This tech subscription box can rewire your brain for the better
Ready to become a tech wizard? Creation Crate's electronic projects are delivered to your door with everything you need to start building and learning.
- Creation Crate is a tech subscription box that sends monthly projects, with all the components, right to your door.
- Each project in the curriculum teaches new lessons in electronics and C++ programming. The projects get more challenging as you learn.
- Working with your hands changes your brain's neurochemistry to reduce stress and increase learning. It's also a great way to prepare kids for a STEM future.
With the subscription box market on the rise, just about anything you could possibly need can be delivered to your home monthly. Thanks to Creation Crate, that list now includes fun and educational hands-on projects. Creation Crate's subscription sends you all the components you will need plus access to online courses that include instructions, step-by-step videos, and exercises to challenge your new skills. The curriculum is designed to take your skills from beginner to tech wizard. Unlike other subscription boxes, Creation Crate doesn't send you a random project every month. Each project becomes progressively more challenging as you learn new components and commands (C++ language). For as little as $29.99/month, subscribers ages 12 and up can learn about coding and electronics and have fun doing it.
Creation Crate's Bluetooth Speaker (Challenger Project)Photo: Creation Crate
Focusing on STEM
By now you're probably familiar with STEM. Learning institutions, students, and parents around the world are being educated about the ways that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics can enrich the lives of young people and better prepare them for the future. In addition to hitting all four of those key academic principles, Creation Crate projects are prime hands-on learning tools that, neurologically speaking, come with many added benefits. The curriculum has a 15x higher retention rate than passive learning techniques and has a 3x higher course completion rate than e-learning platforms without hands-on projects.
Before exploring a few of the neuroperks, let's take a peek at some of the cool electronic projects that Creation Crate subscribers can look forward to.
The first project to arrive teaches about microcontrollers and basic C++ coding. Users have the opportunity to write code in the Arduino language that changes the mood of the lamp by changing the color of the LEDs. Lessons learned from this kit set the foundation for future months and future projects.
A bit further along on the curriculum in the Project 8 slot is an audio visualizer with smart LEDs that react to the volume of music. The kit introduces specialized components and goes slightly beyond the basic Arduino IDE experience with the use of downloaded external libraries.
Creation Crate's audio visualizer project arrives in week 8 of the curriculum.Credit: Creation Crate
Once you learn the curriculum basics, you'll be ready to take on one of the Challenger projects! Learn how to build and program an obstacle-avoiding rover bot.
To learn more about the curriculum, head over to the Creation Crate website.
The neuroscience of working with your hands
Part of Creation Crate's mission statement is to "inspire your curiosity and help you realize your potential, as you solve real world problems with hands-on projects. Whether you're an adult interested in learning something new, a parent preparing your child for the jobs of tomorrow, or a teacher engaging your students with hands-on experiences—Creation Crate is the perfect challenge." While the actual projects are designed to be educational and challenging, the act of completing them is also an important part of the package.
"In many situations, when we allow our bodies to become part of the learning process, we understand better," says Professor Sian Beilock. "Reading about a concept in a textbook or even seeing a demonstration in class is not the same as physically experiencing what you are learning about."
When it comes to working and building with your hands, research shows that the benefits extend much further than our fingertips. According to University of Richmond neuroscientist Kelly Lambert, it can affect the brain the same way that some drugs can. Lambert coined the term " behavior-ceuticals" to refer to the way that hand-related tasks can alter the neurochemistry of the brain. Referencing 19th-century medicine, she told CBS News that doctors used to prescribe knitting to women as a cure for their anxiety. "They sensed that it calmed them down some," she said, adding that the repetitive physical motion was relaxing because of the neurochemicals it increased.
Hands-on work reduces stress. Just ask these car-driving rats.
Photos: Crawford et al / University of Richmond.
recent study, Lambert and her colleagues trained two groups of rats to drive tiny cars with their front paws. They found that rats housed in "enriched environments" with ladders, toys, and balls were better at driving in pursuit of a sweet reward than rats who were housed in standard cages without the added stimuli.
