Monday, August 22, 2016

Science Technology Engineering Art Marvel

credit WIRED and Marvel

Representation matters.

The new Iron Man is a 15- year old black woman named Riri Williams.

Teachers spend an inordinate amount of time looking for ways to connect with our students. What can we use to help them latch on to what we're teaching? What tricks can we pull? PokemonGo is huge, let's cover graphs and banners with pocket monsters!

But sometimes we're handed an opportunity on a red and gold platter, and we need to jump at it. If you've been to a edtech conference* or read an edtech blog you know one of the major challenges we're facing is getting women into STEAM (I like the A, and so do you, iPhone users). A sad but natural connected challenge is getting women of color into STEAM. The technology sector has well documented issues hiring people of color and women. We claim to be training kids for the jobs of the future, and the tech sector is where those jobs will be. So if we're not working as hard as we can to get students of color, especially our girls, trained in STEAM subjects we're perpetuating the problem. Notice I didn't say "get them interested in STEAM". They already are. The trick is keeping them interested and not shutting them out.

And if you haven't been living under a rock you know that every Marvel movie that comes out makes approximately nine bijillionty dollars.

While Marvel's movie productions haven't been as quick on diversifying their cast of heroes as we'd all like (I can't wait for BLACK PANTHER and CAPTAIN MARVEL but it's been too long and they know it), Marvel's comic side has been making strides for a few years now. Oh yeah, you realize. All those movies are based on books! Currently-

  • the mantle of Captain America is being carried by Sam Wilson (formerly the Falcon, yes guy with the wings in the Captain America movies) 
  • Black Panther is being written by the brilliant Ta-Nehisi Coates. 
  • Roxane Gay is about to start a run filling out the world of Wakanda. 
  • Thor is a woman, Jane Foster (yes, Luke Skywalker's mom from the movies). 
  • Amadeus Cho is Hulk-ing it up. 
  • Miles Morales is everyone's favorite wall crawler. 
  • Kate Bishop is Hawkeye. 
  • And, my personal favorite comic of all these, Ms Marvel is Kamala Khan, a Muslim teenager, and her book is written by G. Willow Wilson, a Muslim woman.

And now Riri Williams will be joining this illustrious group of Earth's Mightiest Heroes as Ironheart. I don't know too much about her yet. I know she's already part of Tony's stories, but I don't have as much time to read comics as I'd like. I know she's already built herself a suit. I know she's going to MIT. I know that Ironheart is a better name than Iron Maiden if only for legal reasons. And I know that I can't wait for November so I can start buying and reading her stories.

I also know that a lot of our kids are invested in these movies, if not these books**.

Marvel is gift-wrapping engagement and representation for us. Look at that list. Those are The heroes of the Marvel universe. Almost all of them are geniuses. Not because a super power made them geniuses, but because of hard work and training. You can't even pretend Captain America being black doesn't mean something. Or that the character with Marvel's name is a Muslim teen.

We want to use something the kids care about to engage them? Don't*** pander to them with a faceless Pokemon game (face it, we don't actually need them caring about Pokemon, we need them engaged with the technology and, therefor, with the lessons we're teaching). Use these characters and their stories. Hang a poster of Riri Williams on your wall and explain why she's there. She's the new Iron Man and she goes to one of the best technology schools in the country. Let them see her face. Riri might engage the ones who need it and she might be just the thing that those who feel unwelcome in the tech world can cling to. Please, if you're about to hand wave about fictional characters not motivating people, put your hands back in your lap. LeVar Burton and Nichelle Nichols have a thousand stories about young people of color telling them that it was Geordi Laforge and Lt Uhura that showed them it was ok to be who they are and go into technology. And don't tell me you'll feel silly talking about a comic book character in class if you're about to use the words "pokeball" or "Goldeen" out loud.

What if the kids don't know Marvel comics, you ask? You just introduced your students to a whole new genre of books! Way to go, teach! Time to buff up that class library.

Representation matters. We don't have any Pikachus in our classrooms, but each of us has a Miles, an Amadeus, a Kamala, a Riri.

credit- Marvel


*can we stop calling them that yet? All teacher conferences involve technology now. They're just teaching conferences.

**they are books. Don't devalue comics. Watchmen and Winter Soldier alone are stories better told than 90% of the books you read last year.

