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The poetry of physics | MIT News

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“With skin brushed then tangled,
with the apple touched at the supermarket then tangled,
with the tear wiped then woven away,
tangled with even things very distant like Mars dust,
that unravel themselves when /touched by our gaze…” 

—Excerpt from Miriam Manglani’s poem “Makinde’s Quantum World,” about Makinde Ogunnaike’s quantum physics research

Senior MIT physics doctoral student Olumakinde “Makinde” Ogunnaike briefly traded his research for verse as a participant in The Poetry of Science, an initiative funded by the Cambridge Arts Council that pairs poets of color with scientists of color from MIT and other area schools to artistically express their scientific work through art and poetry. Ogunnaike and other area scientists were invited by Joshua Sariñana PhD ’11, who studied neuroscience with the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and who tapped into his photography and writing talents to co-produce the art exhibit. 

A Nigerian-American native of Delaware, Ogunnaike studied physics and math at Harvard University, and received a master’s in philosophy of physics at Oxford University before coming to MIT to study condensed-matter physics theory. He is a graduate student working with Professor Leonid Levitov’s group, studying emergent bound states in mixed Bose-Fermi systems and entanglement dynamics.

“I deal with systems where quantum theory’s strangeness manifests in emergent properties. Instead of new fundamental particles, I look for materials with unintuitive properties that arise from a chorus of delicate quantum connections. One line of work involves studying collections of cold atoms that bind together to form ‘composite atoms’ themselves. Another focuses on the effects of measurement and symmetry on the spread of quantum entanglement — correlations between quantum particles.”

Working with poet Miriam Manglani to explain his research, Ogunnaike decided to focus on the areas where his research and his faith intersected. They jointly edited the poem, and a photographer took his portrait. The project was a natural fit for him, as he also runs a poetry and tea event at Harvard.

“We get a lot of STEM students bringing in their own perspectives and interests, so this project felt perfect,” he says. “My interest in devotional art, in particular, feels like it comes from the same place as my interest in physics: interest in understanding fundamental structures. I particularly love African art, which resonates with me personally, and religious or devotional art, like poetry, music, and paintings, since these usually have extra meaning as a way of knowing or interacting with the divine.”

He is a co-founder of the Harvard-MIT Chapter of the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP), and a founding member of the MIT Physics Working Group to promote changes in diversity and inclusion to the department. His career goals are to teach physics at a liberal arts college “where I can teach philosophy of physics and support underrepresented students.”    

Other MIT participants in the project include students, technicians, postdocs, and alumni. They include biology doctoral candidates Christian Loyo and Sheena Vasquez, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard postdoc Michael Wells, electrical engineering and computer science majors Kathleen Esfahany and Suparnamaaya Prasad; Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research technician Nandita Menon, mechanical engineering and theater alumna Luisa Apolaya Torres ’21; and Media Lab PhD candidates Huili Chen and Shannon Johnson.

This project is a collaboration with The People’s HeART, a joint community health-care initiative led by physics alumnus Daniel Chonde ’07, PhD ’15, who is also featured in the exhibit. After Chonde studied particle physics at MIT, he received his PhD in biophysics from Harvard, with a joint degree from MIT in medical engineering and medical physics. After Harvard Medical school he became a resident in the Department of Radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The Poetry of Science will be featured in the lobby of Mass General through the end of November, and at an exhibition at the Rotch Library at MIT during Independent Activities Period in January 2022. The poems were presented at the Boston Lit Crawl on June 10 at the Starlight Space in Central Square, and will be published in Spry Literary Journal.  

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Inventionland Course and Contest Leads to Product License for Middle School Students — THE Journal

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STEM & STEAM

Inventionland Course and Contest Leads to Product License for Middle School Students

Two eighth-grade students in the Grove
City (PA) Middle School
have garnered a product
license for their invention following completion of Inventionland’s
K–12
Innovation Curriculum
course and winning both their
middle school and regional contests. The course, which Inventionland
describes as a “cross-discipline STEAM toolbox,” uses the same
proprietary
nine-step invention process
the company follows in its
own commercial applications.

