KQED Do Now: A Twitter Chat for Students About Current Events
Saturday March 16, 2013 10:00am - 11:00am Smoketree F, PSCC Learn how to bring social media into your classroom with KQED Do Now, a weekly twitter chat for students to debate about current events. Students can use this platform to develop research skills and civic engagement in an online learning environment, and communicate their ideas to a larger audience.
Should there be a minimum wage? was last week's question in our weekly Do Now. The issue addresses a few points: should there be one at all? Should the Federal Government raise the current minimum wage. Who would be affected by this? Students responded with insightful comments covering the full spectrum of this issue. Most of them identified how a minimum wage increase could be helpful and/or harmful.
President Obama endorsed the idea in his State of the Union address. He called for increasing the federal minimum wage in stages from $7.25 to $9 by the end of 2015, and then linking further increases to the rising cost of living. Right now for most workers it is set at $7.25, where it has been since 2009. This adds up to $15,080 per year which is just about equal to the poverty level for a family of two.
Last week's Do Now asked students to consider whether knowledge on the Internet should be open to everyone or protected by copyright law? This was based on the work by Aaron Swartz whose Internet activism was all about open and unlimited access to knowledge and the wealth of material available on the Internet. He built technology for the open licensing project Creative Commons and sought access to academic and research work which he felt should be freely available to further learning for the greater good.
The arguments about open access in relation to academia are these: JSORT articles are scholarly funded through research grants to academics for the purpose of advancing learning for all. As government funded assets, they should be publicly available. But does this argument apply to other types of information and data? Below are student responses.
What do you love about science? Why is it interesting to you?
There are numerous fields of science--everything from astronomy to biology to physics to climate science. And there are new fields of science, like nanotechnology, that didn't exist 50 years ago. Scientists can study tiny particles or huge ecosystems. They may use telescopes, microscopes, SCUBA gear or rock climbing gear. They may work in a laboratory, in a submersible, on a spaceship or in the jungle. They may study something down the street or on the other side of the world.
How do scientists get interested in doing science? Why do they do what they do? There is excitement in making discoveries and solving problems, in looking at data and finding patterns that answer questions. Some scientists want to make the world a better place for humans by finding cures to diseases, creating technological solutions or making our lives safer and more efficient. Some are interested in exploring the unknown and figuring out how things work. Other scientists seek answers to how humans are impacting the earth. Most all scientists are interested in sharing their knowledge with others.
What about science most interests you? What do you love about science?
To some, a Twitter chat can mean endless banter that can cause major distraction. Young people love to use the popular platform to communicate with their friends on what they are doing at any given moment. To educators, this kind of use doesn't jibe in the classroom...and mobile devices in many schools are outlawed for that reason alone (well, it's more about texting than Twitter...but these are similar issues).
At KQED, we have looked at Twitter and researched ways to shift its use to measure learning, something that teachers would want to introduce to their kids. KQED Do Now has become that model where high school students from all over the Bay Area participate in a weekly Twitter chat and discuss current events. They talk politics and policy, social issues, science, and even arts and popular culture. Last week's Do Now, students investigated contact sports and concussions, looking at research conducted at Stanford University about helmet safety in football. On Twitter, they discussed whether new policies should be put in place.
We collect and archive these tweets in our weekly Do Now Round Up. Here's one from a few weeks back where students graded President Obama's performance during his first four years as president.
Should professional and amateur sports have stricter rules to prevent injuries like concussions? Why or why not? Please provide a suggestion that could tackle this issue.
Concussions are not rare occurrences in contact sports, such as football. And this is not only for the pros, but for college, high school and even younger athletes. An article in the New York Times reports that half of all high school football players have had at least one concussion and 35 percent have had two or more. With about 1.3 million high school football players in the U.S., that adds up to a lot of concussions.
A concussion is an injury to the brain, caused by a traumatic blow to the head, or rapid acceleration and deceleration of the head, often from a hit. Concussions can be hard to diagnose because a doctor can't "see" a concussion like an x-ray can show a broken bone. Doctors have had to rely on patients reporting symptoms, which include loss of consciousness, loss of memory, difficulty thinking or concentrating, dizziness, headaches and nausea. For most people, recovery from a concussion happens in 7-10 days, but, for others, some symptoms can last months or years. For youth, concussions may be especially damaging because their brains are still developing. And scientists believe that there are cumulative long-term effects from enduring multiple concussions.
On Thursday, November 29, Internet and cell phone service throughout almost all of Syria was shut down. The service disruption continued through Friday, forcing an airport closure. The Syrian government has been widely suspected of disabling service, although President Bashar al-Assad, claimed that it was "terrorists" cut the cable. The shutdown marks another chapter in Syria's bloody, ongoing civil war, which began in March 2011, in the midst of the Arab Spring. Rebels attempting to overthrow the county's authoritarian government, have routinely used social media on the Web to communicate with each other and send images of the war to the rest of the world in an effort to highlight the military's attacks on civilians.
For our weekly KQED Do Now, students responded to the question, "If Internet service was suddenly shut down in the U.S., in what ways would it most impact your life." Read their responses below.
California recently implemented a cap-and-trade program in order to cut carbon emissions. Would a carbon tax be better or worse? What do you think about cap-and-trade? How can companies be best regulated to reduce greenhouse gas pollution?
Since the Industrial Revolution, there has been a substantial increase in carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. and countries around the world. The increase is due to human activities, namely the burning of fossil fuels for energy and transportation, industry processes and land-use changes. The additional carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse gases) in the atmosphere trap heat and cause the Earth's surface temperatures to rise, also known as the greenhouse effect. To combat climate change, scientists have said that we need to cut our greenhouse gas emissions.
Last month, California launched its cap-and-trade program. In this program, the government sets a limit on the total amount of allowable carbon emissions from businesses, refineries, manufacturers and power plants. This limit will decline 2-3% each year. Major emitters of greenhouse gases must get permits, known as allowances, for each ton of carbon they emit. Initially, businesses receive most of the allowances from the state for free. Over time, the state also auctions allowances to the highest bidders. As the overall cap on emissions is lowered each year, businesses must continue to obtain allowances equal to their emissions. They can buy unused emission allowances from other companies, or they can sell emission allowances that they may have leftover. So, a company that isn't ready to cut its carbon emissions enough to meet its allowance can buy emissions from other companies that can reduce their emissions.
Last month's science Do Now looked at the viability of using nuclear energy as an energy source. We asked students what they think about expanding the use of nuclear energy in California? Here are some of their responses.
What do you think about expanding the use of nuclear energy in California? Would you support the development of a new nuclear power plant in our state?
Energy sources fit into three main buckets--fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas), renewable (e.g. wind, solar, hydroelectric, geothermal, etc.) and nuclear. In order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced by fossil fuels, there is movement toward increasing energy production from alternative sources. So, what about nuclear?
Nuclear energy is derived from the splitting of uranium atoms. In a nuclear reaction, a particle called a neutron hits the nucleus of a uranium atom. This reaction, called fission, breaks the nucleus in two, releasing more neutrons and a lot of heat. This heat can be used to create steam which turns a turbine to generate electricity. The neutrons collide with more uranium atoms, producing a chain reaction, so the process continues. Nuclear fission is very efficient, producing a lot more energy per unit weight than fossil fuel alternatives, with far fewer greenhouse emissions.