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Karenpendragon
 USA
Freestanding indoor playgrounds with snacks Printer Friendly Version
Many fast food restaurants have done pretty well with attached indoor playgrounds. However, some of us prefer not to feed our kids junk food every time we need some indoor playspace. There are plenty of structured or semi-structured gyms and such for children, but very few indoor playgrounds for simple, active freeplay.
So here's the idea: have a playground indoors. Have an all-you can eat snack bar that is filled with only simple, healthy foods. Charge admission.
The basic playground ideas can be found anywhere. Just put it inside so it can be used whatever the weather. Use sound absorbing design and materials so the happy voices of many children will not echo and make the space unbearably loud.
The snack bar should be simple, healthy items: carrot sticks, apple slices, cheese cubes, etc. Besides any desire for "healthy" food, this would allow people with food allergies to easily find something they can eat. And children will happily eat fruit and vegetables when they are not competing with french fries. Organic and/or local food would be even better. It would probably work out best if snacks are in individual kid-sized cups (perhaps 1/2 cup), rather than expecting harried parents and klutzy kids to deal with tongs and plates. Avoid extremely messy and/or allergenic items, like peanut butter.
There should be enough staffmembers on hand to keep the playground clean, the snackbar stocked, and maybe pass out bandaids if needed. Children are not admitted without a supervising adult. This is a playspace, not a drop-in childcare facility.
Have plenty of tables and benches for supervising adults to sit. This is a space where parents can relax, socialize, do paperwork, whatever, while keeping an eye on their children.
Don't forget the little stuff. Have a nice bathroom, with toilets and sinks of various sizes. Have a comfortable nursing area. A small padded romping area for infants and young toddlers might be nice.
If you wanted to get even more elaborate, a separate quiet room for older kids and teens to play boardgames or do homework without interference by pesky younger siblings.
Reward: Build one in Seattle, preferably in the downtown area! I'll happily pay admission. If this idea was supporting sustainable agriculture (local and/or organic), that would also be a lovely reward. 

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56°

    
 USA
PatchWatch Printer Friendly Version
Yesterday while sitting in school trying to see how much time we had left in class, I scanned the room for the clock and realized that it was too far away for me to read. I realized that it would be much easier to have a simple watch on my wrist to tell the time rather than squint at the clock (I usually would have had my contacts in but woke up late and had to rush to school). About a year ago I received a moderately nice watch as a Christmas present, which would have been perfect to have in such a scenario, but I had rarely worn the watch in the past due mainly because I did not like feeling of it always being there, the cold metal, the tight fit, and the unnecessary weight all added to the uncomfortable feeling that having a watch gave me. I am sure many people would disagree that a watch is uncomfortable, and it really is a help and a normal part of their every lives, yet still, I believe there is a much more affordable, convenient, and practical way to be always be able to tell the time.
The PatchWatch is just a name for the product that I created writing this, but in truth it describes it very well. It is just speculation and imagination at work, but I envision a nicotine "patch" or band-aid like looking thing that would have the same adhesive principle which would stick to your body. The difference from the similar adhesive products is that when tapped once, the patch will illuminate the time immediately. This may sound rudimentary, because it is. Many things about such a product are undecided, like how it would stick, how it would know the time, and how expensive and light it would be. One of the main ideas behind the product that it would most likely be undetectable when off, making it much more convenient to have on during work or just in everyday lives. One major concept of the PatchWatch would be its adhesive side and how it would interact with the skin. I envision that after a set number of hours the adhesive will dissolve and it will easily remove, as it could be marketed as having a range of 6, 8, 10, or 12 hours depending on what the customer would require (it could also be possible someday that when a button is pressed it releases a chemical that counteracts the adhesive properties). As it would preferably be clear, there would certainly have to be wires and/or batteries (unless we made it solar) and we would try to keep it as thin and light as possible. One way of doing that is concealing the wires underneath the blurred area where the numbers would appear, which will hopefully keep the Patch/Sticker smooth and "clear". One of the pros of the PatchWatch would be its accessibility, it wouldn't be limited to only the wrist like a watch is, it could be placed almost anywhere like inside a book or in the car, which adds to the convenience of owning something.
Another aspect of the watch that is up for question would be weather it would be disposable like band aids, or rechargeable (possibly solar) which would last much longer. It would also be difficult to keep such a thing at a low and affordable price, but I believe it can be done. The Patch would also be helpful because of the lack of the chance of losing it like a watch has, and hopefully the lightweight and bendable technology it contains (bendy is almost required for such a patch) will add to the durability and convenience. The idea of a time telling band-aid may seem laughable at first, but I truly believe it would be much more convenient to just tap a small, painless, and almost undetectable patch on your arm, and have the time. It would be easier than a watch, and hopefully would be unnoticed during the day unless you are looking for the time. I understand that everything about this product is just in theory, but I firmly believe that the technology needed for such a product exists today. As of now I am still in high school for three more years, so I won't have access to a laboratory to make something like this, but I hope to someday. There are so many more aspects and ideas of this I have not discussed, but I don't want to take up your whole day, so thank you so much for reading this.
Reward: All I can ask for is official credit for the idea so at least I can get into a top engineering college, thanks! 

