15 Year Old Wins LPGA Event

Ko, 15, is LPGA’s youngest winner

Lydia Ko, 15, wins the Canadian Women’s Open by three strokes.
 
Updated Aug 26, 2012 6:37 PM ET
 

COQUITLAM, British Columbia (AP)

Lydia Ko won the Canadian Women’s Open on Sunday to become the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history and only the fifth amateur champion.

 

The 15-year-old South Korean-born New Zealander closed with a 5-under 67 for a three-stroke victory. She broke the age record of 16 set by Lexi Thompson last September in the Navistar LPGA Classic in Alabama and is the first amateur winner since JoAnne Carner in the 1969 Burdine’s Invitational.

In January, Ko won the New South Wales Open in Australia at 14 to become the youngest player to win a professional tour event, a mark broken by 14-year-old Brooke Henderson in June in a Canadian Women’s Tour event in Quebec. Ko also won the US Women’s Amateur two weeks ago in Cleveland.

Ko finished at 13-under 275 at The Vancouver Golf Club, pulling away with birdies on five of the first six holes on the back nine. She opened with consecutive 68s and shot a 72 on Saturday to take a one-stroke lead into the final round.

Inbee Park shot a 69 to finish second.

US Women’s Open champion Na Yeon Choi, Chella Choi and Jiyai Shin tied for third at 8 under. Na Yeon Shoi had a 73, and Chella Choi and Shin shot 71.

Original article

Beyond Grades and Trophies, Teaching Kids the Definition of Success

Beyond Grades and Trophies, Teaching Kids the Definition of Success

August 24, 2012 | 7:00 AM | By

Flickr:CriCristina

By Amanda Stupi

In her new book Teach Your Children Well: Parenting for Authentic Success, psychologist and author Madeline Levine exposes the pitfalls of over-parenting, and argues for a new definition of success and achievement.

Levine uses the term “authentic success” to differentiate success as it is traditionally viewed: titles, money, good grades, and prestigious schools. In the forward to her book, Levine writes that parents also need to encourage kids to “know and appreciate themselves deeply; to approach the world with zest; to find work that is exciting and satisfying, friends and spouses who are loving and loyal; and to hold a deep belief that they have something meaningful to contribute to society.”

Levine joined host Dave Iverson on KQED’s Forum to discuss her book. Here are some tips that surfaced from the conversation.

1. REMEMBER THE BASICS

According to Levine, research shows that “the four most important factors in parenting are reliability, consistency, stability and non-interference.” She says that most people don’t argue with the first three but that she receives push back on the last one — non-interference. Levine says learning from mistakes (the kind that occur when parents don’t interfere) is an important skill — one that employers say too many young workers lack.

2. BUILD A GOOD FOUNDATION

“We’ve all become these decorators as opposed to construction workers. What kids really need is not the right curtains i.e. the right schools, the right grades, but they need a strong foundation. So many parents are busy paying attention to the decorative aspect of their child.”

3. SPEND TIME WITH YOUR KIDS

Research shows that eating dinner with your kids is a good habit to maintain. But many parents over-think it. When asked about eating dinner with her own kids, Levine says “It wasn’t brilliant, deep conversation with three boys every night about how they felt about things, not by a long shot.” What mattered was that she spent time with them.

Levine says to emphasize play time, down time, and family time, or P.D.F.

“It’s in that quiet space that you actually get to know who your child is and that’s your primary job as a parent.” And don’t worry if progess is slow going. Levine says “Getting to know your child is a quiet, long process.”

4. ESTABLISH INTERNAL DEFINITION OF SUCCESS

Levine says that both parents and children need to shift from an external, performance-oriented version of success to an internal version that embraces “real curiosity about learning and how the child experiences things.”

Instead of equating a high grade with effort and intelligence and a low grade with a lack thereof, switch to questions like ‘Did you learn anything new on the test?’ or ‘What was the test like for you?’”

Encourage children “to go inside and evaluate for themselves.” At the end of the day that’s what I think authentic [success] means,” says Levine.

5. LET KIDS FAIL

According to Levine, letting kids fail is “one of the most critical things” parents can do. She encourages parents to remember how often toddlers fall when they’re learning to walk.

“That’s the model in life, for how kids master things. If we swooped in at the first stumble, a child wouldn’t learn how to walk. She walks because she fails over and over and over again with our continued encouragement and presence.”

6. FOCUS ON CHILD’S STRENGTH

“When you grow up you only have to be really, really good at one or two things. This idea of being good at everything, straight A’s, building water treatment plants in the Sudan and being the captain of the lacrosse team is so unrealistic.”

“We spend so much time with tutors or worrying about a kid who has difficulty in one field as oppose to concentrating on their strengths.”

7. DON’T DROWN YOUR KIDS IN PRAISE

Levine emphasized that one of the most important things parents can do for their children is to hold back the praise – that’s correct, you shouldn’t constantly tell your children that they are great.

“We seem to be under the impression that you can graft self-esteem onto your children if you just tell them enough how special they are. The reality is that self-esteem comes out of competence. How do you get confident about something? You get better at it.”

Levine explains that telling children they’re good at something builds pressure and expectations and that the possibility of not meeting those expectations works against kids.

“The risk for the child then becomes very great.”

