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Scalar Learning Podcast

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Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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EP:201 How a Game Can Beat Coronavirus with Foldit

Here’s something awesome and oh-so-important considering our current global environment: Education technology that can help lead to preventative care. That’s why we’re loving FoldIt, a non-profit, revolutionary scientific discovery game run by research scientists from universities all across the United States.  In this week’s podcast, Huzefa speaks with Brian Koepnick, lead scientist for Foldit, regarding the pivotal role proteins play in our ability to comprehend and combat infectious diseases. Koepnick and the incredible crew at Foldit have designed a crowdsourced puzzle game where players are required to fold proteins into realistic, physically-plausible structures, often with tangible, real-life results. “There’s a vast space of solutions,” Koepnick said. “There are too many different solutions for us to enumerate on a computer. So we rely on the intuition and spatial reasoning of humans, of game players. You don’t have to know anything about biochemistry or proteins — all of that is taken care of by the game. You just have to learn the basic tools and how to use them, and you can become an effective player.” Foldit players continue to contribute ideas for HIV/AIDS, cancer, Alzheimer’s and, most recently, COVID19 research. They’ve also been responsible for creating new proteins from scratch, redesigning an existing protein enzyme and discovering an algorithm for how to fold proteins. Koepnick says Foldit players possess an innate ability to “focus on big-picture problems.” Huzefa sees a fantastic opportunity for savvy young minds to participate in Foldit games and truly test themselves in the world of scientific research and problem solving. “Students have a chance to get involved in the process,” he says, “and actually contribute real solutions. It’s just mind-blowing what they do.” The full conversation with Brian Koepnick can be accessed below.  Website: https://fold.it/ YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGjfDFjL-7rvhRRl2keqhcA Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/afterskool100/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/folditgame Twitter: https://twitter.com/foldit


6 Apr 2020

Rank #1

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EP080: Responsive classroom: a new approach to teaching

In this episode, Huzefa interviews Earl Hunter II, a responsive classroom expert and consultant, explains the ins and outs of this revolutionary style of teaching. For kids craving more social engagement and a higher level of passion at school, this is the episode for you. To learn more, go to https://www.responsiveclassroom.org/


16 Aug 2016

Rank #2

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EP076: Singapore Math with Bill Davidson

Bill Davidson, educator and Singapore Math consultant, joins the show to talk about the ins and outs of the Singapore Math pedagogy. Bill has worked with countless teachers across the country in an effort to train them to be effective math educators with the Singapore Math curriculum. Tune into this episode to hear precisely how this form of teaching works, and moreover, how to implement the strategies at home if your child’s school is not a Singapore Math institution. To check out Bill Davidson’s show, go to www.teacherbilldavidson.com


12 Aug 2016

Rank #3

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EP 173: New York Teacher Shares his Passion for Math Rap Education

Seven years ago, Mike Andrejkovics wrote the first rap he ever performed to his students. Since then, this has evolved into a long-standing tradition, where Mr. A writes a rap and performs an accompanying music video to the school where he teaches in Long Island, New York. His raps are less about specific topics and more about his own appreciation for math. It began as a way to motivate his students to do the same and engage in math by writing music about it. Each year, a handful of his students write and perform their own music videos and song parodies. His raps are often parodies of popular songs — for example, “The Real Math Students” in place of “The Real Slim Shady.” Other raps include “The Next Episode (Do Math Everyday),” “Learning Mathematics,” and “Math Workshop,” among others. He often performs his raps live at various conferences. He also has a podcast on iTunes called “Mr. A’s Math Podcast,” which consists of videos that explain complicated math topics and is aimed at students. To learn more about Mr. A, check out his YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOIwfj9KJRGbIz5WQApS4fg and listen to the full podcast interview below.  


