Debate over whether using iPads at school is beneficial to students or not
CUPERTINO, Calif. – Public middle schools in the city of Cupertino in California want to make a rule that all students use iPads in class and at home. Apple is the company that makes iPads. It is based in Cupertino.

Many school officials and teachers say iPads are great learning tools. Students seem thrilled to use them. But, many parents aren't as happy. Hundreds have signed a letter saying that they want to limit the use of iPads.

Some parents say the iPads have introduced new problems. Some of these challenges are protecting information and the possibility for kids to get distracted. iPads are also very expensive. Parents do not want to pay for school equipment that the law says schools must buy.

Some Don't Think IPads Are Designed For Education
"iPads are entertainment devices," said Noemi Berry, a network engineer and mother of a seventh-grader and two other children. "They're not designed for education, and they're very hard to restrict. She says it's hard to get her 12-year-old son to put down his iPad.

So far, the people who want the iPads are winning. This means hundreds more middle-schoolers in Cupertino will be expected to use iPads for schoolwork. The Cupertino school district thinks iPads have improved the quality of middle-schoolers' work. Language ability, behavior and organizational skills are better. But, the district doesn't have the numbers to measure how much better.

Cupertino School District Chose Apple Products
It's common for school districts to provide students computers or tablets for class use. Districts don't usually decide on a certain company or product. The district thinks iPads will best help students. But, Apple products are often more expensive than others.

The Cupertino district already has a program that offers loaner devices to students if they do not have one of their own. But school officials implied that families should buy the iPads.

It is against the state law to make parents pay for required supplies at public schools. So, the district hasn't required parents to buy them. Still, parents say they feel pressure to buy the iPads.

The cost is only part of why some parents don't like the iPad program. Linda Wang said her son's grades dropped after he received his iPad. She takes the device with her when she leaves the house, and hides it from him at night. "We cannot control his usage at all," Wang said.

Teacher Says IPad Gives Students Options
Andi Jackson, who teaches eighth-grade English and social studies, said iPads offer students many ways to show what they've learned. "Before the iPad," Jackson said, "there was basically one way: Write an essay and turn it in."
Peter Chu is a software executive. His daughter Ashley is a ninth-grader at Cupertino High School. He sees the iPad as a wonderful education tool that's helping prepare students for technology in the real world.

Ashley said her favorite classes were the ones where teachers used iPads. One project she remembers well was creating a video about people who study ancient fossils. "Making a story about an event lets me better remember that," Ashley said.

IPads At School Have Some Positive Results
Of about 180 parents who responded to a district survey last year, just under half said they valued their children's iPad work. A third said it had improved their kids' outlook toward school. The district plans to form a task force to review its educational technology use.

Meanwhile, it's expanding its iPads-for-all program to two other middle schools. Some parents have arranged for their children to use a district-owned iPad while at school. Those devices don't come home. An online letter is asking the Cupertino district to standardize that practice of providing iPads for students and keeping them in the classroom. It has more than 650 signatures.

Original article from The Mercury News, adapted by Newsela staff 01.03.17


Dream Jobs: Roboticist
I became a roboticist because of the science fiction stories I read as a child. In the late 1970s, home computers were just starting. I began programming, and I wanted to do it as a job. I went to Imperial College to do my computer science degree. In the mid-1980s, I did a Ph.D. in using logic and symbolic logic for the basis of AI at Cambridge University. I returned to Imperial to study electrical engineering. Eventually, I got my first teaching job
there.

He Always Had Robots On The Brain
I want to understand how the human brain can be used in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). We are not really anywhere near the vision of robots that inspired me as a kid, so I decided we needed to understand the brain better and started working more and more on neural networks. At the same time, I became very much interested in the possibility of AI having consciousness, or being self-aware. Nowadays, many people in the scientific community study this.

Raising Awareness About AI
Creating a self-aware AI with human-level intelligence is still a distant dream. In the movie"Ex Machina," we are clearly supposed to believe that the AI character Ava is self-aware. I am not saying that AI wouldn't be self-aware if it had human intelligence, but I am not saying it would either. It could go either way, and you have to separate those two ideas. But how far are we from any of these ideas becoming reality? It is definitely not around the corner.

