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November 26, 2016

Teaching Innovation
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Real creativity and innovative thinking may seem like rare qualities. But an education expert says these skills can be taught to children by their parents. Then, can an ancient technique actually reboot the immune system, and make chemotherapy more effective? A medical doctor shares the amazing details.
Episode Segments:
InfoTrak: Making Makers

AnnMarie Thomas, PhD is an Associate Professor at the School of Engineering at the University of St. Thomas, and author of Making Makers: Kids, Tools, and the Future of Innovation. Dr. Thomas said many of today’s engineering students have few hands-on skills or the ability to actually make or fix something. She explained why it is crucial to encourage today’s youth to think creativity and innovatively. She offered suggestions for parents who want to teach their children to be able to use their hands to make things.
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InfoTrak: Fasting and Cancer Treatments

Biogerontologist Dr. Valter Longo has led multiple studies examining the effect of fasting on life extension and cancer therapy. His latest study found that a three-day fast appears to significantly increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatments. He talked about the possible reasons behind this finding, and what people need to know before considering a fast.
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InfoTrak: Teens and Junk Food

Sara Bleich, PhD, Associate Professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. believes consumers make poor nutritional choices because the concept of calories means very little to them. She conducted a study of urban teenagers in which signs were placed in convenience stores, informing patrons that it would take five miles of walking to burn up the calories from a soft drink. Soda sales declined, not only while the signs were posted, but even weeks after they were removed. She explained the importance of finding ways to communicate nutritional information in more useable formats.
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Guest(s) Appearing on this Episode
AnnMarie Thomas
AnnMarie joined the faculty of the University of St. Thomas in the fall of 2006. Previously, she was a faculty member at Art Center College of Design. She is the director of the Playful Learning Lab and leads a team of students looking at both the playful side of engineering (squishy circuits for students, the science of circus, toy design) and ways to use engineering design to help others. AnnMarie and her students developed Squishy Circuits. Dr. Thomas, co-founded, and co-directs, the University of St. Thomas Center for Engineering Education (CEE). Through this center, AnnMarie develops and teaches engineering courses for P-12 educators, and conducts research on engineering at the pre-collegiate level. AnnMarie teaches Engineering Graphics, Machine Design, Dynamics (with Circus Lab), Toy Design, Product Design for an Aging Population, and Brain Machine Interfaces (seminar). AnnMarie served as the Founding Executive Director of the Maker Education Initiative where she worked to establish the national Maker Corps program, and lay the groundwork for this nonprofit which has as its mission creating " create more opportunities for young people to make, and, by making, build confidence, foster creativity, and spark interest in science, technology, engineering, math, the arts—and learning as a whole."

AnnMarie has also worked on underwater robotics (at MIT, Caltech, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute), specializing in biologically inspired propulsion. She has consulted on projects ranging from the design/creation of a "musical earthquake-playing robot" to the initial research for a book on earthquakes in Los Angeles. At Caltech, she founded the Caltech Robotics Outreach Group (CROG) and the Caltech/JPL/LEGO Middle School Robotics Conference.

AnnMarie on Twitter

Valter Longo
Dr. Longo is the Edna Jones Professor in Gerontology and Professor in Biological Science. He is also the Director of the USC Longevity Institute. He is interested in understanding the fundamental mechanisms of aging in yeast, mice and humans by using genetics and biochemistry techniques. He is also interested in identifying the molecular pathways conserved from simple organisms to humans that can be modulated to protect against multiple stresses and treat or prevent cancer , Alzheimer’s Disease and other diseases of aging. The focus is on the signal transduction pathways that regulate resistance to oxidative damage in yeast and mice.

More About Dr. Longo's Study

Sara Bleich
Sara Bleich, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Bleich's research focuses on the intersection between public policy and obesity prevention/control. She is particularly interested in disparities in practice patterns of obesity care and novel environmental strategies designed to reduce caloric consumption or increase physical activity. Her past work experience includes: The Measurement Group (Research Associate), RAND Corporation (Summer Associate Program), and the Harvard Initiative for Global Health (Research Associate). Dr. Bleich is a current recipient of a K01 Career Development Award from NHLBI to explore racial disparities in physician practice patterns and patient self-management of obesity and of a RWJF Health Eating Research Award to conduct a store-based intervention to reduce sugar-sweetened beverage consumption among low income, black adolescents. Sara was recently elected to the Faculty Senate at the Bloomberg School of Public Health and is the Co-Director of the MPH Concentration in Health Systems and Policies. Sara holds degrees from Columbia (BA, Psychology) and Harvard (PhD, Health Policy).

More About Dr. Bleich