Original article

New Middle School “MakerBot” 3D Printer

In support of our efforts to support student innovation and create STEM opportunities, the Middle School recently purchased a “MakerBot” 3D printer. Watch the following videos for more information:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3NGzO_pPQY&w=560&h=315]

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMLIiJFRinY&w=560&h=315]

Back-to-School Questions Asked and Answered

Back-to-School Questions Asked and Answered – from commonsensemedia.org

Tips, guidance, and solutions for managing technology in school and home.
by Caroline Knorr | Aug. 16, 2012 | Educational issues

School seems to start earlier every year. One minute you’re packing for a week at the beach, the next you’re wondering whether your kid really needs a spiral-bound notebook for every single subject, including PE. This year, back to school will bring another big surprise: more technology — both in and out of the classroom — than ever before.

Navigating this territory will be a fresh challenge to all involved. Teachers and administrators want to use tech to reach out and relate to students, without disrupting class or skimping on lessons. Parents want to make sure that kids maximize the benefits while minimizing the risks. And kids? They mostly just want to have fun — and that often means hours spent online, texting friends, or playing games.

Added to the mix is a 24/7 pipeline that can be both a boon (homework help, research, current events) and a bust (hours-long texting marathons, Facebook drama, age-inappropriate content). Managing kids’ schedules to provide enough time for schoolwork and activities with a reasonable amount of screen time is a delicate balance.

Here are some of the top concerns we’ve heard from parents trying to figure it all out.

 Original article

Advice For New Middle School Students

MARILYN HAGERTY: One of life’s great challenges: middle school

Being the coolest student in middle school doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. That’s because it changes all the time, according to Rachel Trenne. And she ought to know. She just finished three years of middle school at Schroeder and is moving on to high school at Red River this week.

By: Marilyn Hagerty, Grand Forks Herald

Being the coolest student in middle school doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.

That’s because it changes all the time, according to Rachel Trenne. And she ought to know. She just finished three years of middle school at Schroeder and is moving on to high school at Red River this week.

She would like to tell younger students entering middle school that’s more important to be nice and treat others with respect and kindness.

“If you’re going to worry, don’t worry about popularity. Worry about the way you treat people.”

Those were her words in a letter she wrote last spring. Her teacher, Jan Monley, thought they were worth passing on.

That’s because middle school is one of life’s greatest challenges and it looms large this week. Nobody takes the students by the hand as they did at the beginning of kindergarten.

Instead, it’s a huge step for those who finished fifth grade in Grand Forks in May are moving into middle school at Valley, Schroeder and South.

The words written by Rachel Trenne reflect her feelings of moving up the ladder. This week, she is going into ninth grade. She wrote her advice last spring to make middle school more enjoyable for sixth graders.

“If I could tell you one thing, it would be to do your own homework. As easy as it is to cheat, it will be much harder when the test or quiz rolls around.

“Popularity is fleeting,” she wrote. “Being nice is not. Treat others with respect and kindness,” she said in part. “Don’t worry about who the coolest person is because, trust me, it changes all the time.”

Rachel makes a case for middle schoolers to use the Golden Rule and treat others the way they want to be treated. “Don’t talk behind people’s backs. Don’t do things to make them look bad. And don’t spread rumors.”

Kindness, she wrote, would make middle school and all of life so much easier.

“As weird as it may seem,” she wrote, “in the next three years many of you will be offered alcohol, easy access to illegal drugs and be pressured into doing things you don’t want to do.

“Make sure you stay true to yourself and make decisions you can live with…. Listen to your mom and dad. They really do have your best interest at heart.”

From here on, Rachel tells new middle schoolers they will have more opportunities. She suggests, “Get out of your comfort zone. Try new things. Make new friends.”

In middle school, Rachel wrote, “You’re going to change, don’t be afraid of that. Don’t be worried if you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up, you have plenty of time to decide.

“Have fun,” she concluded. “Enjoy being this age. It can really be hard, but it can be fun as well. Make the most of it.”

Rachel has an older brother, Ben, who will be a junior at Red River this year. Her parents, Paul and Karen Trenne, are Lutheran ministers.

She is entering high school with a jest for dance, cheerleading and playing softball. She’s hoping to find a place in DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) and student council at Red River.

She has taken part in Summer Performing Arts and worked with the news team at Schroeder. She was among those at the National Youth Conference in New Orleans this summer. While there, she donated 8 inches of hair to the Children With Hair Loss cause.

Augusta National Admits First Female Members

Augusta National Adds Condoleezza Rice, Darla Moore As First Two Female Members

By DOUG FERGUSON 08/20/12 01:29 PM ET AP

 
 

Augusta National

The sun rises over the Augusta National Golf Club house before practice rounds for the Masters golf tournament Wednesday, April 4, 2012, in Augusta, Ga.

NEW YORK — For the first time in its 80-year history, Augusta National Golf Club has female members.

The home of the Masters, under increasing criticism the last decade because of its all-male membership, invited former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore to become the first women in green jackets when the club opens for a new season in October.

Both women accepted.

“This is a joyous occasion,” Augusta National chairman Billy Payne said Monday.

The move likely ends a debate that intensified in 2002 when Martha Burk of the National Council of Women’s Organizations urged the club to include women among its members. Former club chairman Hootie Johnson stood his ground, even at the cost of losing Masters television sponsors for two years, when he famously said Augusta National might one day have a woman in a green jacket, “but not at the point of a bayonet.”

The comment took on a life of its own, becoming either a slogan of the club’s resolve not to give in to public pressure or a sign of its sexism, depending on which side of the debate was interpreting it.

“Oh my God. We won,” Burk said. “It’s about 10 years too late for the boys to come into the 20th century, never mind the 21st century. But it’s a milestone for women in business.”

Payne, who took over as chairman in 2006 when Johnson retired, said consideration for new members is deliberate and private, and that Rice and Moore were not treated differently from other new members. Even so, he took the rare step of announcing two of the latest members to join because of the historical significance.

