[Edu-sig] some "place based" curriculum writing (with Python)

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Tue Jan 6 00:03:58 CET 2009

I've continued exploring my "dodeca-cams in the Gorge" scenario, in
connection with "memory banking" the environment as a legitimate
school activity, similar to what my daughter's ecology school did
around Oaks Bottom (Winterhaven, still going strong, but my daughter
is in high school this year, whereas Winterhaven is a middle school --
where I taught Python to the entire 8th grade, GIS emphasis, lots of
Google Earth (an entry point into XML, for registering location,
location, location)).[1]

These studies led me to connect the dots backward, to the beginning of
photography in the Gorge in 1867, guy named Watkins.  Landscape
photography was a very new idea as the original degueurrotypes were
one-offs and small, no such thing as large prints, forget about color.
 The only market that made sense at first, was taking pictures of
individuals, portraits, close ups.  Then a new chemical process was
invented, very messy and sticky, that required development on the
spot. So Watkins had literally tons of equipment to lug, back along
the route taken by Lewis & Clark, to Celilo Falls, a natural wonder of
the world until March 10, 1957 (Kodachrome comes into being around
that same time).[2]

Over on the Math Forum, it's again a conservative cabal saying "not
our fault we control all future technology (we white guys, we proud)",
me suggesting it's still a more complicated picture: lots of
reorganization going on, town-gown relations in flux -- they always
talk about "Main Street versus Wall Street" but other polarities
matter as much, e.g. Google is very gowny.[3]

To finish my story, a big consumer of "Celilo Falls power" i.e. of
what became of it, The Dalles Dam, is our good friend and sponsor
Google, right there at the site, with Amazon thinking to plug in to
the same ecology.  There's lots of optical fiber.  Someone had

You'll see a lot more of the history in link [2] but I'm probably
skipping over some IMAX movie about the Gorge, perhaps already out
there i.e. I'm not giving anything close to a comprehensive story.

This is all good material for public school students though, inspires
them to keep studying in preparation for an interesting career with
higher bandwidth multimedia, such as the Immersive Media recordings
(e.g. Google Streets, filmed with dodeca-cams).

A big trend in education is to make it "place based" i.e. really
customize like crazy to make it cram packed with local history and
lore, help students orient to exactly where they are, not some hum
drum fictional Anytown USA or wherever.  I'm adding momentum to that
trend, yakking in very locally geographic terms, knowing each one of
us has this same ability to assume local focus.

Python works in many of these places, plays well in most ecosystems, a
very cosmopolitan, "big city" language -- accessible, urbane, civic
minded -- that does well in the wilderness (marketing angle).  I'm
still pushing the Rich Data Structure idea, again with local (custom)
data, accepting bridges to JSON and XML, not trying to say "all
Python, all the time" to anybody (that'd be boring).


[1]  http://www.4dsolutions.net/ocn/winterhaven/

[2]  http://worldgame.blogspot.com/2009/01/columbia-gorge-recent-history.html

[3]  http://mathforum.org/kb/thread.jspa?threadID=1876834&tstart=0

[4]  http://www.channelregister.co.uk/2008/12/12/amazon_goes_containers/

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