How one undergrad built the largest solar farm in Michigan - Connor Field, a Michigan state resident and University of Michigan undergrad, completed quite the amazing venture this summer: creating the largest solar farm in his state. Being an Economics major, Field set out to show renewable technology can be profitable, so he and his father negotiated with the local energy company while constructing their power-producing plot. They also took care to cut costs by producing the mechanical aspects of the farm from scratch. Because the sun's position changes throughout the year, the most efficient solar panels should be able to rotate to match the sun's orientation. Since such hardware is very costly, Field welded, "together 50,000 pounds of structural steel and pouring concrete around 20,000 pounds of rebar" to create simple hinged mechanisms that allow the panels to be unlatched and adjusted as need be to match the sun's location at each point of the year.
Initially it may seem that somewhere that is sunny almost everyday like Arizona would be more beneficial for solar power, but in reality the heat hinders the panels upwards of 75% efficiency! Therefore Field's farm produces the largest amount of the power in the spring with a, "maximum of 149kW, enough to power a couple hundred homes." But this is not the end of the Field's renewable energy undertakings: he is planning a future project at a grander scale than his current solar farm, and "is spending this summer interning with a University of Michigan project researching new solar technology." Make sure to keep your eyes open to the fields of rural Michigan to see what Field concocts next!
Kids and Media
Toons, Tablets and Tech-Toys: Intergenerational Play is the Future of Digital Learning- Here is some enlightening reflection on how interactive devices like the iPad are really allowing families and classrooms to interact with kids while enhancing learning. Great programs like Toontastic Travel Tales 'Tooning Contest help parents and kids collaborate during learning experiences instead of kids being plugged into their own isolated worlds.
PBS revisits 'Mister Rogers' with new show -PBS is bringing back the beloved Mister Rogers Neighborhood with a new animated spin: 'Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood.' It will be targeted at the preschool age bracket, but will still follow the tenants of Mister Rogers world: instilling curiosity, and helping children understand how relationships work.
Take a Musical Trip with iOS Game Groove Coaster - Who knew being a little ball of light floating along a winding roller coaster and tapping to a beat could be so addicting! Not only is Groove Coaster graphically impressive and interesting, it also requires a good amount of skill. The longer you play, the more difficult the sound track you have to match. The best part is that if you play perfectly your tapping enhances the original music! Check it out at the app store!
Hands-On With Skype's Phone app for iPad - After much anticipation, the Skype app for the iPad is finally live as of last night! This great new tool for the ever-changing Apple world allows users to voice and video chat using 3G or Wi-Fi to other mobile devices, connect with landlines, recieve calls using the device's online number, and of course instant message. To see exactly what it looks like, check out this step by step progression of screen shots!
Human Pinball Takes Over New York - Person Pinball debuted at the Animation Block Party this past weekend in Brooklyn, and features a cool technique known as pixilation that makes "people look like stop-motion puppets."