The
Innovation Curriculum is divided into elementary, middle, and high
school sections, with age-appropriate activities for various grades.
Students work in teams to develop a new product. Upon completion,
teams can enter their inventions in local, regional, and national
contests. Inventionland also helps schools to design and reconfigure
classrooms and underutilized spaces into “innovation
labs
” that facilitate immersive learning.

In
Inventionland’s nine-step process, steps 1 to 3 focus on
discovering a problem and inventing ideas to solve it using STEAM
skills. In steps 4 to 6, students sketch and create concept models of
their invention. In steps 7 to 9, they make a working model, create
packaging, and develop a marketing presentation.

They
are then ready to enter their inventions in contests
,
starting at the local level, with winners moving on to regional and
national levels, as the Grove City students did. Inventionland’s
founder, George Davis, impressed with the two girls’ invention,
contacted a product distribution company, who offered a licensing
agreement.

Visit
this page for more background on Inventionland’s history and its
education curriculum
. See
a video about how Grove City Middle School implements the Innovation
Curriculum.

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Texas CIO Report Calls for New Law Requiring K–12 Schools to Report All Cyber Incidents — THE Journal

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Cybersecurity & Data Privacy

Texas CIO Report Calls for New Law Requiring K–12 Schools to Report All Cyber Incidents

Expansion of Digital Signatures, Regional Joint IT Operations for Local, State Agencies Also Proposed

The Texas Department of Information Resources, in its newly released Biennial Performance Report, has asked the state legislature to require Texas school districts to report cybersecurity incidents to its office within a minimum reporting timeframe.

Currently, public schools in Texas are required to notify the Texas Education Agency of cyber incidents that result in unauthorized theft, duplication, transmission, use, or viewing of student information that is “sensitive, protected, or confidential as provided by state or federal law.” And the Texas Business and Commerce Code says that includes encrypted data, too, if the threat actor has the decryption key.

But, as the Texas Association of School Board discusses at length in several website guides for districts, neither of those laws explain much beyond that — and neither law requires the TEA to publish or share any accounting of the cyber incidents that are reported by school districts. Historically, the TEA has considered such data to be exempt from Freedom of Information laws.

The BPR, released Nov. 16, also requested legislative action to expand DIR’s pilot program with Angelo State University in West Texas that established a Regional Security Operations Center to provide university students with hands-on cybersecurity experience and give boots-on-the-ground support to local taxpayer-funded agencies — including K–12 school districts — that need assistance with major cybersecurity incidents.

The BPR tracks state-funded agencies’ technology progress in fiscal years 2021 and 2022; highlights their technology accomplishments; lists areas of concern; and recommends policy and legislative changes to improve the effectiveness of IT operations at state and taxpayer-funded agencies.

“Over the past two years, state agencies in Texas showed significant progress in delivering secure, innovative technology that makes government more efficient, effective, transparent, and accountable,” said Amanda Crawford, DIR’s executive director and Texas’ Chief Information Officer, in a statement announcing the report’s release. “I applaud the hard work and effort of state agencies which, along with the support of the Texas Legislature, drive the state of Texas to lead the nation in delivering a secure, digital government through well-designed, innovative, and efficient technology solutions.”

The 2022 BPR is available on the DIR website at https://dir.texas.gov/strategic-planning-and-reporting/biennial-performance-report.

Other legislative recommendations relevant to public schools included in the new BPR:

  • Enable private sector peer-to-peer payment solutions commonly used by the public to provide additional payment methods for government services
  • Enable broader access to digital government services, streamlined processes, and digitization by expanding the use of digital signatures

In discussing the need for better, thorough incident reporting, the BPR states:

“Sharing information is essential for protecting public sector assets, personal or sensitive information, and critical infrastructure. State agencies and institutions of higher education are required to report certain types of security incidents to DIR within a minimum timeframe … suspected cybersecurity incidents, including breaches and ransomware attacks, to DIR. School districts report cybersecurity incidents to the Texas Education Agency and county election officials are required to notify the Secretary of State,” the report reads.