“These accomplished women share our passion for the game of golf and both are well known and respected by our membership,” Payne said in a statement. “It will be a proud moment when we present Condoleezza and Darla their green jackets when the club opens this fall. This is a significant and positive time in our club’s history and, on behalf of our membership, I wanted to take this opportunity to welcome them and all of our new members into the Augusta National family.”

Tiger Woods, who knows Rice through a mutual connection to Stanford, applauded the move.

“I think the decision by the Augusta National membership is important to golf,” Woods said. “The Club continues to demonstrate its commitment to impacting the game in positive ways. I would like to congratulate both new members, especially my friend Condi Rice.”

A person with knowledge of club operations said Rice and Moore first were considered as members five years ago. That would be four years after the 2003 Masters, when Burk’s protest in a grass lot down the street from the club attracted only about 30 supporters, and one year after Payne became chairman.

Moore and Johnson are close friends, both with roots in South Carolina and banking, and the person said Payne and Johnson agreed on the timing of a female member. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the club typically does not discuss membership issues, said it was important to Payne to be respectful of the membership process.

The person said prospective members often are not aware they are being considered. Augusta National does not say how much it costs to join or provide figures on annual dues.

Johnson said in a statement to The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., “”This is wonderful news for Augusta National Golf Club and I could not be more pleased. Darla Moore is my good friend, and I know she and Condoleezza Rice will enjoy the Club as much as I have.”

Burk maintains her initial letter to Johnson on June 12, 2002 – and his defiant reply – paved the way for Rice and Moore to become members a decade later.

“It came sooner than I expected. I thought they were going to try to outlast me,” Burk said. “And I really thought they would wait until the women’s movement would get no credit. But if we had not done what we did, this would not have happened now.”

Augusta National, which opened in December 1932 and did not have a black member until 1990, is believed to have about 300 members. While the club until now had no female members, women were allowed to play the golf course as guests, including on the Sunday before the Masters week began in April.

The issue of female membership never went away, however, and it resurfaced again this year after Virginia Rometty was appointed chief executive of IBM, one of the Masters’ corporate sponsors. The previous four CEOs of Big Blue had all been Augusta National members, leading to speculation that the club would break at least one tradition – membership for the top executive of IBM or a men-only club.

Rometty was seen at the Masters on the final day wearing a pink jacket, not a green one. She was not announced as one of the newest members.

Most players at the Masters steered clear of the issue when it was raised, citing the private nature of the club. PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem also tried to stay out of it. In some of his strongest comments in May, he said the Masters was “too important” for the tour not to recognize the tournament as an official part of the schedule.

Finchem commended the club on Monday.

“At a time when women represent one of the fastest growing segments in both playing and following the game of golf, this sends a positive and inclusive message for our sport,” Finchem said.

Three-time Masters champion Gary Player tweeted, “Great news. Augusta National admits its first female members in 80 years: Condoleezza Rice & Darla Moore.”

“I think it’s great,” Tim Clark of South Africa said Monday after his runner-up finish in the Wyndham Championship. “Obviously it shows a sign of the times and like I say, Augusta’s a place I love, love going there to play and love the tournament. So it’s nice to see them do this now and kind of get everyone off their backs.”

Moore, 58, first rose to prominence in the 1980s with Chemical Bank, where she became the highest-paid woman in the banking industry. She is vice president of Rainwater, Inc., a private investment company founded by her husband, Richard Rainwater, and she was the first woman to be profiled on the cover of Fortune Magazine,

In 1998, Moore made an initial $25 million contribution to her alma mater, the University of South Carolina, which renamed its business school after her. She pledged an additional $45 million to the school in 2004. And last year, she pledged $5 million to the college for a new aerospace center. She also pledged $10 million to Clemson University in her father’s name.

Moore was mentioned as a possible Augusta National member during the height of the all-male membership debate in 2002. She and Johnson worked on South Carolina’s $300 million capital campaign in the late 1990s.

“Augusta National has always captured my imagination, and is one of the most magically beautiful places anywhere in the world, as everyone gets to see during the Masters each April,” Moore said. “I am fortunate to have many friends who are members at Augusta National, so to be asked to join them as a member represents a very happy and important occasion in my life.

“Above all, Augusta National and the Masters Tournaments have always stood for excellence, and that is what is so important to me.”

Rice, 57, was the national security adviser under former President George W. Bush and became secretary of state in his second term. The first black woman to be a Stanford provost in 1993, she now is a professor of political economy at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.

“I have visited Augusta National on several occasions and look forward to playing golf, renewing friendships and forming new ones through this very special opportunity,” Rice said in a statement released by the club. “I have long admired the important role Augusta National has played in the traditions and history of golf. I also have an immense respect for the Masters Tournament and its commitment to grow the game of golf, particularly with youth, here in the United States and throughout the world.”

Rice recently was appointed to the U.S. Golf Association’s nominating committee.

Johnson regarded the membership debate as infringing on the rights of a private club, even though every April it hosts the Masters, the most popular of the four major championships, which brings in millions of dollars through television rights for the highest-rated telecast in golf.

In a 2002 interview with The Associated Press, Johnson the all-male nature of the club was more important because of four parties for members only, instead of who gets to enjoy one of the most famous golf courses in the world.

“Our club has enjoyed a camaraderie and a closeness that’s served us well for so long, that it makes it difficult for us to consider change,” he said. “A woman may be a member of this club one day, but that is out in the future.”

