NaNo Update, Sleepy Tweets Edition
Could be my machine, could be my Internet connection out here. Or it could be Twitter that's slow. But if it is Twitter, then it's also a bunch of other websites I've been trying to access these past two days. *sigh*
That's cramped my style some, but it hasn't stopped me. My earlier posted word count on NaNoWriMo was 26,092 -- slightly better than NaNo's "average" expected pace of 1,667 words per day.
Why am I paying attention to Twitter while I'm doing NaNo? There's a reason the #SciFund Challenge comes with a built-in hashtag. It's got an awesome Twitter feed. Just search Twitter on #SciFund and you'll see what I mean.
Want another awesome feed? Search on #ls_chat and follow a discussion of #SciFund at 10 a.m. Pacific Time, 1 p.m. Eastern Time on November 16.
I wish I had a clone (not for the first time!), because I'll be speaking at the Citrus County Library's "Write-In," which occurs at 1-4 p.m. Eastern that day. Maybe I can sneak a peek at the #ls_chat Q&A.
So, what am I learning from Twitter these days? For one thing, I'm learning that Kalani Kirk Hausman, whose #SciFund project aims to create a do-it-yourself laboratory for teaching STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) in neighborhood schools, curates a #SciFund digest on Scoop.it.
But let me back up for a minute. Why a DIY lab?
Hausman conducts "Scrap-heap Supercomputing" workshops using surplus university equipment. These workshops have inspired middle-school through college-level students, who get hands-on experience in working to solve global issues -- like cures for childhood diseases and cancer, and the search for clean water resources and clean energy technologies.
(I'm going to get back to that "clean water resources" bit in a moment.)
Why supercomputing? Because the power of those combined surplus machines "contributed more than 4 years worth of computing power in barely 3 months total time" toward solving those problems. That's what a lot of surplus computers, hooked together, can do.
Too bad the university surplus, which must be "disposed of properly," can't be transferred directly to the schools.
That's where Hausman's project comes in.
He's found a way to hook together "nodes" -- very basic computer modules that anyone can grab off the shelf -- together, to make them into powerful machines. He's got free open-source software to go with them. Add in downloadable instructions and you've got a STEM lab, constructed for a fraction of the ready-made cost, that's accessible to teachers everywhere.
That could inject a dose of global competitiveness right into your own back yard.
I've learned on Twitter that, in addition to spearheading this project, Hausman curates the #SciFund Scoop.it digest, which pulls all sorts of #SciFund-relevant materials from the Web.
He also gets on the Twitter horn and tweets those links about the array of individual #SciFund projects and about online coverage of them. One link, one tweet at a time. Day after day.
That's dozens of tweets.
He's trying to raise a lot of money (compared to the other projects) for his DIY STEM lab (Don't take my word for it; go see!). And his project needs a boost. It needs a lot of boosts.
One of the things that makes RocketHub different from Kickstarter is that funds raised go to the projects, whether they meet their goal or not. It's just that the commissions differ.
In addition to promoting his own work, Hausman is using his energies to promote everyone else's fine work. One tweet doesn't take long, but he's been making a lot of tweets, on behalf of a lot of people.
But that's not all. That "clean water resources" bit I was talking about?
When Hausman isn't tweeting about #SciFund or about other great things, he posts the occasional statement that he's donated CPU time to the World Community Grid and its Computing for Clean Water project. The WCG isn't part of #SciFund -- it's another crowdsourced project. Computing for Clean Water seeks "more efficient and lower-cost methods for producing clean water." The site amasses and uses idle time from all the computers entered into the program.
Hausman can donate over 150 hours to WCG in a single week. Without slowing down his tweets at all.
Although not directly part of #SciFund, WCG served as part of the inspiration for Hausman's DIY STEM lab. His computer nodes function in a similar way. He's also planning age-appropriate lessons that will tie class work to WCG initiatives, like Computing for Clean Water.
Another thing I learned from Twitter is that back on November 6 -- which also happened to be the day the first #SciFund project became fully funded (three more have followed, so far!) -- the North Texas Science Education Network gave #SciFund a shout-out. Not only that, but they placed the #SciFund logo on their home page, beside logos for the Texas Nature Challenge and the National Lab Network. NLN connects K-12 teachers with STEM professionals to facilitate hands-on learning.
It fits right in with what Hausman, who's also in Texas, wants to do with his computer nodes.