Milwaukee

Future City: I Believe the Children Are Our Future

Our kids rock! But you wouldn't know that if you listened to the doom and gloom that's often reported in the mainstream news. Disparity sells, and there are always more stories about kids doing bad in school and failing tests than there are with our kids achieving.  Positive programs never get the attention that they deserve, even national ones with a great track record like Future City. From the website:

The Future City Competition is a national, project-based learning experience where students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade imagine, design, and build cities of the future. Students work as a team with an educator and engineer mentor to plan cities using SimCity™ software; research and write solutions to an engineering problem; build tabletop scale models with recycled materials; and present their ideas before judges at Regional Competitions in January. Regional winners represent their region at the National Finals in Washington, DC in February. 

 

Last weekend I had the pleasure to serve as a judge for the Wisconsin Regional finals at the Kern Center for the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE).  It's a beautiful gym and it was fun to see all of the students carrying their city models that they built out of recycled materials into the center. Here's a pic from the outside at the wonderful time of about 7:30am. The white truck in the background is from a Fox news van that was covering the event.

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The judges sat in a room and teams would come in and give a short presentation and Q&A session. The teams spoke about their ideas on how to solve transportation using the model that they built, and had moving parts and visual aids. The models themselves were quite cool as they were made of recycled parts - everything from Starbucks cans to computer speakers.

Unfortunately, as a judge i could not take photos of the individual science models, but below is a photo of the main hall.  You can see quite a few well-dressed kids next to their visual aids, ready to explain the feats that their city accomplishes.

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I left the event pumped and optimistic for the future of science in our country. We are in good hands, but we can't get lazy - we need to encourage this spirit of innovation in ALL grades.  Once kids find out that #ScienceLooksGood, they'll help move us to the next era.

Also, the title to this post refers to one of my favorite songs, the Greatest Love of All by Whitney Houston. I had to learn this song while attending the YMCA as a kid.

Not to be outdone, the Eddie Murphy film Coming to America featured a hilarious rendition of Greatest Love of Y'all by Randy Waaaatttttttssssoooooonnnnn and Sexual chocolate.

Les Paul Is a Science God

I recently attended the Time Warner STEMFest at Discovery World here in Milwaukee.  I was floored by the museum's Les Paul exhibit.  Since he is a Wisconsin native, the exhibit is a vast exploration of his life and how his inventive mind literally transformed music.

I knew Les Paul's name from his Gibson guitar line, but I had no idea that he was a true scientific inventor at heart. He grew up learning about sound by using the family piano, studying the rumbles from the nearby train station, and analyzing a record player (phonograph). He built most things that he used, from his original guitar idea that he shared with Gibson to his own recording studio.

 Distortion, reverb, and delay were all terms that Paul mastered within the musical lexicon.  He also helped launch multitrack recording, which enabled him to put different vocals / instruments on different tracks and mix them together.

Check out the pics below from Paul's exhibit and make sure to swing by if you're in the Milwaukee area! 

My turntables might wobble but they won't fall down

My turntables might wobble but they won't fall down

Les Paul was an inventor at heart.

Les Paul was an inventor at heart.

From wikipedia: Les Paul  , a friend of Crosby's and a regular guest on his shows, had already been experimenting with overdubbed recordings on disc. He received an early portable Ampex Model 200A from Crosby. He invented   Sound on Sound  recording using this machine. He placed an additional playback head, located before the conventional erase/record/playback heads. This allowed Paul to play along with a previously recorded track, both of which were mixed together on to a new track.    

From wikipedia: Les Paul , a friend of Crosby's and a regular guest on his shows, had already been experimenting with overdubbed recordings on disc. He received an early portable Ampex Model 200A from Crosby. He invented Sound on Sound recording using this machine. He placed an additional playback head, located before the conventional erase/record/playback heads. This allowed Paul to play along with a previously recorded track, both of which were mixed together on to a new track. 

 

Basic hardware behind a recording studio

Basic hardware behind a recording studio

One of Les Paul's mixing boards

One of Les Paul's mixing boards

Make 8 bit music after the Les Paul exhibit

Make 8 bit music after the Les Paul exhibit

42 Lounge: Nerds in Downtown Milwaukee

42 Lounge, 326 E Mason St, Milwaukee

42 Lounge, 326 E Mason St, Milwaukee

As a science blogger, I love to talk about all things science related with like-minded people. I had my spots in Philadelphia, which was my home for the last 6 years .. until now. I've moved to Milwaukee, and one of my main concerns is making sure I can find places where I can geek out about space, Iron Man 3, and the latest video game.  Luckily I've found a great place to hang out at the 42 Lounge in downtown Milwaukee. 

Watching live video game matches like Starcraft at a bar is heaven.

Watching live video game matches like Starcraft at a bar is heaven.

The great thing about places like 42 Lounge is that it has a nerd theme. Video games, tabletop games, and general science and tech talk rule the day - along with alcohol of course! Speaking of drinks, there are some great geek themed drinks from this list - my favorite so far is the Pokemon drink Lavender Town Syndrome (Hpnotiq, Vodka, Grenadine, Sprite).  

I was also able to test out the wifi connection using a Blackberry Z10, as well as take the photos for this post.  It was great to be able to talk about phones with other geeks in the area. Many of them, including me, had long given up on Blackberry after being surpassed by Google Android OS and Apple iOS phones, but the Z10 has changed many minds. Being able to hand them the phone and have them play with it, debate about it, and compare it with existing phones was a huge plus.

Check out the videos below for an interview with 42 Lounge co-owners Tony and Lynn Nilles, as well as a tour of the bar itself.

 

This post also appears at TWIB.