The following aired on KCBS.
By: Saleeha Bey
When most people turn on their computer they go straight for Facebook, Twitter, or Youtube. They see pictures, words, and buttons... but I see the source code behind the screen.
I first started learning the language of computers through a program called the Technovation Challenge. Two other girls and I worked to code and design a mobile app that lets you upload your wardrobe to help you coordinate your outfits. Like Cher’s closet from Clueless- but better.
Working after-school with two computer science majors from Cal, we learned a lot about programming but we also learned about perseverance. Some days our idea didn’t seem worth the time it was taking to code.
But after just 3 weeks, the lines of jumbled letters and punctuations turned into coherent sentences I understood. And then the process of deciphering code became fun.
For when you are able to play the perfect game or plan the perfect outfit on your phone that you created, you realize that all it takes to code is an idea, your mind, and determination, "It’s not magic it’s logic.”Read more...
The Following aired on KQED-FM.
By. Christina So
“I’m going to pick on you a lot.” That was the first thing my supervisor Kurt said to me when I joined the App Lab. It’s a department at Youth Radio that teaches young people how to write computer code.
Kurt explained that as a female who was interested in programming, I would be treated as a unique specimen in the male-dominated world of tech. He said he not only wanted me to be able to handle the pressure, but to be better than the competition.
I joined the App Lab mostly because of the word App - short for application. My favorite apps were games, and I played them a lot. Back then, my 4th generation iPod touch was a major part of my life. I spent at least 3 hours a day staring at that little miracle producing screen. But over time my interest changed from playing games, to learning how to create them.
I started with the most fundamental computer language: HTML. It was simple, easy, and straightforward, but the end product was bland and bare. That’s where CSS came in. It makes up for HTML’s lack of finesse. Then I moved on to Python. It’s an even more complicated language that constricted me like an actual python.Read more...
By Sunday Simon
For more on this story, tune into my feature about Snapchat on NPR's All Things Considered.
Want to know what kind of pictures young people are really sharing on Snapchat? Just ask them.Read more...
A group of twenty six states, including California, released new K-12 science education standards this week, called The Next Generation Science Standards.
Two big takeaways include: tackling controversial issues to "combat widespread scientific ignorance," and emphasizing scientific and engineering practices (instead of just skills) -- like planning and carrying out investigations, and engaging in argument from evidence.
California is seriously considering adopting the new standards. Are teachers ready for the shift?
Teresa Barnett, Executive Director of Community Resources for Science (CRS), says teacher reactions have been mixed. CRS is a Bay Area organization that supports local science teachers. They recruit volunteers from the community (scientists, engineers and students from UC Berkeley) to teach hands-on science lessons in local classrooms.
Barnett said teachers they work with in Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville, CA have expressed concern about how prepared they feel to teach the new standards -- making outside support even more important. “We believe scientists and engineers, who engage in these activities every day, can be great partners in adapting to these new standards,” she said.
While the transition to the new standards might be a bumpy road, Barnett ultimately feels that the change is positive. “The idea of using science content and investigations as a means to help students develop skills in critical thinking, problem solving, communication, and collaboration has the potential to transform education,” she said.Read more...
By Donisha Dansby
Jack Andraka is not your ordinary teenager. Instead of hanging out with friends or watching TV, Andraka prefers working in a lab, looking for a new way to detect cancer.
The crazy thing is, he actually did! At just 16 Andraka has created a new tool to detect pancreatic cancer in its early stages, that he says is cheaper, less intrusive and better at detecting cancer than our current method. Anadraka’s test can fit in your backpack He told us that his breakthrough hinges on a material called carbon nanotubes.Read more...
Well-intentioned, the tech world’s obsession with efficiency is more likely to hurt than help when it comes to incarceration, author Evgeny Morozov says in a recent New York Times editorial. The op-ed is a response to a report, “Beyond the Bars,” released by Deloitte, in which the company’s management consultants imagined a world where prisoners no longer spend time behind bars but instead, with the help of smartphone technology, are incarcerated at home under constant surveillance.
In this imagined world, incarceration is “gamified.” That’s a Silicon Valley idea in which real life actions are rewarded with points and prizes. (Think “CineMode”, in which app-users are rewarded with discounts for not checking their phones during movies.) In this case, those incarcerated are awarded points for things like keeping curfew or staying within confined zones. When they accrue enough points, they earn prizes that come in the form of extra freedoms.
Morozov argues that keeping prisoners at home while incentivizing good behavior probably sounds enticing to those looking to lower the cost of growing prisons but, “that smartphones allow us to imprison twice the number of people at half the cost is the kind of cutting-edge innovation that only management consultants and tech entrepreneurs would be excited about.”
The Valley’s drive for efficiency becomes a dilemma, says Morozov.
In the quest to make prison more cost-efficient, Deloitte’s plan distracts from the real problem, which is not that prisons are financially hard to maintain, but that mass incarceration is making them more expensive.
