Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Odyssey of the Mind

Have you heard of Odyssey of the Mind?  My kids and their classmates are part of this NASA-sponsored, international organization and recently participated in a regional competition. 

The basic idea of Odyssey of the Mind is for kids to creatively solve two types of problems as a team.  They prepare what is called a Long Term Problem starting at the beginning of the school year as part of an afterschool program and demonstrate their solution during a live performance.  The solution must follow particular criteria, rules and guidelines and, most importantly, is accomplished by the team members without the help of an adult.  Another part of the competition is called Spontaneous  which is on-the-spot creative thinking.  Although not everyone places or wins a prize, the spirit among all who participate is positive and the experience has great value, which is a prize in itself.
Odyssey of the Mind is made possible by volunteers.  These individuals, myself included, invest their time because they have experienced the results of the program.   I was recently dazzled by the awesomeness of the kids who competed at the Palms Regional Odyssey of the Mind Tournament. 

Speaking of awesomeness, our school went home with accolades, beaming with pride and excitement!  A blast was had by all!  Kudos to Mr. Rowland and Mrs. Killian who deserve a special award for coaching our kids!    

Still not clear on Odyssey of the Mind? Here is a video that may help you further understand the concept:   http://youtu.be/7fqzCIf5JOE
"Behind each one of our [Odyssey of the Mind] finalists is a volunteer support network that can proudly claim to be one of those thousand points of light that I like to talk about." - George Bush, President of the United States
Another important point to note: Odyssey of the Mind has created a community outreach program called Odyssey Angels. The Angels deserve their own blog post, but for now, more information can be found here: http://www.odysseyangels.org/content/become-odyssey-angel
Know a group of kids that would like to get involved?  Applications for next year will be accepted starting July 1, 2012: http://www.odysseyofthemind.com/learn_more.php

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Attention Young Innovators and Scientists!

WOULDN'T IT BE COOL IF... you won this contest?   Submit a "cool idea that is powered by Math and Science" and win the grand prize:  the opportunity to create a prototype with Fahrenheit 212 

As the name implies, this contest is cool!  It is also sponsored by NASA.  Not cool enough? 

Would it help to say that one of the judges is WILL I.AM?  (Black-Eyed Peas, people!) Will, by the way, is a STEM Education Advocate.

Get your wheels turning kids!  And here's to making the world more AWESOME!

Per the site:
Teams have 2-3 members.  All members of a team must fall within the same age group.
The contest has two age groups:ages 10-12 and 13-15.
Users are limited to submitting one idea — either as an individual or team.
Awesomeness is determined by public vote:  See FAQ for more info.
SUBMISSION DEADLINE: March 28, 2012 at 4:00 p.m. ET

Parents' and educators' questions answered here: http://www.wouldntitbecoolif.com/parents
Enter contest here: http://www.wouldntitbecoolif.com/ideas/choose

An astronaut helmet tip to the AWESOME @krswan for RT this NASA tweet! 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tube Chop

MS Clipart collage by LH

One of my favorite sayings (excuses) was quoted by Cher back in the 80s: "If it came in a bottle, everyone would have a good body..."  I'll take two, please.  Never know when I'll need a spare!

The version of the original commercial I found on YouTube is 0:30 seconds long , but I TubeChopped it to 0:05 to demonstrate this handy dandy tool.   It's really easy to use!  As they say on the Tube Chop site:

1. Find the video you want to chop.
2. Select & cut interesting part of the video.
3. Share it with friends.

Click here for my Cher Tube Chop example
(Thanks Cher!  Thanks Jack Lalanne in heaven! Thanks Tube Chop!)

So, anyone know where I can get one of those bottles?

A hat tip goes to Kathleen M. for inspiring me to share Tube Chop in the form of a blog post!

Monday, February 20, 2012

(More) Cookie Love

What's better than QT's Choco Chip Cookies?  QT's Peanut Butter Cocoa Cookies!   I must admit, they are good. Too good to be true!  Even the kids are yummying them up!   Below is the recipe. 

QT's Peanut Butter Cocoa Cookies
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup honey natural peanut butter (We used Smucker's. Contains a bit of added sugar)
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup (or more to taste) unsweetened cocoa (We used Ghirardelli, found in Whole Foods)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix banana, egg whites, peanut butter, honey and vanilla until smooth.  Pour into mixing bowl. Add oats, flour, baking soda, cocoa and mix.  Spoon onto non-stick cookie sheet, flatten each a bit with a fork.  Bake 10-12 minutes.  Enjoy your guilt-free fun!

Friday, February 17, 2012

More than that... POWER

By chance did you catch the 20/20 Diane Sawyer coverage of Lakota children who live on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota?  In the show, A Hidden America: Childrenof the Plains, Diane Sawyer interviewed Native American children and their families who although poverty-stricken, have hope for a productive future, even if it seems like their goals are against the odds.  

In response to the Children of the Plains, two high South Dakota school classes posted a video on YouTube entitled More than that…  These kids are creative and truly amazing.  Their message is powerful and taking them further than they had imagined.  Per the original news article by reporter Derek Olson, "On February 25th, six of the students are flying to Washington D.C. to present the video at an education conference."

