Sunday, May 15, 2011

Science Education: Summer Science Programs in Forensics

It is that time of year again for students and parents - time for signing students up for summer camps!

The South Carolina Governor's School for Science and Mathematics (USA) runs its Summer Science Programs (SSP) every summer. SSP is a residential summer camp for rising 8th, 9th and 10th graders. Both in-state and out-of-state students are accepted.

As usual, I'll be teaching two, one-week runnings of my course, Applied Forensic Science (formerly: A Mathematical Tour of Forensic Science), again this year.  In addition, Dr. Sid Parrish will be teaching his ever popular CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) course.  For those who, for some unimaginable reason, might want to take courses in subjects unrelated to forensics, there are a large number of offerings (Lego Robotics, Great Experiments in Classical Physics, and more).  If you are interested, you can find out more on their website. I hope to see you there!

Human Auditory System: Musical training helps students and the elderly alike

Northwestern researchers Alexandra Parbery-Clark, Dana Strait, Samira Anderson, Emily Hittner and Nina Kraus have published a journal article that extends the work being done into advantages that students get from musical training and experience to the elderly.  Their work seems to show that life-long musical training improves memory and the ability to understand speech in noisy environments.  This makes sense, intuitively. After all, the human auditory system, like the human visual system, relies upon extracting and matching patterns to do its job and the more practice it gets the better job it can do!


Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Education: US Department of State Scholarships for Needed Foreign Languages

The National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) program offered by the US Government's Department of State offers merit-based scholarships to US high school students to study particularly needed languages (i.e. Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Hindi, Korean, Persian, and Turkish). Applicants who successfully make it through the selection process will be sent abroad for either six-week or one semester long programs.  All program related costs (e.g. travel, room, and board) are paid for by the scholarship.  More details can be found on their website (link).

(Hat Tip: Government Video)

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Human Speech System: North American English Dialects

I don't even know this gentleman, but I confess that I have to like him just based on his introduction to this excellent website:
This is just a little hobby of mine, that I thought might be interesting to a lot of people. Some people collect stamps. Others collect coins. I collect dialects. Please let me know what you think of this page. - Rick Aschmann 
See what I mean?

Mr. Aschmann has put together a collection of North American accents based on pronunciation.  It is fascinating...

His work reminds me of an incident from many years ago, back during the Cold War. I was attending a dinner party at a US Embassy and was unexpectedly, but playfully, escorted to stand in front of a young woman who was with an Italian film company.  I was asked by the onlookers to say just a few words in a sentence and to stop. Once I had done so, everyone turned to look expectantly at the young woman, who, after a pregnant pause, said something along the lines of "hmmm.... American" (which brought groans from the onlookers), "south eastern" (yielding just a few groans), "South Carolina" (serious looks), "Darlington County" (at my nod of affirmation, this led to gasps and dropped jaws).  It turned out that she was the speech consultant to the film and her credits included coaching Mel Gibson (the Aussie from the Mad Max and other mainstream film series) and the New York African-Americans who needed to sound like Southerners in the movie "The Color Purple".


(Hat tip: The Economist, center left, UK, news magazine)