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Can you imagine being in high school and getting invited to be special guest at a real rocket launch? That's exactly what happened to Sara Ma and Dorothy Chen, Michigan natives and winners of the YouTube Space Lab competition. As part of their prize package, the teenage friends got to travel to Japan, where they watched up close and personal as their very own experiments were shot up by rocket to the International Space Station. On the eve of the Space Lab finale, we asked them about this incredible experience.   How long was your flight from Michigan to Japan? Did you have any interesting layovers? The flight was 13-14 hours long. We had no layovers. I couldn’t sleep on the plane at all, so the flight felt extremely long.   What cities in Japan did you get to see? Any significant landmarks? I just saw Tokyo and Tanegashima on my Japan trip. I was most impressed with the different landscapes of Tokyo: you can see the old classic side in the Asakusa district, the modern electric city in the Akihabara district, and the fashion-forward/young-teen scene in the Shibuya district. Tanegashima was relatively isolated from modern activity, and I really was able to enjoy the amazing nature and calmness that you can’t get in the bustling city.     Describe the overall experience, and emotions you felt, while watching your experiment launch on the JAXA rocket heading to the ISS.  I was just drowning in...

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We’re excited to share the amazing and impressive work done by Grover Cleveland High School seniors from Queens, New York. This week they showcased more than 40 apps they developed as part of a mobile application development curriculum pilot program and competition by Lenovo and the National Academy Foundation (NAF).  The students used our ThinkPad laptops and Android-based tablets to put their creativity and programming skills to the test, creating a tremendous range of apps. The results were astounding: Apps to help people with disabilities store their personal information, remember their medication schedule, exercise their memory, and even to more easily navigate public transit systems Educational apps including fun and easy-to-use ways to remember math equations, make your own learning flashcards, and children’s learning such as matching sounds to animals and countries to their shapes Apps focused on health and exercise including gauging BMI level, tracking exercise time, and learning new abdominal exercises, complete with pictures and levels of difficulty Game apps, including “Space Battle,” “Gnome Bridge,” “Balloon Popper,” “Catch the Manana,” “Squirrels vs. Chipmunks,” and “Samurai Sword,” which is a movement-based app that creates different sword...

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When I remember back to my days as a student, and I think of the lasting “academic” memories, one of the few specifics that remains as a strong visual is a science fair project I did. It is curious to me that of all the memories that could be this permanent, the one I remember has nothing to do with math or even more so the teacher. As a student I was very passionate about math and beyond math there were many teachers of whom I have great memories, but this particular science project was neither. So I often wonder why I can remember it so clearly. The project I had created was a computer program that would display the night sky based on the date. (I wonder if I should talk to some IP lawyers about Google’s SkyMap, wink.) Sure it was computer-related, but I have had many other computer “hobbies” that are not so fresh in my mind. So what was it about that project that has etched itself into my mind? One plausible answer is the lure of space. There is something special about that deep darkness that creates a passion for exploration and investigation. In our history there have been many amazing accomplishments, but very few create as much wonder and excitement as those beyond our atmosphere. Hopefully the Space Lab competition will foster similar experiences to mine, and that today’s generation of...

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At ThinkTank a few days back, I had the opportunity to sit-in on the Education Research Initiative (ERI) Board of Advisors meeting. It was a great opportunity to hear about many of the wonderful projects underway. Through ERI, a partnership with Intel and Microsoft, Lenovo seeks to gain insight into technology’s impact on the learning environment. Utilizing quantitative and qualitative research, the initiative seeks to measure the effect of technology on the learning experience from grade one through college. In its initial year, ERI established core research programs at four global educational institutes: The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s Center for Faculty Excellence in Chapel Hill, NC How can research faculty members be trained to become more effective instructors without sacrificing research? The Student Global Leadership Institute (SGLI) at the Punahou School in Honolulu, HI Does multinational collaboration lead to improved outcomes for high school students and teachers? The Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership in North Melbourne, Australian...

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Last week Lenovo hosted ThinkTank 2011 at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University, and while there was no predefined theme, one clearly emerged. Whether it was the keynote addresses, the sessions, the Evening Gala or just casual conversations, it was clear that making connections was a common theme for everybody who attended. Technology is a right not a privilege for our students…Every child needs access to digital information – Salcito For Anthony Salcito, Vice President, Worldwide Public Sector Education for Microsoft, making connections means finding a way to bridge the gap for students without access to the internet. In his keynote, he stressed how Shape the Future is looking to ally private and public partnerships to bridge this divide. Tenure is flawed. Teaching our children should be a privilege. - Rhee On day two, Michelle Rhee, founder and CEO of StudentsFirst.org, argued for more connections between the evaluations of teachers and the performance of their students. Although highlighting the importance of...

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