children · education · learning · neuroscience · play

Beau Lotto + Amy O’Toole: Science is for everyone, kids included | Talk Video |

What do science and play have in common? A lot. I would argue that science and play are cut from the same cloth. And so does Beau Lotto.

Neuroscientist Beau Lotto thinks all people (kids included) should participate in science and, through the process of discovery, change perceptions. He’s seconded by 12-year-old Amy O’Toole, who, along with 25 of her classmates, published the first peer-reviewed article by schoolchildren, about the Blackawton bees project. It starts: “Once upon a time … ”

watch via Beau Lotto + Amy O’Toole: Science is for everyone, kids included | Talk Video |

behavior · community · environment · happiness · health · Nature

Ron Finley: A guerilla gardener in South Central LA | Video on

Happy Spring Forward. Time to start planting seeds and playing in the dirt. In honor of getting dirty and creative, here’s a a TED talk from Ron Finley, guerrilla gardener.

Ron Finley plants vegetable gardens in South Central LA — in abandoned lots, traffic medians, along the curbs. Why? For fun, for defiance, for beauty and to offer some alternative to fast food in a community where “the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys.”Ron Finley grows a nourishing food culture in South Central L.A.’s food desert by planting the seeds and tools for healthy eating.

Best quote ever: Gardening is the most therapeutic & defiant act you can do, especially in the inner city. Plus you get strawberries.”

via Ron Finley: A guerilla gardener in South Central LA | Video on

behavior · cognition · creativity · environment · play · youtube

TED Blog | 10 talks about the beauty — and difficulty — of being creative

Creativity (Photo credit: Mediocre2010)

I have been on vacation in California this week, playing with deer, ground squirrels, sea otters, sea lions, harbor seals, pelicans, sparrows, sheep, dogs, cats, persimmons, pomegranates, oak trees, poplars, and other assorted flora and fauna. It also means I haven’t been feeding and tending to this blog as much as I would like. So, to hold you over until I am back into my usual swing of things, I am providing a link to a collection of 10 TED talks on Creativity.

Why TED?

I like to think of TED talks as little mental snacks, so this smattering of talks about creativity, both as a blessing and a curse, when it flows and when it doesn’t, and what you can do about it if anything, are a great collection of videos for you to snack on.

Why creativity?

Because I see creativity as merely a facet of play, so any research or discussion of creativity is also beneficial for talking about play. People need creativity in order to play. Creativity is also a key element to a playful space. Writers and artists often need specific environments to create (or at least think they do). And, for some reason, I find it’s easier for academics and business types to talk about creativity than play, when in many regards they are talking about the same thing. You say tom-A-to, I say tom-au-to…

Either way, enjoy!…

TED Blog | 10 talks about the beauty — and difficulty — of being creative.

anthropology · architecture · behavior · community · creativity · culture · design · education · learning · play

More projects on Play and the City

TED (conference)

I posted last week about Jason Sweeney and his TED City2.0 plan to map out quiet spaces in cities.

After doing some more poking around I found some other great projects all grouped under “Play in the City.”

First, I commend TED and the participants of this project for recognizing the need for play in all environments and for all ages.

Second, they have some really cool ideas to check out:

Bruno Ruganzu, 10k prize winner and the first TED Prize recipient of 2012 in Doha, Qatar at the TEDxSummit


All of these great ideas and more are captured on the Play theme page of the TED City2.0 project.

I think people often think of play as done out in the woods or on playgrounds, and often forget that cities can contain all the resources needed for play. Just look at parkour or buildering or urban mountain biking, or even yarn bombing. That said, it is absolutely crucial to allow people to play in cities and to create spaces dedicated entirely to play, as much for grown-ups as for kids.

What other projects promoting play in the city are you aware of? Let me know in the comments below.

community · education · learning · technology · youtube

Khan Academy – library of free educational videos

Khan Academy
Image by AJC1 via Flickr

Your feel-good story of the day, and one example of how the Internet is being used to democratize learning and teaching for anyone with a Internet-enabled device.

The Khan Academy is…. a non-profit with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education to anyone anywhere.

All of the site’s resources are available to anyone. It doesn’t matter if you are a student, teacher, home-schooler, principal, adult returning to the classroom after 20 years, or a friendly alien just trying to get a leg up in earthly biology. The Khan Academy’s materials and resources are available to you completely free of charge.

Despite being the work of one man, Salman Khan, this 2100+ video library is the most-used educational video resource as measured by YouTube video views per day and unique users. What started out as Sal making a few algebra videos for his cousins has grown to over 2,100 videos and 100 self-paced exercises and assessments covering everything from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history.

more via About | Khan Academy. I have no problems with the library being Math-focused right now; I think Math and Science can be one of the hardest subjects to teach, while simultaneously being one of the hardest things to teach yourself.

Salman Khan recently gave a TED talk, and was joined on stage by Bill Gates. You can hear his reasoning behind the Academy here: