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  • The Firefly News Flash January 2010, The Firefly Group
    water around them Did hair have some special property for picking up slippery oil Seeing the clippings at his feet McCrory stuffed some into a nylon stocking then took off to his back yard There he filled the kiddie pool with water dumped in a can of oil and threw in the sock full of hair When he pulled the slippery sock out eureka No more oil It turns out that hair has microscopic hooks that are designed especially to grab globs of oil from skin air and water No wonder we have to wash our hair so often Our Neanderthal ancestors probably needed hair for warmth but today human hair mostly provides for the distribution of oils and pheromones Hair is designed for dealing with oil A pound of human hair the amount collected at your local hair salon each day can suck up a quart of oil Now hair salons across the country send their clippings to Matter of Trust a non profit in San Francisco that transforms them into hair mats ready to clean up spills large and small Oil can be squeezed out of the hair mats allowing them to be reused a dozen times And when they have filled their usefulness the hair mats can be seeded with mushroom spores and turned into compost Spills cleaned up and oil recovered with no synthetics used nothing in the landfill and just a pile of compost left over Maybe you don t need a degree in advanced bioengineering to solve a critical problem just your own expertise applied in an uncommon way For more information about this topic try these links NPR interview with Phil McCrory http www npr org templates story story php storyId 17984608 Video demonstration of hair separating oil from water scroll to How to do a classroom demo http www matteroftrust org programs hairteacherdemo html Matter of Trust http www matteroftrust org Ideas Learning That s Hair Raising Phil McCrory made a surprising insight by connecting something from a totally different field oil spills with his own expertise hairstyling If I take his idea of cleaning up an oil spill and connect it to my area of interest learning I can make some interesting discoveries too As a designer of education and training I have an enormous quantity of important information that I want to convey to my learners I might be tempted to use the most efficient way to cover the topic and simply give a lecture dumping out the concepts facts and data I ll expect learners to absorb it all and make use of it later in their work But unfortunately all that information is too much Like oil on water it spreads out to a super thin layer floating on the surface where it s too slippery to gather up into a meaningful useful quantity People may be able to spit the information out appropriately for a test but like using a synthetic to pick up oil they are

    Original URL path: http://www.thefirefly.org/Firefly/html/News%20Flash/2010/January%202010.htm (2016-02-15)
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  • The Firefly News Flash December 2009, The Firefly Group
    t latched onto yet Maybe there is a way one so simple any good parent teacher or athletic coach could have told us about it Mary Poppins claimed In any job that must be done there is an element of fun Find the fun and snap the job s a game That is the gist of The Fun Theory the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people s behavior for the better Volkswagen of Sweden is running a contest called The Fun Theory and they are demonstrating that Fun works One example How to get people to exercise by walking up a stairway rather than taking the adjacent escalator The simple solution Turn the steps into piano keys The result People turn away from the escalator and skip step or dance their way up the stairs Recycling bottles and tossing trash can also become fun and with much more effective results Learn how by visiting The Fun Theory then what you think Ideas The Fun Cycle by Frank Medlar How could we miss something so simple Perhaps because it s been drilled into us that Work and Fun are opposites If you worked on Henry Ford s production line laughing got you fired It was no Fun factory But Work and Fun are not opposites in fact they go well together Fran Kick an author educational consultant and professional speaker based in Ohio talks about The Fun Cycle to demonstrate that when an activity is fun we are more likely to work at it which results in getting good at it which makes the activity more fun and so on It is a 3 part cycle Fun play games the stuff of childhood are not childish after all How different would our country be if Jefferson had written the Pursuit of Fun as one of our natural rights We may get to find out Fun can change behavior for the better Soon we may approach challenges with the declaration I ve got fun and I know how to use it Just maybe it will be like we discovered fire for the second time Frank Medlar is the President and C T O Chief Thinking Officer of Applied Creative Thinking Frank works with individuals and groups that want to align their strengths and make their weaknesses irrelevant His signature program is Mind Over Information Cognitive Strategies for Managing Information Overload Activities Visit The Fun Theory and you ll quickly see what makes something fun the opportunity to choose whether to participate the ability to initiate an action an engaging invitation a playful sense of humor a creative interface and a clever audio system are just a few things that come quickly to mind But most of us don t have the mechanical electrical and carpentry skills to make a musical walkway or a talking garbage can Nor would that address the many daily opportunities for using fun to inspire and motivate With this in

