Increasing tree cover may be like a ‘superfood’ for community mental health

A recent Australian study suggests, that ‘green space’ especially trees, enhances mental health. Adults with 30% or more of their neighbourhood covered in some form of tree canopy had 31% lower odds of developing psychological distress. The same amount of tree cover was linked to 33% lower odds of developing fair to poor general health.https://theconversation.com/increasing-tree-cover-may-be-like-a-superfood-for-community-mental-health-119930

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University Education – A New Model for a New Era

There are more than one million students enrolled in Australian Universities. The majority of these are undergraduate students chasing the dream of a better life. They have enrolled because they believe that if they graduate from University then meaningful employment will shortly follow. They believe this because it is an ingrained cultural narrative that if you go to University you will get a better job. The Problem Unfortunately, these students are following an outdated playbook, and they face an environment where: There are fewer ‘zero-experience’ entry level graduate roles than ever; and Employers increasingly do not care that they have a University degree. The consequence to the student is painful, and the cost to our economy is profound: these graduates are taking roles that someone without an expensive university education can easily fill. If this trend continues then a University education becomes less of a pathway to meaningful employment and more of a luxury good. Our review reveals that the next generation of students is likely to have up to 17 different employers across at least five different careers .They enter a world burdened by the unsustainable consumption of previous generations, and they need to confront declining biodiversity, increasing global warming, fake news and the re-emergence of dictatorial political leaders. They are the first generation in decades whose standard of living is likely to be materially lower than their parents. The dominant mindset in the University sector is that minor advancements to the status quo are all that is needed to continue attracting vast numbers of high calibre, high paying students. In the longer term, prospective students will gradually wake up to the fact that they are seeking employment in a world vastly different to that encountered by the previous generation. If all Universities have to offer is their current model, then these future potential students will increasingly abandon the university system. What stands out to us above all was that the voice of the customer – students – is almost entirely absent from the dialogue. We seek to bring a ‘student-first’ perspective to this debate. The current model University education is currently focussed on the Knowledge Model. This model focusses on: [1] Creation of knowledge [2] Curation of problems, and [3] The distribution of knowledge. Millions of hours of student effort are wasted in broadcast lectures, theoretical conversations and repetitive drudgery aimed at building and testing knowledge often out of date before the degree is completed. A new model Based on our research we believe Universities should transition to the Applied Model. This model focusses on: [1] Creation of knowledge [2] Curation of problems, and [3] The direction and credentialing of student effort to solve these problems. Large scale problems are addressed in socially collaborative scenarios across multiple subjects, degrees and faculties. The energy and enthusiasm of students is harnessed by academics coaching them to actively and continuously achieve and question knowledge in context – beyond the historic content of a specific academic discipline . The Applied Model is designed to foster and credential an individual’s ability to search for and apply relevant knowledge to a defined problem. It  is a concept designed to better cater to the needs of society, business and students today in an environment where the half-life of useful knowledge and skills is on a continuous decline. The economy is placing different demands on graduate students and universities need to in-turn change their product to better prepare graduate students for an erratic career path. The Applied Model differs from the current Knowledge Model in three specific ways: It places greater emphasis on the institution as curator of the “problems” – and in so doing proposes a new role for them in society. It does not focus on one specific discipline but proposes that disciplines or faculties are united across the effort to scope and solve a problem. It suggests that the role of an academic in a student’s life must be transitioned from that of lecturer [and a font of singular knowledge sets at a given period in time] to one of a coach across a breadth and wider vision of what is possible, aiding not only in the foundation of a student’s knowledge whilst at university and beyond. International trends Through our work we seek to draw attention to the danger of comfortable lies – beware those who suggest that minor alterations to the status quo will maintain the global success of Australian Universities. In a global, technology driven education market, the high calibre, high paying students are mobile customers. Data from Citibank shows that globally, young people are desperately seeking more real-world preparation – with 78% believing internships and apprenticeships are critical for success. Australia and its education system relies on international students to a greater degree than any other country in the world. Education related travel services are our largest service export (and third largest export item behind iron and coal). Other countries are investing significantly in their education systems and Australia cannot compete at a fiscal level. Consequently, for Australia to have a competitive advantage in the market place it must have a unique, more compelling offering to students that will stand them in front of the market – certainly something far smarter than a nice country to arrive in and good living conditions (where according to the International Student Barometer we outperform the global market by 2% and 1% respectively. The current Knowledge Model sits at the heart of the University offering and a continued reliance on this model will inevitably result in a downwards trajectory. To achieve growth in a highly competitive market higher education providers must improve both their product offering and business model. Through the introduction of an Applied Model, we would see Universities becoming curators and custodians of large real-world problems. In doing so, Universities would then frame their degree structure to run across multiple faculties to address the resolution of those problems. Through this process it is believed that we would see Universities taking greater advantage of technologies and educational content provided by other sources (such as businesses, academic providers, government institutions, think tanks, etc.) to produce more rounded, agile graduates. The business view Businesses are finding it challenging to forecast the skills they will need in the future because they are unsure of the precise nature of the problems ahead […]

