This month on Online Insights we tip our hats to childcare workers, learn to write simply, digest movies faster and dream about stars.

Early Education & Care Awards

childcare nomincations

Enter the 2013 Australian Family Early Education & Care Awards (Image Australian Family)

Our girls have been going to childcare for a few years now and I am astounded by how patient and professional the childcare workers are.

Every day they have sobbing children to pry away from parents, get all sorts of mixed reactions from parents themselves, need to chase fees and deal with daily life inside a hotbed of infections.

I have gone from feeling like a failed parent for using childcare in the first place, to feeling nervous about their safety while under someone else’s care in a group, to feeling nothing but gratitude, awe and respect for childcare workers.

What Australian Family Magazine is doing with these awards, apart from creating a promotion that gets them publicity, is single out this amazing field of human service for some well-earned recognition.

The three categories are:

  • Early Childhood Educator of the Year
  • Early Childhood Director of the Year
  • Rising Star Award (25 years and under)

What would be interesting to see would be children’s favourite, a bit like the Gold Logie which is chosen by the public. I mention it because there are certainly exceptional human beings who kids latch onto. At our centre, Carmen and Alex have won the girls hearts over the years, to the extent that our girls play ‘child care’ at home sometimes and the coveted roles are Carmen and Alex. We even had a shock to discover that Alex was a neighbour, I am sure the girls play louder outside now in the hope of being heard by him 🙂

I would love to see awards for:

  • most nutritious, loved and creative menus
  • most responsive system for making after hours changes to arrangements
  • most innovative skill teaching games/activities
  • most vigilant anti-bullying and anti-teasing methods

I wish everyone all the best in these awards. You can vote here in 2013 Australian Family Early Education & Care Awards.

The Editing Room

Have you ever wondered if a movie is worth seeing or WAS worth seeing?

The answer could lie on The Editing Room website.

At this site, the writers give us a very cut down script covering the highlights of each movie, along with a dose of sarcastic commentary.

For an example, I took a look at the Editing Room’s take on James Bond’s latest flick, Skyfall.

Here are some excerpts:

  • There is NO TRACKING WHITE DOT because the franchise has MOVED ON into a BOLD NEW ERA and is NOT RELYING ON THE SAME OLD TIRED GIMMICKS, NO REALLY.
  • DANIEL CRAIG bursts in to find a LAPTOP and a FELLOW AGENT, both missing most of their GUTS. DANIEL CRAIG: Don’t worry, unnamed non-speaking role, I’ll help you!
  • NAOMIE HARRIS (on radio, having been ordered by M to shoot at James and a villain doing battle on a train rooftop at distance, even if James gets shot): Why don’t you have a swarm of military helicopters descend on our position when it stops? Then we can easily capture the evil guy. JUDI DENCH: I can’t do that, the “swarm of helicopters” button only works if it’s halfway through the movie!! Shoot wildly, that’s a far better plan!

Catch up on your movies at The Editing Room.

Up Goer Five

What the heck does Up Goer Five mean?

Well, it is a way of describing the Saturn Five Moon Rocket blueprints using only words from the ten hundred most commonly used words in English.

The xkcd comic set the precedent for this new text editor by applying the filter of only 1,000 words for describing Saturn V. Their version dubs the rocket as ‘the only flying space car that’s taken anyone to another world’.

Of course, such a limitation makes the communication become nonsense but the Up Goer Five text filter has a different mission. It is a tool for helping science communicators, in particular, avoid jargon and write plainly.

I gave it a test run by pasting in the text from the Buy South Australian website homepage, which begins, ‘Advantage SA’s Buy South Australian campaign encourages consumers to support South Australian producers, growers and manufacturers by purchasing products made in our state.’

Up Goer Five underlines all the words that I have put a strikethrough in, above. I would have to rewrite it as, ‘Buy food and stuff made in our state, and nothing else’.

Click here to skip to the list of ten hundred words (it seems that ‘thousand’ is not commonly used enough).

Click here to paste in some of your text to have it tested by Up Goer Five.

Good luck going crazy as you try to dumb down your writing!

Valentines under the stars

I’ve been loving the curiosity in my little girls about the stars and planets, thanks to the SkyView app on my iPhone.

You hold it up and look at the sky and it superimposes stars, planets and constellations where they should be, thanks to the phones sensitive instruments and GPS.

But recently, one of my sisters announced she wants to take her nieces and nephews to Adelaide’s planetarium, something that I had forgotten even existed.

The planetarium is at the University of South Australia campus at Mawson Lakes where they show you the sky (as it should be) for very modest prices.

What has caught my eye here are three aspects of the service:

Saturday viewing sessions: At 1pm on the first and third Saturdays of each month, you can take along the kids to see the night sky and take in a movie played up on the planetarium’s ceiling. One is Wildest Weather In The Solar System for older kids and the other is Tycho To The Moon, in which a little dog explores space.

School holiday programs: Keep an eye out in school holidays for special programs.

Valentine’s Day: This involves an 8pm start with champagne and chocolates on arrival before you spend an hour under the stars with your loved one and a room of other loved ones.

Just some of the facts on the planetarium’s website relate to distance:

  • Speed of light = 299,792.5km/sec
  • Distance to Sun nearly 150 million km or 8.3 light minutes
  • Distance to nearest star, Alpha Centauri – 4.3 light years
  • Distance to brightest star, Sirius – 8.7 light years

Find out more at the Planetarium website.

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