Month: March 2016

Laurene Powell Jobs Commits $50 Million To Create New High Schools

“Thirty-eight members of the Super School Design Center & the Barboza Space Center have been working for almost a year on finding creative ways to rethink the American high school.  We have put our plan on paper and are waiting to see if our teams will qualify for an opportunity of a lifetime to make a difference in public education.” Kids Talk Radio Science.

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SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Her husband, Steven P. Jobs, famously helped reboot Apple with the “Think Different” advertising campaign.

Now Laurene Powell Jobs is starting a $50 million project to rethink high school.

With an advertising campaign that looks as if it came from Apple’s marketing department, the initiative is meant to create high schools with new approaches to education. In essence, Ms. Powell Jobs and her team of high-profile educators and designers hope they can crowd-source a solution to a problem that has flummoxed policy makers for decades.

“The system was created for the work force we needed 100 years ago,” Ms. Powell Jobs said in an interview here Friday. “Things are not working the way we want it to be working. We’ve seen a lot of incremental changes over the last several years, but we’re saying, ‘Start from scratch.’ ”

Called XQ: The Super School Project, the campaign is meant to inspire teams of educators and students, as well as leaders from other sectors, to come up with new plans for high schools. Over the next several months, the teams will submit plans that could include efforts like altering school schedules, curriculums and technologies. By fall next year, Ms. Powell Jobs said, a team of judges will pick five to 10 of the best ideas to finance.

Ms. Powell Jobs has for years financed College Track, which helps low-income students across the country to enroll and then succeed in college. Since the death of her husband in 2011, Ms. Powell Jobs has taken tentative steps into the public sphere, including advocating an overhaul of immigration laws.

The XQ project is the highest-profile project yet of the Emerson Collective, the group that Ms. Powell Jobs uses to finance her philanthropic projects.

Ms. Powell Jobs has assembled a team of advisers led by Russlynn H. Ali, who worked in the Obama administration’s Education Department as the assistant secretary for civil rights. Ms. Ali, who for the last several years has overseen education grants at Emerson, will serve as the primary public face of the campaign. Michelle Cahill, who has spent more than three decades in education, including as a senior adviser to Joel I. Klein when he was the New York City schools chancellor, has culled much of the research used on the website. Keith Yamashita, a consultant for the project, has worked with Apple, IBM, General Electric and several start-up companies.

Improving outcomes for high school students has long been a priority in education. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has financed scores of small high schools meant to better educate students through more focused attention and carefully tailored programs. Boston began a push this year to redesign its public high schools.

“There is a huge gap between what students want for their future and what their schools are offering,” Ms. Powell Jobs said. “Once you have liberation from a system that was designed for the beginning of the century, there’s nobody to blame.”

Ms. Powell Jobs said that while she was committed to ensuring that the new schools are public, she was unsure whether they would be charter schools. She pointed out that she, like most Americans, is a graduate of a public high school. Plans for a national tour to collect ideas for the project do not include a stop at her alma mater in New Jersey, West Milford High School.

“We want to make high schools back into the great equalizers they were meant to be,” Ms. Ali said. “The point is not to have some predetermined outcome. The hunger for change is real, and we’re offering up the tools to communities to make it happen.”

Kids are growing potatoes for Mars Project.

The Barboza Space Center is talking to kids around the world about growing potatoes for the “Occupy Mars Learning Adventure’s project.”  We have an opportunity to plan and experiment with growing food on Mars.   Later this year students will be building small satellites and testing this whole ideas of producing better seeds and speeding up plant growth.  We are looking for K-12 students to participate in these kinds of programs.  Contact: Suprschool@aol.com.    Or visit: http://www.BarbozaSpaceCenter.com.

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NASA to simulate growing potatoes on Mars in Peru
By Roberto CORTIJO
Lima (AFP) Feb 19, 2016

Do Peru’s potatoes have the right stuff?

That’s the question scientists will be asking in Lima next month, when a selection of tubers will begin undergoing tests to determine whether they’re fit to grow on Mars.

NASA, the US space agency, is conducting the pioneering experiment together with Lima’s International Potato Center (CIP).

They will cultivate a hundred selected varieties already subjected to rigorous evaluation in extreme, Mars-like conditions that could eventually pave the way to building a dome on the Red Planet for farming the vegetable.

The selection was made from a total of 4,500 varieties registered at CIP, a nonprofit research facility that aims to reduce poverty and achieve food security.

Of the selected candidates, 40 are native to the Andes Mountains, conditioned to grow in different ecological zones, withstand sudden climate changes and reproduce in rocky, arid terrain.

The other 60 are genetically modified varieties able to survive with little water and salt. They are also immune to viruses.

Those that pass the tests must meet a final criterion — they must be able not only to grow well on Mars but also reproduce in large quantities.

“We’re almost 100 percent certain that many of the selected potatoes will past the tests,” said Julio Valdivia Silva, a Peruvian NASA astrobiologist who is taking part in the ambitious project.

The scientists hope the experiment will also help address the earthly scourges of hunger and malnutrition by identifying varieties suited to growing in harsh conditions.

“We must be prepared for the future,” said virologist Jan Kreuze, a scientist at CIP. “To respond to desertification, rising temperature and high salt content in the soil.”

– Vegetable of the future –

The soil in La Joya Pampas — a sector of the Atacama Desert in southern Peru that’s considered one of the driest places on earth — is very similar to that found on the Red Planet.

The scientists plan to transport 200 pounds (100 kilos) of it to a CIP laboratory in Lima that will simulate the complex Martian atmosphere — which contains mostly carbon dioxide — and expose it to extreme ultraviolet radiation.

“We’ll have more concrete results in one or two years, Valdivia said, adding that it will take more than five years to launch an unmanned mission to Mars.

The potential future space crop is also one of the oldest.

Records of potato cultivation date back to 2500 BC, when the indigenous Aymara Indians farmed it in modern-day Peru and Bolivia.

If the varieties selected for next month’s experiment don’t adapt to the desert soil, the researchers will introduce nutrients and subject them to radiation.

“If that doesn’t work,” Valdivia said, “we’ll administer a new method the CIP is using called aeroponics.”

The technique, used for cultivating plants without soil, would expose roots inside a sphere or cube that is sprayed with nutrients and contains a system for removing toxins.

In future years, NASA plans to build a Mars research center in the Peruvian desert.

It would create a perfect replica of the Martian landscape and atmosphere for future research into space farming that could serve manned missions to Mars and other planets in the solar system.