We’re well into summer and if, like me, you haven’t yet taken a vacation, it’s time for a break – a mental break, that is.
For me, that means turning to my no-calorie, comfort food alternative: online videos that shift my mood or rest my brain. As I’ve noted in two prior editions of no calorie comfort food for the brain (here and here), I watch these videos not because some are viral video darlings, but because they do what comfort food is supposed to do: Make me feel better.
Here are my summer 2014 picks, with length in minutes noted. Enjoy!
1. Simon’s Cat (1:41). British animator Simon Tofield, interested in learning how to use Flash technology so he could put some of his creations online, ended up creating a charming series about a mischievous and intelligent cat. There are more than three dozen animations to choose from, but I recommend starting at the beginning with the first in the series, “Cat Man Do.” The cat tries to get Simon’s attention so it can be fed. Anyone who knows cats knows how good this is. Meoww.
1. The math-challenged. Who knew that America, which lags behind many other countries in the success of its math education, has invented some of the world's best methods for teaching math to children? This deep dive into the subject, by the New York Times, provides useful insight into why Americans stink at math -- and how we can change it. Yes, some long division may be required.
2. Bringing more women into the engineering fold. There are a lot of reasons why there are fewer women than men with engineering degrees, but at least some universities are finding that lack of interest in the topic isn't the sole reason. Carnegie Mellon, Harvey Mudd and the University of Washington, among others, have found that broadening the appeal of the classes in general, and having a lot going on in the programs is what's making the difference, notes the New York Times. Some have recast their intro courses as 'creative problem solving' classes, for example.
3. A word a day. Who says learning a new language has to be a chore? Lingua.ly, voted one of the best mobile apps by The Guardian, "aims to teach you French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Hebrew or English by getting you to read news stories, then translating the words you don’t recognise. A clever idea, neatly done." Did we mention it's free?
Courtesy of flickr user Jimmie