I've been frequenting connected lists with more of my usual, sharing some dreamy memes.
We might call this a genre of science fiction, but then so is any planning, until those dreams come true. The future is fictional. Science helps make stuff real (religion too sometimes -- not saying it's either/or).
Operation Starry Night goes back to my buying into the vision that every school child deserves some time with a crystal clear night sky, Milky Way visible.
Yes, some kids have disabilities. Making such experience a requirement for graduation would necessitate exceptions.
Realistically, installing planetariums in more high schools might be more affordable, but then the goals aren't precisely the same, and it's not either/or.
Joe Clinton has the planetarium program in his purview. He's an accomplished designer and knows a lot about optics.
Operation Starry Night is important for another reason: no one imagines it's really the fault of the teachers that we don't get more kids out beyond light pollution, with curriculum to suit.
It's more about what taxpayers would be willing to support, the belief being that taxes are the only source of income for government programs. That and borrowing from banks and/or private concerns, by selling bonds that pay interest.
Vast fields of windmills feeding a grid, hydro dams, even nuke plants -- are these energy sources or energy sinks? Clearly the sun is a source behind most "running downhill" i.e. human economies are well symbolized by water wheels, which turn to crush grain, lift water into ditches, or otherwise power a process (called "doing work" in physics).
The water keeps coming downhill, turning those wheels, doing that work, because of the evaporation and precipitation cycle. Most grade schools already teach this, so as far as curriculum writing goes, I'm saying nothing new here.
As GST reminds us: the economy includes the ecosystem and the ecosystem includes the sun (a naturally occurring nuke fusion plant). If you want to do big picture book- keeping then, look at Earth as a non-profit charity, and the sun as a steady source of grant income. Fund accounting applies (the bookkeeping system of non-profit and government agencies).
Another "downhill cycle" takes place in the stars. Implosion cooks up the heavy elements, which disperse through explosive novae. Fusion builds the elements up, while fission breaks them down. This is the kind of chemistry we cover in connection with those planetaria (more affordable than ever these days).
We might call this "geography" if accepting that "earth measure" requires zooming back, sharing more of the context. Earth orbits a star and the star orbits the center of a galaxy. Andromeda appears to be getting closer.
Looking at physics from this perspective, we see that (a) "taxes" are not ultimately the power source for government programs (energy is) and (b) the logistical challenge of circulating hundreds of thousands of students through outdoor schools, as we do in Portland, is enormous but not impossible to address. When it comes to investing in the future, it makes sense to have the next generation develop its awareness. This has been the anthropological pattern. Industrial civilizations do things on an industrial scale.
No one imagines it's the teachers' fault, nor do we think it's the students' fault, that so many fail to escape light pollution by high school graduation. It's a deficiency of the lifestyle, a side effect of mass urbanization. Operation Starry Night, even if considered impractical by the majority, has a way of focusing our attention that doesn't vilify the usual suspects. It short circuits some of the vitriol.
So lets look at the bigger picture. Why don't we have huge numbers of campus facilities with high turnover, lots of groups coming through? Answer: actually, we do. Just not as many as we could have. Nor are they futuristic.
The idea of a camp is lots of wood, moss, muddy paths, stone fire places. It's a retro lifestyle, not looking ahead. Camps tend to inspire nostalgia, and we're not building many new ones, at least not as a government. Not since FDR.
Unless you count military encampments (bases), in which case there's been explosive growth. More kids are seeing the night sky by flying to Afghanistan, at about $1 million per. These bases may have a more futuristic flare, thanks to the geodesic dome radar coverings.
Science fiction has occasionally rekindled the idea of using aerospace technology and architecture for civilian purposes, including for education. Back in the 1950s, such visions of the year 2000 would not have seemed so alien and out of place. People were more utopian back then, imagining a brighter tomorrow.
The senior-boomers today seem less clear on what they're up to. Something about peak oil? Global warming? The mindset is more entropic, the science fiction more bleak. Does anyone disagree with this assessment?
Is religion to blame?
What is the Vatican offering these days, by way of God's plan? Does anyone know?
The apocalyptic types seem to be having a field day with their latest Y2K (aka 2012). Why let this go unchallenged? Doesn't curriculum writing have a responsibility to paint a future? Are we stuck in a time warp?
In particular, what is the math curriculum doing to share a vision of tomorrow? Or has math deliberately divorced itself from any time lines so it won't be much of a trouble maker?
If the story problems were really about the real world, about the whole planet, about geography, that might be inconvenient.
The goal of many so-called grownups it seems is to drain away all significance, all relevance, all thinking globally, and to keep math as irrelevant and innocuous as possible, or so one might judge based on the textbooks. Nothing much about ecosystems, not even those proverbial rain forests. GST is verboten.
Actually, the situation isn't that dire.
The mathematics is starting to look towards the future and paint a vista wherein work / study is fun. Learning to grow your own food, doing the rustic tasks of working with machinery, operating small fab plants, all requires some math.
Ecosystem management is all about feedback cycles, cybernetics, boxes and arrows. Jay Forrester, MIT. Stella. SimCity. Sims. John Todd. New Alchemy Institute. Garden of Eden domes. Cornwall. Plantagon. EPCOT. Orlando. MEMEX (the Web).
Start connecting those dots and you have some interesting history, pointing to a more positive tomorrow. Parabolas are still important, if you remember they're cross sections of dishes. Talking about "the focus" of a parabola without reminding that its a dish is just dumbed down XY thinking (flat to the point of worthless).
We're more spatial now, what with hi-def TV, VRML, POV-Ray (povray.org). Mathematics is moving beyond flatland and reconnecting with time-lines. That's worth celebrating.
I'm at a horse farm right now, with two work / study students under 18, along with some other adults. There's a casino nearby, a source of funding. We have wifi.
Without snow tires, this can be a hard place to get to.
One of the teachers here is an accomplished sailor Camano Island is not far away.
No stars visible tonight, given it's overcast.
Back in Portland, it's more about bicycles. Work / study students haul surplus organic vegetables around by bike trailer and cook for cafeteria-style meal sharing. There's lots of inventory management skills to develop, other logistics. Some of these same students are also teachers, attend skill share meets.
Storyboards are somewhat affordable (inexpensive). Like comic books. Animations cost more.
Will the USG provide more of the conceptual art? Public schools could have first dibs on sharing a lot of it. You'll see stuff at school before it comes out through Hollywood. NASA has been a good source. You'll find a lot of USG stuff on Youtube.
The Silicon Forest is good at supporting Operation Starry Night, at least around Portland. We could use more planetaria though. So could schools in China. Joint project with our sister city? OMSI on the list of consulting entities? I should send a link to OPB. The community television people need to add this to the inbox of stuff to discuss.
Kirby U. (near Camano Island)
DEW = Defense Early Warning EPCOT = Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow GST = General Systems Theory MEMEX = Web / search engines as envisioned in 1940s. MIT = Massachusetts Institute of Technology OMSI = Oregon Museum of Science and Industry OPB = Oregon Public Broadcasting POV-Ray = Persistence of Vision ray tracer TV = Television USG = United States Government VRML = virtual reality markup language (see also: x3d) Y2K = year 2000 AD