The membership issue might now shift across the Atlantic to the British Open, which returns in 2013 to all-male Muirfield Golf Club.

 

Original article

Holley Mangold, Olympic Weightlifter

An Olympic Weightlifter on Football, Breaking Windows and the Perfect Lift

Holley Mangold successfully completes a 145-kilogram clean and jerk on her first attempt during the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Women’s Weightlifting on March 4, 2012 in Columbus, Ohio. Photo: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

 

People have called Holley Mangold “Big Girl” most of her life. She heard it growing up playing football against boys, it’s what everyone called her when she starred in an episode of MTV’s True Life and it’s how people think of her now that she’s an Olympic weightlifter in the superheavyweight division.

 

Mangold’s totally OK with that. In fact, she embraces it. She’s 5-foot-8 and weighs 350 pounds and she doesn’t care what you think about it. But then, she’s never been especially concerned with what others thought, and it’s served her well through an athletic career that’s been as impressive as it is unusual.

Mangold, the younger sister of New York Jets All-Pro center Nick Mangold, started playing football when she was 8. She was on the offensive line at Archbishop Alter High School and the first girl who wasn’t a kicker to play high school football in Ohio. She started powerlifting at about the same time and won the junior nationals at age 18. Her path to the Games was set then, but the 22-year-old wasn’t expected to make it until 2016. Instead, she sealed her spot in London with a surprise second-place finish at the Olympic Trials with a combined total of 255 kilograms. That’s 562.2 pounds, for the metrically challenged.

Wired chatted with Mangold about her about challenging stereotypes, surpassing expectations and chasing the feeling that comes with the perfect lift.

 

Wired: How did you get into weightlifting?

Mangold: I was playing football and one day in the weight room my coach was like, “Well, you’re pretty strong for a female.” I’m pretty sure he meant it as an insult, but I took it as a compliment. I decided to go into powerlifting. I got some national records there, and then moved on to Olympic weightlifting. I just fell in love with it.

Wired: Did you and Nick ever play together?

Mangold: Oh no, I’m sure I would have killed him, so he wouldn’t want to play against me.

Wired: Do you miss football at all?

Mangold: I miss the contact, you know. I really do. I love contact sports. I love when you get to beat someone out. [laughs] Here you’ve just got to lift more than them. But I have a lot more passion for weightlifting.

Wired: What stokes your passion?

Mangold: It’s so technical. It looks so effortless when you do it right, and when you do it wrong it looks like it’s really, really heavy. There’s this thing called weightlessness. When you get a good lift the bar is literally weightless. It’s off your body and you don’t feel it until it’s over your head. You get that with maybe one in 100 lifts, but when you get it you’ll chase it for the rest of your life.

Wired: How do people look at women weightlifters?

Mangold: I think a lot of people think they all look like me. There’s a lot of small weightlifters, 48 kilo class. People forget about that. I feel women weightlifters kind of try too hard and are too feminine just to show they’re still feminine. I don’t do that. I try to have a nice balance. But I haven’t had any problems. People don’t really say anything to your face because they’re a little intimidated that you can out-lift them.

Wired: I hear you were kicked out of the gym in college for breaking windows….

Mangold: Oh yes, I did. It was a second-story weight room. It wasn’t really built for Olympic weightlifting. In weightlifting you drop the weights, and because it was an all-girls college they weren’t really expecting girls to do Olympic weightlifting. I dropped the weights and it broke all the windows. It wasn’t even that much, like 200 pounds. I wasn’t allowed to lift there anymore, needless to say.

Wired: The training regimen for weightlifting seems obvious. But how much time is spent training each week?

Mangold: I train about three hours each practice. I have two practices Monday, Wednesday, Friday, one on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday. And I have Sunday off. It’s about 27 hours a week.

Wired: What do you do to stay focused before you compete?

Mangold: Before I go in I usually wrap a towel around my head and try to get in the zone, focus and block everything else out. I don’t pay attention to who’s lifting, what they lifted, if they missed, if they didn’t. I just focus on me and what’s happening. It’s very important to visualize yourself making the lifts, visualize yourself doing thing correctly.

Wired: There’s a certain amount of grace involved in weightlifting.

Mangold: A lot of people think we just pick things up and put them back down. But if you’re a quarter of an inch off your path at the bottom, it’s going to be five inches behind you at the top. It’s very technical in the fact that you’ve got to be precise in your movements. I always say weightlifting is like controlled explosion. You must control the bar completely all the way through the lift, through an explosion of power. It’s hard to grasp the technical things you have to do but there’s a million of them. But you’ve got to make sure you’re not thinking of a million things, because then you’re not even going to lift it.

Wired: Is the technical proficiency one reason weightlifters often are older than many Olympians?

Mangold: Yeah. They say it takes five years to see if you’re going to be any good in weightlifting and 10 years to see if you’re going to be great. I’ve been doing it for about three and a half, so I don’t know if I’m good yet. [laughs] I feel I’m just scratching at the surface of what I can do.

Wired: You’re ahead of schedule, actually.

Mangold: You know, the 2012 Olympics means so much to me because everyone thought I was going in 2016. I was kind of like the underdog that just came through. This was an unexpected thing, everybody was projecting me for 2016, so now I’ve got to show that I deserve going to 2012. It means a lot of work.

Wired: What would you tell girls who may want to get into weightlifting?

Mangold: You’re not going to end up like me. You’re not going to be huge. A lot of girls don’t go into weightlifting because they think it’s going to make them like bulky and huge. You gotta be born this big. You’re not going to reach my size just because you start weightlifting. That said, do what you want to do and have fun doing it. If you love it, continue doing it and do not worry about what other people say.

