Micro: Bit Device to Help Children Learn Computer Programming

One million English schoolchildren will be able to learn computer programming due to a new portable device.

According to Techcrunch.com writer Matt Burns, “this web-based tool allows users to program and simulate tasks before transferring the data to the device. And since it runs in the browser, users can program the Micro:Bit on nearly any device.”

The device has red LED lights, a motion sensor, two buttons that allow users to simulate computer programming. The students will be able to make letters and numbers with the 25 LED lights. The device can also connect to other computing kits for more advanced tasks.

Tony Hall, BBC’s director general, believes that the device could help tackle the fact children were leaving school knowing how to use computers but not how to program them.

“We all know there’s a critical and growing digital skills gap in this country and that’s why it’s so important that we come together and do something about it,” Hall said at a launch event in London July 7.

This new tech initiative is slated to be released in October. To see how it all works, watch the demonstration below.

Source: YouTube


New Horizons Spacecraft Reveals New Details About Pluto

This week has been a remarkable time for astronomy after NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft reached Pluto.

The spacecraft traveled 3 billion miles in order to capture high-definition photos of the former last planet in our solar system and its moons. These photos provided new insights into the mysterious Pluto that NASA scientists have long wondered about.

Possible water mountains on the dwarf planet's surface.
Possible water mountains on the dwarf planet’s surface.

According to Alan Stern, principal investigator for NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, “the steep topography means that the bedrock that makes those mountains must be made of H2O — of water ice,” said Stern. “We can be very sure that the water is there in great abundance.”

Where are the craters?

The photos also revealed that the dwarf planet did not have any craters even though it is in close proximity to the Kuiper Belt. This belt has many icy bodies that could have crashed into Pluto at some time or another.

“That lack of craters means the surface of Pluto is young, less than 100 million years old, the researchers said. That’s a small fraction of the age of the solar system — 4.5 billion years, ” reports Amanda Barnett for CNN.

As New Horizons flew by Pluto, it also captured images of Charon (Pluto’s largest moon) and four other smaller ones. The spacecraft is estimated to have about 20 years of power left, so there is more information to come.

Amazingly, the information gathered from the Pluto flyby will take 16 months to download by NASA.


6 Black Archaeologists and Anthropologists You Should Know About

54ecc2e91f07caed5f3df032891fc9deJohn Wesley Gilbert 

Gilbert (July 6, 1864 – Nov. 19, 1923), an archaeologist born in Georgia, faced extreme racism and prejudice, but that did not stop him from being the first Black professor at Paine College and the first Black person to earn a master’s at Brown University in 1891. Gilbert is also the first person to map the ancient Greek city-state of Eretria where, from 1890-1891, he conducted archaeological excavations  with Professor John Pickard.

10 Captivating Animals Exclusive to Africa

There are thousands of species of animals that are unique to the African continent that exist nowhere else on Earth. Sadly, most of these beautiful creatures are being hunted by poachers and big game enthusiasts. So their populations are dwindling at record numbers. Here are only a small sampling of the exclusive African wildlife that are still living today.

Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis), in its alpine moorland habitat, Bale National Park, Ethiopia

Ethiopian Wolf  

This type of wolf is an endangered species that has had declining numbers for decades. It is estimated that the wolf only has a population of 500. The Ethiopian wolf is a canine and native to the Ethiopian highlands.



This animal is the tallest living animal. Giraffes are herbivores and have been targeted by poachers for decades. In the above photo, two male giraffes are competing for dominance.

8 Examples of Possible Life on Other Planets and Moons in Our Solar System


Saturn’s largest moon has hydrocarbon lakes that could support life. Out of all the celestial bodies in our solar system, Titan has a makeup that could give potential alien life a chance at existence.


Europa is one of Jupiter’s many moons and has enough water to support life. Underneath an icy surface is an extreme cold reservoir of water that may contain a variety of bacteria. As of this year, the Obama administration has provided $15 million in funding for an expedition to the moon. There is also a probe called the Europa Clipper in the works.

College Students Use Oculus Rift to Improve Online Learning

Penn State University engineering students in the Design Analysis Technology Advancement Laboratory are using the popular Oculus Rift Virtual Reality headset to enhance online learning.

The research was funded by the Center for Online Innovation in Learning Research Initiation Grant.

According to assistant professor of engineering design and industrial engineering Conrad Tucker, “online learning gives us huge opportunities in higher education. You can connect with more diverse people across greater distances. Online courses also limit you in some ways — there’s little immersive or tactile interaction, and sometimes it’s hard for students to engage with the material. IVR (immersive virtual reality) systems are a potential solution to that problem.”

The students, under the guidance of Tucker, created a demo of a virtual classroom with chairs, desks and a chalkboard. In addition to the headset, there is a glove that allows students to pick up, assemble and take apart virtual objects. In the case of the demo, a coffee pot was the subject.

“Moving forward, we’d love to work with students in other countries. Oculus Rift and other similar technologies allow you to sync your devices with others regardless of location and work on the same project. You can always Skype with people around the world, but you don’t get the same experience,” Tucker explains.

There are no limits to virtual reality in the classroom. Tucker is a strong advocate and believer that virtual reality is the future to online learning.

2015 ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Math and Science Scholarship Recipients Announced

Earlier this week, four high school seniors were selected by the Council of the Great City Schools to receive a $5,000 scholarship courtesy of ExxonMobil for perspective students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

The organization focuses on the needs of students attending urban area schools. The organization is composed of 67 different urban school districts in the U.S. that serve as a network to solve common issues and exchange information and problem-solving methods.

On June 3, the 2015 ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Math and Science Scholarship were announced: Matthew Guillory from Robert A. Millikan High School in Long Beach, California, of the Unified School District; Sofia Kennedy from the Liberal Arts and Science Academy in Austin, Texas, of the Independent School District; Summer Kollie of Girard Academic Music Program from School District of Philadelphia; and Nicolas Pena from Western High School of Broward County, Florida, Public Schools

The scholarship was created in 2010 by the first Black astronaut to walk in space, Dr. Bernard Harris. His foundation partnered up with ExxonMobil to give students in low-income districts a chance to prosper.

According to the executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, Michael Casserly, “these highly competitive scholarships provide an enormous opportunity for talented urban students to pursue STEM post-secondary studies and careers. The generous support of Dr. Harris and ExxonMobil contributes to the growth of these young men and women as they begin the next stage of their lives.”

After a long application process, Harris decides who will receive the scholarships.