No Tears Or Fears
We have a moral duty to protect an AI that is capable of suffering. In the film, our feelings are with Ava. She is aware, suffering and should be allowed freedom. So, I think it is natural to have that concern toward her. However, we are nowhere near achieving this aim. A self-aware AI is possibly centuries away. Secondly, we might be able to build human- level AI that is not aware and doesn't experience suffering. In which case, we wouldn't have to protect it.

From Self-Driving Cars To Siri
AI technology is already here and shaping our modern lives. We see the use of artificial intelligence in the latest self-driving cars or digital personal assistants, such as Apple's Siri. There are other types of AI that have been around for quite a long time, such as computer vision. Then there are the systems that make decisions about who should get a loan to buy a house. These types of technology will become increasingly important in the next 5 to 10 years. But none of that compares to human-level intelligence. We really don't know how many breakthroughs we might have to make to get there. It is all unknown unknowns.

A Hot Field
If you want a job in robotics and AI, a degree in a science is essential. You should study computer science, math, physics or even neuroscience. Everybody should also learn programming. If you are graduating soon, it is a really good time to be entering this area. AI is a hot field at the moment in terms of career openings. There is a lot of interest, particularly in machine learning and computer vision. Those are two areas of AI that have really taken off. There are also lots of AI startups. These companies fill a gap in the market by selling expertise in the field to large companies.



Murray Shanahan is professor of cognitive robotics at Imperial College, London, England. He was an official adviser for the science fiction film "Ex Machina," a psychological thriller about a revolutionary new form of artificial intelligence (AI).


Insect farmers are hoping to tempt your taste buds with crickets
The Green Team 4H Club at the Denver Language School receives a lesson on the benefits of eating insects on February 27, 2015. Annabel Feeny, 6, shows one of the toasted house crickets. After trying one, she determined that they tasted like a sunfl ower seed, and ate several more.

Bug in your salad? No problem. At least, that's what the members of the North American Edible Insect Coalition, and millions of other bug-eaters, think. But before Americans start regularly chowing down on cricket tacos and mealworm-flour-filled cookies, there are many hurdles the insect industry will first need to clear.

As the newly formed North American Edible Insect Coalition gathered for its first meeting in May, many people thought that it was headed to Washington. Right now, insects are not specifically listed on the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) registry of foods recognized as safe to eat. Several news outlets reported that the group might begin lobbying, or petitioning, the FDA to put insects on the menu.

Robert Nathan is the president of a not-for-profit group called Little Herds that promotes eating insects. He and his fellow entomophages, or people who like to eat bugs, first thought they would need to get crickets and other bugs added to the FDA's "generally recognized as safe" list. The label tells consumers that the agency considers something safe to eat.

FDA Is OK With Crickets
But crickets aren't a new, untested ingredient; as far as the government is concerned, they are just a food. "The FDA requires that the food must be clean and wholesome – free from filth, pathogens, toxins," said Megan McSeveney, an FDA spokeswoman. Food must also be produced, packaged, stored and transported under sanitary conditions.

Many Americans are uneasy about dining on insects. That's not the case in the rest of the world. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations estimates that some 2 billion people regularly eat bugs. Among the world's most commonly eaten bugs are beetles, caterpillars, bees, wasps and ants, as well as grasshoppers, locusts and crickets.

"I initially got interested in eating bugs when I went to Thailand in 2006," said Kevin Bachhuber, founder of Big Cricket Farms. "I was like, 'This is really delicious.'" Insects Are Easier On The Environment Than Livestock
Bachhuber and other entomophagy fans see plenty of reasons to talk Americans into loving bugs.

Insects take up much less space than most livestock. They pack a powerful protein-fi lled punch into a small, low-calorie package. It takes just a single gallon of water to raise a pound of cricket protein, compared with 500 gallons for a pound of chicken and 2,000 gallons for a pound of beef. In theory, if the Western world shifted at least some of its meat needs to insects, we could shrink the land area of our farms. It would also reduce the environmental footprint.

Jonas House studies human geography at a university in England. He studied insect- based products in the Netherlands and found that convincing people to try bugs once is not enough to win them over forever. Instead, he said, people will ask: "Does it fit into my diet? Can I find it in shops? Can I afford it? And does it taste nice?" Figuring Out The Logistics Of Farming Insects

A small group of bug-loving citizens such as Bachhuber has seized the opportunity. They're now marketing products such as protein bars full of cricket flour. Some of these snacks have made it to shelves of national grocery stores such as Whole Foods Market.

By Washington Post, adapted by Newsela staff on 01.03.17