    Original URL path: http://www.thefirefly.org/Firefly/html/News%20Flash/2009/December%202009.htm (2016-02-15)
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  • The Firefly News Flash November 2009, The Firefly Group
    diving reflex kicks in At the other extreme hyperventilate and you ll pass out from an overdose of carbon dioxide But in our every day parlance breathing has many meanings Something good that comes unexpectedly is a breath of kindness Something anticipated for a long time comes as a breath of fresh air You can breathe the breath of life take your last breath be breathless with anticipation and have your breath taken away by fear surprise or beauty You can catch your breath hold your breath wait with bated breath be out of breath and have bad breath No matter what you do with it your breathing not only fuels your body and steadies your mind it also acts as a metaphorical measure of your current state Sometimes you may need to slow things down withdraw set up your defenses Other times it may be appropriate to pump things up and breathe new life into a project people or a system How are you breathing now Does your breathing direct the way you live or does the world around you drive the way you breathe And most importantly which do you prefer If you have ideas about that please In the meantime you may be intrigued by these related quotes Always first draw fresh breath after outbursts of vanity and complacency Franz Kafka Space is the breath of art Frank Lloyd Wright All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath F Scott Fitzgerald You re never promised your next breath Lenny Kravitz Fear is excitement without breath Robert Heller A human being is only breath and shadow Sophocles After all computers crash people die relationships fall apart The best we can do is breath and reboot Sarah Jessica Parker Activities Don t Hold Your Breath How long can you hold your breath You probably don t worry about it that much Breath holding competitions were an activity of our youth a way to entertain ourselves in the back seat of the car on long trips But here s a way you can use bated breath to help people think about change and the the degree of resistance they may have to it Use this activity to demonstrate that change is as natural as breathing It only becomes a problem when we resist Ask members of your group to count their rate of breathing while sitting comfortably relaxed Tick off fifteen seconds for them Ask them to record the number of breaths they took in the time period and keep their number to themselves Now tell them that on your signal you d like them to take a deep breath and hold it for as long as they can Emphasize that this is not a contest You don t care how long anyone holds their breath Rather you d like them to notice what they are sensing and feeling while holding their breath Encourage them to keep from breathing as long as they can until it feels

    Original URL path: http://www.thefirefly.org/Firefly/html/News%20Flash/2009/November%202009.htm (2016-02-15)
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  • News Flash October 2009, The Firefly Group
    basic form or just to have fun Zimmerman a comics lover since his childhood has written several books about how to write comics and use them for educational purposes At his site all you do is click on one of fifteen different character templates choose an emotion then type text into a talk or thought balloon You can add more characters re size images or flip them around until you get the story you want Then print it or email it to a friend Besides creating your own comics at his site you can find a couple dozen ideas of how to use them for teaching The site is great for learners of all ages The characters are a mix of realistic and fantastical images with a consistently playful tone that would resonate with people in the schoolroom training room or boardroom Use MakeBeliefsComix com to make your point by creating a series of strips to enliven your next slide show Ask the participants of your workshop to make their own cartoon that illustrates what they learned during the day Make a comic to brighten the cube of a colleague Or experience the shear joy of successfully creating a comic with professional style Try your hand at Zimmerman s site then be sure to a copy of what you ve created Ideas Comic Relief If you like the idea of using comics for learning the resources to do so are right at your own ink stained fingertips Just open the Sunday paper to the funny page and grab a pair of scissors Newspaper comics are cheap and readily available In a few weeks you can easily save enough for a year s worth of workshops especially if you gather them from more than one paper each week People like the funnies Everyone has their favorite and is able to identify with specific characters Written as they are for mass consumption they speak to contemporary themes and can be easily related to current issues It is this aspect of the Sunday comics that makes them valuable as a training tool Spread a few dozen comics on a table and invite people to read them with a metaphorical eye What aspects of the characters or stories relate to the topic you are teaching Are there parallel connections or opposite views that point out contrasts and contradictions If someone were to write a sequel to a particular comic what would it be Looking for more specific ways to use the Sunday funnies to broaden and deepen learning Click here to download a PDF of my activity Comic Relief When you use it with news of what happened Activities Exercise Your Funny Bone It s your turn now Here are three different options to try your hand at comic creativity Be Original Go to www MakeBeliefsComix com and write your own comic Start from scratch or use some of the story prompts you find there The screen shot above shows the tool pallet with

    Original URL path: http://www.thefirefly.org/Firefly/html/News%20Flash/2009/October%202009.htm (2016-02-15)
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  • News Flash September 2009, The Firefly Group
    Macalester College in St Paul Minnesota created this contraption that offers as smooth a ride as any round wheeled vehicle The secret is the special track designed for the specific dimensions of his right angled wheel The bumps you see here are based on the graph of a hyperbolic cosine which is the shape you get if you let a rope dangle loosely from two supports Mathematicians call it a catenary Turn it upside down and you get a lumpy track perfect for angular wheels You can learn more about Stan s invention by visiting the San Francisco Exploratorium web site or by watching a video of the Texas A M students version of the cycle in motion at http www maniacworld com smooth ride on square wheels html Turns out you can reinvent the wheel as long as you reinvent the road too Ideas What s Out of Whack You can make a wheel just about any shape you want as long as you match it to the corresponding catenary road If you make a five or six sided wheel the bumps in the track need to be smaller As you increase the number of sides of the wheel it looks more and more circle like Correspondingly the bumpy track will get flatter looking more and more smooth Wow soon you re back to where you started a perfectly round wheel needs a perfectly flat road This suggests that rolling is really about the relationship between the wheel and the road If things don t roll along smoothly it s because of an incongruence between wheel and road When that happens adjustments will need to be made in either the wheel the road or both Which will you alter If you are committed to a particular wheel like one that can carry a very heavy load at high speeds you ll make a special road or a track a railroad perhaps If you are committed to going over a particular uneven terrain like stones or sand you ll modify your wheel with fat balloon tires And if you want to carry heavy loads over all types of terrain you ll modify both track and wheel by combining them into a caterpillar tread So Stan Wagon s cycle is a nice reminder that we cannot grasp the importance of the objects or events around us in isolation Their real significance lies in the relationships they form between each other Activities Bumps in the Road Whether at work at home or at play small problems are liable to surface in any project or process Though we might need to stop and smooth things over usually we can just keep rolling along Other situations call for serious maintenance with an experienced road crew and economic stimulus money from the Feds As suggested in the Ideas section above when you encounter bumps in the road the problem is not just the road The wheel is also a factor Consider for a moment what

    Original URL path: http://www.thefirefly.org/Firefly/html/News%20Flash/2009/September%202009.htm (2016-02-15)
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  • News Flash August 2009, The Firefly Group
    ideas have led to any new thinking for you we d love to your thoughts The image above was made by pasting the two middle paragraphs of Get a Handle on Your Job into the website www wordle net Activities Grow Your Brain In the book Play Firefly News Flash June 2009 author Stuart Brown reveals that as the hand of early human beings evolved and became more useful the brain also grew more than three times larger Using our hands takes a fair amount of brain power Brown also notes that creatively successful engineers spent their childhood playtime building things with their hands They learned to be inventors and problem solvers because they grew up manipulating the world around them But what if you didn t grow up like an engineer taking things apart and rebuilding them Is there a way to take advantage of all those hand devoted neural resources Can using your hands increase your creativity Is it possible to boost your inventiveness quotient by playing with an X Ball seen at right or juggling scarves I don t know if you can grow your brain in later stages of your life but you can certainly use it more effectively Current research shows that when we use our hands a different part of the brain is activated Our thought patterns jump onto an alternative track To demonstrate just how much your hand can dominate your brain activity try this experiment right now Sit flat footed Lift your right leg and rotate your foot clockwise in a big circle Keep it moving and with your right hand draw a huge number six in the air Notice what happens Your foot changes direction to follow the movement of your hand Why does your foot get out of sync Is it because you are trying to complete two opposite motions with the same hemisphere of your brain Try the same movements with opposed hand and foot Notice a difference Or is it because the hand commands more neural real estate Whichever the reason the will of the hand dominates hands down So why not take advantage of what your hands can do Build something take something apart mold clay kneed bread feel the texture of different cloth in a fabric store Then while your hands are busy notice how they can move into any position you need and how your marvelously dexterous fingers can exert just the right amount of pressure Notice that when your hands are busy and productive your brain is calm but alert Perhaps you can enter a state of flow where your thoughts make their own surprising connections You may find yourself making serendipitous discoveries which turn out to be what you need to solve a problem If that happens we d appreciate hearing about it Bonus Mind Mapping Ideas from You Several readers had comments about our article last month on mind mapping with Tony Buzan s iMindMap software Leslie writes from Portland OR I