The study also found that both groups of rats secreted higher levels of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and corticosterone, hormones that control stress responses. By learning to use their rat hands to solve a problem (in this case: finding a reward), the subjects were able to chemically boost their emotional toughness. "It is likely that driving gives the rats a sense of control over their environment," Lambert said. "In humans, we would say that it enhances a sense of agency or self-efficacy." Rat brains and human brains are similar in many ways, which is why the increased emotional resilience is important and promising for mental health studies. "Anything that reduces stress can build resilience against the onset of mental illness," Lambert added.
Flexing those motor skills
Maybe the most obvious benefit of a hands-on approach to learning is that it can improve motor skills, but that's only part of the story. Researchers at the University of Basel's Biozentrum recently discovered that even relatively simple tasks, like grasping, change how certain neurons in the red nucleus section of the midbrain connect.
"When learning new fine motor skills, the coordination of this specific movement is optimized and stored in the brain as a code," explained the head of the research group, Professor Kelly R. Tan. As the motion is practiced and performed over and over, the connection between the neurons becomes stronger. The next step, according to Tan's team, is to see how that connection holds up when the learned motor skill is not practiced. The assumption seems to be that when the grasping stops, those connections will weaken.
Hands-on education makes learning science easier
Photo: Creation Crate
We can now physically see what hands-on activities do to the brain. For a University of Chicago-led study published in 2015 in the journal
Psychological Science, physics students were made to participate in momentum experiments involving spinning wheels and laser pointers. One group of students participated by observing while the other group led the experiments. In a test given afterwards, the observers scored lower than the students who got to interact with the objects.
The researchers also took MRI scans of the students to see which sections of their brains were activated while they looked at spinning wheel animations and thought about angular momentum and torque. "When students have a physical experience moving the wheels, they are more likely to activate sensory and motor areas of the brain when they are later thinking about the science concepts they learned about," said study co-author Professor Sian Beilock. "These sensory and motor-related brain areas are known to be important for our ability to make sense of forces, angles and trajectories."
For Beilock, the study reinforced the idea that, especially when it comes to STEM subjects,
hand-on is better. "In many situations, when we allow our bodies to become part of the learning process, we understand better," she said. "Reading about a concept in a textbook or even seeing a demonstration in class is not the same as physically experiencing what you are learning about. We need to rethink how we are teaching math and science because our actions matter for how and what we learn."
What would happen if you tripled the US population? Join Matthew Yglesias and Charles Duhigg at 1pm ET on Monday, September 28.
New experiments find weird quantum activity in supercold gas.
Quantum Mechanics, Onions, and a Theory of Everything<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="036ae7b8dd661df2d125a3421a0299ba"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/bcVruA0AJ-o?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
They came from different places and with different ideas, which still resonate today
- Early British settlement of the American colonies came in four distinct waves, from different places.
- Puritans, Cavaliers, Quakers and Borderers had their own ideas of what America should be.
- Some of the cultural fault lines in today's America can be traced back to those differences.
Four 'folkways'<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQ0MDY2NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzOTAzNzk0OX0.YfBxVdS46dX1eUZhGA_4remlW4YYMIxlZ65wjQ2pyMs/img.jpg?width=980" id="d2108" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2efd697c8c1a31a446da2d4f34168094" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bQuaker pioneer William Penn (center) treating with the Delaware Indians for the purchase of what was to become Pennsylvania." />
Quaker pioneer William Penn (center) treating with the Delaware Indians for the purchase of what was to become Pennsylvania.
