Saturday, August 20, 2016

Taking learning beyond classroom walls with new features for Back to School

As any teacher would tell you, the classroom isn’t the only place where learning happens — it’s just the tip of the iceberg. From parents who help students with homework, to extracurriculars, field trips and more, there are so many ways students can learn beyond the walls of the classroom. This is why today we’re announcing new features to help teachers inspire learning for students, regardless of place or time. 

Parents and guardians stay informed with Google Classroom email summaries

Parent participation has a major impact on student learning. Today, we’re launching a new feature in Google Classroom that will automatically share summaries of student work with parents. Once invited by a teacher, parents and guardians can receive automated daily or weekly email summaries of student work and class announcements, making it easier to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in the classroom. 
“I enjoy helping my children prepare for assignments that they have coming up – and the earlier I know about them, the better,” says Michelle Barrette, a mother of five Medfield, Massachusetts students and pilot user of the new Classroom feature. “This way I can prevent them from missing deadlines and see if they need help brainstorming topics or solutions.”

Annotations help students color outside the lines — and the classroom

When teachers want to help students understand complex math or science concepts, visuals — like drawings on a whiteboard — can help. But how does this work when students and teachers aren’t in the classroom together? Today, we’re announcing the ability to annotate documents in the Google Classroom mobile app.

Using annotations, students can complete assignments, sketch out math problems or even create visuals of creative ideas directly on their devices. This gives students a portable classroom whiteboard on which they can easily draw and sketch. Now, thinking through complex homework challenges from home, school or on the bus is even easier. 

Teachers can use annotations to quickly grade assignments by writing directly on the student’s work, or highlighting the most important passages in a text or novel. Anne Farrahar, an English teacher in the Medfield Public Schools district, explains how her lessons benefitted from her high school students annotating a critique of Shakespeare’s "The Merchant of Venice." “They highlighted all the ideas they thought were convincing arguments in one color, and all the ideas they disagreed with in another color,” says Farrahar. “This gave me the chance to assess students' individual understanding and, based on their responses, gather ideas for future lessons.”  

More Expeditions thousands of miles away or inside the human body

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to visit the White House Kitchen Garden or what it would be like to travel inside the human body? Today we’re announcing new Expeditions that bring students far beyond the usual places they can travel. With these adventures, like a visit to Bhutan or an exploration of the human vascular systems, teachers are able to deeply immerse students in lessons, creating vivid and memorable learning experiences.
In addition, the Expeditions app is coming soon to iOS. More teachers, including those who use iPads, will be able to share Expeditions with their students by using full-screen mode on the devices in place of a VR viewer. With over 200 Expeditions available, we’re excited for them to experience these virtual field trips on more devices. 

More Google for Education features for busy teachers and curious minds

In celebration of the new school year, we’re excited to share more new tools for teachers and students to break down traditional barriers within the classroom:  
  • A more organized Classroom. To make Classroom even easier to use, teachers can organize the class stream by adding topics to posts, and teachers and students can filter the stream for specific topics. Plus, users can now preview documents, PDFs, images and videos, all without leaving Classroom. 
  • Share your screens wirelessly at school. With the latest Chrome update, Cast for Education is now available to all teachers and students. This free Chrome app carries video and audio across complex school networks and has built-in controls for teachers — no new hardware required. Look out for updates including support for secondary domains coming soon. 
  • Google Forms get an upgrade with images. In Forms, teachers can now add images to questions or as multiple choice answers. This is perfect for subjects like math when students need to show their understanding of diagrams and graphs. 
  • Inbox by Gmail for the classroomInbox by Gmail is rolling out to Google for Education users. Coming soon, email notifications from Classroom will be intelligently grouped in Inbox, making it easy for teachers and students to find important updates and highlights. 
Whether students are at home or in the classroom, teachers can continue to inspire and support their curiosity with Expeditions, Classroom, Apps and Chromebooks. Stay tuned this week on Google+ and Twitter for more details on these exciting new tools. 