    Original URL path: http://www.thefirefly.org/Firefly/html/News%20Flash/2009/August%202009.htm (2016-02-15)
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  • News Flash July 2009, The Firefly Group
    that it can t be changed Another great feature is that the structure you create whether organic or symmetrical stays that way until you decide to change it Other programs are animated so that the highlighted node or branch bounces to the center of the screen While this may be fun to watch it can quickly make navigating your mind map confusing iMindMap capitalizes on the brain s capacity for visual memory The image isn t constantly changing and reference points are stable A picture is memorable precisely because your brain doesn t have to come up with 1000 words to re describe it If I want to dash off some ideas quickly I ll always grab a sheet of paper and a fistful of colored pens first But if I want to tinker with those thoughts or share them with someone else I ll certainly use iMindMap You can click on the images here to see a larger view of them or visit Buzan s official site to learn specifics about his application Ideas Out with Outlines I am a victim of the Outline Mrs Hanson my fifth grade teacher insisted we begin writing by organizing our thoughts in outline form It seemed like I was expected to have the whole paper in my mind all at once to write the outline Often I would forget an important thought while trying to figure out where it fit in the hierarchy of Roman numerals and upper and lower case letters That process was overwhelming I felt frustrated discouraged paralyzed On the other hand my daughter is learning to write using a variety of mind mapping styles and techniques Her teachers encourage her to get the ideas out of her head and onto paper before they slip away Later she can concentrate on their order and create the connecting phrases that link them with a thread of consistency Our brains are designed to function as a network Each neuron has branches extending to many many other neurons And it s actually the physical cell to cell connections that hold our memories The brain doesn t create a hierarchical order of its neurons So why not take advantage of that natural networking activity Mind mapping does exactly that yet sometimes even I find myself slowed by trying to decide whether to add a branch at one level or another So lately I ve been experimenting with a slightly different process Whenever I have a thought or idea related to my topic I write it down Sometimes it s just a few words Other times I end up with several sentences I don t even think about order consistency of thought or even whether a particular idea should be included If I see a word I ve already written and am inspired I add a few more to that thought After a while I start to notice similarities between ideas and begin clustering them together As this continues themes that I hadn t

    Original URL path: http://www.thefirefly.org/Firefly/html/News%20Flash/2009/July%202009.htm (2016-02-15)
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  • News Flash June 2009, The Firefly Group
    reveals the promise of play for fostering creativity solving problems reforming education healing relationships and helping us lead more fulfilling lives Quite a lot of value for what we ve been taught is just goofing around Stewart Brown is founder of The National Institute for Play Learn more HERE Ideas Mind Games Are we having fun yet That s a question we ve all heard or offered as droll humor in a dull moment But after reading Stuart Brown s book Play I m now likely to answer Yes we re having fun if you choose to One key concept Brown clarifies is that play is less an activity and more a state of mind Any game that turns mean spirited or overly aggressive is no longer play Instead it has turned into violence of one form or another With a negative intent play can be corrupted But turnabout is fair play as they say So any activity no matter how serious or inane can become play with a positive intent Inject drudge work with humor spontaneity and imagination and a sense of play is born What was once lethal is now lively A big part of play is also imaginary We slip into a role when we are it or when we go directly to jail without passing GO We suspend beliefs and assumptions to create an environment where we can play practice and try on a new persona We can be silly and outrageous if we wish or we can imagine ourselves as a professional If we aren t having fun yet perhaps we can pretend to be having fun at least until fun becomes a reality One of my friends who grew up with alcoholic parents said she learned early that the one thing she could control during her chaotic childhood was her own attitude If that s true why not choose a playful attitude and turn any moment into having fun now instead of waiting for having fun yet For another example of choosing a playful attitude click to Say it Quick Then if you are able to convince yourself that today s work is actually something fun your play idea with us It may just be what we need too Activities Go Play Right Now Given this month s Discovery my suggested activity is hardly a surprise Stuart Brown is up front in saying that what different people call play is highly individualized Each of us finds different activities that are fun or intrinsically rewarding So I won t tell you what to do when you go play There are just too many possibilities Instead I d like to challenge you to experiment with Brown s concept of play Look again at his seven play characteristics Choose three of them then go do something that will give you a sense of those play elements What would it be like to make a conscious decision voluntary to use your valuable time freedom from time doing something

    Original URL path: http://www.thefirefly.org/Firefly/html/News%20Flash/2009/June%202009.htm (2016-02-15)
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