Image: frieze by Constantino Brumidi (1865) in the Rotunda of the US Capitol; via Architect of the Capitol - public domain.<p>How many Americans are of British descent? It's a surprisingly difficult question to answer. Is that because, in an age of hyphenated identities, the founding one still is the default? Or has that identity become so amalgamated that it is now irrelevant? Perhaps the correct answer is: a bit of both. </p><p><span></span>In the 1980 Census, 61.3 million Americans (32%) self-reported British ancestry; most claimed English descent (26%), followed by Scottish (4%), and tiny amounts of Welsh (<1%) and Northern Irish. In the 2010 Census, that figure had dropped to 37.6 million (14%), with just 8% reporting English heritage, 3% Scottish and 2% Scotch-Irish. </p><p>The precipitous drop in self-reported British antecedents corresponds in part with the rise of those who identify as (unhyphenated) 'American', up from 12.4 million (5%) in the 1990 Census to 20.2 million in 2000 (7%) – the largest growth of any ethnic group in the 1990s.</p><p>However, back around the year 1700, about 80% of the population of what was to become the United States were of English (or Welsh) descent, with about 11% of African origin, and the rest being Dutch (4%), Scottish (3%) and other European. The imprint of the British on early American society was overwhelming, diverse and long-lasting: the regional and cultural differences between the settler groups created distinct regional and cultural identities in America.</p><p>That's the argument made by David Fischer, a history professor who in 1989 published a 900-page treatise on early migration to North America called <em><a href="https://global.oup.com/ushe/product/albions-seed-9780195069051" target="_blank">Albion's Seed</a></em>. He identified four British 'folkways' that came over to the other side of the Atlantic in the 17th and 18th centuries (<em>see map</em>), each with their own ideas about the liberty they wanted to find there.<br></p>
From exodus to flight<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQ0MDY2NS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NDg1MzczOX0.-LwTLCpuIub9QhTVWL9vhnd8Jlz9j8aRyt9bePqQPuo/img.png?width=980" id="65f97" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4457df0ca7f66fe87026322bad771da6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="\u200bMap showing the origin and destination of four British 'folkways' that influenced American society." />
Map showing the origin and destination of four British 'folkways' that influenced American society.
Image: Geni.com<p><strong></strong><strong>1. The Exodus (1629-41)</strong></p><ul> <li>About 21,000 Puritans, migrating from East Anglia to New England.</li><li>These religious fundamentalists believed in 'ordered liberty': everybody had the right to live by their own rules, and the duty to live according to God's law.</li><li>The Puritans were a major influence on the culture of the Northeastern US, especially in terms of business and education.</li></ul><p>These religious fundamentalists are the ones who came over on the Mayflower and gave America Thanksgiving and the self-image of being a 'City on a Hill'. Puritan society was gloomy and repressive: 'exceeding the bounds of moderation' was a punishable offense, and even just 'wasting time' got you into trouble.</p>The other side of the coin: life was very well-ordered. There was little income inequality and crime rates were low. Not only was charity towards poor the rule, being uncharitable was, yes, a punishable offense. Domestic abuse was punished severely. Women had a relatively high degree of equality. And government operated via town assemblies in which all could have a say.<br><br><strong>2. Cavaliers and their Servants (1642-75)</strong><ul><li>Some 45,000 Cavaliers drawn from English nobility and their indentured servants, migrating from the South of England to Virginia and the Lowland South.</li><li>These aristocrats believed in 'hegemonic liberty': dominion over self, and others. In other words: keeping slaves was okay, but domination by others was not.</li><li>The Cavaliers were the foundation of plantation culture in the South. </li></ul><p>The Cavaliers came from the losing side of the Civil War in England, which was now led by the Puritan-inspired Oliver Cromwell. Royalist, Anglican and aristocratic, they brought along with them their indentured servants – more than 75% of the total migration – hoping to recreate in Virginia and environs the socially stratified agrarian society they had left behind.</p><p><span></span>When their servants began dying en masse, they started importing African slaves, laying the groundwork for the race-based slavery system that underpinned the economy of the South until the end of the Civil War.