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Digital Technology In Education: New Zealand Equips kids in a digital world

New Zealand is introducing digital technology in education. The country is planning to use bold, offline methods to teach digital technology to children. According to Education Minister Nikki Kaye, a proposal for a new digital technology curriculum is aimed at building children’s computer fluency and skills. This curriculum hopes to prepare them for jobs in the digital world. It will include designing and developing digital outcomes and computational thinking.

Designing and developing digital outcomes relates to the human side of information technology—in that these processes are created by humans for human use. It aims to develop knowledge and associated skills needed when using digital technologies in creating content over different digital media. It includes learning about electronics, electronic components, and techniques to design computers and other IT equipment.

Digital Technology in Education for Every Age

These skills would not necessarily require the use of computers for teaching purposes. It can also mean different things to different age groups. The concept of computational thinking starts with learning step-by-step logical instructions. This detail is an important part of learning algorithms and can be taught like the rest of the curriculum even without using any devices.

a cartoon of two kids in front of a chalkboard with a sketch of a computer and steps drawn on the board amid NZ's move to introduce digital technology in education

Computational thinking is about dissecting a process to small logical steps. These steps are aimed at getting something done or to make something work in a prescribed manner. Older students would move on to creating apps or instructing robots. Furthermore, it is understanding computer science principles that form the foundation of digital technologies, as well as learning how to develop code and algorithms to control them.

In Detail: The Curriculum for Digital Technology in Education

Markedly, the new curriculum would include the following changes:

  • Digital tech will be taught in all year levels. For those students who’ll choose to take the NCEA digital technologies pathway, they will have the specialized training required for them to pass the new achievement standards for NCEA Levels 1, 2 and 3.
  • There would be two new key areas: “computational thinking” and “designing and developing digital outcomes”. The new content will be flexible so that the curriculum can respond rapidly to any new technology developments and advances.

With digital technology in education as part of the curriculum, children would also be taught the intelligent use of technology and the ethics associated with its use.

In the end, all of these are designed to increase the human capital and productivity of New Zealand citizens—allowing them to boldly compete in the knowledge economy of the future.

Energy Breakthrough 2017: Artificial Leaves

After years of research and testing, scientists successfully created an artificial leaf. This bold innovation won’t be used for indoor landscapes though; it’s meant to harness energy from the sun and may soon become a viable source of clean fuel.

Through photosynthesis, plants are able to convert 1% of sunlight into food, but the artificial leaf has achieved 10% efficiency when using pure carbon dioxide.

Photosynthesis, the process used by plants to convert sunlight into chemical energy and ultimately food, happens primarily in the plant’s leaves. Only green leaves are capable of completing this process, as the green pigment, called chlorophyll, absorbs sunlight. Combined with carbon dioxide and water, chlorophyll produces carbohydrates for the plant’s consumption.

The artificial leaf works on the same premise, but on turbo speed. The Harvard Gazette reports that the system has surpassed the efficiency of photosynthesis. The bold technology is so promising that it has been named as one of the breakthrough technologies of 2017.

Artificial Leaves Create, Harvest, & Store Energy

Think of photosynthesis as a plant’s way of generating and storing energy for itself. Scientists have been envious of this capability, because hey, the world needs free energy. For decades, researchers have tried to generate fuel that could be stored for later use. Solar energy and wind energy are dependent on weather conditions to function properly, thereby making energy creation intermittent. The artificial leaf runs like clockwork and stores excess energy.

More importantly, because the process of photosynthesis in the artificial leaves requires carbon dioxide, a harmful greenhouse gas, it also cleans and rejuvenates the atmosphere while creating energy. This makes the artificial leaf the cleanest energy technology there could possibly be – effectively transforming carbon dioxide emitted by combustion into fuel to be used again and again.

A graphic of the energy cycle with artificial leaves.

The artificial leaf was created by two Harvard University geniuses: Professor of Energy, Daniel Nocera, and Professor of Biochemistry and Systems Biology, Pamela Silver. It is a contained system that makes use of “solar energy to split water molecules and hydrogen-eating bacteria to produce liquid fuels.”

The leaf houses hydrogen-eating bacteria which consume carbon dioxide to generate clean fuel at faster-than-real-plant speeds.

Through photosynthesis, plants are able to convert 1% of sunlight into food, but the artificial leaf has achieved 10% efficiency when using pure carbon dioxide. Its efficiency dips to 4% when it uses carbon dioxide from the air – cleaning it in the process.

Largest Energy Breakthrough of this Century

The artificial leaf is seen as groundbreaking technology because it solves the problem of creating portable energy. It can be created at a different location, stored, and then transported to wherever it is needed.

Self-sufficient citizens, or those who have chosen to live off the grid, will benefit from using artificial photosynthesis to power their basic needs.

