The GOODEST: Our Favorite Things to Learn and Do This Past Week

Posted by Alessandra Rizzotti

You can learn about so many things on the internet, but how much more powerful would it be if you could also DO after you learned stuff? From inventions inspired by woodpeckers and beetles, to hosting a Secret Sandy and making a wish for the future, we have things for you to learn and DO from this past week.

First, Let's Learn:

Because Science Matters: A Deep Dive into the Phenomenon of Vampire Draw

Vampire draw is the pet name for the electrical power your electronics consume when they are switched off.

Let’s dig into the science of it all...

A DO Suggestion? Unplug all your devices at the end of the night, especially when you're not using them.

The Agricultural Cliff: Farmers Are Aging, and Young People Have to Step In

If we do nothing, and we lose half our farmers, we can expect these four undesirable things to happen in varying degrees...

Luckily, there is a glimmer of hope.

A DO Suggestion? Ask Congress for a better Farm Bill.

A Stronger Bike Helmet, Made of Cardboard and Inspired by a Woodpecker

When Anirudha Surabhi was a grad student at the Royal College of Art in London, he was in a bike accident and got a concussion. He wondered why the helmet hadn’t worked—and decided to explore the problem for his thesis project.

A DO Suggestion? If you ride a bike, make sure you wear your helmet correctly. Read about the do's and don'ts. And, if you don't wear a helmet, do we need to tell you to?

Landfill Harmonic: Making Music From Trash in a Paraguay Slum

Cateura, Paraguay, is a town built on a landfill. Favio Chavez, who works as an ecological technician at the landfill, wanted to offer something more for young people, and decided to start designing violins, cellos, and other instruments from trash.

A DO Suggestion? Donate an unwanted instrument to an underserved child.

RX Made: How We're Upcycling Building Waste and Creating Jobs

If derelict homes in Chicago head to the dump, it's the end of story for all the materials that went into making them. At Rebuilding Exchange, they're creating a different end to the story.

A DO Suggestion? If you're in Chicago, learn to rebuild furniture by volunteering at RX, or salvage unwanted materials from derelict buildings in your community and find other uses for them.

School by Boat: Architect Brings Classrooms, and Healthcare, to Flood-Prone Bangladesh

Every year, during monsoon season, much of low-lying Bangladesh goes underwater. One way to help: boats that visit flood zones, bringing children's classrooms, libraries, healthcare, and waste management to more than 80,000 families.

A DO Suggestion? Ask the organization that runs the boats, Shidhulai Swanikar Sangsta, how you can help their cause.

Let Students Design Their Own Social Change Projects

"Welcome to Tuesday and the school's Changemaker Day!" read the whiteboard in Mr. Frazell's third grade classroom. It was a beautiful morning, and Inspired Teaching Demonstration Public Charter School's inaugural Changemaker Day was about to begin...

A DO Suggestion? Go to a school board meeting and suggest a "Changemaker Day" in your local school.

Cheaper than Solar: Gravity-Powered Lights for the Developing World
How do you light your home if you're not connected to an electrical grid? Two British designers think they may have a better solution: gravity-powered lighting.

A DO Suggestion? Support the GravityLight's indiegogo project to bring more sustainable lighting options to communities living off the electrical grid.

It’s About Time: 'The Present' Is an Updated Time Piece for the 21st Century

A clock was created where the base unit of measurement is not seconds, but seasons.

A DO Suggestion? Measure the value in your days. Record what truly counts.

How a Beetle Inspired Our Clean, Fresh Water Technology

Sara Beaini describes how she wanted to develop a practical and scalable method of patterning a surface to mimic the beetle’s back. This technology has the potential to save energy compared to existing technologies, while utilizing the waste heat from power plants.

A DO Suggestion? Recycle your water.

Streetpong: Redesigning the Walk Signal

It’s a fun way to interact with a complete stranger. It’s also a way to help keep people from crossing dangerous intersections.

A DO Suggestion? Next time you walk across the street and see someone on the other end of the crosswalk, say hello and smile.

Four Ways to Find Your Work Passion(s)

The key is matching your personality with your career. Here are four steps to try to zero in on who you are and discover how that relates to your passion for work.

A DO Suggestion? Conduct an informational interview with someone in a field you admire.

What Tech Manufacturers Have Wrong: How to Design Electronics For Repair

75 percent of consumer electronics end up in landfills or incinerators. So, what does it mean to design electronics for repair?
 
A DO Suggestion? Contribute to iFixit. Write a repair manual. Offer advice about your favorite device's tech issues. Next time a gadget of yours breaks, fix it.
 
Why We Can't Ignore the Caveats to Cory Booker's Food Stamp Challenge
Last week, Cory Booker gamely agreed to step into the shoes of America's poor and live on $33 in food stamps a week. But let's not take our eyes off the real issue: ending poverty. 
 
 
A DO Suggestion? Volunteer at Feeding America.
 
Connecting Broadly Won’t Replace The Importance of Connecting Deeply
 
Author Tiffany Shlain talks about how from sundown Friday night to sundown Saturday night her family shuts down every cell phone, iPad, TV, and computer in their house. They call it their "technology Shabbat."
 
 
A DO Suggestion? Host a technological Shabbat in your house.
 
Turning Packaging from Trash to Toys

How can food packaging have a useful life after you've eaten whatever's inside? One solution, from a Greek design company, is to create a box that can easily be converted into a toy that kids want to keep.
 
 
A DO Suggestion? Make toys from recycled materials.
 
Don't Just Talk to Kids About Violence, Help Them Take Action
 
Liz Dwyer knows in the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, every parent across America hugged their kids Friday night. But, she's also going to tell her boys how someone went into that school and shot and killed seven educators and 20 children.
 

 
A DO Suggestion? If you have children in your family, talk about gun violence with them.

My Wish: Let's Stop Stealing The Future

Rob Schuham works on his wish for the future almost every day as Chief Buzz Advisor to Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, because he wants to make sure that what we are leaving behind for our children, and the generations after them, is a healthy, livable planet that embraces clean, renewable energy.
 

 
A DO Suggestion? Become a climate leader and sign the climatereality.org pledge.

Now, Let's DO the DOs:

Share Your Thoughts: What are the building blocks of being an engaged and active citizen?
 
Here at GOOD HQ, we're working to assemble a a toolkit, or macro to-do list if you will, of what we all should do as part of being good, engaged, and active citizens—citizens not just of our country, but of our communities and of the world at large. So, what should be on the list?

Gift Like You Give a Damn: Host a ‘Secret Sandy’ to Help Those Affected by the Hurricane this Holiday

In lieu of a traditional gift exchange, host your own “Secret Sandy” gift swap in your office or with your family this year. Just download this DIY Secret Sandy Guide to get started, and choose from these different “gift” options...


 
Garbage to Garden makes composting in the home easy by offering a curbside pickup program that collects your compost weekly. Let's help expand this service nationwide...
 

Catalyze Innovative Education for the 21st Century

If you believe in re-imagining and rebuilding education to support our highest potential, support Educate 2020 with as little as $5 and join the movement to innovative education for the 21st century. Consider getting involved on a bigger level at Educate 2020.com.

Vote for a School That Deserves $50,000

You can help make a difference for students across the country by casting your vote for one of the 2,500 schools in Clorox's Power A Bright Future program. Read more here.

Make a Wish for the Future: What's Yours?

Today begins a two-month activation that begins with one simple request: Make a wish, a Wish for the Future.

Learn more here.

Illustration by Jessica De Jesus. Original Image via (cc) Flickr user Ephemeral Scraps.