</p><strong>3. The Friends' Migration (1675-1725)</strong><ul><li><strong></strong>Around 23,000 Quakers, migrating from Northern England to the Delaware Valley in Pennsylvania, and later to the Midwest.</li><li>These religious liberals believed in 'reciprocal liberty': granting others the freedoms they wanted for themselves, including the right to vote, to own, to be free, to worship and to a fair trial.</li><li>Quakers had an important impact on the industrial culture of the Mid-Atlantic and Midwestern regions of the US.</li></ul><span></span>Halfway between the fun-hating Puritans and the pleb-hating Cavaliers, the Quakers seem modern and likeable. Believing everybody intrinsically good, they practiced tolerance, pacifism, gender equality and racial harmony. They opposed slavery, the death penalty, and cruelty to animals and children.<p>Quakers replaced a wide range of social acknowledgements according to rank (bows, nods, grovels) by a single, neutral equivalent: the handshake. Quakerism was perhaps one of the first Christian denominations to become indistinguishable from liberal, secular modernity. On the other hand, they were more prudish even than the Puritans. Doctors had a hard time treating Quakers because they described everything from their necks to their waists as their 'stomachs', and everything below as their 'ankles'. </p><p><strong>4. The Flight from Northern Britain (1717-75)</strong></p><ul><li>Some 250,000 'Borderers', migrating from the Anglo-Scottish borderlands and Ulster to the Backcountry of Appalachia.</li><li>These individualists believed in 'natural liberty': freedom to do as one pleases, without interference from society or government.</li><li>Borderers contributed to the rural culture of America's South and the ranch culture of its West. </li></ul><p><span></span>Inhabiting the border regions between Scotland and England, and between protestant settlers and catholic natives in Ireland, the Borderers were used to violence and lawlessness, and to lives that were nasty, brutish and short. </p>It is no coincidence that they ended up in Appalachia, at that time itself a violent border region. It was the kind of world they knew. Borderers were wary of government, prone to violent family feuds and not bothered by traditional morality. By one estimate, in the year 1767, 94% of all 'backcountry' brides were pregnant on their wedding day.<p><span></span>These Borderers were not much beloved by other settler groups in America. One Pennsylvanian writer called them "the scum of two nations". But the Borderers also contributed vigorously to the success of both the American Revolution and America's westward expansion. </p>
'Blue' vs. 'Red'?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQ0MDczNy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MzE5MTc4NH0.EtbfEc9BlGG8R4VlyHr2W7kQ0LzvRdAHRRRlsEI01Pg/img.jpg?width=980" id="ce2a3" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ba2cd744238f9a08ce63e85be2860528" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Representative Preston Brooks (SC) caning Senator Charles Sumner (MA) on the Senate floor. The attack, on 22 May 1856, symbolised the breakdown of civil discourse between North and South, prefiguring the Civil War." />
Representative Preston Brooks (SC) caning Senator Charles Sumner (MA) on the Senate floor. The attack, on 22 May 1856, symbolised the breakdown of civil discourse between North and South, prefiguring the Civil War.
Image: lithograph by John L. Magee (1856); public domain.<p>It's tempting, and perhaps not entirely unjustified, to see in these four strains of British 'folkways' the antecedents of some of America's current cultural divides. One might for example see Puritans and Quakers as constituting elements of the 'blue' tribe, while Borderers and Cavaliers could be considered the ancestors of the 'red' tribe.</p><p><span></span>But thinking of America as a "death match between Puritan-Quaker culture and Cavalier-Borderer culture", as one commentator put it, is perhaps a bit too easy. There may be plenty of overlap within either pair, there is also much to distinguish each from the other. And then there are other and subsequent migrations contributing to and complicating the picture.</p><p>Nevertheless, a bit of cultural archeology can be illuminating, if only to see where the bodies are buried.<br></p><p><strong><br></strong></p><p><strong>Strange Maps #1049</strong></p><p><em>Got a strange map? Let me know at </em><a href="mailto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a><em>.</em></p>
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by Freethink Media, Inc. All rights reserved.