Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience

Sherlock Holmes, the fictional detective, was regularly whipping his trusty magnifying glass out of his greatcoat to examine clues at crime scenes.  In both the printed short stories and novels, as well as on film, his deeper scrutiny of evidence – via the enlargement by lens – was most often followed by an “a-ha!” moment that typically leads to the villian(s)’ undoing.  Now, imagine that every man, woman and child all over the planet could engage in their own “a-ha” moment…not necessarily as a crime-solver, but for the simple pleasure of seeking out answers.

That’s the dream of one Manu Prakash, a professor at Stanford University in California.  He wants everyone to have the tools available to “think like a scientist”!  High-tech usually equates to high dollars to obtain the equipment necessary for scientific study.  School budgets are notoriously strapped in both developed and developing countries.  Professor Prakash and his research mates at PrakashLab have given the every-man a solution – their unit is a print-and-fold optical microscope that can be assembled from a flat sheet of paper:


Foldscope: Microscopy for



Photo credit:


Released in 2014, and much publicized then (check out: Foldscope Is A Paper Microscope That Can Fit In Your Pocket on Inquisitr) and since (take a look at this video posted on the Stanford Medicine Scope blog this June: Microscopes for the masses), the intervening time has been spent making this patented invention available in all corners of the globe.

And take a look at the many uses that have been devised by the folks who were part of their highly successful beta program:

Foldscope Explore: Exploring the Microcosmos


The endless possibilities for exploration and learning and disease control and…  well, what will YOU do with the microscope in YOUR pocket?  Or will you create the next affordable equipment that we can all have access to?  The journey has begun – where will you take it?

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September 17th, 2015

I’m one of those old-fashioned folks that has a paper calendar hanging on the wall by my desk.  I don’t rely on my laptop’s calendar, nor a cell phone, to let me know what the date is – and why it might be important.  So I was interested to note that this particular calendar has a special meaning listed for Thursday, September 17, in the United States.  It is labeled “Citizenship Day”.

Now citizenship takes all forms and has a multiplicity of implications.  Fundamentally, though, to me it means being a person who is contributing to the betterment of those around him/her.  And so, I present to you a little food for thought concerning how journalism can contribute to citizenship in our ever more digital world, courtesy of


Innovation and sustainability in community journalism


The pen may still be “mightier than the sword”…  Will your contributions to our planet be worthy of being recorded for posterity?  If you’re a good citizen, I bet they will!  And, if you’re interested in a career in Journalism, take a look at UNC’s site (The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit

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September 11th, 2015

There are situations where people tell you that you will ‘eat your words’ – implying that whatever you are saying to them is either untrue, unfounded or unsupported by any factual evidence.  It could also be that you are just being downright mean!  Whatever the case, although it makes for a great cartoon image, we seldom actually eat our words.  Some have difficulty filtering their words for appropriateness as well…

But how about drinking them instead – and, already pre-filtered???  The shortage of potable water is not news to anyone – and the situation becomes increasingly dire as we continue on our merry pollute the planet way…  This idea may bring ‘hardcopy books’ back into fashion -  I don’t think a Nook or Kindle could do what is being described here!

The pages are infused with copper and silver nanoparticles that make tainted water safe to drink. You just pour the polluted water – it can even be raw sewage! – through a page … and the result is fresh, clean water. The books are printed in both English and a local language with simple instructions. One page can purify 26 gallons of water, and one book can supply a person’s drinking water needs for about four years.


‘Drinkable book’ filters filthy water and


makes it safer to drink, researchers say


And take a look at the fundraising efforts that are shaping up to make this available to more and more needy individuals across the planet by clicking the pic:

drinkable book

Is there a filtration system that you’re working on to solve water shortages?

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September 9th, 2015

Having been a teacher of students ranging in ages from Nursery School thru Adult Education, including volunteer work as an ESL (English as a Second Language) instructor, all things education related are of interest to me.  While we’re dealing more and more in online learning, I belive there will ALWAYS be a need for the “human touch” in one form or another.

If you have a passion for sharing knowledge and giving of yourself, then read on to learn about




Givology is a P2P online giving marketplace, directly connecting donors to students and grassroots projects around the world.

As a 100% volunteer-run organization, Givology is an online giving marketplace that aggregates small dollar donations and small volunteer hours into a powerful force for change. Through our network of grassroots partnerships, we link our donors with high-impact education such as teacher training, library construction, textbook purchases, student sponsorship, among other activities.


[Their] philosophy is “Give to Learn, Learn to Give” – every person has a responsibility to the world and has something powerful to offer.


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September is traditionally “Back-to-School” month in the United States.  For those who’ve already completed their early years of education, August is the time for heading off to dormitories and beginning the advanced, more focused portion of their academic pursuits.  The education sector is taking on new challenges as it proposes to address new methods for preparing a workforce for the future – which will involve a great deal of technology focused initiatives.  Take a look at this company and their achievements to bring superior skills to the student population…


Young Digital Planet


receives the



New Technology Leader


2015 award


The aim of the New Technology Leader program is to distinguish and promote companies that deliver innovative, high-quality solutions and invest in new technologies to address today’s customers’ needs.

Young Digital Planet is a part of Sanoma Learning – one of Europe’s leading learning companies and providers of print and digital learning solutions for primary, secondary and vocational education with over 1,600 employees. They cover all dimensions of education:

  • educational content – different subjects, curricula and language courses
  • delivery platforms, e-learning and publishing technologies – flexible solutions for everyday use,
  • products that support children and adults with special educational needs at schools and medical institutions.


Visit their full website by clicking the logo  Young Digital Planet

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