How to make your Powerpoint presentation better than sex

A quarter of Americans would forego sex rather than sit through a tedious Powerpoint presentation.
While they may have got their priorities a bit awry, it does show the mind-numbing tedium that people associate with powerpoint. And yet 500 million people worldwide use the tool – and if they’re all getting it wrong, that’s a lot of bored people, and a lot of people doing with sex.
So these tips could help a lot of people – pulled together, by Udemy, from the tips and recommendations from the likes of Microsoft and Slideshare, who like this sort of thing, these are the sort of presentation hints that can make you the person who people actually look forward to listening to.
So people will have to catch up on their sleep somewhere else.


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Why is STEM important in K-12 education?

In the ongoing quest to improve education around the globe, STEM has emerged as one of the leading ‘roads’ towards excellence. Driven by policy makers, education pundits, and teachers, the STEM train shows no signs of slowing down. Job forecasts identify huge increases in jobs requiring secondary and post-secondary education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics over the coming years. Even by 2018, “there will be 230,000 unfilled positions requiring advanced STEM degrees, even if every U.S. STEM grad finds a job,” said David Chavern,  Chief Operations Officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

There’s a lot of talk about needing more college graduates and postgraduates with degrees in the STEM subjects, but in order to end up on that track, STEM needs to be a possibility for all K-12 students first. The handy infographic below highlights the importance of STEM in K-12 education, and offers some eye-opening statistics on STEM education in the US.

The importance of STEM in K-12 education

  •  The STEM unemployment rate in the US is 4.1%, compared with 8.9% overall
  • There are 13,000,000 unemployed workers in the US, yet 600,000 unfilled jobs due to too many candidates who lack the proper education for the jobs
  • Between  now and 2020, job growth prospects for STEM jobs are predicted to grow at a substantially higher rate than other jobs
  • The US ranks 6th in innovation-based competitiveness
  • The US ranks 11th in young adults who have graduated from high school
  • The US ranks 15th in science literacy among top students
  • The US ranks 28th in mathematics literacy among top students
  • 75% of US 8th graders are not proficient in mathematics when they finish the 8th grade
  • 38% say STEM is too challenging
  • 34% say they don’t know much about STEM
  • 28% said they are not well-prepared for further STEM education

Bringing STEM into K-12 curriculum

  • MEA’s -Model Eliciting Activities have 5 characteristics: model eliciting, open-ended, generalizable, realistic, self-assessable
  • Project Based Learning: Includes reflection, research, discovery, application, and communication
  • Hands on learning
  • Cooperative learning
  • Discussion and inquiry
  • Question and conjecture
  • Justification of thinking
  • Writing for reflection and problem solving
  • Use a problem solving approach
  • Integrate technology
  • Teach as a facilitator
  • Use assessment as part of instruction




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6 tips to supercharge your brainstorming

Regardless of what you do for a living, you’ve likely found yourself needing to brainstorm at one time or another. As most of us can attest to, when you sit down with the intention of thinking up some fabulous ideas, they inevitably don’t come to you the way you’ve planned. Nothing stifles creativity like expectation of creativity, right? So the next time you’re in need of ideas, fear not – we’ve come up with a plan to supercharge your brainstorming session. Whether you’re a teacher encouraging creative writing with your students or a business trying to reach your customers, these fun tips can get your ideas moving.

