Week # 13

We took a break over the Easter weekend. During the last week, we started having conversations about the effectiveness of the sessions and decided that the academic hour was not a great use of the time. We would now continue to focus on the “other stuff” besides academics but provide academic support to the kids when required. This led to some interesting conversations that I will reserve for a separate blog post.

This week we kicked off with going over the changes and the kids were happy about the change.

What If You Stopped Brushing Your Teeth Forever?

Amir showed the video “What If You Stopped Brushing Your Teeth Forever?” and wanted to get the group discussing and asking questions about.

The kids responded well as they started to learn the seriousness of the problems that could arise out of them not brushing their teeth regularly.

Some questions that he wanted to go over were:

  • Talk about the invention of toothbrush? Who invented it, where was it invented?
  • What about toothpaste?
  • Why do we have saliva in our mouths? What does it do?
  • What is a biofilm? Can someone describe it?
  • What causes bad breath? How bad is it? Describe it in a polite language.
  • Explain lactic acid
  • How do you fix cavities? Who can fix it for you?
  • Do you think Pirates have periodontitis? Discuss
  • Sugars cause rapid growth of bacteria. What should we eat to slow such tooth decay? Illustrate.
  • Does anyone know of a natural toothbrush? Tell us more

We couldn’t go through all of them as we ventured into some other areas like. What does it mean when the video says “5000 BCE”? and we ended up discussing BCE and AD and what do they signify.

We got into the discussion of simple and complex forms of sugar and I raised the question of what does it actually mean when we say “complex sugar”. Saba and Shaherbano are going to explain to me what those mean.

Overall the discussion was very productive and it started to show us that even a video of less than 3 minutes compresses a lot of different concepts that are linked to many different subject areas.

Autonomous Vehicles

During the week, the kids were given the task to research a bit on self-driving cars. Here was the task detail.

  • Do some very basic research, don’t need any big technical details, just a very rough idea of how they work.
  • Are there any tricky non-technical issues with self-driving cars? This would help, go to http://moralmachine.mit.edu and click on the button “Start Judging”

Half of the kids didn’t go through the questionnaire so they spent some time going over it while the others explained to me a little on what autonomous vehicles are and how they work. We got into talking about how the car figures out the speed limit on the road etc.

The interesting part of the discussion was when we started to talk about the tricky questions laid out in the questionnaire. Everybody had their opinions on what the car should do. For instance a few kids thought it would be reasonable for the car to run over the pedestrians if the car had to choose as it’s not their fault that car is having a tough time deciding who to save. I asked them what if the car was an Uber that the passengers were using, why would it be their fault? So then the answer shifted to well then let’s save the passengers of the car because it would be important for the car owners to know that the car will protect them. I responded with .. “Well I don’t want to be surrounded by cars that would want to run me over” and then the kids realised how tricky the situation would be. I loved the conversation and would continue on this topic at a later point.

Presentation – The Internet

Over the past 2 weeks, the kids prepared a presentation for us. Alamgir was the team lead, who managed the overall task and got the team to work together. I think the presentation was much better than the previous ones and we can see signs of improvement. You can see both the presentation and the video below.

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