My message to these kids is: YOU MATTER.  And they do.  Isn’t it obvious?  They have the ability to make changes in the world; they have already made a difference by creating this video.  Indeed, these kids are much more than poverty and despair.  Who knows, maybe one day we will have a Native American president?   
A hat tip goes to Lisa.  You are a star for sharing :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cookie Love

Photo by Laurie Hansen

Do you love someone who is watching his/her cholesterol? Here is a recipe that was tested and approved by our household "Cookie Monsters."  These treats are heart healthy, low in fat and sugar, and taste sort of like granola bars.  They are also a nice "indulgence" for someone with a restricted diet, minus the guilt.  Sweet!

QT's Peanut Butter Choco-Chunk Cookies

2 egg whites
2 tsp vanilla
1 ripe banana
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (We used Smucker's with honey.  Note: This contains a bit of added sugar.)
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
2, 1oz. squares unsweetened chocolate, crushed or chopped into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Mix banana, egg whites, vanilla, peanut butter and honey until smooth.  Add oats, flour, baking soda, chocolate and mix.  Spoon onto non-stick cookie sheet, flatten each a bit with a fork.  Bake 10-12 minutes.  Makes about 11/2 dozen large cookies.  Enjoy!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Tweet Smart (again!)

This was originally published onThe Innovator Network, a.k.a. The Innovations Lab Blog (original post: Tweet Smart) but I felt it was worth repeating. Perhaps I am preaching to the choir. If so, maybe you can share with a few "non-believers"?

I often describe Twitter as one of a few things:

· A room filled with people where you can enter, shout a message and run back out again

· A pool filled with floating free info that you may gather and sort through as needed

· A gathering of individuals and groups where you may meander through quietly and listen in on interesting conversations or stop and chat for a while

I use Twitter to connect, promote, collect, share and sometimes just spread some love. Twitter is sort of a collective consciousness that some claim will make you smarter! At least that is what David “@dmullen”Mullen says. In his article, Five Ways Twitter Will Make You Smarter, David shares the following rationale:

1. You get access to different points of view.

2. The people you follow point you to great resources you wouldn’t find otherwise.

3. You can poll your followers.

4. You can learn what consumers are saying about your company or your client’s brand.

5. Twitter will make you a better writer.

I find number 5 intriguing, but what I like most about Twitter is that it is a place to be nice and benefit from the niceness of others. On Twitter, everyone shares knowledge. Remember what Robert Fulghum said?Share everything.” Just like in Kindergarten. And it’s fun!

A hat tip goes to Steven W. Anderson (@web20classroom), as he shared David Mullen’s (@dmullen) blog post via Twitter!  And, of course, one to you @profdebock!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Conscientious Fashionista: Science Meets Fashion

I share the story of Natalia Allen, Design Futurist, with hope for my kids, our future.  I first heard of Natalia through an email subscription to Green Eco Services.   Natalia is Winner of the Young Scientist/Entrepreneur Partnership Award from the IAP Global Network of Science Academies   and graduate of Parsons The New School For Design, where she won the Designer of the Year Award.  She is also one of “Utne Reader's  25 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World.”  Initially, Natalia worked with scientists to develop novel, high-tech fashion and processes such as photolumniscent  fabric, “rusted” denim and laser bonding technology.  Really cool stuff!

Throughout her journey, Natalia witnessed production houses, sweat shops (50% in the U.S. alone!) and excessive waste in the fashion industry and, as a result, felt compelled to switch gears.  She then put her energy toward “sustainability as innovation” in the fashion world. No wonder they call her the “Conscientious Fashionista.”   You'll be glad you watched the video below. Pretty. Awesome. Pinky swear. (Hat tip to Natalia's no-spam email subscription promise!)

This video was posted by EcoSpeakers on YouTube.  Read more about Natalia here: http://www.ecospeakers.com/speakers/allenn.html

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Words of Wisdom: Talking with Al Gonzalez about Professional Development and Social Media

Alfonso "Educator Al" Gonzalez
I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Alfonso (Al) Gonzalez, a.k.a.  Educator Al, during #EdChat on Twitter.  For those who do not know, Al is a National Board Certified Teacher and Social Media extraordinaire.   He also was the recipient of the 2010 WA STEM Entrepreneurial Award which is “designed to provide incentives for quality proposals in exploring new approaches in STEM instructional practices and improving student outcomes.”
I hope this interview inspires you to expand your PLC, your PLN and your PDSM (Professional Development through Social Media).
Take a listen here:
Laurie Hansen Interviews Educator Al Gonzalez by LaurieHansen

Below is the information about the TED talk I referred to in the podcast (via @profdeBock’s Innovator Network aka Innovations Lab Blog) and Al's links:
Educator Al’s Blog WA STEM Entrepreneurial Award 
Mr. Gonzalez’s Webs http://educatoral.com/
Follow @EducatorAl on Twitter

Saturday, February 4, 2012


I wrote a poem about nothing.  Not in the spirit of George's idea for a show about nothing, but rather, nothing as it pertains to something.  Something really important.
Why a poem?  I'm not sure.  Because it's (I'm) emotional, I guess. 
Of course, there's  always a back story:  I was inspired by a friend who, at his surprise, needed immediate open heart surgery.  I wanted to send something, give them something. 

I asked what the family needed.  His wife said, “Nothing.  We have everything that is important to us.”  He’s alive. 
Of course, friendship and support go a long way.  But things?  Things leave much to be desired.
So here it is..

A moment of panic scrambles in, but leaves
As the light of realization reveals:  I need nothing
It’s all here
with me

In loving memory of Kim M.

Thursday, February 2, 2012