Supercharge your brainstorming

  • Define objectives: Ensure that everyone involved in brainstorming is clear on the desired outcome. This is especially true if you’re trying to brainstorm by yourself, when you’re less likely to set clear goals than if you’re working in a group.
  • Prepare individually: When brainstorming with a group, have each member of the group brainstorm on their own before bringing the group together. This will enable shy folks to get their thoughts heard, and help prevent the derailment of new ideas by getting stuck on the first or second thing the group comes up with together.
  • Assemble the group: Once the individual brainstorm has happened, get the group together to share ideas, build on them, and come up with new ideas together.
  • Don’t elect a leader: While it seem useful to have a group leader, having someone that guides the discussion may inadvertently lead people to favor those ideas more than others that are presented. Outgoing individuals and/or bosses/supervisors/teachers are generally more likely to lead a discussion, so deferring to the actual group rather than an individual ensures that all ideas are heard.
  • Encourage creativity: What’s brainstorming without a touch of creativity? See below for some group activities that will encourage creativity in your brainstorming sessions.
  • Identify next steps: Don’t just leave a brainstorming session once good ideas have been identified – ensure everyone knows what the next steps are and the responsible parties. Too often brainstorming produces good ideas that end up not being implemented due to lack of planning on how to move forward.

Encouraging creativity in brainstorming

  • Passing Notes: Each person writes their ideas on paper for a specified amount of time (2-3 mins), then passes the paper to the person to their right, who then adds their ideas. Papers are passed until everyone has their original papers back.
  • Role Playing: Take on different ‘roles’ to bring a variety of different perspectives on an issue to light.
  • Bad Ideas: Pick the worst ideas that you can think of to address the issue at hand. Work backwards from there.
  • Play A Game: It doesn’t matter if it is Pictionary or Charades, Legos, or something else. Creativity is fostered during hands-on and game play, so leverage that!
  • Random Ideas: Each person picks 1-2 random words + puts them in a hat. The papers are drawn one at a time and the words are used to spark conversation.
  • Starbursting: Generate questions (worry about answers later). Start with the Who/What/When/Why/Where/How, but don’t limit yourself to just those.


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What if your favorite companies had honest slogans?

Hello dear readers!
Daily Genius is moving this weekend – we’re packing up and relocating half of our headquarters. So since we’re up to our elbows in moving boxes and our brains are cluttered with address changing and finding the best new taco stand in our ‘hood, we don’t have any deep thoughts to share with you. Instead, we’ll leave you with some lighthearted humor from the site we discovered recently: Honest Slogans. No fluff, just the brutal honesty of what you probably think of these brands anyway. Enjoy, and we’ll be back at the beginning of the week!
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iPads + project based learning = limitless possibilities

Though more than two years into my school’s implementation of project based learning, yesterday, I found myself excited all over again. I was helping a second grade teacher enhance her landforms PBL by using Padlet as part of the KWL process and suddenly realized that this approach to student-centered learning has truly become a part of who we are as a school.

My adventures in combining PBLs and iPads began with a gift of two carts. I had just started taking the PBLU online courses when the head of our independent pre-k through eighth grade school challenged each grade-level team to teach one unit using the PBL approach while finding authentic ways to draw in iPads. As the lower school technology integration person, I immediately went on a quest to find a guinea pig willing to plan and co-teach a PBL unit incorporating iPads. This is the story of that first experience. . .

Real World Problem Solving with BizWorld

Danielle Lei, our fourth grade math and science teacher, didn’t think her students were quite grasping the concepts of balance sheets, negative numbers, and keeping a running balance. After researching options, we decided the BizWorld PBL would be the perfect way to teach students those skills.

“In the BizWorld project, students work in teams to form friendship bracelet companies. They raise capital by pitching to venture capitalists and selling stock and/or by taking out bank loans. The teams travel through the entire entrepreneurial cycle of designing, manufacturing, marketing and selling their bracelets. The project culminates with the Sales Bazaar, at which students sell their wares. Throughout the project, students maintain careful financial records, which help in the end to evaluate each company’s value.” – source: BizWorld Creator, Kara Brown

project based learning

Image Credit: Debbie Carona

Making the bracelets turned out to be the easiest part of this project. The real challenge lay in the numbers. The student vice-presidents of finance were in charge of the money. They had to help set up company ledgers using the Numbers app. Each student kept a copy of the company books, and these individual ledgers were checked daily. During direct teaching times, sample scenarios, such as this memo, were sent to the students via eBackPack.