Two Indians Entered Google Science Fair Finals

In the Google sixth science fair, two Indians and four other teenager of Indian-origin were selected as finalist for the USD $50000 scholarship.
Who are the finalists?
  • Fatima, 15, a student of Sadhu Vaswani International School in Hyderabad, has developed a control system to provide automatic water management system which controls the operation of the gates at the main reservoir and the supply at the field irrigation canals.
  • Shriank, from National Public School, Indiranagar in Bangalore has made KeepTab, which is a wearable-device that uses a cloud-based deep-learning framework to aid human-memory recall the location of their day-to-day objects. He was also a finalist at the FIRST LEGO League World Championships in 2012.
List of Indian American students
  • Anika Cheerla (14), Anushka Naiknaware (13), Nikihl Gopal (15) and Nishita Belur (13) are the Indian-American teens who have made it to the global finalist of the Google Science Fair.
  • Gopal (15) developed, 'Point of Care Testing for Malaria Using a Smartphone and Microfluidic ELISA' is an Indian American from New Jersey
  • Cheerla from California developed the project, 'Automated Prediction of Future Breast Cancer Occurrence from Non-Cancerous Mammograms' which leads her to the finals.
  • Naiknaware, of Portland, Oregaon developed the project 'Fractal Inspired Chitosan and Carbon Nanoparticle Based Biocompatible Sensor for Wound Management' and was selected for finals.
  • Belur from California was chosen for her project on the detection of metal surface defects using laser light reflection.
The Google Science Fair is an online competition which has been sponsored by companies like Google, CERN, Lego, National Geographic and the Scientific American. It was started in 2011 and is primarily meant for children between the age of 13 and 18.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Teachers upset with new norms for award


Ahead of Teacher's Day , the education department has changed the parameters for the state award for `ideal teacher' to include the students' performances in baseline tests and scholarship exams and whether or not the school has a hand-washing station. The new parameters have upset teachers across the state.
At the end of last year, local education officers had started nominating teachers who had displayed excellence in their work. The awardees are usually announced on August 15 every year and the awards are handed over on September 5.
However, on July 21 this year, the state issued a government resolution with new guidelines and called for fresh online applications.
According to the new guidelines, the teachers will be marked on almost 15 parameters.These include marks for recognition the teacher has received for awareness work in areas like family planning, polio and census, performance of students in the baseline tests or scholarship exams, donations collected for the school, and whether or not the school has a hand-washing station.
The new rules have not gone down well with the teachers.“Meeting infrastructure requirements is not the work of teachers. What if the school management is self-sufficient and teachers do not require to collect donations?“ asked a teacher from a school in western suburbs. For the secondary section, the teachers and principal will be eligible if the school has a 100% result in that subject or the examinations respectively . Teachers said the focus now has moved away from the teachers' contribution to education. “The focus is now on the development and achievements of the schools and not on what the teachers are doing. Also, moving the applications online is not a good thing for teachers in the rural parts of the state,“ said Muralidhar More, western region chairman of the Maharashtra Rajya Shikshak Sena.
School education minister, Vinod Tawde and principal secretary , Nandkumar remained unavailable for comment.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

This wireless charger makes your phone float on air

TOI Tech | Aug 5, 2016, 03.52 PM IST
New Delhi: While wireless chargers are yet to gain popularity, a Canadian design company named AR Designwants to make them look cool. The company is running aKickstarter campaign for its levitating wireless charger that will recharge your smartphone while making it float on air.

The gadget called OvRchargehas been backed by around 159 people and has already reached its goal of CAD 40,000 on Kickstarter.

"By combining the induction charging and magnetic levitation we got OvRcharge. A wireless levitational charger, that is not only suspend the device in the mid air and holds its altitude, but also charge and rotate it as well," said the company.
OvRcharge is basically a wooden box with the magnetic levitation and wireless charging technology inside. Interesting, the gadget will also work with smartphonesthat do not support wireless charging. Buyers will need to get a wireless charging case along with the levitation magnet.

"Charging base is the thing behind all the science, it is made of wood and has two functions Magnetic levitation and wireless charging. This unit is powerful enough to levitate 600 Grams unit and charge it," it claims.

While the smartphone is floating on air, users can make it spin and as there is no friction to stop it, the smartphone keeps spinning as long as it is floating.