Using artificial leaves is as close to nature as it can get. This discovery could hasten the process of replacing coal power stations with solar cell facilities or wind turbine farms.

The artificial leaf does not require expensive and complicated infrastructure, making it ideal for developing countries as well. It can be set up on the fly and restore energy to areas devastated by natural calamities.

This may be the bold energy breakthrough society has been searching for.

Probiotic Beer Has Arrived!

Healthy lifestyle meets craft beer; with the introduction of a brew containing live probiotics! Hallelujah, we all needed an excuse to drink more of the good stuff.

This process resulted in a product which has a distinct taste due to the sour-tasting lactic acid, but it has health benefits which may outweigh the taste for health-conscious beer connoisseurs.

The demand for beverages with probiotic strains has increased dramatically in recent years. It is fuelled by health awareness and by the widespread opinion that probiotics are a healthy addition to the diet.

At the same time, craft beer and microbreweries have been gaining ground in terms of a total number of brands, as well as gross sales revenue and volume. Given the circumstances, it was only a matter of time before these two food and beverage trends met. Research based in Singapore matched the convergence of these two dietary and lifestyle trends with the successful production of a beer that contains live probiotics.

The Long Road to Healthy Beer With Probiotics

Researchers at the National University of Singapore (NUS) found a way to produce healthy beer. Alcine Chan Mei Zhi proposed probiotic beer as a study under the NUS Food Science and Technology Program. The key part of the research was how to nullify the acidic environment of fermenting hops, which would allow the survival of probiotics in the finished product.

An anatomical drawing of a human gastrointestinal system, drinking beer.

Zhi, a fourth-year student, took nine months to successfully complete the research under the supervision of Associate Professor Liu Shao Quan, before she was able to achieve an optimal live probiotic count in beer.

The process was a departure from traditional beer brewing processes. Lactic acid bacteria were used as a probiotic. This particular probiotic is naturally adapted to an acidic environment, enabling it to survive in the beer fermentation process. The probiotics were propagated along with the yeast in pure cultures. The brewing and fermentation process was also modified in order to allow growth of the probiotics. This process resulted in a product which has a distinct taste due to the sour-tasting lactic acid, but it has health benefits which may outweigh the taste for health-conscious beer connoisseurs.

Craft beers have been introduced is a wide range of flavors for customers. The sharply tart flavor of this healthy live probiotic beer may be a welcome addition to craft beer enthusiasts.

Richest Doctor in America; Expands Genomic Testing

NantWorks recently acquired a controlling stake in Integrity Healthcare, effectively taking over the management of six hospitals which will now go by the name of Verity Health.

Soon-Shiong is a noted philanthropist dedicated to improving the delivery of health care in the Los Angeles area.

The acquisition is a bold but calculated move which opens up more possibilities for NantWorks research, including genomic testing and cancer research. At the same time, there is an opportunity for the hospitals to expand their services and upgrade their equipment. The hospitals include St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles and St. Francis Medical Center located in Lynwood, among others.

It is expected that these hospitals will receive new equipment and upgrades worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Billionaire Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, dubbed America’s richest doctor, has a controlling stake in NantWorks. He has been actively attempting to acquire Integrity Healthcare, as well as the 5 hospitals which were formerly owned by the Daughters of Charity Health System.

Picture of medical equipment and hospital for genomic testing.

Soon-Shiong Expands Genomic Testing

Dr. Soon-Shiong is no stranger to St. Vincent Medical Center, having performed the first ever implant of an artificial pancreas in a human. A brilliant student, this South African born tycoon became a medical doctor at the age of 23.

Soon-Shiong is a self-made billionaire who founded APP Pharmaceuticals, a diabetes and cancer biotechnology research firm, in 1997. In 2007, with an 80% stake, he sold the company to Frasenius SE for $4.6 billion, becoming a multibillionaire in one fell swoop.

He then founded Abraxis BioScience, a pharmaceutical research company where he co-discovered Abraxene – a blockbuster drug that treats pancreatic cancer. He later sold that company for over $3 billion in a cash-and-stock deal.

Soon-Shiong is a noted philanthropist dedicated to improving the delivery of health care in the Los Angeles area. He was the principal in providing a $100 million guarantee for the reopening of the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital. Located in South Los Angeles, the hospital replaced the King/Drew Medical Center.

As an investor, he also has a sizable stake in Tronc, Inc., the parent company of the Los Angeles Times. He also has a minority stake in the Los Angeles Lakers.

With the hospital acquisitions, NantWorks and its subsidiaries including NantHealth will be able to expand their work on genomic testing. One of Soon-Shiong’s bold initiatives is to create a genome database of more than 100,000 cancer patients, which may hopefully lead to a cure for the dreaded disease.