In our Bizworld project, the vice presidents of advertising were in charge of creating a commercial for their company. For this aspect of the project, we brought in an expert – our integrated drama specialist. The kids learned about different types of commercials and the “hooks” they employ. Each company wrote, created, videoed, and edited a commercial. One company’s commercial appealed to the viewer’s emotions by creating red, white, and blue patriotic bracelets. Another company took on the role of sports stars who endorsed their bracelets. (We did have to touch on truth in advertising here!) All of the commercials were created using our school’s green-screen wall and iMovie. This year, we plan to use Doink to record the commercials instead.

A Perfect Partnership

Project-based learning and iPads form a perfect partnership. In the BizWorld scenario, students maintained accurate financial ledgers to determine their company’s profit or loss. iPads not only helped with this mathematical goal, they also provided a creative outlet for students during the design and advertising phases of the project. In the end, we found that the fourth graders surpassed Danielle’s learning objectives, and were able to easily answer their driving question, “How can we, as entrepreneurs, create a successful friendship bracelet company that has a unique product and is financially successful?”

We met our head’s challenge that first year by trying at least one PBL at each elementary grade level. Some went better than others, and we’ve learned and improved along the way. Since that first trial, St. John’s has implemented a 1:1 iPad program throughout the entire school. We’ve found that students’ immediate access to their iPads has expanded the depth and flexibility of our PBLs. Our kids learn in authentic ways and show pride in their ownership at the completion of projects. I can’t wait to see where my second graders will take their landforms PBL.


Debbie will be presenting PBL + iPad = Limitless Possibilities at the November 13-14 EdTechTeacher iPad Summit in Boston. Registration is still open for this great event.

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How to use App Smashing on the iPad to create an iBook

iPads can be powerful teaching tools. In classrooms around the world iPads are mainly used by teachers and students for consumption, curation, and creation of information. Naturally, due to its simplicity, consumption of information is the most common way in which iPads are used in and out of the classroom. Also, many people use iPads for curating and organizing content. However, creation of information is one of the most powerful ways students can use iPads in the classroom because it allows them to unleash their creativity and illustrate their knowledge in multifaceted ways.

One of the most inventive ways of using iPads to create content is app smashing. App smashing is the process of using more than one apps in conjunction with one another to create a final product. Combine that with the unique ability of Apple’s products to communicate content seamlessly between devices, and students have at their disposal the perfect powerhouse of content creation. In this article, I will outline the process I use with my students in order to create a final product that redefines learning and provides a glimpse into the creativity and inventiveness of the human mind.

app smashing

How to make an iBook with app smashing

Step 1

Start with the end product in mind

Before beginning a project, one has to ensure that he/she has a clear vision of the final product. This is mainly because the playful nature of many of the iPad’s apps makes it easy for a child to get distracted and eventually deviate from the main goal. In my classroom, before we even begin a project, we discuss what we want to achieve, and define as clearly as possible what the final product should look like, as well as what we will try to accomplish during each individual step.

Step 2

List the apps you’ll use

Once the final product is clearly defined, then the process of app selection begins. The goal here is to curate a collection of apps that a) communicate with each other via the Camera app, or via the “open in” function, and b) allow the user to build a layer of content, that will serve as a foundation for the content that will be laid upon by the next app.

Step 3

Outline the process with specific details

Most children today are digital natives and need little or no support, even when they work with fairly complex digital content. However, many elementary children, not to mention most adults, will probably need some level of support, at least during their first app smashing activity. One of the best strategies here is to create an outline specifying the different steps the students should follow when they work with each app. A short video tutorial might be a great guide that answers all, or most of the questions that students might have, and refines the process.

