Last Sunday, preliminary results from a $300-million study conducted by the National Institutes of Health into the effect of screens on children’s brains were revealed on CBS’s 60 Minutes. Results so far indicate that the growing concern over kids and screen time is well founded. The study found that kids who spend more than two hours on screens a day score lower on language and thinking tests and those who spend more than seven hours on screens a day show “premature thinning of the cortex,” a developmental process that should not be happening until later.
Next week, EducationNC is running a series, “Screens in schools,” looking at the use of technology in school. The series will explore how schools are using technology as well as some of the research into the impact of screens on student health. Be sure to tune in next week.
The Next Evolution
EdSurge published two articles this week about a new form of assessment being developed by MIT researchers and piloted in two schools. The assessment of student growth is based on play, not standardized testing. According to one of the MIT researchers, the assessment is designed to measure “‘all the things we say we care about’—like curiosity, creativity and critical thinking—but that traditional assessments miss.”
One benefit of playful assessment is that it can be done without students realizing they are being assessed. Given recent research showing the negative psychological impact of standardized tests, this is certainly an important benefit. For a better understanding of playful assessment, read this article about a school in Charlottesville, Virginia that is piloting this model.
For Your Consideration
A new report from the U.S. Department of Transportation argues that policymakers can reduce the number of traffic fatalities in cities by downsizing larger vehicles, like fire trucks and garbage trucks. According to the report, large trucks make up 4 percent of vehicles in the U.S. but are involved in 7 percent of pedestrian fatalities, 11 percent of bicyclist fatalities, and 12 percent of car and smaller truck fatalities.
Smaller trucks are common in European and Asian cities due to the smaller streets, and new designs make them as effective as our larger trucks. Specifically, smaller trucks have more visibility, a smaller turning radius, and weigh less, all of which have safety benefits. The report provides a number of U.S. cities already downsizing their trucks, including a few that have deployed bicycle EMTs to decrease response times for emergencies.