"OvRcharge stops charging the phone when battery is full but still levitate and rotate the device until it is removed.You can use it to charge your phone or just to float it," adds the company.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

From airport terminal architect to high school educator, Tom Coursey dies at 87

Jan Aushadhi: An Initiative

Introduction to Jan Aushadhi

Over the years India, has developed a strong capability in producing quality branded and generic medicines in most of the therapeutic categories, evolving from an mere Rs 1,500 crores industry in 1980 to a more than Rs 1,19,000 crores industry in 2012. However, although these medicines are reasonably priced, as compared to the prices of their equivalent medicines in most other countries, yet a large population of poor people in the country, find it difficult to afford the more expensive branded category of medicines. Accordingly, 'ensuring availability of quality medicines at affordable prices to all', has been a key objective of the Government. some of the important steps taken to enable this are:
A. Price control of Scheduled Drugs through the National Pharmaceutical pricing authority (NPPA): Under the Drug Price Control Order, 1995, NPPA): Under the Drug Price Control Order, 1995, NPPA has been given the mandate to control and fix the maximum retail prices of a number of scheduled/listed bulk drugs and their formulations, in accordance with well defined criteria and methods of accounting, relating to costs of production and marketing Notably therefore, the prices of these medicines have remained quite stable and affordable.
B. Price regulation of Non-Scheduled Drugs: Apart from the scheduled medicines under DPCO, 1995, the NPPA monitors the prices of other medicines not listed in the DPCO schedule, such that they do not have a price variation of more than 10% per annum. This has further helped in keeping the prices of most of the non-scheduled medicines stable and affordable.
C. Uniform VAT of 4% on medicines: Government has fixed a uniform and low rate of 4% VAT on medicines in the country. This policy has been adopted, in almost all the States in the country, and has reduced the incidence of sales tax on medicines and thereby assisted in keeping their prices low.
D. Reduction in Excise duty from 16% to 4% Further and in addition to above low, VAT rates, the [present government had, as part of the Budget for the year 2008-09 reduced the excise duty on medicines from 16% to 8%. This has been further reduced to 4 percent as from 8th December, 2008. This has again, played a crucial role in keeping the prices of most of the medicines at reasonable levels. Not satisfied with the above regulatory and financial steps for ensuring greater availability of medicines at affordable prices to all, specially the poorer masses, the government has decided to launch a country wide Jan Aushadhi Campaign.


PCI working with ministry of C&F to open 600 Jan Aushadhi stores in pharmacy colleges

Swati Rana, Mumbai
Monday, August 08, 2016, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]
The Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) is working with ministry of chemical and fertilizers to promote Jan Ausadhi Scheme by establishing 500 to 600 Jan Ausadhi stores in approved pharma colleges across the country for the availability of quality medicines at affordable prices.

The Council believes that the initiative will serve both the purpose of requirement of quality medicine at affordable price as well as the requirement of practical training to the student pharmacists as under the provisions of the 'the education regulations, 1991' and 'the bachelor of pharmacy course regulation, 2014'. There is a statutory requirement for students to undergo practical training in a pharmacy practice in hospital or community pharmacy. Hence by becoming a partner to Prime Minister's Jan Aushadhi Yojna (PMJAY), pharmacy institutions will fulfill the requirement.

Dr B Suresh, president of PCI says, "The Council is aiming at establishing 500 to 600 Jan Aushadhi store with the support of the pharmacy colleges. The initiative will fulfill the CSR responsibility of the institute and will also create a job opportunities for the students passing out from the institutions.”

He further says, “It is a good business opportunity as Jan Aushadhi store will be allowed to sell allied medical product commonly sold in the chemist shops so as to improve the viability of running the Jan Aushadhi store. Apart from the financial support, trade margin, credit facility etc, there is also a provision for 2 per cent compensation against the expiry of medicines.”

An institution having around 400 students and approximately 50 to 60 staff members, the JAS will prove a captive clientele of approximately 500 families which itself is a good economic viability for opening this store. In addition to it, word of mouth promotion by student and faculty in the neighbourhood would attract more prescriptions. The capital investment is low as colleges already have enough space to operate a pharmacy store. “However, we recommend opening such a store at a location in a college which has a direct access to public so that further economic viability of the project gets strengthened and there is no disturbance to academic activities,” said Dr Suresh.

The Jan Aushadhi Scheme is a direct market intervention scheme of the department of pharmaceuticals, ministry of chemicals and fertilizers with an aim is to make available quality generic medicines to all at affordable prices through Jan Aushadhi Store (JAS) opened in each district of the states. It was first launched in 2008 to provide quality medicines at affordable prices to the economically weaker sections of the society. The first JAS was opened at Amritsar Civil Hospital in 2008.

The PCI will extend all possible support to this scheme by way of pursuance with regulators like BPPI and the state drug control departments of issuance of license etc. The PCI invites all pharmacy institutions to support this endeavour by establishing a Jan Aushadhi store in pharmacy colleges and help in increasing the accessibility of medicines at economical rate for achieving health for all citizens of our country, added Dr Suresh.