Step 4

Publish the final product in accessible and appropriate ways

Once the final product is created, it should be shared so that the students will demonstrate their knowledge beyond the walls of the classroom. This inevitably creates some challenges, as privacy concerns should be addressed, especially with younger children. Although YouTube and social media might be appropriate places to share content created by some students, there may be other services or platforms that are more suitable for other students, especially elementary students. Some examples are Vimeo, DropBox, Box, TeacherTube, and Google Drive. Parents, teachers, and schools define the various levels of privacy differently, which means that the choice might be based on factors that provide a level of privacy acceptable by everyone.

Putting theory into practice: Making your iBook

Step 1

Start with the end product in mind

The students will create an iBook about the Solar System. The iBook will contain text, pictures, videos, and 3-dimensional models.

Step 2

List the apps you’ll use

iPad Apps: Tellagami, iMovie, VideoScribe, VideoMix, Camera, GarageBand, Keynote.
Apple MacBook Apps: iBooks Author
3D Software: SketchUp

Step 3

Outline the process with specific details

Here is a video tutorial that explains that process

[vimeo 106767373 w=660 h=281]

Here is a video tutorial that explains the how to create an intro video for your iBook.

[vimeo 109113921 w=660 h=313]



On any computer, Mac or PC, open SketchUp, click on the picture of the person that appears when you start a SketchUp project and then click “delete”. Once your area is clear, Click on “File”, then “3D Warehouse”, then “Get Models”. In the upper left corner, in the “search” field, type the word of the object you need, in this case, a planet. Click on the picture you need, and then click “download”. That will bring the picture in the Sketch Up model. Then click “File”, “Export”, and then “3D Model”. Name the file and make sure you save it as a .Collada file. Your 3D file is now ready to be imported in iBooks Author. Alternatively, you can use the process outlined in the video below and create your own 3D content.

iBooks Author

On a MacBook, open iBooks Author and choose a template. Use the appropriate wizards to import videos, pictures and the 3D Collada files you created in SketchUp. Bring in the intro video you created in Keynote and drop it in “Intro Media”. When you finish your iBook, click on “File” then “Export”, then “iBook”.

Here is a video that explains the SketchUp/iBook Author process

[vimeo 108770664 w=660 h=283]


Step 4

Publish the final product in accessible and appropriate ways

The final iBook was uploaded on the school’s Google Drive and it was shared with the students via their school email addresses.

NOTE: Plato Academy has adopted Google Apps for Education. Every teacher, parent, and student at Plato Academy has his/her own email account.

Nikolaos Can be reached at and on Twitter @chatzopoulosn

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How to burn calories through walking

If there’s an under-rated exercise, it’s walking.

Any physical activity can give a wide range of health benefits, and sport is the obvious choice. But for those for whom vigorous activity proves to be little more than a method of collecting sports-related injuries, then walking – asa agentler pastime – is perfect.

Effective and easily integrated into everyday life, it can be the mini-workout which burns extra calories and helps you lose weigh, tone up and get that little bit fitter.

Just to get the optimum benefit, take these tips from Lucas James.

Posture: Shoulders back. Eyes forward. Like a soldier on guard.

Heart rate: The higher the heart rate the more calories you burn. Pretend you’re late for the bus.

Weight: Wear a weighted vest or a backpack. Don’t do hand & ankle weights.

Swing: Bend your elbows elbows at a 90 degree angle and swing.

Glute squeeze: Squeeze your buttocks together as you push off with your back foot to shape and firm your bottom.

Hills: Don’t avoid the hills – they burn the calories, and tone your hamstrings and backside too

Do all that. Then you can step it up…

Do it 1-minute intervals walking backwards.

Increase your speed (walk faster, jog or sprint). Walk hills or climb stairs for several minutes to boost your calorie burn.

Then do it sideways. If no-one’s looking.


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Education Work

These crowdfunding products will revolutionize urban cycling

If you ride a bike in the city, you already know that there are certain things that are more relevant to urban riders than to those riding on lightly trafficked suburban back roads. Like nearly getting hit, needing a reasonable place to store your stuff, and people stealing your bike. All of which make urban cycling look unattractive to many would-be riders. Luckily, so much startup culture is happening in cities which seems to have done a great job to encourage entrepreneurs to think up great solutions to some of these urban bike issues. We’ve picked some of our favorite innovative crowdfunded bike products to help you trick out your bike. Some are for security, others are for pure awesome and/or utility- you’ll be able to tell which is which pretty easily.

