A Student is Flying the Plane!

He was actually piloting the plane!

Last week I had the opportunity to fly in the back seat of a small plane flown by one of our high school aviation students. We are making a STEM video focused on aviation careers. I went along to the airport to gather footage for the video. I planned on putting a GoPro in the cockpit and get some b-roll from the ground. When our aviation teacher started adding up the weight of passengers and included me, I was very hesitant. I had never flown in such a small plane, let alone with a student at the controls!

They reassured me that it would be a short, safe flight. Our aviation teacher was there too, but he was hands off for most of the flight. I am very glad that I went along. It was a beautiful day with gorgeous views of Naples. It was also a reminder of the incredible things young people can do when they are focused, motivated, and inspired. I am glad to be a part of this project featuring an incredible young man, who after being in the US for just a few years, speaks three languages, is about to graduate high school, and is very near to gaining his private pilot license.

Here is a short cut of some of the footage from the experience:


PS3 Bluetooth Gamepad for Mac Update – Connectivity

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how to connect a PS3 controller with a Mac computer for gaming. The setup was super easy and I experienced great responsiveness with several games. There is one quirk that I discovered that is worth noting. It seems that with the games that I am playing (through Steam) the controller must be turned on and connected before launching the game. Any time that I have turned it on afterwards, it does not work. It is simple to fix. Just close the game and relaunch. It does not even require restarting the gamepad. That can remain on. A minor annoyance, but I wanted to share with anyone who is starting to use the PS3 controller in this way.


Educational and Addicting Geography Puzzle Games for iPad


There is a fun series of free geography puzzle games called Enjoy Learning that I find simple, stable, and addictive. I tried the two apps most relevant to me: Enjoy Learning World Map Puzzle, and Enjoy Learning US Map Puzzle. Each game is based on the same premise: locate states, regions, and countries and slide the cut outs on to the map. Each map starts blank and you drag and drop pieces of fill in the puzzle.


There are different levels of difficultly which would be great for differentiating among students. Also, every game is timed, so there is significant replay value as you try to beat your (and other students’) best scores. That repetition would be great for reinforcing student learning.


I could see using this as a short transition activity, game break, or maybe even a reward activity. With a small group, I could imagine developing a larger competitive game around the puzzle.


There is some banner advertising at the bottom of the menu pages, but not the game, which is much less intrusive than so many free games. I recommend these apps for any age group in school, or even for adults just to pass a few minutes doing a brain activity. Without hints on large world maps, the puzzle can be quite challenging.

Enjoy Learning World Map Puzzle (Free) Minimal advertising

Enjoy Learning US Map Puzzle (Free) Minimal advertising


Rare NPR Morning Edition Blooper and What it Tells Us



Every once in a while, I will hear news anchors on NPR mess up, trip over a word, clear their throat, and then expertly regain their stride and move on. But last week on Morning Edition, I got to witness a real mess up. I’m still not sure if it was human error, or technical error, from the anchors, or from the technicians. Either way it was a moment that caused me to reflect on the quality of programming I receive in my car every day.

Unfortunately, I could not find the recording of this moment, or any other blooper to share with you here. A testament to the rarity of them, perhaps? After a loss of momentum reading the intro to a story, Steve Inskeep tried to throw it to a different story. Apparently that package was not ready either, in which case they both laughed and made a joke to stall for a few more seconds. This was enough time for the producers and technicians to finally (a few seconds is an eternity in live media) play the next story.

My first reaction was to smile and enjoy this human moment with two people I listen to every day. I felt like I was getting a glimpse at another side of them that we rarely get to see, raw and unscripted. As I continued my ride to work, I thought about how it revealed how truly consistent that show is, and everyone who is a part of it. A week later, I still take that appreciation of quality and consistency with me as I drive and listen.

Photo:  Morning Edition Anchor Steve Inskeep at Iowa Public Radio studio

Photo credit:  LicenseAttributionNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by John Pemble