How do we rethink high schools?

Survey Questions for the Super School International High School Project

Mrs. Jobs

Bob Barboza is a school administrator in the USA who is working with a team of scientists, engineers, educators, parents, students and community members to rethink high schools.  We are a part of the XQ Super School Project created by Mrs. Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Steve Jobs from Apple Computer.  Mr. Barboza has created five questions for high school students.  You can answer all five questions or just one.  This new high school is being designed for you and the students that are coming behind you.  We need your help.

Your answers will be posted on the Kids Talk Radio website:

1. What would a day be like in a high school that you would like to attend?

2. When you leave high school what would you like to know and be able to do?

3. Describe a teacher that you would like to study with.

4. What kind of a high school would you like our team to build for you?

5. Draw a diagram or sketch of your ideal high school.

Who wants to train to be an astronaut?

Be an Astronaut: NASA Accepting Applications for Future Explorers

Kids Talk Radio Science is sponsoring a Jr. astronaut, engineer and scientist program for future astronauts. ( You can never start too early.)  Our program gets you started early.  This blog will provide more details each week.   We invite you to learn about NASA’s official astronaut application process.  This will make a good read for our students in grades five through twelve.  Send your student and parent questions and comments to Bob Barboza at:

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The Official NASA Communication:

Recently named the best place to work in the federal government for the fourth year in a row, NASA is looking for the best candidates to work in the best job on or off the planet. The Astronaut Candidate Application website now is live and accepting submissions through February 18, 2016

Qualifying U.S. citizens may apply at:

NASA astronaut Shannon Walker and astronaut selection manager Anne Roemer will answer questions about the job, and the application and selection processes, on beginning at 4 pm EST today. At that time, anyone may submit questions at:

The agency expects to announce final candidate selections in mid-2017. Those chosen may fly on any of four different U.S. spacecraft during their careers: the International Space Station, two commercial crew spacecraft currently in development by U.S. companies, and NASA’s Orion deep-space exploration vehicle.

“NASA is on an ambitious journey to Mars and we’re looking for talented men and women from diverse backgrounds and every walk of life to help get us there,” said NASA Administrator and former astronaut Charles Bolden. “Today, we opened the application process for our next class of astronauts, extraordinary Americans who will take the next giant leap in exploration. This group will launch to space from U.S. soil on American-made spacecraft and blaze the trail on our journey to the Red Planet.”

NASA astronauts will again launch to the International Space Station from Florida’s Space Coast on American-made commercial spacecraft — Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and the SpaceX Crew Dragon. These spacecraft will allow NASA to add a seventh crew member to each station mission, effectively doubling the amount of time astronauts will be able to devote to research in space, expanding scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies.

Astronauts also will lift off again from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida aboard the Orion spacecraft, launched on the agency’s Space Launch System rocket, to unprecedented missions in lunar orbit. There, the space agency will learn more about conducting complex operations in a deep space environment before moving on to longer duration missions as it progresses on its journey to Mars.

To help accomplish this work, NASA will select qualified astronaut candidates from a diverse pool of U.S. citizens with a wide variety of backgrounds, including engineers, scientists and physicians. According to the professional networking site LinkedIn, some 3 million of the site’s members working in the United States appear to meet the minimum academic eligibility requirements for the job.

“NASA’s mission, and what we need from the astronauts helping to carry it out, has evolved over the years,” said Brian Kelly, director of Flight Operations at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “Some people would be surprised to learn they might have what it takes. We want and need a diverse mix of individuals to ensure we have the best astronaut corps possible.”

Astronaut candidates must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science or mathematics. An advanced degree is desirable. Candidates also must have at least three years of related, progressively responsible professional experience, or at least 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft. Astronaut candidates must pass the NASA long-duration astronaut physical.

“The Office of Personnel Management is proud to support NASA’s efforts to recruit our country’s next generation of astronauts,” said Beth Cobert, acting director of OPM. “One of this agency’s primary goals is to help attract, recruit, hire and retain the best and most talented workforce to serve the American people. We stand ready to help NASA find and support the talent it needs to fulfill its exciting mission to Mars. I’m proud to help agencies across government shape the federal workforce of the future by providing such tools as USAJOBS, our one-stop source for federal job and employment information.”

For more information about a career as an astronaut, and application requirements, visit:

Are Smartphones A Problem in Schools?

Kids Talk Radio is using smart phones for the Occupy Mars Learning Adventures projects.  We are trying hard to strike a balance with traditional and high tech teaching and learning.  It is not easy.  We welcome you to read this article by psychologist and author Richard Freed.