Wired: Your confidence and attitude are inspiring.

Mangold: I love my body. I think it’s perfect. I don’t know what my personality would be like if I wasn’t so huge. And I think it’s a great thing for me. I’ll never be skinny and I’m perfectly okay with that. As soon as I retire I will be doing cross-fit and I’m sure I’ll go crazy with health stuff. But right now I’m kind of enjoying being a super heavyweight. I kind of like it.

Original article

The Need for Robotics and Programming in Education

Here’s an interesting article on how robots are replacing humans in many factories around the world.  The article serves as an important reminder for the importance of our girls to learn programing and robotics.  Stay tuned to the Au Courant for information on our after school robotics team and our new seventh grade robotics unit.

The New York Times

August 18, 2012

 

Skilled Work, Without the Worker

By

DRACHTEN, the Netherlands — At the Philips Electronics factory on the coast of China, hundreds of workers use their hands and specialized tools to assemble electric shavers. That is the old way.

At a sister factory here in the Dutch countryside, 128 robot arms do the same work with yoga-like flexibility. Video cameras guide them through feats well beyond the capability of the most dexterous human.

One robot arm endlessly forms three perfect bends in two connector wires and slips them into holes almost too small for the eye to see. The arms work so fast that they must be enclosed in glass cages to prevent the people supervising them from being injured. And they do it all without a coffee break — three shifts a day, 365 days a year.

All told, the factory here has several dozen workers per shift, about a tenth as many as the plant in the Chinese city of Zhuhai.

This is the future. A new wave of robots, far more adept than those now commonly used by automakers and other heavy manufacturers, are replacing workers around the world in both manufacturing and distribution. Factories like the one here in the Netherlands are a striking counterpoint to those used by Apple and other consumer electronics giants, which employ hundreds of thousands of low-skilled workers.

“With these machines, we can make any consumer device in the world,” said Binne Visser, an electrical engineer who manages the Philips assembly line in Drachten.

Many industry executives and technology experts say Philips’s approach is gaining ground on Apple’s. Even as Foxconn, Apple’s iPhone manufacturer, continues to build new plants and hire thousands of additional workers to make smartphones, it plans to install more than a million robots within a few years to supplement its work force in China.

Foxconn has not disclosed how many workers will be displaced or when. But its chairman, Terry Gou, has publicly endorsed a growing use of robots. Speaking of his more than one million employees worldwide, he said in January, according to the official Xinhua news agency: “As human beings are also animals, to manage one million animals gives me a headache.”

The falling costs and growing sophistication of robots have touched off a renewed debate among economists and technologists over how quickly jobs will be lost. This year, Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, made the case for a rapid transformation. “The pace and scale of this encroachment into human skills is relatively recent and has profound economic implications,” they wrote in their book, “Race Against the Machine.”

In their minds, the advent of low-cost automation foretells changes on the scale of the revolution in agricultural technology over the last century, when farming employment in the United States fell from 40 percent of the work force to about 2 percent today. The analogy is not only to the industrialization of agriculture but also to the electrification of manufacturing in the past century, Mr. McAfee argues.

“At what point does the chain saw replace Paul Bunyan?” asked Mike Dennison, an executive at Flextronics, a manufacturer of consumer electronics products that is based in Silicon Valley and is increasingly automating assembly work. “There’s always a price point, and we’re very close to that point.”

But Bran Ferren, a veteran roboticist and industrial product designer at Applied Minds in Glendale, Calif., argues that there are still steep obstacles that have made the dream of the universal assembly robot elusive. “I had an early naïveté about universal robots that could just do anything,” he said. “You have to have people around anyway. And people are pretty good at figuring out, how do I wiggle the radiator in or slip the hose on? And these things are still hard for robots to do.”

Beyond the technical challenges lies resistance from unionized workers and communities worried about jobs. The ascension of robots may mean fewer jobs are created in this country, even though rising labor and transportation costs in Asia and fears of intellectual property theft are now bringing some work back to the West.

Take the cavernous solar-panel factory run by Flextronics in Milpitas, south of San Francisco. A large banner proudly proclaims “Bringing Jobs & Manufacturing Back to California!” (Right now China makes a large share of the solar panels used in this country and is automating its own industry.)

Yet in the state-of-the-art plant, where the assembly line runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, there are robots everywhere and few human workers. All of the heavy lifting and almost all of the precise work is done by robots that string together solar cells and seal them under glass. The human workers do things like trimming excess material, threading wires and screwing a handful of fasteners into a simple frame for each panel.

Such advances in manufacturing are also beginning to transform other sectors that employ millions of workers around the world. One is distribution, where robots that zoom at the speed of the world’s fastest sprinters can store, retrieve and pack goods for shipment far more efficiently than people. Robots could soon replace workers at companies like C & S Wholesale Grocers, the nation’s largest grocery distributor, which has already deployed robot technology.

Rapid improvement in vision and touch technologies is putting a wide array of manual jobs within the abilities of robots. For example, Boeing’s wide-body commercial jets are now riveted automatically by giant machines that move rapidly and precisely over the skin of the planes. Even with these machines, the company said it struggles to find enough workers to make its new 787 aircraft. Rather, the machines offer significant increases in precision and are safer for workers.

And at Earthbound Farms in California, four newly installed robot arms with customized suction cups swiftly place clamshell containers of organic lettuce into shipping boxes. The robots move far faster than the people they replaced. Each robot replaces two to five workers at Earthbound, according to John Dulchinos, an engineer who is the chief executive at Adept Technology, a robot maker based in Pleasanton, Calif., that developed Earthbound’s system.