***just- balance in all things. But seriously, don't pander. It's gross and doesn't last.

tons of credit to WIRED and Birth.Movies.Death writers Scott Wampler and Siddhant Adlakha for writing articles invaluable to this one.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

#WeirdEd Week 116- Analog is Warmer

Special Guest Post by Sarah Windisch


Vinyl is the best medium upon which music has ever been recorded.


There. I said it.


And I meant it.


I love records. I have hundreds. There are more turntables than people in my house. My son’s initials are LP on purpose. I celebrated my 33 ⅓ birthday.


I’m possibly a little extreme.


Records just sound better, and it’s inherent in how they’re made: they are pressed physically from stampers created from a master disc that physically has the music - as played in the studio - etched in acetate. The audio engineers think about things like groove width and velocity at the inner and outer edges, and adjust the mix to be truest to where it will appear on the album. A mastering engineer runs a lathe to actually cut the master when it is mixed to perfection - calibrated perfectly between channels and sometimes viewed with an oscilloscope - in one take. ONE. The cut has to be perfect, and the track separations are cut by hand.


That’s all before it heads to a company that will stamp the vinyl that we get as consumers.


That time and commitment to perfection at the very first step should be enough to make a person love vinyl more than a bunch of ones and zeroes algorithmically forced into a sine wave.


Vinyl has perfect imperfections created by human hands. Vinyl is a physical interpretation of an musician’s work. Digital music only has cold perfection.


Don’t get me wrong. I have an enormous CD collection and pay my monthly fee to have good Spotify. I love having access to whatever song strikes my fancy at the moment and having music in my car that will satisfy anyone who’s riding along. It’s great for someone with extremely eclectic taste to be able to examine a band before buying an album. And the pure nerdy fact that digital music even exists? That you can sample and query sound and recreate it in binary? That’s cool too.


It’s just that what’s new and better isn’t always...better. It might be more convenient. It makes life easier. It’s shiny! But the hisses and pops that make every record unique, the care put into liner notes and album artwork by artists to share their vision, the way your needle can wear the grooves down on a favorite track, the ritual of turning it over, of learning how to align the arm so your stylus is right over the start  - those things feel more substantial than being able to DJ on the fly.


There’s so many Exciting New Things in education. Every day there’s a new acronym to be responsible for and a bandwagon to jump on. A new toy or tool to meet our students where they are. Some of these are fantastic. Some, let’s be honest, are 8-tracks: popular for a short time and destined to die out because they are internally flawed. Some are fine, but push older, battle-tested ideas aside, relegating them to idea-collectors and educational hipsters who use the old thing you’ve never heard of to prove their worth as teachers.


And those “vintage” ideas? How long did someone, or a group of people committed to creating them dedicate? Were they used for so long because of their worth, rather than because “that’s the way it’s always been done”? Are we as educators too quick to judge on that point? Are we too focused on keeping up that we forget to use the past to help us change for the future?


So when we talk about vinyl this week, let’s think about educational obsolescence and make nifty analogies about records and teaching. Naturally, we have to talk about the amazingness of album art and the idea of the gatefold and which album is The Album, too. We might even actually debate if analog is really warmer.


Or not.


Because it is.

Sarah's record collecting is an honest habit - she's a music teacher. It's practically required. She lives and causes trouble in North Idaho, and wishes her students appreciated Herb Alpert as much as she does. Find her on Twitter @slwindisch .

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

#WeirdEd Week 115- Olympics


The Olympics are the ultimate standardized, high-stakes test. You get one chance to perform at the highest level. Everyone in your event performs under the exact same conditions. Your training and practice overtakes your life to the detriment of everything else. It's stressful, brutal, takes childhoods, and is completely overwhelming. And none of the events represent anything that would happen in real life.

I love them so much.

The Olympics are the best. It's the highest quality athletes performing on the biggest stage. Who can handle the pressure? Who rises? It's not a nationalism thing. I cheer for Team USA because I know those athletes the best, but not because I need us to crush China/Russia/France to make some Cold War point. Medal counts are outdated but it's the best way we have to keep score and the ultimate competition requires score keeping.

