Staff picks for the week of Oct. 26, 2015

Staff Picks GeneralAdvancements in technology aren’t just bringing us new gadgets and gizmos to play with. They’re also impacting age-old social conventions, from the way we learn to who we eat lunch with. Read on for these stories and more.  

The most innovative schools in America (Read by Camillia S.)

Is it just me or does school seem much more fun now that as adults we’re no longer forced to go? Reading about the schools in this article made me wish I was a kid again – more specifically, a kid attending one of these six very different schools. For instance, Clintondale High School in Michigan follows a “flipped classroom” model where students work on projects and assignments in class rather than being assigned several hours homework. Instead, students spend about an hour at home learning and preparing for the next day’s lessons. This is beneficial for both students and parents, especially as common core math makes it difficult for parents to help their children with homework. I think as time progresses, the old-school methods of education will fizzle out completely.

With Never Eat Alone, Never Eat Alone (Read by Camillia S.)

Eating alone in your cubicle or office while your eyes are glued to a monitor is a sad but common occurrence in the corporate world. A French startup called Never Eat Alone is aiming to end to these drab lunch sessions with a new app it’s selling directly into big French companies. Its goal is two-fold: end deskside lunches while enabling individuals to network with colleagues they wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to talk to. I can’t wait for the app to come to the U.S.

How bacteria-fighting 3D-printed teeth could affect dentistry (Read by Heidi B.)

Dutch researchers at the University of Groningen are working to create 3D-printed teeth made of antimicrobial plastic that kills harmful bacteria on contact. The teeth, which stay white and clean as well as bacteria-free, have yet to be clinically tested, but the University’s Dr. Andreas Herrmann expects it to take “much less time than developing a new drug.” I don’t need replacement teeth at the moment, but should the time come when I do, these sound like a pretty good idea. Who wouldn’t smile about continuously clean, beautiful teeth?

Auto insurers are using the Internet of Things to monitor drivers and cut costs (Read by Heidi B.)

The Internet of Things (IoT) could be saving (or losing) you money on car insurance. To monitor driver habits and risk levels, major auto insurers, including Progressive, Allstate, and State Farm, are using in-car IoT devices. The most common, On Board Diagnostic (OBD-II) dongles, send driving analytics such as changes in speed, driving frequency, and the time of day you drive to your insurance company. And they’re already installed in nearly 155 million cars across North America. It’s simple: If you drive well, you’ll get better rates. Helpful, intrusive, or a little bit of both? Your call.

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