Friday, August 05, 2016

Heavy rainfall not associated with warming: IIT Bombay study

The results are contrary to the general notion that global warming or increased summer temperature is responsible for extreme summer monsoon rainfall events.

A study carried out by researchers at IIT Bombay has found that extreme rainfall events over India do not have significant association with land surface air temperature over India and sea surface temperature over central Indian Ocean.
The results are contrary to the general notion that global warming or increased summer temperature is responsible for extreme summer monsoon rainfall events witnessed in some parts of the country in the last few years. The results are applicable at both large and small scales — Indian subcontinent and at a grid level of 100x100 sq. km. Data for 50 years pre- and post-1975s were used for the study. The results are published on August 3 in the journal Scientific Reports.
In the recent past, there has been considerable change in heavy summer monsoon rainfall pattern in India and there is considerable debate on whether such extreme events are caused by global warming or by urbanisation.
At a local level, some of the grids of 100×100 sq. km. experienced a change in extreme rainfall with increasing temperature, while other grids witnessed a decrease or no significant change in rainfall with increased temperature. However, the model simulation of Indian rainfall extremes tends to “overestimate the changes in both mean and extreme precipitation”.
The study also found that dynamic moisture transport caused by thermal gradient between land and water had a significant role on mean and extreme rainfall compared with direct thermodynamic effect (where the atmosphere has a greater capacity to carry moisture when temperature rises).
A study carried out in Brazil revealed that there was a decrease in extreme rainfall with increasing temperature. In the latest study too, the researchers did not find evidence to support “intensification in either the mean or extreme rainfall over India in a warming world”.
“The claim is not really that climate change is not important. But the novel results indicate that the local warming is not the controlling factor. The clues are in the rapid warming of the Indian Ocean and the changing roles of the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean in monsoon variability and extremes. It is the nonlocal controls that are of great importance,” says Prof. Raghu Murtugudde a co-author from the University of Maryland, Maryland, U.S. in an email.
“The new generation climate model and historical simulations tend to over-estimate the association between extreme rainfall events and temperature. We must be careful while using climate change for estimating future changes in extreme rainfall with increasing temperature over India and Central Indian Ocean,” says Prof. Subhankar Karmakar a co-author of the paper from the Centre for Environmental Science and Engineering, IIT Bombay.
“The changing patterns of extremes over the Indian subcontinent need a scientific re-evaluation. Our results highlight the need for further research to resolve the temperature dependence of rainfall,” says Prof. Subimal Ghosh, a co-author of the paper from the Department of Civil Engineering, IIT Bombay.

IBM’s technology may help detect cancer early

Scientists have developed a new method that can separate particles at the nanoscale.

Scientists at IBM have developed a new lab-on-a-chip technology that can, for the first time, separate biological particles at the nanoscale and could help detect diseases such as cancer before symptoms appear.
Researchers showed size-based separation of bioparticles down to 20 nanometres (nm) in diameter, a scale that gives access to important particles such as DNA, viruses and exosomes. Once separated, these particles can be analysed to potentially unveil signs of disease even before patients experience any physical symptoms and when the outcome from treatment is most positive.
Until now, the smallest bioparticle that could be separated by size with on-chip technologies was about 50 times or larger, for example, separation of circulating tumour cells from other biological components.
Exosomes are increasingly being viewed as biomarkers for the diagnosis and prognosis of malignant tumours. They are released in easily accessible bodily fluids such as saliva, urine or blood. They represent a precious biomedical tool as they can be used in the context of less invasive liquid biopsies to unveil the origin and nature of a cancer.
Existing challenges

Researchers targeted exosomes with their lab-on-chip technology as existing scientific techniques face challenges for separating and purifying exosomes in liquid biopsies. Exosomes range in size from 20-140nm and contain information about the health of the originating cell that they are shed from. A determination of the size, surface proteins and nucleic acid cargo carried by exosomes can give essential information about the presence and state of developing cancer and other diseases.
Researchers showed they could separate and detect particles as small as 20 nm from smaller particles, that exosomes of size 100 nm and larger could be separated from smaller ones, and separation can take place in spite of diffusion, a hallmark of particle dynamics at these small scales.

First human genetic editing trial in China

Oncologists to replace genome parts with DNA stretches in an attempt to find cure for lung cancer.