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American Students: Students are Struggling in Reading and Math.  What do Smartphones have to do with this?


American teens’ increasing access to smartphones is driving a meteoric rise in their entertainment tech use. The recently released Common Sense media report shows that teens now spend an incredible 6 hours and 40 minutes each day using video games, online videos, social media, and other screen self-amusements. Not counted in this total is the tremendous amount of time teens spend texting and talking on their phones. As our adolescents’ lives become increasingly dominated by digital entertainment, what are the consequences?

An answer is found in another recently released report on U.S. teens: the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card. This study reveals that 8th grade students’ scores in reading and math dropped from the last time they were measured in 2013. A disturbing two-thirds of American 8th graders now score “below proficient” in reading, and this same percentage of students score “below proficient” in math.

Even before this recent drop, American students were struggling against their global competition. The latest Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) scores from 2012 show that American 15-year-olds rank 30th in math, 23rd in science, and 20th in reading compared to students from other countries that took the exam. This should be cause for alarm, as American schoolchildren must now compete with students from around the world for college admission and jobs.

Why Our Teens Are Falling Behind

Is the dramatic increase in teen smartphone and entertainment tech use contributing to their academic struggles? It’s not the only factor, but it’s a critical one. Smartphones provide teens 24/7 access to playtime technologies that research shows drag down their academic success. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation: “The transformation of the cell phone into a media content delivery platform [has]… facilitated an explosion in [entertainment] media consumption among American youth,” especially TV and video games. It’s these high levels of TV, video games, and other entertainment technologies which displace teens’ focus on school and hurt their academic performance.

What’s confusing for parents is that they are told the latest technologies give students a learning advantage. Unfortunately, what’s little mentioned is that our kids use their gadgets almost exclusively to play around. As noted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, while kids spend 8 hours a day playing with entertainment screens and texting and talking on the phone, they only spend 16 minutes a day using the computer at home for school.

The negative impact of heavy teen smartphone use on academics is clear in my work as a child and adolescent psychologist. When I ask teens to describe their afterschool schedules, they often say, “Oh, I come home from school, grab a snack, and then I’m on my phone for most of the night.” I ask kids when they study or do homework, “Oh, sometimes late at night… if I have time.” What these kids don’t realize is that a college education is remarkably important today, and that colleges gauge admission based upon teens’ grasp of school-taught fundamentals, including reading, math, and science.

Who Is Most Hurt by Tech Overuse?

I work with teens from all walks of life whose chances of academic success are spoiled by their overuse of digital technologies. But it’s kids of color and those from low-income families who are disproportionately affected. The new Common Sense media report found that Black teens average 8 hours and 26 minutes per day with entertainment screen technologies as compared with 6 hours and 18 minutes for White teens. These screen/tech-use differences are a significant factor contributing to racial achievement disparities: According to the latest Nation’s Report Card report, 16% of Black 8th graders are “proficient” in reading as compared with 44% of White students, and 13% of Black 8th graders are “proficient” in math as compared with 43% of White students.

Why do teens of color and kids from low-income families spend a greater amount of time using tech and screens? Less advantaged parents I work with tell me that they can’t afford the extracurricular activities that can keep kids from turning to screens and phones. Also, more affluent families I work with have greater access to high-performing schools, college counselors, and other resources that can help parents understand the importance of limiting screen/phone time in order to foster teens’ school success.

How Can We Help Our Teens Achieve Learning Success?

Much of the blame for our teens’ learning struggles wrongly falls on schools. I believe we should do all we can to ensure our nation’s schools are adequately funded. Yet, as three-time Pulitzer prize winner Thomas Friedman and Johns Hopkins professor Michael Mandelbaum advise in their book That Used To Be Us, adding resources to education won’t help unless American students dramatically cut back on their amusement-based tech habits and instead focus on school.

I suggest that schools take a leadership role in helping parents understand that home factors, especially teens’ access to screens and phones, play a powerful role in their learning success. At back-to-school nights and other parent-teacher gatherings, schools should help parents realize this basic formula: parents’ limits on entertainment technologies will lead kids to receive higher grades and test scores.

Schools will also help teens by talking directly with them. Teens are just not getting the message that their endless hours spent gaming, social networking, texting, and watching online videos can cost them the goals they have set for themselves, including getting into college.

Families from less advantaged families may need extra support to help kids power down their devices and pick up their schoolbooks. As a society, we need to do a better job of offering teens quality enrichment experiences, such as afterschool screen- and phone-free study sessions, that give teens the space they need to learn and achieve their goals.