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Friday Summary: STEM

By Rich

A few days after returning from DEF CON my family experienced an inevitable life-changing event you cannot really prepare for.

Kindergarten.

That’s right. If you have been following this site since it started 8 years ago, you have watched as I went from a newly married dude in his 30’s traipsing around the world, to a… and I find this really hard to say… responsible parent with school-aged children.

My life schedule is now officially defined by the State of Arizona and the Paradise Valley Unified School District. So long off-week Disney trips; hello PTO, early dismissal days, and parent/teacher meetings.

To be honest, it’s pretty exciting. For some reason American society thinks that if you manage to keep your kids alive for the first five years, then the state should step up and provide a little support and education. Those of you who ran through the private daycare gauntlet know exactly what I am talking about. The thing my daughter is most excited about? The idea of a teacher sticking around for more than three months.

We actually went ahead and got our 5-year-old accepted to a charter school that’s closer to our home than the school she would normally go to (due to the vagaries of subdivisions). It’s actually a normal public school, but they get a little extra funding and have a STEM program, and it is considered an in-district transfer. We got our 3-year-old into the pre-K program at the same school.

I have already experienced some highs and lows with the STEM program. It was very important to me – even if my kids go into non-technology careers, a solid technical foundation will help in whatever they do. Also, I hoped going to a STEM-enhanced school would help compensate for the many issues with technology and science education for girls. I wasn’t certain how often they had STEM class, but quickly learned they attend every week. Not bad for a group of kids who generally cannot read yet.

Then again, last week our conversation went like this.

“How was school? What did you do?”

“We did this thing called STIM?”

“Awesome! That’s STEM! It’s science and technology! What did you do”

“We colored a picture of a scientist.”

“Oh.”

This week they talked about what scientists do. It wasn’t terrible, and she learned that science is about asking questions. On the other hand, over the weekend we played Robot Turtles and started learning about how that board game teaches programming. And how we can use it to program our Lego robot. And the next day the kids begged me to do science, so I pulled out our polymer lab kit and we experimented with making fake snow, absorbing water, and making goo. The weekend before they asked to go the the Arizona Science Center and we had a total temper tantrum pulling them out of the paper airplane exhibit because her helicopter design wasn’t working. Heck, I took them to HacKid and they loved it, even the 3-year-old.

I really hope the classes go hands-on soon, because talking about something is no way to foster lifelong interest. We live in a golden age for science and technology education. Instead of learning to program to move a fake turtle on a screen (let’s be honest, it was barely a pixel), our kids can move real robots in the real world… without knowing how to read. 3D printers, microscope lenses for phones, cheap bio sensors, drones, microprocessors – technology has never been more accessible (at least if you live in an affluent area – let’s be honest).

My kids will get this all at home. Those are my hobbies, and I hope my love of science and technology influences them. It will be nice if school reinforces that, but I will not rely on it.

There is one exception to my golden age comment – it’s a crappy time for chemistry sets thanks to terrorists and meth dealers. Or an overly-paranoid government and stupid DHS rules. Or something like that.

On to the Summary:

Favorite Securosis Posts

  • Adrian Lane: CISO’s Head Asplode.
  • Mike Rothman: Firestarter: You Can’t Handle the Gartner. I’ll admit it. I don’t watch other folks videocasts or listen to their podcasts. But I would watch/listen to ours. Mostly because it’s entertaining, and even helpful. And yes, we actually have a good time recording it.
  • Rich: APT hits the ER. There is much more to this than you think. I know of some big healthcare breaches that originated overseas but haven’t been made public.

Other Securosis Posts

Favorite Outside Posts

  • Adrian Lane: 96% decline in NYC car theft. Interesting how a single innovation can thwart an entire class of security issues.
  • Mike Rothman: Visualization for Security. We (as an industry) aren’t very good at visualization. So check out this deck from Raffael Marty, who is one of the leading visualization dudes in the industry. And learn some stuff.
  • Rich: Apple begins storing user data in China. It’s going to be interesting to see how Apple handles user privacy overseas, considering their intense focus on privacy as a competitive differentiator here in the US. The fact is you simply cannot offer these services in some countries without opening them to the local government, in ways you don’t have to here, even with all our recent NSA concerns.
  • Gunnar Peterson: Michael Daniel’s Path to the White House: CyberSec Coordinator Tells Why Lack of Tech Know-How Helps. What’s next? A Treasury Secretary who brags about not knowing about banks? You can’t make it up. I get that execs (a czar counts as an exec, right?) cannot be down “in the weeds” but you have to be able to tell a weed from a flower or a vegetable. Rich adds: this astounds me. It shouldn’t but it does, and the fact that he sees this as an advantage means he is completely unqualified for his job.
  • Dave Lewis: The Puerile Nature of HTTP Shaming.

Research Reports and Presentations

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