The Olympics are fascinating because the closest parallel to Olympians are astronauts, especially the early Apollo astronauts. Neil Armstrong was 39 when he landed on the moon. (I know, I thought he was younger too, but I checked a bunch of places, he was born in 1930, landed on the moon in 1969.) No matter what you do in your life your greatest professional accomplishment will be walking on the moon. Armstrong, Aldrin, and the rest had fantastic careers But they also struggled back home. You train your entire life, every day, everything you do dedicated to one goal. A goal basically no one on Earth will accomplish. And then you do it. You land on the moon. Then what?

We should remember one of the things that makes Michael Phelps remarkable is that he keeps coming back and succeeding. This is his fifth Olympics. That's not supposed to happen. You shouldn't be one of the greatest at anything for almost twenty years. Most Olympians, as Marshal Mathers so eloquently put it, get one shot. (You all thought I was gonna make a HAMILTON reference there. I contain multitudes.)

What do you do when the greatest thing you'll ever do happens at 16? Or 20?

I love how the Olympics pit the greatest against each other and they, because they are killers, that's what makes them great, rise. Katie Ledecky real does love swimming close races. She's not built to destroy people just to destroy them. She's built to see you on her shoulder and then crush your soul. That's much more satisfying. It's more fun. I just watched Phelps win the 200m fly. He broke Le Clous in that race. That dude won't be ok for weeks.

If you'll allow me an Al Bundy moment- The best race I ever had was in high school. It was the 100yd fly, my specialty. Another kid from a rival school had been talking trash. He and I swam on different year-round teams and knew each other. We didn't get along. Before the race my coach grabbed me. he looked me in the eye and said, "Don't let him think he has a chance." I wrecked him. He didn't get closer than my hip the whole race. It was glorious.

What does all of this have to do with teaching? It's not really fair to compare the Olympics, which you have a choice to compete in, with high stakes testing. It's not fair to compare Olympians (and astronauts) with our students. Is that where our expectations hit ridiculous levels?

I tell my students my expectations for them on a regular basis- "I expect you to be the best class in the school." This isn't a joke or hyperbole. Before every assembly, any time we're doing anything, I tell them that. I tell them that before the Music teacher picks them up. I want her to compare every other class to us, and I want us to come out on top. It's not a competition, but we're going to win.

So I guess I do make school an Olympic event. And it works for me. I'm not putting pressure on my kids. I'm not deadly serious about WINNING. But my expectations are as high as they can be. This carries over to the rest of my class. You're the best behaved in music, in assembly, and with me. And because we're dedicated to being the best I'm going to be the best teacher I can be for you. Together we're going to be the best. Are we actually? Probably not. I work with wonderful teachers who do fantastic things. Doesn't stop me from trying.

Let's talk about pressure. But let's also talk about the Olympics without talking about school. I love the Games. It's a wholly unique experience. We get to see sports we never normally see. We get to see the greatest on Earth be great.

And that's as inspirational as anything.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Remembering Seymour Papert

[Ed. Note- Not written by me, written by Jenny Kostka. This post is serving a dual purpose. It's this week's #WeirdEd overview and it's a way for some of us to remember an important person in edtech and for some of us (read- me) to realize we really should have known his name before he died. I'm also cross-posting this at the CUE blog]


Let’s play a game. Guess when the following quotes were first published:


“[W]hen a child learns to program, the process of learning is transformed. It becomes more active and self-directed. In particular, the knowledge is acquired for a recognizable personal purpose. The child does something with it.”


“[M]any children are held back in their learning because they have a model of learning in which you have either ‘got it’ or ‘got it wrong.’”


“Most of what has been done up to now under the name ‘educational technology’ or ‘computers in education’ is still at the stage of the linear mix of old instructional methods with new technologies.”


Any of those could have been posted on Twitter in the last week, right? You’ve got growth mindset, self-directed learning, lamenting the use of potentially transformative technology to sustain the status quo. If that last one had included the word “worksheets” it would have been just about perfect.


In fact, all those quotes come from Mindstorms, a book written by Seymour Papert in 1980. 1980! For Pete’s sake, I was wearing diapers in 1980. Papert’s work in education, going back to the 1970s, was, if you’ll pardon the cliche, truly revolutionary and ahead of its time. And if you’ll also pardon me being a little bit dramatic, it changed my life.