Chinese scientists will perform the world’s first genetic editing trial on humans this month, in an attempt to find a cure for lung cancer.
A group of oncologist at the West China Hospital of Sichuan University, Chengdu, will inject patients with cells that have been modified using the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technique, state-run Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday.
CRISPR, short for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, was named “2015 Breakthrough of the Year” by the U.S. journal Science.
It allows scientists to selectively edit genome parts and replace them with new DNA stretches. Cas9 is an enzyme that can edit DNA, allowing the alteration of genetic patterns by genome modification.
CRISPR is a collection of DNA sequences that direct Cas9 where to cut and paste.
Lu You, director of the hospital’s thoracic oncology department and the leader of the trial, said his team was formed at the end of last year and the trial received ethical approval from the hospital’s review board on July 6.
“We plan to select ten volunteers, all advanced lung cancer patients who have undergone chemotherapy, radiation therapy and other types of treatment. We received a lot of applications and are now busy screening and drawing up our final selection list,” he said.
The editing therapy treatment periods will last from eight weeks to three months. The whole trial could last over a year, he said.
Doctors will extract T cells, a type of immune cell, from the patient’s blood and then knock out the gene that encodes the PD-1 protein, which normally limits the cell’s capacity to launch an immune response.
The edited cells will be multiplied in the lab before being reintroduced to the patients.
‘Cancer-fighting army’

This process will hopefully kick-start the T cells to launch an attack on the tumour cells. “It is like building a cancer-fighting army outside the patient body,” Mr. Lu said.
However, the T cells might also attack normal tissue, Mr. Lu said, this first phase of the trial aims to determine whether the approach is safe.
“The top priority is safety. We will closely monitor the patients. The clinical trial is just the beginning, there are a lot of uncertainties, which will require further research,” he said.
Mr. Lu believed that CRISPR-Cas9 technology has the potential to revolutionise the treatment of blood diseases, tumours and other genetic diseases. The mortality rate of lung cancer patients is high.
“This is why we chose cancer patients for the initial trial. Should the approach prove safe, we will consider expanding our research,” Mr. Lu said.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

New in GATE 2017

The GATE (Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering) 2017 is going to be held on 4 days with slots scheme. The exam will be conducted online across India and overseas from February 4 to 5 and February 11 to 12, 2017. This year, there has been some changes adopted in the exam to make it effective.

GATE is one of the most anticipated exams among engineers. GATE score is valid to pursue the post-graduate course in prestigious institutions e.g. IITs and NITs. This is also a gateway for National/State Public Sectors Undertakings (PSUs) in India.
It is officially notified that GATE 2017 is also to be conducted overseas this year. According to the official notification, it is supposed to be held in six international countries – Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Singapore, and United Arab Emirates (U.A.E).
Also, there has been a change in the pattern of the question paper. The XE (engineering science) paper has now a new section on atmospheric and ocean sciences. With this change, the number of the sections of the question paper will increase to eight.
This year, it is proposed to be conducted by India Institute of Technology, Roorkee. The application form will be on the official website from September 1st. The cost of the form for SC/ST category and female candidates is 750 and for the unreserved category, it is 1500.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Madhusudan Dhaky immortalized temple architecture passes away

Madhusudan Dhaky was one of the few Indian scholars working on early Indian architecture and under his guidance the American Institute of Indian Studies bloomed from 1976 to 1996. Four amazing volumes of encyclopaedias of Indian temple architecture was edited by him. His work saw medieval temple architecture from a unique lens because he brought fresh methodologies to analyse them. For instance, he categorised Western Indian temple architecture into maha-maru, maha-gurjara and marugurjara, the latter an amalgamation of the former two schools. More importantly, he tried to bring to the study of architecture an approach that was not connected to dynastic histories. He saw architecture from an aesthetic point of view instead. He published many important tomes such as The Ceilings in the Temple of Gujarat. 

The great thing about Dhaky was that aside from art and architecture, he was equally erudite about music, Jain studies and philosophy. Based in Ahmedabad, he was friendly with art circles all over. Bhupen Khakhar was a close friend of his. He represented a group of intellectuals from Ahmedabad in the 1950s who took to surveying Indian culture at a particularly special time, for India was then a young country seeking to discover its rich heritage. 

His scholarship has influenced many great India Studies scholars the world over, including Michael Meister from the University of Pennsylvania. He was my guru. You could have long chats with him. He even used to sing with much passion, because to him, architecture was a form of music as well.