Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Science Times

I leave tomorrow for the Wisconsin Science Festival in Madison. While I am giving a number of talks, I am there as much to meet people as to speak. Jordan Ellenberg, the author of the wonderful How Not to Be Wrong, will be speaking. He is a math prof who writes is a lively, engaging way calling on everything from lottery ticket schemes (that actually worked) to hot streaks in sports to slime mold decision making to political opinion polls and voting outcomes (with a concentration on Bush-Gore) to introduce math. I am desperately hoping to find a way to bring his voice and wisdom to younger readers.

Then I will meet John Hawks, another Wisconsin prof, who is active teacher, blogger, about paleoanthropology, and is working with Lee Berger on the amazing Rising Stars Expedition (sorry that I am not embedding links to all of the above, but a quick Google will do the trick). I am eager to find out what they are finding out. The basic facts are that in three weeks last fall they found, deep in a South African cave, as many fossil fragments of something, probably an early hominin, as have every been found in Southern Africa. No details yet announced on which species, how many, how much remains to be found.

I'll meet Paul Fleischman who is there to give the Charlotte Zolotow lecture -- and to visit the newly opened CCBC.

I don't write all of this to create envy, more to say that it is seems really lively and I have a lot to learn. I do feel that we are at a kind of Sputnik moment where science and math are back. In part due to Common Core, but also to life, to Robotics, to kids -- girls quite as much as boys -- are showing a passion for these subjects. YA fiction, both fantasy and realism, is flourishing. But no longer instead of, or as a cure for, content. The world is fascinating -- and we all need to share this golden moment of exploration with young people 

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