Robot manufacturers in the United States say that in many applications, robots are already more cost-effective than humans.

At an automation trade show last year in Chicago, Ron Potter, the director of robotics technology at an Atlanta consulting firm called Factory Automation Systems, offered attendees a spreadsheet to calculate how quickly robots would pay for themselves.

In one example, a robotic manufacturing system initially cost $250,000 and replaced two machine operators, each earning $50,000 a year. Over the 15-year life of the system, the machines yielded $3.5 million in labor and productivity savings.

The Obama administration says this technological shift presents a historic opportunity for the nation to stay competitive. “The only way we are going to maintain manufacturing in the U.S. is if we have higher productivity,” said Tom Kalil, deputy director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Government officials and industry executives argue that even if factories are automated, they still are a valuable source of jobs. If the United States does not compete for advanced manufacturing in industries like consumer electronics, it could lose product engineering and design as well. Moreover, robotics executives argue that even though blue-collar jobs will be lost, more efficient manufacturing will create skilled jobs in designing, operating and servicing the assembly lines, as well as significant numbers of other kinds of jobs in the communities where factories are.

And robot makers point out that their industry itself creates jobs. A report commissioned by the International Federation of Robotics last year found that 150,000 people are already employed by robotics manufacturers worldwide in engineering and assembly jobs.

But American and European dominance in the next generation of manufacturing is far from certain.

“What I see is that the Chinese are going to apply robots too,” said Frans van Houten, Philips’s chief executive. “The window of opportunity to bring manufacturing back is before that happens.”

A Faster Assembly Line

Royal Philips Electronics began making the first electric shavers in 1939 and set up the factory here in Drachten in 1950. But Mr. Visser, the engineer who manages the assembly, takes pride in the sophistication of the latest shavers. They sell for as much as $350 and, he says, are more complex to make than smartphones.

The assembly line here is made up of dozens of glass cages housing robots made by Adept Technology that snake around the factory floor for more than 100 yards. Video cameras atop the cages guide the robot arms almost unerringly to pick up the parts they assemble. The arms bend wires with millimetric accuracy, set toothpick-thin spindles in tiny holes, grab miniature plastic gears and set them in housings, and snap pieces of plastic into place.

The next generation of robots for manufacturing will be more flexible and easier to train.

Witness the factory of Tesla Motors, which recently began manufacturing the Tesla S, a luxury sedan, in Fremont, Calif., on the edge of Silicon Valley.

More than half of the building is shuttered, called “the dark side.” It still houses a dingy, unused Toyota Corolla assembly line on which an army of workers once turned out half a million cars annually.

The Tesla assembly line is a stark contrast, brilliantly lighted. Its fast-moving robots, bright Tesla red, each has a single arm with multiple joints. Most of them are imposing, 8 to 10 feet tall, giving them a slightly menacing “Terminator” quality.

But the arms seem eerily human when they reach over to a stand and change their “hand” to perform a different task. While the many robots in auto factories typically perform only one function, in the new Tesla factory a robot might do up to four: welding, riveting, bonding and installing a component.

As many as eight robots perform a ballet around each vehicle as it stops at each station along the line for just five minutes. Ultimately as many as 83 cars a day — roughly 20,000 are planned for the first year — will be produced at the factory. When the company adds a sport utility vehicle next year, it will be built on the same assembly line, once the robots are reprogrammed.

Tesla’s factory is tiny but represents a significant bet on flexible robots, one that could be a model for the industry. And others are already thinking bigger.

Hyundai and Beijing Motors recently completed a mammoth factory outside Beijing that can produce a million vehicles a year using more robots and fewer people than the big factories of their competitors and with the same flexibility as Tesla’s, said Paul Chau, an American venture capitalist at WI Harper who toured the plant in June.

The New Warehouse

Traditional and futuristic systems working side by side in a distribution center north of New York City show how robotics is transforming the way products are distributed, threatening jobs. From this warehouse in Newburgh, C & S, the nation’s largest grocery wholesaler, supplies a major supermarket chain.

The old system sprawls across almost half a million square feet. The shelves are loaded and unloaded around the clock by hundreds of people driving pallet jacks and forklifts. At peak times in the evening, the warehouse is a cacophony of beeping and darting electric vehicles as workers with headsets are directed to cases of food by a computer that speaks to them in four languages.

The new system is much smaller, squeezed into only 30,000 square feet at the far end of the warehouse and controlled by just a handful of technicians. They watch over a four-story cage with different levels holding 168 “rover” robots the size of go-carts. Each can move at 25 miles an hour, nearly as fast as an Olympic sprinter.

Each rover is connected wirelessly to a central computer and on command will race along an aisle until it reaches its destination — a case of food to retrieve or the spot to drop one off for storage. The robot gathers a box by extending two-foot-long metal fingers from its side and sliding them underneath. It lifts the box and pulls it to its belly. Then it accelerates to the front of the steel cage, where it turns into a wide lane where it must contend with traffic — eight robots are active on each level of the structure, which is 20 aisles wide and 21 levels high.

From the aisle, the robots wait their turn to pull into a special open lane where they deposit each load into an elevator that sends a stream of food cases down to a conveyor belt that leads to a large robot arm.

About 10 feet tall, the arm has the grace and dexterity of a skilled supermarket bagger, twisting and turning each case so the final stack forms an eight-foot cube. The software is sophisticated enough to determine which robot should pick up which case first, so when the order arrives at the supermarket, workers can take the cases out in the precise order in which they are to go on the shelves.