I first read Mindstorms when I was trying to learn more about Scratch, the block-based coding program developed at the MIT Media Lab. Mitch Resnick, who leads the Lifelong Kindergarten group that created Scratch, was a student of Papert’s. The book was mentioned over and over again in everything I was reading as The Book that originated Scratch’s open, exploratory, and powerful approach. So of course I read it, and was completely blown away by how clearly and compellingly he wrote about kids and computers. He called his philosophy “constructionism”, and he expressed it by saying that kids (and adults, for that matter) are motivated and inspired to learn when they are using that learning to make something they care about, that a teacher’s most important role is to provide them with the tools and freedom to make those things, and that the computer is an especially powerful tool when kids get to use it for creation.


After reading his book, I started to look for more opportunities to let my students make stuff. I started to give fewer directions and more freedom (which was really hard). I started to let them fail a little bit more, and resist the urge to correct and figure things out for them (which was even harder).


Eventually, I even took a year away from the classroom to study at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where ScratchEd, Scratch’s research and collaboration with teachers, is based. I took a class on constructionism that made my head explode and I spent as much of my year as possible learning about how to bring making and constructionism into my classes. For me, Mindstorms was the catalyst for the biggest and best changes I’ve ever made in the way I teach.


It may have taken a while for Papert’s constructionism to become widespread, but these days it’s everywhere: the maker movement, the push for computer science, project-based learning. Maybe the word constructionism isn’t exactly a buzzword (yet), but the ideas pop up in all sorts of forms and in all sorts of places. “Learning explodes when you stay with it.” “The kind of knowledge children most need is the knowledge that will help them get more knowledge.” (Seriously, the guy is endlessly quotable.) Seymour Papert died on Sunday, at the age of 88, but these ideas aren’t going away anytime soon. At least not for me.


Bio: I’m a science enthusiast, an obsessive nerd, and a mom. I teach high school physics, astronomy, engineering, and computer science at the South Shore Charter Public School in Norwell, MA, where I try to bring making and creativity into all aspects of learning. I'm on twitter @jenfromri

Monday, July 25, 2016

Poking at PokemonEDU

In a teaming-up of such power not seen since the Great Avengers/X-Men crossover of 2012 (check it), #totallyrossome and #WeirdEd have joined forces to bring you one Mega-Sized chat. #TotallyRossome (Tues at 9 edt) and #WeirdEd (Weds 7pst) are covering the same topic from different angles, with different questions, BUT if you come to both chats then there might be special bonus Easter Eggs and other digital goodies. See Ross’s blog here.


Stop us if this sounds familiar-


New thing comes out.
It gets super popular.
Adults get ahold of it.
Adults ruin it.


Don’t think that happens? Then you’re too young to remember the MySpace Migration of ‘08 and aren’t paying attention to the Facebook Hemorrhage of ‘16. You’re also not paying attention to the latest Brand New Awesome Thing- Pokemon Go.


Before we start in, let’s make something clear- this is not to cut on our friends, people we respect and admire, who are edufying Pokemon Go. But it is to say Come On. Does everything fun need to be brought into the classroom? Everything? Pokemon Go?


Minecraft has been brought in, and successfully. Minecraft is making Big Money off teachers now, and for good reason. The kids love it, people have figured out how to use it in the classroom, and oh so many conferences sessions have been birthed. Minecraft went from being a toy, a game, to a successful education tool.


Will Pokemon Go follow the same formula? Let’s ignore for a moment the inherent creepiness of a classful of students logging in to a server to announce their locations to whoever wants to be watching and tracking. I mean, our phones are all ready Big Brother anyway, right? We’ve accepted that.


How flexible is the program? You can’t really build out on it yet, you’ve got to build within the system. I assume the game devs are taking note of the rush by teachers to get on the train and have begun building a Pokemon GoEdu server. I would be. They can see the Minecraft team swimming Scrooge McDuck-style in education money.


But beyond that- Can’t something be a toy? Honest question. The argument, and we can already hear it, is “But Doug and Ross, kids today* are so distracted. We need every advantage we can get!” Possibly you may also argue, “They’re using it anyway, we might as well have them use it in class.” This is also known as the Cool-Dad-Who-Lets-the-Kids-Drink-At-Your-House gambit. (Sidebar: Don’t be that dad - because legality and poor taste.)


