I’m fascinated by science and technology, which is why I’ve been attending the University of Waterloo for Nanotechnology Engineering for the last two years. However, my real passion lays in creation and collaboration. Those magical moments where ideas and concepts click in to place, either in a project, a classroom, or alone with a book (or these days, the web). I want to help create those sorts of moments for people. I want to teach, but more than facts I want to help people uncover the way things fit together. In my experience, this type of teaching takes hard work and creativity. I find ideas are more often understood when they’re jiggled and stretched before they’re laid out flat. When they’re expressed through imagery and narrative. When the students are taught how to connect the dots themselves. I find all of this fascinating, and I want to get better at it, I think it’s something that matters. And the nano part was a logical choice for me, since when I first learned about it, it seemed more like magic then reality, and because many of the pieces have locked together for me in my last couple years of study.
*Note: This was a part of my application to YouTube’s Next Up Edu Guru Program*
What sorts of things (specific or vague) are you interested in learning about in or out of the classroom?
“If you want to be a better programmer, take up the violin.”
This is a really interesting article about the differences between how engineering, science and math are taught in the US and how professionals in those disciplines actually work. (Please click on the photo to be redirected to the article)
For years, scientists thought that the function of sleep was merely to rest the body and mind, but recent research suggests that sleep is essential for both learning and creativity. It’s no surprise that people who are well rested learn better and are more creative. What is new is the value of sleeping after learning something or during a break in trying to solve a problem. Studies have looked at the benefits of taking naps as well as sleeping through the night.
During sleep, rat’s brains (and yours) practice what they’re recently learned.
Researchers have discovered that your brain becomes very active when you sleep, and that during certain phases of sleep, your brain becomes even more active if you’ve just learned something new. In an early study that identified this process, rats were hooked up to measure the electrical activity of their brains while they learned a maze. Later, while the rats were sleeping, the researchers observed that their brains were emitting the same pattern of activity they had emitted during maze learning. Apparently, the rats’ brains were “re-running” the maze in their sleep and using this time to consolidate their memories of what they had learned. These rats performed better on the maze the next day than rats that were prevented from re-running the maze during sleep.
This same phenomenon has been observed in human learning. In other words, if you learn something and then sleep on it, what you’ve learned becomes clearer just as a function of sleeping. But what’s even more interesting is that sleeping on a problem helps people find better solutions. In a study titled “Sleep Inspires Insight,” participants were given puzzles that involved finding the final number to complete a series of digits. The way they were trained to solve the puzzle was to compare every two-digit pair in the series. What they were not told was that there was a shortcut that allowed people to identify the solution after only two steps. Participants performed three trials of the puzzle and then were given an eight-hour break before returning for ten more trials. Some of them slept during the break and some did not. The people who slept between the two sessions were twice as likely as the others to discover the easier way to solve the problem. According to the researchers, sleeping on a problem apparently allows for a restructuring of the brain connections, “setting the stage for the emergence of insight.”
Well, then I’d better go sleep now. The milk should be taking its effect any minute now. I hope.
We looked into this a little in both psychology 11 and psychology 12, but this is an especially interesting study.
Sometimes I realize I don’t really know what I like. For example, I never would have guessed that I would love learning about wars in Socials 11, or that I would enjoy reciting Shakespeare monologues. I never guessed I would find French music so beautiful. This is why I’m glad my life isn’t completely under my own control. Otherwise how would I accidentally discover new things to love?