When the arm is finished, the cube of goods is conveyed to a machine that wraps it in clear plastic to hold it in place. Then a forklift operator summoned by the computer moves the cube to a truck for shipment.

Built by Symbotic, a start-up company based in the Boston area, this robotic warehouse is inspired by computer designers who created software algorithms to efficiently organize data to be stored on a computer’s hard drive.

Jim Baum, Symbotic’s chief executive, compares the new system to a huge parallel computer. The design is efficient because there is no single choke point; the cases of food moving through the robotic warehouse are like the digital bits being processed by the computer.

Humans’ Changing Role

In the decade since he began working as a warehouseman in Tolleson, Ariz., a suburb of Phoenix, Josh Graves has seen how automation systems can make work easier but also create new stress and insecurity. The giant facility where he works distributes dry goods for Kroger supermarkets.

Mr. Graves, 29, went to work in the warehouse, where his father worked for three decades, right out of high school. The demanding job required lifting heavy boxes and the hours were long. “They would bring in 15 guys, and only one would last,” he said.

Today Mr. Graves drives a small forklift-like machine that stores and retrieves cases of all sizes. Because such workers are doing less physical labor, there are fewer injuries, said Rome Aloise, a Teamsters vice president in Northern California. Because a computer sets the pace, the stress is now more psychological.

Mr. Graves wears headsets and is instructed by a computerized voice on where to go in the warehouse to gather or store products. A centralized computer the workers call The Brain dictates their speed. Managers know exactly what the workers do, to the precise minute.

Several years ago, Mr. Graves’s warehouse installed a German system that automatically stores and retrieves cases of food. That led to the elimination of 106 jobs, roughly 20 percent of the work force. The new system was initially maintained by union workers with high seniority. Then that job went to the German company, which hired nonunion workers.

Now Kroger plans to build a highly automated warehouse in Tolleson. Sixty union workers went before the City Council last year to oppose the plan, on which the city has not yet ruled.

“We don’t have a problem with the machines coming,” Mr. Graves told city officials. “But tell Kroger we don’t want to lose these jobs in our city.”

Some jobs are still beyond the reach of automation: construction jobs that require workers to move in unpredictable settings and perform different tasks that are not repetitive; assembly work that requires tactile feedback like placing fiberglass panels inside airplanes, boats or cars; and assembly jobs where only a limited quantity of products are made or where there are many versions of each product, requiring expensive reprogramming of robots.

But that list is growing shorter.

Upgrading Distribution

Inside a spartan garage in an industrial neighborhood in Palo Alto, Calif., a robot armed with electronic “eyes” and a small scoop and suction cups repeatedly picks up boxes and drops them onto a conveyor belt.

It is doing what low-wage workers do every day around the world.

Older robots cannot do such work because computer vision systems were costly and limited to carefully controlled environments where the lighting was just right. But thanks to an inexpensive stereo camera and software that lets the system see shapes with the same ease as humans, this robot can quickly discern the irregular dimensions of randomly placed objects.

The robot uses a technology pioneered in Microsoft’s Kinect motion sensing system for its Xbox video game system.

Such robots will put automation within range of companies like Federal Express and United Parcel Service that now employ tens of thousands of workers doing such tasks.

The start-up behind the robot, Industrial Perception Inc., is the first spinoff of Willow Garage, an ambitious robotics research firm based in Menlo Park, Calif. The first customer is likely to be a company that now employs thousands of workers to load and unload its trucks. The workers can move one box every six seconds on average. But each box can weigh more than 130 pounds, so the workers tire easily and sometimes hurt their backs.

Industrial Perception will win its contract if its machine can reliably move one box every four seconds. The engineers are confident that the robot will soon do much better than that, picking up and setting down one box per second.

“We’re on the cusp of completely changing manufacturing and distribution,” said Gary Bradski, a machine-vision scientist who is a founder of Industrial Perception. “I think it’s not as singular an event, but it will ultimately have as big an impact as the Internet.”

“Raising Successful Children”

An interesting opinion article from the New York Times on August 4, 2012
 
By MADELINE LEVINE

PHRASES like “tiger mom” and “helicopter parent” have made their way into everyday language. But does overparenting hurt, or help?

While parents who are clearly and embarrassingly inappropriate come in for ridicule, many of us find ourselves drawn to the idea that with just a bit more parental elbow grease, we might turn out children with great talents and assured futures. Is there really anything wrong with a kind of “overparenting lite”?

Parental involvement has a long and rich history of being studied. Decades of studies, many of them by Diana Baumrind, a clinical and developmental psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, have found that the optimal parent is one who is involved and responsive, who sets high expectations but respects her child’s autonomy. These “authoritative parents” appear to hit the sweet spot of parental involvement and generally raise children who do better academically, psychologically and socially than children whose parents are either permissive and less involved, or controlling and more involved. Why is this particular parenting style so successful, and what does it tell us about overparenting?

For one thing, authoritative parents actually help cultivate motivation in their children. Carol Dweck, a social and developmental psychologist at Stanford University, has done research that indicates why authoritative parents raise more motivated, and thus more successful, children.

In a typical experiment, Dr. Dweck takes young children into a room and asks them to solve a simple puzzle. Most do so with little difficulty. But then Dr. Dweck tells some, but not all, of the kids how very bright and capable they are. As it turns out, the children who are not told they’re smart are more motivated to tackle increasingly difficult puzzles. They also exhibit higher levels of confidence and show greater overall progress in puzzle-solving.

