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It’s not you, it’s the math: Colleges rethink what students need

Dena DeYoung traces her trouble with math back to sixth grade, when a well-intended placement test showed she was smart enough to do advanced work. And for several years, DeYoung did well. But when she reached high school, math became her worst subject. Lost by the logic, unable to imagine how what she was learning would ever come into play in the real world, her math grades plummeted. “I just…

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Foldit players jump-start Ebloa research

Months before the recent Ebola outbreak erupted in Western Africa, killing more than a thousand people, scientists at the University of Washington’s Institute for Protein Design were looking for a way to stop the deadly virus. For inspiration, they turned to an unlikely source: gamers. Specifically, they asked thousands of computer-game enthusiasts worldwide to tackle an Ebola puzzle on the interactive game Foldit, a 6-year-old project that encourages people to…

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Code.org to help 2 million students learn to program

Apparently Code.org’s successful “Hour of Code” event in December was just a warm-up act. The Seattle-based nonprofit on Thursday is announcing the rollout of its computer-science education programs at 30 school districts around the country. Altogether they’ll reach more than 2 million students – nearly 5  percent of all K-12 students in the country — starting this fall. Code.org will provide curriculum and professional development and mentor teachers. Participating districts …

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Stop calling science a ‘frontier’

“Buccaroos” by Charles Marion Russell. In a televised speech introducing the first episode of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s reboot of Carl Sagan’s TV series “Cosmos,” President Obama used a metaphor that is both familiar and troubling: “America has always been a nation of fearless explorers. We dream bigger and reach farther than others imagine. That’s the spirit of discovery that Carl Sagan captured in the original ‘Cosmos.’ Today, we’re doing everything…

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Climate change report haiku makes report readable

There’s little lyrical language to be found in the international report on climate change issued earlier this year. The document from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) runs to 2,200 pages and is crammed with technical details about greenhouse-gas emissions, rising sea levels and atmospheric circulation. Seattle oceanographer Gregory Johnson was a lead author of the chapter on marine measurements, and even he was having a hard…

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Data-sharing network to give assist to children’s health

Derek Streat, father of a 6-year-old girl who had a kidney transplant in 2010, has a very personal reason to help Seattle Children’s connect with other pediatric hospitals around the country. He sees a day when doctors looking for the best treatment for a patient could study medical records for hundreds or thousands of similar patients at hospitals across the country. That could help identify ideal levels of anti-rejection medications…

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Privacy concerns over medical apps

WASHINGTON — Smartphones and tablets are go-to gadgets to count calories, document daily jogs, measure heart rates and record sleep patterns. Some applications even analyze blood-sugar levels, track fertility or monitor moods for signs of depression. Inexpensive and easy to use, mobile medical apps are also booming business: more than 97,000 varieties are available. By 2017, the mobile industry tracker Research2Guidance predicts, the market will grow to $26 billion. By…

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Free digital-textbook project drives down cost of college

A state-funded project to create low-cost digital textbooks for community-college courses has saved students about $5 million in just a few years, advocates say. The figure represents the cost difference between commercial textbooks, which can cost hundreds of dollars apiece, and free digital books written by Washington faculty members that cover the same subjects. The project, called the Open Course Library, has employed dozens of Washington community-college faculty members to…

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