6 Aug 2018

Rank #4

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EP 177: Chemistry Made Amazing with NileRed

Nigel Braun began posting his chemistry experiments to YouTube in 2014 under the name NileRed (after the lipophilic stain) with no intention of amassing such a large audience. But now, four years later, he has over 420,000 subscribers that tune in regularly to watch his latest experiment. The mission is to prove that science can be a topic as engaging and fascinating as any other — often even more so. The channel currently features four playlists: extractions, odors, syntheses and demonstrations, and spontaneous combustion, although videos often don’t fall into those categories. The extractions playlist features videos on extracting certain substances from others; for example, extracting citric acid from lemons, caffeine from coffee, and starch from potatoes, as well as some slightly more offbeat extractions such as lidocaine from anal lubricant. The odors playlist is entirely about how to make certain odors like cadaverine and butyric acid, the smells of rotting flesh and vomit respectively. The combustions and syntheses playlists feature various chemical reactions and accompanying explanations. Most of his videos have hundreds of thousands of views, but some have garnered well over a million. His most popular video to date, which shows how mercury and aluminum react to form a mercury alloy, has 7.4 million views. Other videos with more views include instructional videos on how to make chloroform and alcohol on your own, as well as other chemical reactions. Nigel has also created a website and shop for his channel, where he has a blog that he shares information about his videos on. He finds materials such as glassware and chemicals from various sources and is careful to warn viewers that certain experiments should not be conducted without proper safety materials and safely procured chemicals. To learn more about NileRed, listen to the full interview and check out the links below. YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/TheRedNile Website: https://nile.red Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/user?u=2448989 Instagram: http://instagram.com/nile.red Twitter: https://twitter.com/NileRed2


17 Sep 2018

Rank #5

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EP086: My first experience integrating Responsive Classroom

Huzefa recounts his first attempt at using Responsive Classroom techniques during a lecture presented at a self development conference. Hear precisely how the various techniques were integrated, and moreover, how this pedagogy can be used by other educators to improve the classroom experience.


23 Aug 2016

Rank #6

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EP 178: SciShow – a Powerful Science Show for Kids

Science has a tendency to be viewed as complicated and erudite, a subject with so many different branches and intricacies that it can take years to study even one discipline. But that is often to do with how science taught, and it certainly doesn’t mean that non-scientists can’t learn about how the universe works — even kids are never too young to start learning about science when it’s explained in ways that they can understand. This is what inspired the launch of SciShow Kids, a YouTube channel that aims to provide scientific answers to common questions and topics “for young, curious minds.” Hosted by Jessi and Squeaks, a robot rat, SciShow Kids releases videos every Tuesday and Thursday. They tackle seemingly perplexing topics and break them down into easily understandable explanations. The show often conducts experiments, hosts special guests, and highlights how science works in everyday settings such as kitchens and playgrounds. With close to 200,000 subscribers, it’s safe to say that SciShow Kids has proven itself a successful endeavor and popular among kids everywhere by answering questions that kids ponder but never know the answer to. For example, recent uploads include “Why Does Ice Cream Hurt My Head?” and “Why Can’t I Eat Peanut Butter?” Many videos also focus on animals and other facts that especially kids, but even adults, find interesting. The original SciShow channel was launched by Hank Green, known for his role as co-host of YouTube channel vlogbrothers alongside his brother and teen author John Green. SciShow publishes a new video every day, alternating hosts between Hank Green, Michael Aranda, Olivia Gordon, and Stefan Chin. This channel features information pertaining to every branch of science. SciShow Kids is one of three branches of the original SciShow, which launched in 2012. Other variants include SciShow Space and SciShow Psych. The Space channel features videos about the universe and attempts to explain the mysteries of outer space in a way that makes sense to everyone, with content covering the beginning of the universe to modern developments in astronomy. SciShow Psych focuses on how the human brain works and the psychology behind decisions we make. To learn more about SciShow Kids, listen to the full interview with the show’s producer, Sam Schultz, and check out the shows at the links below. SciShow: https://www.youtube.com/scishow SciShow Kids: https://www.youtube.com/user/scishowkids SciShow Space: https://www.youtube.com/user/scishowspace SciShow Psych: https://www.youtube.com/scishowpsych


24 Sep 2018

Rank #7

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EP 191: Teaching Math via YouTube with MathMeeting

Chris Seber, a civil engineering graduate, found his calling teaching math to the world via his YouTube channel, Math Meeting. He is the founder of MathMeeting.com and creator of brain teasers, Rubik’s cube videos, and over 400 math tutorials that range from basic math through calculus. Chris chats with Huzefa about how he amassed over 400,000 subscribers on YouTube and what’s in store next for MathMeeting. He’s currently studying the technical side of Data Science and has plans to bridge the learning gap between studying math and applying it to real-world scenarios. Listen in as Chris gives us some examples of how applicable math really is to our lives, and stay tuned for his brand new content in the Data Science realm where he will answer the question math educators hear so often… “When am I going to use math after I graduate highschool?”   Website: http://www.mathmeeting.com/ YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/MathMeeting/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MathMeeting Twitter: https://twitter.com/mathmeeting


