atans1

Innovation: S’pore versus US style

In Uncategorized on 20/06/2010 at 5:58 am

Or soft skills versus hardware. Two stories from NYT

US style

In a class full of aspiring engineers, the big bad wolf had to do more than just huff and puff to blow down the three little pigs’ house.

To start, he needed to get past a voice-activated security gate, find a hidden door and negotiate a few other traps in a house that a pair of kindergartners here imagined for the pigs — and then pieced together from index cards, paper cups, wood sticks and pipe cleaners.

“Excellent engineering,” their teacher, Mary Morrow, told them one day early this month.

All 300 students at Clara E. Coleman Elementary School are learning the A B C’s of engineering this year, even those who cannot yet spell e-n-g-i-n-e-e-r-i-n-g. The high-performing Glen Rock school district, about 22 miles northwest of Manhattan, now teaches 10 to 15 hours of engineering each year to every student in kindergarten through fifth grade, as part of a $100,000 redesign of the science curriculum.

Spurred by growing concerns that American students lack the skills to compete in a global economy, school districts nationwide are packing engineering lessons into already crowded schedules for even the youngest students, giving priority to a subject that was once left to after-school robotics clubs and summer camps, or else waited until college.

Supporters say that engineering reinforces math and science skills, promotes critical thinking and creativity, and teaches students not to be afraid of taking intellectual risks. Full story.

S’pore style

This island city-state, thanks to its small size and a big public investment, could soon be the first country blanketed with a fiber optic infrastructure so fast that it would enable the contents of a DVD to be downloaded in only a few seconds.

BTW, consumers get screwed here vis-a-vis those in HK (and not juz in World Cup and EPL footie):

But analysts and market observers doubt whether new competition will really develop within the Singapore context, and whether prices of bandwidth for consumers will go down significantly for consumers as a result. Consumers now pay about 40 Singapore dollars per month for broadband access of six megabits per second, which is relatively high compared with Hong Kong, where some consumers pay about 200 Hong Kong dollars, or about 36 Singapore dollars, a month for service of one gigabit per second.

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