Something to note is that we did want to include at least one folding helmet (because really, carrying a large helmet around can be a pain sometimes), but while there are a few out there, none were truly amazing and many are either still in production or not available in the US market due to issues meeting safety standards. You can read about some of the options here, but we’re holding out for a better option in that arena soon (maybe the Morpher, once it is finally through its production stages?). Stay tuned, we’ll update you if anything awesome pops up!

Urban cyclists: Trick out your bike with these innovative products


Skylock is an electronic bike lock that connects with your phone to allow you access to your bike. Previous ‘keyless’ smart bike locks have all faced the problem of ‘what happens when the battery runs out’. (Unfortunate answer: you buy a new one). Skylock has attempted to solve this issue by adding in a solar component to keep the little battery churning along. An hour of sunlight will supply enough power for about a week, so unless you live somewhere that doesn’t get one hour of sun each week, you’ll be ok. Pre-orders are $159 for a ‘limited time’, and the regular price is listed at $249.

urban cycling

photo via the Skylock website

Helios Bars

Helios bars attempt to make every bike into a ‘smart’ bike. These handlebars feature an integrated headlight and blinker system, smartphone connectivity, visual speedometer, GPS, turn by turn directions, and more. They come in drop, straight, or bullhorn style handlebars, and will fit on any bike with a threadless fork (you can use an adaptor for threaded forks). You charge them up with a USB cable/power adaptor, and the lights last from between 9-20 hours depending on the brightness setting you choose. Pricing ranges from $279-299 depending on the options you pick, and while there appears to have been some delays in shipping based on the updates on Kickstarter, many backers have already received their products and the estimated shipping date on the site for new orders is Dec. 2014.

urban cycling

Photo via the Helios Kickstater page



If you ride in the city, you likely ride with a helmet, a lock, whatever stuff you need, and maybe some other bike accessories. When parking your bike, it is often necessary to lock the bike and take the seat off and take it with you, so that you have a seat to ride home on when you get back to your bike. Seatylock is attempting to pare down the ‘stuff’ you need by combining the seat and the lock into one. You’ll never forget your lock at home, either. The locking mechanism hides in the seat post and transforms into a one meter lock, which should be enough to lock your bike to whatever you need to. There are still 30 days to go on the Kickstarter for this particular product, and a pledge of $75 will earn you a ‘basic black’ version of the product.

urban cycling

photo via the Seatylock Kickstarter page


The BikeSpike is a nifty little GPS device that monitors your bike’s location, has a collision detection system (and notifies certain contacts of the crash and location), allows for digital locking, and includes a notification system that you can use to find out if your bike moves out of its neighborhood, rather like a lo-jack (good for stolen bikes or kids who are supposed to stay in a particular area). You can mount it on your bike, and for an extra fee, add a little doohickey that turns it into a water bottle holder, since it goes in roughly the same spot as the water bottle usually goes. As a bonus, it also functions as a sort of fitness tracker, since it monitors your location, speed, etc. For a little device, it packs an awful lot of punch! The BikeSpike retails for $129, and you must choose from one of two monthly plans when you activate your BikeSpike. There is a Commuter Plan for $4.99/EU 4.99 per month, The Pro Plan for $6.99/EU 6.99 per month.

urban cycling

Photo via the BikeSpike Kickstarter page


If you happen to own a bike that doesn’t have a mud flap on it, you’ve likely found your rear (and probably everything else) covered in some variety of wet street-grime on less than ideal weather ays. Plume is a recoiling mudgard that brings the fantastic 80’s era technology of slap bracelets to your bike. Stretch it out when you need it, and coil it in when you don’t. Plume was successfully funded and produced, but they were so popular that they’re out of stock as of this writing with an estimated back-in-stock date of Nov. 2014. Pricing is not on the site, but Kickstarter backers received one with a pledge of $35.