To go one step further- what about experiences that aren’t school-related? By gamifying and eduforming everything Kids Today™ are into, are we taking away from the free exploration and play that comes from those things? I’m of two minds on this- Yes it would be cool for a student to go home, pull out his phone, open Pokemon Go, and think of my class. On the other hand, as a kid do you want to associate everything on your phone with school? Not as a teacher, stop thinking like a teacher. Think like a ten-year old. A ten-year old who doesn’t love school but loves Pokemon Go. This goes one of two ways, doesn’t it? They realize that school can be fun because Pokemon Go is school, and that’s fun. Or they realize that now they’re overlaying school even onto the game they really liked. I’m not an advocate for “turn your brain off” media. That’s how we get crap movies like the NINJA TURTLES reboots and ID4:2. Think critically about all the media you consume, movies, music, tv, books, and- yes- video games. This comes from someone currently addicted to Overwatch. I’m still thinking about it. I’m still learning and learning how to learn. That doesn’t mean I want it in my classroom. I want it at home, to relax.


As a (nominal) adult I’m loathe to admit it, but adults kinda suck about adopting the hip new thing. Kids are built to evolve and overtake us. I kind of want them to have their game. If I played it I’d want to have it. Not for teaching, I turn plenty of things into teaching tools. But for me. With a game I can let part of my brain float and make connections while the pretty lights and colors distract the other parts.


Such a rush to capitalize. Complain all you want about companies taking advantage of educators, but don’t then hold the door open for them.


*”kids today”. Ugh. Stop.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Ghostbusters and Childhoods

a #WeirdEd week 112 overview

Childhoods are precious things. Some of us cling to them for as long as possible [waves from behind giant Gipsy Danger action figure] while others run from them or try to forget them. You're rarely ambivalent about your childhood.

Teachers feel this to a greater extent than most because we're direct influences in other people's childhoods. We're in the narrative in a way few other adults are. Everyone has a teacher they look back on with happy memories and a teacher that makes them subconsciously grind their teeth and look for a clock to watch.

Childhoods are precious, and we know that because we hold them every day.

Which brings me to GHOSTBUSTERS. For those of you who aren't paying attention because you have lives or families or interests that don't intersect with mine, there's a new crew busting ghosts in theaters and they're *gasp* all women! Yes, not three men and a token woman (though there is token diversity still being handed out), but all four of them are girl humans! Like, four female leads in a major Hollywood motion picture! I know, right?

If you're smart when you saw this news you thought, "Huh, good for them," and, "Please don't suck." Not "Please don't suck because eww girls," but, "Please don't suck because I hate reboots and I'm tired of them being soulless cash-grabs. Please just be funny." We were in luck, director Paul Feig cast four very funny women- Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones. Feig himself is hit or miss but SPY, his take on spy movies with McCarthy, Jude Law, and Jason Statham, is drop dead hilarious, so we know he's got the chops. Full disclosure- this movie is out but I have two little ones and I don't know when I'm ever going to get to see it, so I don't know how funny/good it is to me, but reviews are good.

Here's the thing- GHOSTBUSTERS has been getting a ridiculous amount of hate online. Angry, misogynist, racist GhostBros have filled the intertubes with their vile spew. Rather than go into it here I want you to stop and read this article by Devin Faraci, who runs birth.movies.death, a website you should immediately bookmark if you care about movies or good writing or well-moderated comment sections that are the opposite of cesspools. He goes into the awful better than I will and deeper than I need to for our purposes. I'm younger than he is so the movie didn't hit me in quite the same way, but I do love it for all its faults. "Yes it's true, this man has no dick," will make me laugh on my deathbed.*

In brief the GhostBros diapers are twisted because this remake is, "ruining their childhoods" though really it's more like, "Ewww, there's girls in my thing I like and one of them is even black!" Not hyperbole. Actress Leslie Jones was straight up abused off of twitter a few nights ago.

I bring all this up because I want to talk about our childhoods and how school did/didn't ruin them. I'm tying it to GHOSTBUSTERS because 1) you can't deny it works seeing what we're seeing and 2) if you weren't aware of the awful surrounding the new movie you should be because the abuse of women and people of color online is real and, like it or not, some of our kids are probably in the mobs. Digital citizenship isn't just a book subtitle- it's a real thing we really have to teach with real examples and brutal honesty.