17 Dec 2019

Rank #8

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EP084: Getting ready for school: how to develop an effective morning routine for your kids

In this episode, Huzefa shares an article from Frugal mom on the merits of developing an effective morning routine to keep your kids on point when preparing for school each morning. To check out the article, go to http://www.frugal-mama.com/2012/08/ease-the-morning-rush-and-assign-simple-chores-with-a-get-ready-for-school-checklist/


20 Aug 2016

Rank #9

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EP 175: Making Math Interactive at MoMath

In the early 2000s, the Goudreau Museum closed. It was a small math museum on Long Island, but it sparked an outrage among a small group of people who met up in 2008 to open a new math museum. Despite the need for effective math programming, there was no existing math museum in the United States. Now, the National Museum of Mathematics, or the MoMath, aims to “enhance public understanding and perception or mathematics” through exhibitions and galleries that explain the role of mathematics in the things we see every day, with a particular focus on how art and math intersect. MoMath is located in Manhattan, New York, and is open 364 days a year. It features programs and exhibits that strive to showcase math in a different light, in a way that is meant to spark enjoyment and interest in the subject. Upcoming events include “Math Encounters,” an exhibit that explains the similarities between math and dance; “Escher,” a guided tour of an exhibit of works by artist M.C. Escher with Dave Masunaga; “Expressions,” a hackathon hosted by the museum; and “Math Walk in the Park,” a walk through Madison Square Park with Ron Lancaster, where he explains how math is present everywhere. Other popular programs include the Derivatives tour and the Explorations program, which provides a hands-on experience in a classroom setting that allows families to explore math in a positive way. They have been visited by hundreds of thousands of people in the decade they’ve been open and have led programs and math tours in cities across the country. One of their current exhibits is called “Reflections: Geometries of the Reflected World.” It focuses on how geometry is seen in the real world, showcasing art from artists Scott Kim and Michael Curry. The exhibit is largely interactive. MoMath has also been honored with several awards for their work, including the 2016 Communications Award for Public Outreach, the Best Museum for Kids, the 2013 MUSE Award for Education and Outreach, and the Most Fascinating Museum in New York State. To learn more about MoMath, visit their website at www.momath.org and listen to the full podcast interview with Executive Director Cindy Lawrence below.


3 Sep 2018

Rank #10

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EP 190: Inspiring Creativity and Problem Solving with First Lego League Jr.

Alisha MacIntyre is the Head of Program Development and Lego Education at FIRST, a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring kids through STEAM. Huzefa talks with Alisha about the origins of the FIRST Lego League Jr. Discovery program, which started over 20 years ago. Hosted in over 140 countries, the program has students as young as 4 years-old using Lego education to collaborate with others and build real world solutions for real world problems. She deconstructs the programs and explains the ideas of why and how students ‘playing’ with Legos and engineering helps not only embedding of math concepts but literacy, too.   Website: https://www.firstinspires.org/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FIRSTOfficial/ YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/FIRSTWorldTube Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/first_official_/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/firstweets


28 Oct 2019

Rank #11

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EP081: Grit: the power of passion and perserverance

Huzefa shares a synopsis of an amazing self-development and parenting book called “Grit,” written by psychologist and teacher Angela Duckworth. This book is a testament to the notion that hard work and commitment trumps innate ability, and moreover, there is a way to imbue children with the ability to tough it out.


