Invent America! Contest for Students

A free handbook is available for classroom use. There is a $42/school enrollment fee to enter the contest. Students identify a problem and create an innovative solution, keeping an inventor’s log and naming their invention. Awards are made for each grade level: first place receives a $1,000 U.S. Savings Bond and a medal of honor; second place wins a $500 U.S. Savings Bond and an award certificate; third place receives a $250 U.S. Savings Bond and an award certificate; and the honorable mentions (2 for each grade level) receive a $100 U.S. Savings Bond and award certificate.

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Pandemic committee formed to help schools

The Hurricane Education Leadership Program (HELP) Team, a consortium of more than 30 ed-tech providers, associations, and foundations, was created in late 2005 after hurricanes Katrina and Rita ravaged Gulf Coast schools. Besides mobilizing assistance to help these schools rebuild for the 21st century, HELP Team members also have been forming a plan to help schools better prepare for hurricanes and other such disasters. (For more information about the HELP Team’s work, see our Special Report, “HELP Arrives.”)

Now, the group is setting its sights on pandemic preparedness as well.

Having a plan in place as soon as possible is an important priority for every school district, says Terry Smithson, HELP Team manager and education strategist at Intel Corp. “As evidenced by New Orleans, you can think that nothing is going to happen to you, but a tornado, hurricane, or flu [pandemic] can hit you tomorrow and close every school. It’s too late to start worrying about putting a plan together at that point,” he says.

Chaired by Susan Patrick, president and chief executive officer of the North American Council for Online Learning, the Pandemic Preparedness Committee has set four goals that it aims to fulfill:

•Develop a team of education professionals who have experience in helping with education disasters;

•Analyze the resources available for schools in a pandemic-related emergency;

•Develop a guide and framework for schools to follow in preparing for such a contingency; and

•Provide assistance to the education community in the event of a pandemic, by providing curriculum and instruction to enable learning to continue when school campuses are closed.

The committee held its first meeting Nov. 20 and is now in the analyzing stage of its work. “We’ve been pulling resources together, identifying what states are doing for disaster planning for a pandemic, and creating a framework that schools can use to better plan for the possibility of a pandemic,” says Patrick.

The committee’s ultimate intent is for school leaders to be able to “go to the HELP Team web site and find a checklist for what they should be doing to help them get through [an outbreak] the easiest way they can,” Smithson added.

While the government has set up a web site and checklist for schools to deal with the threat of an avian flu outbreak, Patrick says it is missing many key elements, such as the use of technology to support the continuity of learning. As a result, the HELP Team has been working closely with Hudson La Force, senior counselor to Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, and one of the driving forces behind setting up the committee.

What the committee is focusing on in particular is the continuation of learning if students are sent home for an undetermined amount of time, should a flu outbreak actually occur.

“We want to ensure that, if students are asked to stay home for one day, two days, two weeks, or [even] months, we have thought through the possible scenarios and prepared schools to be ready, as well as identified the ways in which students can continue the learning process,” says Patrick. “One of the few ways that the learning process can continue in the event that students and teachers cannot physically come to a school building is to use online learning and other educational technologies.”

“I believe virtual schools play a critical role in any disaster relief plan for schools, but as we have learned from Katrina, it is best if schools have planned ahead so immediate implementation can take place,” says Julie Young, president and CEO of the Florida Virtual School and a member of the Pandemic Preparedness Committee. “Establishing all of these details can take time and, as we all know, time is the one thing everyone is short of during a crisis.”

Many issues would need to be resolved before such plans could take effect. If school districts plan to have their current staff members act as online educators in the event of an outbreak, these educators would need to be trained how to teach in an online environment. In addition, school districts must make sure they can even set up a distance-education environment.

“We’re looking at people who have expertise in networking and setting up one-to-one mobile environments,” says Patrick. “We’re looking at ways that we can help prepare teachers to teach in that environment, if they need to.”

Although much of the planning revolves around virtual classes, the HELP Team also is examining other ways to sustain learning with minimal interruption. Telecommunications and satellite partners would be needed to provide communications and networking services to homes in case of an outbreak, says Smithson. The postal service is another potential partner, because some students might have to take tests at home and mail them in.

As part of its planning, the committee intends to give school leaders a variety of options for how to ensure the continuity of learning. “All of these things need to be put together, but there’s not one answer to be forced upon,” says Smithson. “The right way is to present all of the solutions available. You have to have multiple vehicles and multiple solutions than can address each of those areas, and that is what the committee will focus on.”

The committee hopes to have its research and analysis completed before its next meeting, and to have some sort of guide or checklist available by January.

Links:

HELP Team
http://www.educationhelpteam.org/

Florida Virtual School
http://www.flvs.net/

Federal Pandemic Influenza Planning Checklist
http://www.pandemicflu.gov/plan/schoolchecklist.html

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Schools consider pooling tech resources

LSJ.com reports that Williamston, Michigan area schools may soon pool technology resources to help lower costs. The Ingham Intermediate School District is contemplating a countywide internet/intranet network; however this plan is just in the exploratory stage. Pat Heinzman, director of public information for the district, says: “It’s not a sure thing at this point. Districts would need to pass resolutions on whether or not they would participate.” …

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$100 laptop stirs debate

The New York Times reports that when the One Laptop Per Child project was announced, many computer industry executives ridiculed the idea. The plan centers on a $100 laptop that could be distributed to developing areas of the world. But executives wondered, “How can this be accomplished, when screens themselves cost $100?” Advances made in reducing manufacturing cost and power consumption helped drive down the cost of production of the laptop, even if the price of the is now closer to $150, rather than the originally stated $100. These advances have allowed the project to win over a share of its skeptics. Still, debate ensues. The current version of the laptop does not come with Windows or even a hard drive, and the screen is small. Industry giants Microsoft and Intel are noted detractors of the project, and are pushing their own approaches. Bill Gates has openly questioned the program, wondering if the concept is “just taking what we do in the rich world” and assuming it is good for the developing world as well” …

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Ulead VideoStudio 10 Plus Now Compatible with Canon HV10

Fremont, CA – November 30, 2006–InterVideo®, Inc. (NASDAQ: IVII) and its subsidiary Ulead® Systems, Inc., industry leaders in video, image and DVD software, today announced the Ulead VideoStudio® 10 Plus Canon HV10 Support Pack. This pack allows users to capture video and write back to the Canon HV10 HDV Camcorder.

