Free College

Or at least Free College-level content…

Are you taking advantage of iTunesU, which allows you to get free university presentations right from the iTunes store? What about YouTube university channels like YouTube/Stanford, YouTube/MIT, and University of California, Berkeley?

MIT has been offering all course materials for free since 1999; MIT’s open course ware offerings include “highlights for high school.” Stanford was the first to podcast on iTunes in October 2005.

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Solar Eclipse on Friday!

This Friday, August 1, 2008, the moon will pass directly between the sun and Earth causing a total solar eclipse for the first time in two years. Unfortunately, this event won’t be visible unless you happen to be reside in remote parts of the Northern Hemisphere.

Fortunately, the Exploratorium Museum in San Francisco will be web-casting the event LIVE from China!

Visit www.exploratorium.edu/eclipse/2008/ to learn more, and don’t forget to set your alarms because while the next solar eclipse takes place a year from now, the next total eclipse visible in the U.S. won’t occur until 2017!

Bicycle Riding School

Susan MacLucas specializes in teaching cycling to adults who never learned as a child. But personally I think the method she uses is safer for children, too. Occupational therapists who specialize in helping children with sensory integration issues use a similar method. The key is in taking off the pedals and learning to glide and balance first, rather than using training wheels to give the immediate impression that one is riding a bike only to require  intense supervision and re-learning as the training wheels rise and come off. Once my kids could glide and had the hang of steering, which happened fairly quickly, I felt much better letting them be alone as they mastered the skill. And they felt better, too. Who needs the pressure of surveillance when you might feel weak or frustrated?

If you can’t arrange for personal instruction at her Bicycle Barn in Somerville, MA, you can read about how to teach yourself or your child at her website.

Encouraging Girls in Math and Science

Especially if you have girl entering middle school, you’ll probably want to check out the tools the Education Department offers to help girls achieve at the same level as boys in math and science.  The site is organized around five research-based recommendations: teach students that the brain grows when they practice and learn; provide prescriptive, informational feedback on strategies and effort; show female role models; spark initial curiosity and foster long-term interest in math and science; and teach spatial skills.

4th of July

Explore this us.gov webpage as part of your celebration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. See the original Declaration of Independence and other primary documents. Learn about the U.S. flag and the Liberty Bell. Listen to patriotic songs. See what you know by taking an Independence Day quiz. Find ways to volunteer and help our nation.

I’m also thinking with gratitude of all veterans and current soldiers who have been willing to defend America (even when that’s not what the Chief Executive seems to be doing with them).