17 Aug 2016

Rank #12

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EP 195: Learning about Robotics and Programming with Sphero

A lot has changed since Adam Wilson, co-founder of Sphero, first became interested in Robotics. Inspired by the movie Short Circuit, Adam attempted to build his own robotics at the young age of 10, but it would take another decade, plus finding co-founder Ian Bernstein, before the two joined up to make the world of robotics, coding and programming both fun and accessible to everyone.   Tune in to hear Huzefa and Adam discuss the endless learning opportunities Sphero offers. Their STEAM based tools are a hit in classrooms, where students can partake in a number of programming exercises, spanning topics from history to math. Rather than learning the Pythagorean Theorem on paper for example, Sphero teaches students in a more physically engaging way. By programming the math formula into their robot using code, students can watch in real-time as their robot drives itself to three points, forming a right triangle. Robots range from the $49 Sphero Mini to the newest and most advanced, RVR priced at $249. Over the last few years, Sphero also launched a Computer Science curriculum so that coders and creators can take their robotics skills to the next level. It includes 24 lessons on computer science which can be applied to almost any type of automation one can imagine. The open API means that creators are only limited by their own coding skills and imagination.  Adam and the team at Sphero receive an endless stream of feedback, from happy customers who never knew they were so tech-savvy until trying robotics and programming with Sphero. Learners of every age are using Sphero and anyone can get involved. Check out their community page, or join in the next Hackathon competition for a truly exciting learning experience! Website: https://www.sphero.com/ YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5EJptL-l6f4tY6lRdLm_Sw Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sphero Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GoSphero/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/Sphero


22 Jan 2020

Rank #13

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EP 206: Learning Guitar at Home with Fender Play

Fender Play is rockin’ right now. Beginning and intermediate guitar players are flocking to Fender Play to learn, develop and share new music digitally.  There’s something for every budding guitar virtuoso at Fender Play, including step-by-step micro-lessons for first-timers, weekly online tutorials with expert instructors, as well as a large catalog of song-learning material for more advanced users. Lesson programs are specifically designed for electric, acoustic and bass guitars. Ready to conquer the ukulele? They have a digital study guide for that, too.   Huzefa, a bit of an axeman himself having learned to play during his youth, says a guitar is an outstanding brain-development tool. “This is super cool,” he says of Fender Play. “It’s amazing that students can use this to teach themselves how to play guitar.” In this week’s Podcast, Huzefa welcomes Mary Keenan, the Director of Product, and curriculum expert, at Fender Play and Fender Play Live. Keenan was instrumental in assisting Fender, known for decades for its top-shelf guitar production, to make the jump into digital music instruction. For the hesitant-but-curious guitar guy or gal looking for a place to get started, Fender Play offers a nice, distraction-free outlet that’s set at your own pace. “We decided the best way to approach this was to go step-by-step with how to talk somebody through the development of their skills,” Keenan said. “When you join Fender Play, you’re asked a few questions — really simple and upfront — about what instrument you’re playing and what genre you’re interested in. . . . “We have levels. Everything is structured for you step by step by step. The way that we’ve designed (Fender Play) is to teach a skill, and then teach you to play a song so that you’re learning that skill and applying that skill in the context of something musical, and something that feels exciting to learn.” For specific details on Fender Play price plans, including their 3-month trial offer that’s free to sign up for, have a listen to this week’s conversation in the link below. There’s a lot of quality information here, especially if you’ve ever hesitated to give it a go on the guitar. As they say, there’s never been a better time than right now. Website: https://www.fender.com/play AppStore: https://apps.apple.com/app/id1226057939 GooglePlay: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.fender.play YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/fendermusical Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/fender Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Fender/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/fender


12 May 2020

Rank #14

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EP 200: Learning Made Easy with 2 Minute Classroom

The rapid growth across the ed-tech industry tells us one thing: people love to learn. With more educational resources at our fingertips than ever before, we are all faced with the dilemma of wanting to spend our time learning what we love versus learning specific topics necessary to graduate high school, maintain professional certifications, or continue workplace training. Thanks to Virgil Ricks, the creator of the 2 Minute Classroom website and channel on YouTube, high school students can rest easy, knowing that the time they were spending on science homework can now be devoted to learning guitar, coding, or taking up a new sport. 2 Minute Classroom is a free and accessible online resource for quickly and easily learning complex topics in science and math. Virgil is no stranger to encountering high-schooler angst when it comes to learning scientific topics; he saw it first-hand teaching in the classroom for many years. He experimented with using existing YouTube videos, but students complained that they were too long and boring, and he watched them lose interest quickly. The need for shorter more concise and visually engaging content was clear, and from that, 2 Minute Classroom was born. With approximately 25,000 subscribers now tuning in to Virgil’s highly engaging channel, the requests for content have been increasing and the topics you can find using the YouTube search bar within the channel are now quite vast. From biology and chemistry to math, genetics, and physics, whether you are a student, parent, or teacher, you can take advantage of this hugely beneficial resource. Website: https://www.2minuteclassroom.com/ YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7izWi_rV1mN_Hg78PAJgoA