“Also, Texas law does not set a standard timeframe for local governments to report cyberattacks. This incongruent reporting of cybersecurity incidents may hinder Texas in tracking trends and understanding the scope and complexity of cyberattacks as well as how they may be related to another cyberattack. By requiring municipalities, school districts, and counties to report cybersecurity incidents to DIR, the state will have a more complete picture of potential threats and may be able to prevent future attacks, avoiding costly response and recovery efforts.”

About the request for funds to expand the RSOC pilot program, the report states:

The law authorizing the RSOC pilot program states the RSOC “may offer network security infrastructure that local governments can utilize and provide real-time network security monitoring; network security alerts; incident response; and cybersecurity educational services. Eligible customers of the RSOC include counties, local governments, school districts, water districts, and hospital districts,” according to the BPR summary.

“DIR’s vision for the RSOC initiative is to partner with additional public universities and establish RSOCs throughout the state to serve local entities and assist in protecting the state from cyber threats,” Crawford wrote in the report. “This vision aligns with a whole-of-state approach to cybersecurity that increases the threat protection and cyber maturity of all of Texas through collaboration and partnerships. DIR is requesting funding from the 88th Legislature to establish two additional RSOCs including one in the Rio Grande Valley and one in central Texas.”

Calls for More Digital Signatures and Blockchain Guidance

Another DIR recommendation that would impact public schools statewide, if lawmakers act, is for new legislation to enable broader access to digital government services, streamlined processes, and digitization by expanding the use of digital signatures.

“Currently, a digital signature can be used to authenticate a written electronic communication sent by an individual to a state agency or local government if the signature complies with DIR’s rules as well as rules adopted by the state agency or local government,” the BPR explained. “Allowing more digital signatures in lieu of handwritten signatures, without additional rule-making, could lead to improved administrative efficiency and reduced costs.”

A final recommendation for lawmakers spelled out in the BPR is “provide guidance for distributed ledger and blockchain technology best practices.”

Nationally, a handful of U.S. universities have piloted using blockchain technology to store and share digital credentials such as academic records; although widespread adoption of blockchain for academic records at any level isn’t seen as likely to happen anytime soon, the DIR noted that 10% of state agencies have said they’re considering adopting distributed ledger-based systems.

View or download the full 2022 BPR at https://dir.texas.gov/strategic-planning-and-reporting/biennial-performance-report.

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Smart Technologies Rolls Out Android 11 Update as Part of iQ 3.12 Release for Smart Boards — THE Journal

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Classroom Technologies

Smart Technologies Rolls Out Android 11 Update as Part of iQ 3.12 Release for Smart Boards

Interactive whiteboard maker Smart Technologies has announced its iQ 3.12 release, which includes an over-the-air upgrade to the Android 11 operating system. The company says the automatic update includes better performance, features, and security and privacy upgrades, allowing more product cycle control and convenience for users.

Smart Technologies announced in Spring 2022 it was the first manufacturer to launch interactive displays supporting Android 11, with functions that relieve users from having to purchase new panels or modules. The November 2022 over-the-air update provides:

  • Android 11 upgrades to SMART V3 interactive displays with the iQ platform;
  • Greater interoperability and support for 64-bit apps; and
  • Improved iQ platform longevity using the Android 11 support timeline for patches and security updates.

In addition, all supported iQ displays will automatically receive these features, the company said:

  • Whole-class collaborative whiteboard improved with content attribution for student contributions from their devices;
  • New pedagogically designed ready-made resources for student contribution from devices;
  • Single-question assessments such as polls;
  • ‘Shout it Out’ brainstorming templates; and
  • Exit tickets and knowledge gathering.

Visit this page to learn more about Smart interactive boards for education and see this page for a comparison of Smart board displays and specs.

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URGENT: CYBER SECURITY UPDATE