Video Update – New Science Rap Academy Video, Slingshot On DVD

Yesterday Tom McFadden released the latest effort from this year’s Science Rap Academy.  Titled “Wild-Type Genes” the video reworks Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams”

Slingshot, a documentary about Dean Kamen and the development of the water purification device of the same name, is now available on DVD (there are two versions also available for classroom use), through iTunes, and on the streaming service Netflix.

While there is mention on the Slingshot Facebook page of the recent debacle involving the water in Flint, Michigan, there is no word yet on whether the Slingshot is up to the challenge of handling the amount of lead contamination.  The device works on vapor compression evaporation to distill pure water.  This technique should be able to remove lead, but I can’t be sure whether or not the contamination in Flint is too much for the technology.  In at least some locations it has exceeded 150 parts per billion, which exceeds the capabilities of the filters provided to the population.

2016 Science Rap Academy Open For Viewing

The first video from the 2016 edition of the Nueva School’s Science Rap Academy is now online.  Simply titled “Phenotype,” it reworks the Rae Sremmurd song “No Type” to explain why sometimes offspring express traits that their parents do not.

The Science Rap Academy is a twice-weekly class for 7th and 8th grade students at The Nueva School and Tom McFadden guides the students in learning about the topics and creating the videos.  You can expect new Science Rap Academy videos each Wednesday throughout the month of February.  Previous videos from the Academy are available through a playlist on McFadden’s YouTube channel.

Science With Tom Gets Down With The Flies

Tom McFadden released the fourth episode of Science With Tom earlier this week.  The focus is on reproductive behavior, and the featured scientist is Sama Ahmed, a neuroscientist who works with fruit flies (Drosophilia) analyzing their reproductive habits.  As Tom notes, Sama was part of the music video for the second episode of Science With Tom.

As is custom with a Science With Tom Episode, there is additional content, which you can access via the episode playlist.  The music video is part of the full episode, but there are also segments on breaking into science, how a scientist sees the world, and a look into a scientist’s lab notebook.  Tom often releases some of these extras in between episodes, as this is his side gig.  Most days he can be found teaching middle school students.

The Verse Two contest continues.  Watch the music video for this episode (a reworking of an Usher track) and make up your own verse to go over the instrumental break.

Rap Guide To Climate Chaos Debuts In U.S. Next Month

The Soho Playhouse will once again host a Baba Brinkman show.  The New York City venue will premiere The Rap Guide to Climate Chaos on February 25.  And since trailers are no longer just for movies, you can watch this:

The project was first premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2015 (which is where the trailer footage was shot).  Since then Brinkman has performed tracks from this rap guide at the COP 21 conference in Paris, and four of the tracks can be seen on his YouTube page.  Should you want early access to such things, he’s now offering that through a Patreon sponsorship (yes, I am one of his backers).  For now, these are the only ways to hear the new project, unless you’ll be making the trip to New York starting next month.

The production is scheduled to end on April 10, and tickets are reasonable.  If past productions can be used to predict future performances, Brinkman may incorporate some audience questions into the show.  I must emphasize the may.

While I’ve not been able to check out a show since the 2011 run of The Rap Guide to Evolution, I’d recommend anyone in New York during these performances to set aside a few hours one evening and take it in.  The Soho Playhouse is a small venue, so there are no bad seats, and you’ll have a lovely time of it.

Intel Getting Out Of The Science Fair Business

Back in September the Society for Science and the Public announced it would be seeing a new title sponsor for its Science Talent Search.  Started in 1942, it had been sponsored by Westinghouse from 1947 until 1998, when Intel became the title sponsor.  Intel’s last Search as title sponsor will end in March 2017.

In 2015 the Search awarded over $1.6 million in awards, so title sponsorship likely covers a significant portion of that amount.  And its not as though Intel is backing out of science promotion.  Back in October a collaboration between Intel and the TBS network in the United States was announced.  It is a television program focused on an Intel-supported competition around wearable technology.

With Google sponsoring its own science fair, it seems unlikely they would opt to seek title sponsorship.  Perhaps another technology company, or an organization committed to citizen science, making, or some similar grass roots research and/or crafting concern will commit the necessary funds.

There appears to be time left to find a replacement.  Intel remains the title sponsor for the current Search (semifinalists will be named in early January) and the following one.

Girls Who Code Seeking To Boost Cause With Old Technology

Girls Who Code was founded in 2012 to help encourage girls to learn and use coding skills.  Through club and immersion programs the organization provides both education in computer science skills and exposure to tech companies to see firsthand what those jobs might involve.

Earlier today it was announced that the organization has partnered with Viking Children’s Books to develop a line of books to support the mission of Girls Who Code.  The books will include fiction and nonfiction, and focus on girls in the middle grades (presumably 4th-8th, or roughly 10-15 years old).  The first works should be available in 2017.

No word as to whether some form of e-book editions of these books would be produced.

Fifth Flame Challenge Asks Scientists To Explain Sound

One of the guests on Science Friday this week is science communicator (and sometimes actor) Alan Alda.  He announced the topic for the Fifth Flame Challenge, a project he administers through the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University.  (The American Chemical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science help sponsor the event.)

The Flame Challenge is where scientists explain a basic concept (in this case, sound) in a way that is appropriate for 11 year old kids.  Students are encouraged to register to serve as judges, and scientists can compete in either written or video form.  Written entries are limited to 300 words, and video entries must be no longer than five minutes (and submitted through Vimeo).  Winners in each category will receive $1,000 and a trip to the 2016 World Science Festival.

If you’re seeking inspiration for a possible entry, may I suggest two people who have possible expertise in this area.  Randall Munroe, the artist and writer of the xkcd comic,  released his second book this week – Thing Explainer.  It explains many scientific and technical things using the 1000 most common words.  David Rees, the host of Going Deep on The Esquire Network, has been looking at very fundamental tasks and analyzing them quite thoroughly.

Entries are due by 11:59 Eastern time on January 19.  Good luck!