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Smart Contact Lenses

Samsung has just been granted a U.S. patent to develop smart contact lenses capable of taking pictures, recording videos, and even beaming images directly into a wearer’s eyes. The lenses are designed to include motion sensors, which means that wearers could control devices with their eye movements and potentially give commands to their devices remotely when blinking or using their peripheral vision. @IdeaSpies https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2019/08/06/samsung-patents-smart-contact-lenses-record-video-let-control/amp/

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Connecting with others with kooky creations

Artist Phil Ferguson, known to his 130,000 Instagram followers as Chili Philly, became Insta-famous for posing in his crocheted hats — from pizza slices and burger buns to eggplants. Since August 2014 Phil has been creating crochet hats and posting them on social media platform Instagram with success. He now has over 100k followers and has been featured by Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Frankie Magazine, BBC and even on Instagram’s account itself. His kooky creations and pop aesthetic have been so successful he has been able to leverage his social media popularity into pay, monetising his practice. https://www.instagram.com/chiliphilly/

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Attaching Fitbits to Port Jackson Sharks to observe their behaviour

A group of scientists has just discovered how modern technology can be used to study sharks out in the open. The researchers wanted to gain an understanding of shark behaviour and their whereabouts in order to reduce the amount and risk of human-shark interactions. Now, Macquarie scientist Julianna Kadar has just found the best method of using tagging technology to do just that. The researchers gathered Port Jackson sharks from the wild and attached a Fitbit like device – acoustic accelerometers – on the sharks to monitor their movements. The data collected by this new technology has since confirmed new information about the breed. https://lighthouse.mq.edu.au/article/august-2019/fitbits-throw-light-on-secret-lives-of-sharks

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Oyster mushrooms from coffee grounds

The average cafe produces 60kg of coffee grounds each week and 93% of cafes will throw them away. In landfill, these coffee grounds create greenhouse gasses (carbon dioxide and methane) which are contributing to global warming. BUT coffee grounds are quite valuable. They make the perfect growing base for oyster mushrooms! BeanCycled is providing grow at home mushroom farms as well as composting projects for preschools and community gardens. www.beancycled.com.au

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BLISS Deodorant – Zero Stains & Zero Toxins

An all-good, all-natural deodorant will keep you fresh all day. BLISS is aluminium free, paraben free deodorant that actually works – it glides on smooth and silky, leaves you feeling dry and refreshed, and being plant based won’t stain your clothes and is completely safe to use. The coconuts used came from the Solomon Islands which in turn supports the local community. Also, Diane the founder is passionate about the environment so the packaging is 100% plastic free and biodegradable. We are reducing plastic in the oceans one deodorant at a time. www.coconutmatter.org

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Practical action to reduce plastic in the ocean

Practical action to reduce plastic in the ocean

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urlpreviewbox url= “Blue is an environmental movie with a difference. It captures the disaster that is microplastics and how they are killing our oceans and us. However it’s upbeat about what each of us can do. At the end of the movie there was a simple and effective presentation about what each of us could do the next day, and every day to remove plastic from our lives. No preaching just simple, actionable and repeatable actions. Worth going to watch and learn. https://bluethefilm.org/”

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An app that allows you to read books in the blink of an eye

Has there ever been a book you have always wanted to read and learn from but didn’t have the time to read? Blinkist is an innovative app that solves that problem. It provides the key ideas and concepts from non-fiction books to you in the form of text and audio. They have experts who read books, who then create a 10-15-minute review of the book containing summaries, key insights and points. The tech company has already provided summaries of over 2,500 best-selling books, creating shorter version “blinks” for you to read or listen to them within minutes. https://www.blinkist.com/magazine/posts/meet-app-transformed-reading-1-5-million-people

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Fighting motion sickness using AI

ZF, a German supplier of car parts is working on advanced technology that will make someone less likely to feel sick on long journeys. Rather than curing the motion sickness, the purpose is teaching your car how to drive and avoid it. By analysing the correlation between motion sickness and the dynamics of the moving vehicle, the technology is intended to also store preferred driving styles of each passenger in order to prevent any triggers to feeling sick. ZF is wanting to reduce the feeling of motion sickness and discomfort – including dizziness, headaches and nausea. https://www.just-auto.com/news/zf-teams-with-scientists-to-combat-motion-sickness_id190113.aspx

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