This may seem counterintuitive, but praising children’s talents and abilities seems to rattle their confidence. Tackling more difficult puzzles carries the risk of losing one’s status as “smart” and deprives kids of the thrill of choosing to work simply for its own sake, regardless of outcomes. Dr. Dweck’s work aligns nicely with that of Dr. Baumrind, who also found that reasonably supporting a child’s autonomy and limiting interference results in better academic and emotional outcomes.

Their research confirms what I’ve seen in more than 25 years of clinical work, treating children in Marin County, an affluent suburb of San Francisco. The happiest, most successful children have parents who do not do for them what they are capable of doing, or almost capable of doing; and their parents do not do things for them that satisfy their own needs rather than the needs of the child.

The central task of growing up is to develop a sense of self that is autonomous, confident and generally in accord with reality. If you treat your walking toddler as if she can’t walk, you diminish her confidence and distort reality. Ditto nightly “reviews” of homework, repetitive phone calls to “just check if you’re O.K.” and “editing” (read: writing) your child’s college application essay.

Once your child is capable of doing something, congratulate yourself on a job well done and move on. Continued, unnecessary intervention makes your child feel bad about himself (if he’s young) or angry at you (if he’s a teenager).

But isn’t it a parent’s job to help with those things that are just beyond your child’s reach? Why is it overparenting to do for your child what he or she is almost capable of?

Think back to when your toddler learned to walk. She would take a weaving step or two, collapse and immediately look to you for your reaction. You were in thrall to those early attempts and would do everything possible to encourage her to get up again. You certainly didn’t chastise her for failing or utter dire predictions about flipping burgers for the rest of her life if she fell again. You were present, alert and available to guide if necessary. But you didn’t pick her up every time.

You knew she had to get it wrong many times before she could get it right.

HANGING back and allowing children to make mistakes is one of the greatest challenges of parenting. It’s easier when they’re young — tolerating a stumbling toddler is far different from allowing a preteenager to meet her friends at the mall. The potential mistakes carry greater risks, and part of being a parent is minimizing risk for our children.

What kinds of risks should we tolerate? If there’s a predator loose in the neighborhood, your daughter doesn’t get to go to the mall. But under normal circumstances an 11-year-old girl is quite capable of taking care of herself for a few hours in the company of her friends. She may forget a package, overpay for an item or forget that she was supposed to call home at noon. Mastery of the world is an expanding geography for our kids, for toddlers, it’s the backyard; for preteens, the neighborhood, for teens the wider world. But it is in the small daily risks — the taller slide, the bike ride around the block, the invitation extended to a new classmate — that growth takes place. In this gray area of just beyond the comfortable is where resilience is born.

So if children are able to live with mistakes and even failing, why does it drive us crazy? So many parents have said to me, “I can’t stand to see my child unhappy.” If you can’t stand to see your child unhappy, you are in the wrong business. The small challenges that start in infancy (the first whimper that doesn’t bring you running) present the opportunity for “successful failures,” that is, failures your child can live with and grow from. To rush in too quickly, to shield them, to deprive them of those challenges is to deprive them of the tools they will need to handle the inevitable, difficult, challenging and sometimes devastating demands of life.

While doing things for your child unnecessarily or prematurely can reduce motivation and increase dependency, it is the inability to maintain parental boundaries that most damages child development. When we do things for our children out of our own needs rather than theirs, it forces them to circumvent the most critical task of childhood: to develop a robust sense of self.

There is an important distinction between good and bad parental involvement. For example, a young child doesn’t want to sit and do his math homework. Good parents insist on compliance, not because they need their child to be a perfect student but because the child needs to learn the fundamentals of math and develop a good work ethic. Compare this with the parent who spends weeks “helping” his or her child fill out college applications with the clear expectation that if they both work hard enough, a “gotta get into” school is a certainty. (While most of my parent patients have graduated from college, it is always a telltale sign of overparenting when they talk about how “we’re applying to Columbia.”)

In both situations parents are using control, in the first case behavioral (sit down, do your math) and in the second psychological (“we’re applying.”) It is psychological control that carries with it a textbook’s worth of damage to a child’s developing identity. If pushing, direction, motivation and reward always come from the outside, the child never has the opportunity to craft an inside. Having tutors prep your anxious 3-year-old for a preschool interview because all your friends’ children are going to this particular school or pushing your exhausted child to take one more advanced-placement course because it will ensure her spot as class valedictorian is not involved parenting but toxic overparenting aimed at meeting the parents’ need for status or affirmation and not the child’s needs.

So how do parents find the courage to discard the malpractice of overparenting? It’s hard to swim upstream, to resist peer pressure. But we must remember that children thrive best in an environment that is reliable, available, consistent and noninterfering.

A loving parent is warm, willing to set limits and unwilling to breach a child’s psychological boundaries by invoking shame or guilt. Parents must acknowledge their own anxiety. Your job is to know your child well enough to make a good call about whether he can manage a particular situation. Will you stay up worrying? Probably, but the child’s job is to grow, yours is to control your anxiety so it doesn’t get in the way of his reasonable moves toward autonomy.

Parents also have to be clear about their own values. Children watch us closely. If you want your children to be able to stand up for their values, you have to do the same. If you believe that a summer spent reading, taking creek walks and playing is better than a specialized camp, then stick to your guns. Parents also have to make sure their own lives are fulfilling. There is no parent more vulnerable to the excesses of overparenting than an unhappy parent. One of the most important things we do for our children is to present them with a version of adult life that is appealing and worth striving for.

Madeline Levine is a clinician, consultant and the author, most recently, of “Teach Your Children Well: Parenting for Authentic Success.”