A semester long chalk talk

cropped-beaconMeetingPanoramaLike many instructors, all of my lectures are power point slides. I have spent 3 years crafting, refining, and finding the optimal photos for them.

However, one comment I get consistently from students is that there is “too much information”, “The slides go too fast”.

So I was pleasantly surprised by this excellent blog post about Michigan State University Professor Chris Waters, and his experimental abandonment of power point slides for a semester. Instead, he essentially does each lecture as a chalk talk.

While this sounds like it might be difficult for the first time you teach a class, I think it sounds like an excellent way to engage students.

Check it out over at BEACON!


Interdisciplinary research to the rescue!

Many a engineering accomplishment has actually been guided by biological inspiration. For example, Velcro was invented after Swiss engineer George de Mestral picked burrs from the fur of his dog and the high speed Japanese train has an aerodynamic front shaped like a kingfisher’s beak.

And what’s more, bioinspiration and biomimicry (the imitation of biological traits or systems in non biological applications) has had a surge of interest.

Read all about it over at nature!



Power Pose! Or not?

Amy Cuddy, a Harvard Business School social psychologist with a famous TED talk, claims that “a person can, by assuming two simple one-minute poses, embody power and instantly become more powerful.”

The pose is characterized by “open, expansive postures”. Imagine Wonder Woman’s pose (or just see image below).

In a paper from 2010, Dr. Cuddy and collaborators reported that such posing can change your hormone levels, and your life!

However, recent researchers lead by Eva Ranehill attempted to replicate the original study and found nothing. No effect of posing at all…

Read about the controversial power posing over at Slate!




Save the Bananas!

Interesting facts: All commercial bananas in the US/Europe/Canada (really all imported bananas) are all decended from one banana grown on the estate of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire (Chatsworth House).

They are all clonal, which makes them particularly susceptible to a coevolving disease.

Such as Panama Disease, which is now killing off bananas in the thousands.

What’s more, this has happened before… and may result in there being no bananas left on our grocery shelves.

Read more about it over at the BBC.