How did you view school? How was your childhood? How do those two things intersect? Are you a teacher because of a teacher or in spite of one? Little of both, maybe. Were things in school really better "back in the day"? I know how I feel about that. I think we often wear rose-colored glasses looking back. it's hard to remember things you liked as a kid and see them with honest adult eyes. In the easiest example, think about your top five favorite movies as a child. I'll bet you anything at least three of those are pretty terrible if you watched them now. Be honest. Especially if you grew up when I did, in the 80s, a lot of our media sucked and existed to sell toys. I had alllll the He-Man toys, even the castle. That cartoon was the bomb. Except let's think about it- one, the show was called He-Man. This is literally the laziest title for anything ever. He-Man. Wow. An adult human got paid American cash money to come up with that. Two, the animation was terrible. Voices were laid over the wrong characters. Lip flaps never match the words. The colors were wonky and inconsistent. It's bad all over.

But I LOVED it. And that's ok. You're supposed to love bad stuff. I liked good stuff too. The Disney renaissance was kicking in so I grew up with THE LITTLE MERMAID and ALADDIN in theaters instead of ARISTOCATS.

The GhostBros clung needlessly and harmfully to their childhoods (as a disguise for racism and misogyny) and made the internet and some actresses lives a much worse place. Do teachers cling to our own ideas of when School Was Better?** Was it? We also love love love to talk about how nothing has changed since we were in school so we need to revolutionize it with this idea that's been in schools if we only did a little historical research. Or maybe lots has changed with the advent of the internet and teachers aren't falling in line to catch up fast enough and they're like doctors using leeches. I get confused sometimes. It's always WAY A LOT of one way or another though.

The chat will probably not be as heavy as this post became. But who knows? Hopefully no one gets slimed.


*You're allowed to curse in a teaching blog if you're quoting a movie. I checked the regulations.

**I want to note that at this point I could turn this easily to a "Are we trying to Make Teaching Great Again" thing about Trump but I don't want to because he's going to get his own chat at some point and with the RNC happening right now we need a break from him.

Monday, July 11, 2016

#WeirdEd Week 111- The Panel Predicament



Anyway who's followed #WeirdEd knows I want to shake up the current state of edchat. The problem is there's only so many ways I can see to do it. We're over a hundred chats in on this hashtag and we've been pretty standard with the Q1/A1 format. I've mixed it up some, had people write questions for answers, formed random teams to write the chat (that was fun, maybe I'll do that again next week), done Make a Thing chats in Google Docs. But in the end it always comes back to Q1/A1. It's that or do it freer with just a topic like #edchat does snoringly and #InnoEd used to do strongly. I haven't done much of that, to think of it. I like questions, they keep us focused on the task at hand. And even the open ones like #edchat have moderators asking questions to keep the chat moving, they just don't cop to it or write it out beforehand. 

Tonight is another experiment- a panel. Yes a panel like you'd see at ComiCon or a teaching conference. Rather than me ask the group questions, I thought we'd try switching it up and have the group ask questions to a small panel, in this case myself and Lauren Taylor and Shawna Briseno, the two #WeirdEd co-moderators. 

The immediate concern when I thought of this, and it was repeated when I floated the idea on twitter, is this makes the moderators the Bringers Of Knowledge. That's never been #WeirdEd's way. I rarely answer the questions that I write because I don't want the people who come to the chat to think there are right answers. There aren't, but like it or not if the moderator answers the questions he writes thats how those answers are read. If there are right answers it's not a chat- it's a quiz. 

So how to get around that? We use our answers as a jumping off point for a discussion. I (because I'm still the moderator) will ask someone to ask us a question. That means that I need you to start thinking of questions now. I'm not going to start a Google Doc or a Form for you to write them down because I don't want to see them. I want you to think of some questions, I'll tweet "Who has Q1?" You'll respond that you do, I'll pick you, and away we go. Lauren, Shawna, and I answer your question and then we turn the question over to the floor. More importantly, we turn our answers over to the floor. I'm not looking for you to fight us, but some disagreement or digging, some push-back would be cool. Treat the three of us not as experts, but as people who want to be questioned. 

So, the flow of the chat will be Q to Shawna, Lauren, and I. We each answer. Then everyone responds either to our answers or to the question itself. 

I have no idea if this will work. It might catch fire, fall over, then sink into the swamp. 

But isn't that more interesting than the same old thing?