Read the full article at New York Times.Read more...
Q&A with Sue Burrell, Staff Attorney at the Youth Law Center
Just like DNA testing changed the face of the justice system in the United States in the late 80s, social media technology is becoming standard evidence in courts, especially where young people, its most avid users, are involved.
The Steubenville rape case is a perfect example. Two teenage football players were accused of raping an unconscious 16-year-old girl at a party while several witnesses stood by taking pictures. Leading up to the trial, however, prosecutors had trouble convincing the witnesses, mostly teenagers, to come forward. So instead, lawyers confiscated the party-goers’ cell phones, and used text messages, tweets, instagram photos, and facebook posts to recreate the night.
The photos posted to instagram showed 16-year-old football players, Ma’lik Richmond and Trent Mays, interacting with the intoxicated girl. One photo, on instagram, shows the young men carrying the limp girl by her hands and feet. Another depicts the girl lying naked and apparently unconscious on the floor. A witness also stated in court that in the car ride between parties, the players digitally penetrated the victim, an act that under Ohio state law is considered rape.
Tweets from young people that night include the hashtags #rape and #drunkgirl. One attendee, a former Steubenville high football player, tweeted out,“The song of the night is definitely Rape Me by Nirvana.”
These online interactions proved to be the crux of the prosecution’s case against the two young men, ultimately leading to their guilty verdict.
Youth Radio’s Sayre Quevedo spoke to Sue Burrell, a Staff Attorney at the Youth Law Center in San Francisco, about the role of social media in juvenile cases, and what Steubenville means for the way online interactions are utilized when teens are tried in court.Read more...
By Donta Jackson
I met my first drone playing Call Of Duty: Black Ops. In the game, you can control one of these unmanned flying vehicles to hover and fire missiles to destroy enemy territory. In real life we also associate drones with death from above. The news constantly reminds us of their destructive power, but at a recent Brains and Beakers, Youth Radio’s science-speaker series, Chris Anderson demonstrated how drones can be constructive too.Read more...
What if your extracurricular activities weren’t just extra but a part of your academics too? New thinking on education intends to bring students' interests into the classroom. It's called Connected Learning and promotes the idea that students will excel in school if what they are learning is relevant to their lives, experiences, and passions. This plan is spelled out in a new report, by Mimi Ito, the research director of the Digital Media and Learning Hub at the University of Ca. Irvine.
While students would still learn core subjects like math and science, Connected Learning provides ways for students to link their classroom lessons to their lives outside the school. Ito says the objective of Connected Learning is to, “meet young people where they are in terms of their peer culture, their interest in popular culture, social media, rather than say you have to meet us where we are as adults.”
Ito uses the Harry Potter Alliance to demonstrate how Connected Learning’s can be effective. She says, “the HPA connects young people who are inspired by the civic virtues portrayed in the Harry Potter books, and want to apply them to the real world.” This fan network organizes over social media platforms (Facebook, Livestream, Youtube, Twitter) to spread awareness and solutions to issues like, equality, and human rights, and to support of charitable causes. Literacy has been a central focus of the group. Their annual book drive has brought 85,000 donations since 2009 and contributions have helped build a library for a charter school in NYC.Read more...
By Chantell Williams
This story aired on NPR's All Things Considered.
After school and evening are crunch time for most families. It's when crucial decisions get made that affect kids’ fitness and weight—and that includes snacks. According to a poll done by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Harvard School of Public Health and NPR, most parents believe their children are eating healthy.
Deborah Richards, from Oakland, CA, thinks she has a handle on her son Donta’s eating habits. “He’s fussy but he eats healthy. He has influenced me on eating better,” said Richards. But Donta, who is 17, disagrees. “My breakfast, I can say on the daily is a pack of Skittles. I make sure I get one every morning.”
According to the poll, 87% of parents believe their children are eating healthy. But according to high school senior Felix Pieske, from Portland, Maine, they may not have the whole picture. "Middle school might have been the last time that I really talked to my parents about, 'What did you eat today?' Other than that, I don’t really talk to them about it at all, or talk to them at all."
I still talk to my mom, Oya Autry. She expects that I’m keeping a good diet that includes lots of juices, water, fruits and salads and stuff. "I don’t think you eat a lot of chips, or fried foods,” she told me. That sounds right. But to be honest, I don’t make a point to keep track of what I eat. So for this assignment, I decided to keep a food diary. I’ll get to my results in a minute.
But first, my friend Jorisha Mayo. She is 18, lives in Concord, CA and loves to snack, starting right after school. “I do occasionally eat unhealthy,” said Mayo. “I think I snack probably around the three p.m. to four p.m. zone. Then when it gets later like 11 or so, that’s when I snack on cookies and ice cream, crackers and chips and stuff.” Nearly half of children say they snack on sweets everyday, and a quarter eat chips daily.Read more...