Fridaygram: high school computer science, desert termites, YouTube sleuthing

MAR 29, 2013
Author Photo
By Scott Knaster, Google Developers Blog Editor

Computer Science for High School (CS4HS) is a Google-sponsored program to enable professional development for high school and middle school students around the world interested in computer science. CS4HS holds workshops for teachers and provides funding to develop the workshops, along with help from local Googlers.

woman pointing at map on large monitor

Earlier this week, we announced the recipients of this year’s grants, which will be the fifth year of the program (and you can see a list of previous years’ programs here). Computer science education isn’t just for university students any more.

Education leads to the scientific method, which is how researchers discovered that mysterious circles in the Namib Desert are probably not fairy circles or the work of an underground dragon, but are actually caused by termites in the sand. Norbert Jürgens of the University of Hamburg learned that sand termites eat the roots of grasses, creating the circles in the sand. That’s not nearly as cool as an underground dragon, but it seems more plausible.

Finally, you probably remember that astonishing meteor that lit up the sky over Russia last month, and you might have seen some of the many videos that recorded the event. So did Swedish blogger Stefan Geens, who figured out that he could learn more about the meteor from the videos in non-obvious ways. Geens used a video showing shadows cast by the meteor, along with Google Earth and Photoshop, to roughly calculate the meteor’s trajectory and landing place. From there, scientists figured out more about the meteor, including its size, track, and point of explosion. So this weekend, if you get inspired, you too can use YouTube to figure out something new.

Yes, meteor videos and sand termites are just part of the usual fun here on Fridaygram, where we eschew our usual developer fare and present just cool stuff instead, even if it doesn’t involve coding.