needs a good name!) to meet, talk with and educate your fellow citizens about science and technology. This can be meeting elementary or high school students, make a public conference, participate in a scientific debate, …

If you like this concept, please do disseminate the link to this blog post and use the name one day initiative as often as you can. Maybe by the sheer numbers we can create something new.

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