urban cycling

Photo via the Plume kickstarter site


Maybe a year or so ago, I heard about Bucaboot from a friend. Overall, it is a great product: it can store a lot or a little, since it has a tough outer shell and built in side panniers, it locks, it is weather resistant, and is cute to boot (see what I did there??). Bucaboot raised funds via Kickstarter and seems to be in the final stages of production tweaking as of this writing – the website says it will be available to the general public (ie, non Kickstarter backers) in Spring 2015. No official price is listed on the site, but Kickstarter backers who pledged in the $145-195 range get a basic version.

urban cycling

photo via the Bucaboot kickstarter page

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Education Work

These mesmerizing videos will make you love learning about chemistry

Something you may often hear is a statement to the effect of ‘nature is beautiful’. Most of us probably wouldn’t argue with this. When we think of nature we often think of gorgeous landscapes, interesting animals, and sunsets. Nature and science are so easily linked, but I doubt most of us would think of science as also being beautiful in the same way we think of nature’s beauty.

Only fatty cells and glands, there aren’t exercises that can actually make your breasts bigger. But underneath the breasts lie the pectoral muscles, which, if built up, can make your breasts look higher and more firm.

The folks over at, which is a collaboration between the Institute of Advanced Technology at the University of Science and Technology of China and Tsinghua University Press aims to use technology and digital imaging to bring the beauty of science to life. You can see many more images and videos on their site, but we’ve highlighted three videos below which show the awesome beauty of three different chemical reactions. These awesome high-def time lapse videos are sped up (indicated on the top right corner of each video when you play it) and short enough to watch all three during a procrastination break.  The descriptions of each chemical reaction below the videos are from the original site -we’ve kept them as-is since we aren’t chemists and didn’t want to unintentionally transcribe a reaction incorrectly.

Whether you’re a chemistry teacher, a parent, an artist, or just someone who loves beautiful things, these videos are worth a look!


The molecules inside some plants giving them vibrant colors can change to other colors under acid and base conditions. What we show here is color change of purple cabbage and a flower named Teornia fournieri in sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and hydrochloric acid (HCl) solutions.

We dropped zinc metal in silver nitrate (AgNO), copper sulfate (CuSO), and lead nitrate (Pb)(NO) solutions, and recorded the emergence of silver, copper, and lead metals with beautiful structure. To preserve the fragile structure of lead metal, we also added sodium silicate (NaSiO) and acetic acid (CH-COOH) to the solution to make it gelatinize.

Many chemical reactions generate gases. In solution, gases escape as bubbles. Here we show 4 bubbling reactions. The last one is the electrolysis of sodium hydroxide (NaOH) aqueous solution. It is obvious that the reaction generated more hydrogen (H) at the cathode than oxygen (O) at the anode. In fact, the ideal volume ratio is H2 : O2 = 2 : 1.

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How to test your website landing pages

Most websites, whether they’re done by an agency, in-house, or you’re building your site from scratch yourself, will have just the one landing page. Build it like you think it should be done, get the basics of the design right, before dusting off your hands and crack on with the rest of your life.
It gets the project finished, which is the main thing – but it doesn’t make your site as good as it could be. You may have already heard of A/B testing – creating two pages, identical, aside from one variant, and seeing which one delivers the best results. Beyond that, multivariate testing allows you to judge the success, or otherwise, of a number of variables, to see which drives the most users to the behaviour you want – mostly getting people to buy your products or services.
Of course, the nature of those variables needs a bit of thought, and that’s after you’ve pondered whether to do A/B or multivariate testing. Oh, and the different things you should be measuring, and the mistakes you should avoid.
For a starting point (at the very least, a little check list of things you can nag a web agency about), this, from Invesp, should help a little…

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