16 Mar 2020

Rank #15

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EP083: ALEKS: an amazing online math education tool

Huzefa interviews Ray Ramos, a representative from ALEKS, an online math education platform. Ray talks about the inner workings of the platform, how kids can use it both at home and at school, and also answers questions from several of Huzefa’s students. For more information, go to www.aleks.com


19 Aug 2016

Rank #16

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EP 193: Math Mastery for Kids with Learning Differences using ModMath

Josh and Dawn Denberg, the creators of the incredible free app ModMath, don’t consider themselves education technology gurus, teachers or even mathematicians. Nevertheless, they recognized the glaring need for a technology that assists students who are struggling with writing difficulties. Their son has dysgraphia — a learning disability that affects written expression — making it a challenge to use handwriting to solve math problems. While students can easily understand the concepts behind the math, if they can’t write the formula down legibly, it’s pretty hard to solve it!  ModMath was created to address this very real problem, as dysgraphia affects many students with autism, ADHD and other learning difficulties. The app serves as a tool and resource for students, not as a calculator. The app won’t solve a math problem for you. It will however assist in the set-up of the problem, in a digital-grid like format, that works for any student struggling with writing.  Fine motor skills, like writing, greatly impact a student’s ability to learn math. When it comes to math, keeping numbers in the right columns, staying in-line during long division, dealing with decimals and carrying the numbers over all present challenges. With ModMath, that handwriting roadblock has been completely eliminated, and kids can focus on the real task at hand – learning math.  ModMath is currently being used in 99 countries and has been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times on iTunes. Just this year, ModMath saw a 90% increase year-over-year in users. At the request of teachers, parents and districts, ModMath will soon be making some upgrades and launching a new version. The app will become available on iOS, Android and Chromebook. Students will be able to integrate ModMath with Dropbox for easy collaboration on assignments with their teachers. They even plan to add a feature enabling students to upload a photo of a math problem directly into ModMath.  Listen now as Josh shares with Huzefa the story behind this amazing app, the overwhelmingly positive feedback received to date, and plans for continually improving ModMath.  Website: https://www.modmath.com/ ModMath App: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/modmath/id821892964?ls=1&mt=8 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/modmathapp?ref=hl Twitter: https://twitter.com/ModMath


31 Dec 2019

Rank #17

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EP 194: How Kids Gain Typing Mastery with TypeTastic

Typing is one of the fundamental education skills, and something that hasn’t always been fun to learn. As typing is being taught to younger ages, the approach needed an update so students would stay engaged and find the lessons fun.  TypeTastic zoned in on exactly how to make typing fun, and has “unleashed the joy of typing” on over 2 million students to date! Huzefa speaks with Sini Taskinen from Marketing at TypeTastic about how the software got its start, over 30 years ago on DOS, and what we can expect to see in the future.  The Ed-Tech Digest Cool Tools Award Finalist offers over 700 free activities on their website. TypeTastic is primarily used in schools, but all materials can be accessed free of charge at the website listed below.  Website: https://typetastic.com/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/typetastic Twitter: https://twitter.com/typetastic_com


7 Jan 2020

Rank #18

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EP092: 15 brainy board games to stimulate memory and cognition

Courtesy of lifehack.org, Huzefa shares an awesome list of socially engaging and mentally stimulating board games. If you’re looking for an alternative to video games that is both educational and fun, you definitely need to check out this episode. Get the full list of amazing games along with Huzefa’s personal recommendations. To check out the article, go to http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/15-fun-board-games-that-exercise-your-brain-and-make-you-smarter.html


28 Aug 2016

Rank #19

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EP090: Pokemon Go! Should your kids be playing?

Huzefa takes a look at the fad that has swept the world: Pokemon Go! After checking out the game himself and researching the issue robustly, Huzefa offers his opinion on the game and let’s parents know that he’s not a huge proponent of the game.


26 Aug 2016

Rank #20