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138°

    
John Montgomery
 USA
Revolutionizing Education Printer Friendly Version
The University system here in the United States follows traditions that should perhaps be updated as we move into a globally competitive marketplace in the 21st century.
Colleges have experimented with Internet classes and distance learning courses that are aired over television channels. I propose that colleges establish a set of professional quality video taped lecture presentations for standard courses.
The video tapes could be kept in a special section of the university library, duplicated and sold along with textbooks, or even made availible publically through video rental stores such as Blockbuster.
If distance learning is successful, a video-taped lecture should be equally successful or more so. The students may watch their lectures on a television and arrange to speak to a professor in the role of tutor during the professor's office hours during the semester. Thus, a single professor could be on hand to answer questions for hundreds of students without the need to provide lectures. The highest quality lectures could then be mass duplicated so that the lecture experience is superb.
I spotted an article in the 1977 volume of the Journal of Mathematical Sciences in my college library that reported a scientific study comparing traditional education in calculus 1 to self-education by means of textbooks without lectures or other resources. Surprisingly, the outcome of the study showed that the students who studied themselves, from textbooks, without ever setting foot in a classroom, not only scored higher on final exams but learned the material in 2/3 the time. If this can be done for Calculus 1, this can surely be done for other subjects.
Let us support the University system by charging for comprehensive, written, final exams that will give full credit a course whether or not someone has stepped in a classroom. The costs can be adjusted to finance the University operating costs and research efforts. France uses this system - French Universities don't charge for tuition, just for the exams, and their education system is excellent. One who has experience in industry can thus gain from his experience without retraining in fundamentals when he tries to get a degree.
Another aspect of French education is the fact that courses all over the country of France teach a set course curriculum with no electives or course variation in different universities. The French spend a lot of effort to make the curriculum for someone such as a electrical engineer, for example, be everything which it needs to be for an engineer to walk out of school and go to work with all the skills he needs. French engineers work 35 hours a week and match or exceed the productivity of American engineers who work 50-60 hours a week ; people who work in international companies are aware that the productivity of the American worker is characteristically lower than that of foreign workers. I love America and say this only to bring attention to the fact that America has much room for growth in the productivity of the individual - I hope my observation encourages skeptical people to investigate this matter themselves to see the truth of it ; shame falls on people who would brush aside my remarks out of pride in American labor and never try to verify or disprove that I am telling the truth.
In summary, we should video tape high quality college lectures for every course where this can be done ; investigate the use of textbooks alone as learning resources for particular courses suited to this kind of approach ; charge for final exams rather than tuition ; and follow France in standardizing college courses nationally to the highest level of quality appropriate for entering the job market, eliminating electives not "essential" to the training effort.
Reward: I would feel rewarded if widespread discussion of these ideas could result in a commitment to test these plans. 

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51°

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