“The Canon HV10 pairs superb high-definition performance with convenience and a stylish, compact size” said Steve Ro, President of InterVideo. “Ulead VideoStudio 10 is the perfect tool to capture, spice up, and package video shot with the Canon HV10. The power to create movies with the precision and clarity of those viewed in the cinema or HDTV is now in everyone’s hands.”

The Canon HV10 is capable of filming video in 1080 high-definition resolution video and standard definition modes. The editing of HD content with VideoStudio 10 Plus is just as easy as that of standard definition video, even on mid-range machines. Additionally, the Canon HV10 is a powerful, 3.1-megapixel digital camera, and photographic images taken with the camera can then be used in Ulead VideoStudio 10 Plus to create impressive DVD backgrounds, slideshows and picture-in-picture movie effects.

“Ulead VideoStudio 10’s creative collaboration with the Canon HV10 doesn’t just end with video and images,” said Juliet Kuo, Vice President of Marketing for Ulead. “Accompanying video sound can be turned into full-on Dolby® Digital 5.1 Surround Sound using Ulead VideoStudio 10’s sound editing capabilities. Placing and mixing sound passages filmed with the HV10 is as easy as dragging-and-dropping a file.”

Movies shot with the Canon HV10 and edited with Ulead VideoStudio 10 can be exported into professional-looking DVDs right within the VideoStudio 10 program. Additionally, Ulead VideoStudio 10 supports MPEG-4, perfect for uploading to iPod®s, PSP”s, Smartphones, and popular video and video blog sites.

The Ulead VideoStudio 10 Plus Canon HV10 Support Pack is available for download and can be found at the following location:

ttp://www.ulead.com/tech/vs/vs_ftp.htm.

About Ulead VideoStudio 10

Ulead VideoStudio 10 is video editing and DVD authoring software that lets anyone do more with video. Choose from a complete array of easy-to-use tools to edit video and author discs. Or, use wizards to create exciting videos and slideshows automatically. Share your movies everywhere, from DVDs and VCDs, vlogs, to iPods to the latest high-definition home theater systems.

About InterVideo, Inc.

InterVideo is a leading provider of integrated digital and high-definition multimedia and audio/video content solutions in the PC, CE and wireless industries. The company’s broad suite of integrated multimedia software products are designed to enhance the consumer’s entertainment experience, whether the content is delivered to a home system, HDTV set, wireless system, mobile or personal multimedia device. InterVideo’s unique iMobi” multimedia codec technologies are widely used by Smartphones, GPS units and portable entertainment device OEMs and ODMs to enhance music and video enjoyment&any place, any time. The firm’s worldwide headquarters is at 46430 Fremont Blvd, Fremont, CA, 510-651-0888, InterVideo also has major offices in Taiwan, Japan, Mainland China and around the globe. For more information, visit www.intervideo.com.

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Pay It Forward Mini-Grants

This grant funds a one-time only project that will benefit a school, neighborhood, or community. The project must include the “pay it forward” concept, where one person does others a favor and they in turn pass a favor along to others. Project members need to include persons under the age of 18.

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Outstanding Young Educator Award

This award recognizes educators who have made a significant impact on student achievement over time and who serve as exemplary role models. Nominations must be made by ASCD members. Self-nominations are not accepted. There are two nomination periods, but just one award is given each year.

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Google suffers setback in copyright case

USA Today reports that Google has suffered a setback in a coming copyright lawsuit because Yahoo has rebuffed Google’s effort to learn more about its efforts to create digital copies of books. Web retailer Amazon.com has also declined Google’s efforts earlier last month. Google believes it can defend its plans to provide online access to millions of library books by obtaining details about similar projects. Last year, a group of publishers and the Authors Guild sued Google alleging that Google didn’t get proper approval to make copies of books available to anyone with an internet connection. In the course of gathering evidence for its upcoming case, Google has subpoenaed Amazon.com, Yahoo, Microsoft, and others…

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HP Technology for Teaching Grant Initiative

Hewlett-Packard Co.’s 2007 Technology for Teaching Grants support efforts to improve student achievement in U.S. schools through the innovative use of classroom technology. K-12 public schools are eligible for $3.9 million in cash and equipment from HP; proposals will be accepted from all subject areas, but preference will be given to projects with a focus on math or science. Two- and four-year colleges and universities are eligible for grants totaling $2.8 million in cash and equipment to support the redesign of math, science and engineering courses, with the ultimate goal of increasing the number of students graduating with high-tech degrees. This year, extra consideration is being given to proposals related to environmental engineering and green product design. Based on the outcomes of the projects funded through this initiative in 2007, HP may offer grant recipients the opportunity to receive higher-value grants in 2008.

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Living in a Material World Grants

The purpose of these grants is to enhance awareness of materials science and the role of materials scientists in society. Members of ASM International will work closely with winning teachers to develop and implement lessons.

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