As wealthy parents turn to ‘pandemic pods,’ startups aim to make them equitable

 

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Affluent families were quick to explore pandemic pods as an alternative to solitary virtual school. Now, startups are looking for ways to make the model available to all.

In certain communities across America, learning pods, or pandemic pods, have become all the rage. Parents eager to offer their children socialization and some form of in-person instruction (and working parents simply eager to solve the problem of child care) are banding together to turn basements, garages, and living rooms into minischools for half a dozen families. Some families are hiring a teacher to supervise and lead activities, and some are relying on one another. Most plan to maintain enrollment in traditional school and use the pod as a supplement.

Almost as soon as learning pods emerged as a trend, concerns about equity followed. Not every family has the resources to hire a private teacher, and not every family lives in a community where homes have extra space for desks, bean bags, and art supplies. Indeed, in many cases, families are grappling with far more essential challenges, such as putting food on the table or finding stable shelter. In New York City alone, 114,000 children are homeless.

But for a growing number of entrepreneurs, that resource imbalance is a problem to be solved, not a reason to give up on learning pods entirely. They argue that with the right approach to design and funding, learning pods could become a solution that works for everyone.

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It’s time to accept that the point of school has changed

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Lisa Selin Davis is the author of “Tomboy: The Surprising History and Future of Girls Who Dare to Be Different.” She has written The New York Times, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian and many other publications. She The views expressed here are hers.

(CNN)”Stay out of Google Classroom,” the administrators of my daughter’s Brooklyn elementary school cautioned parents in their first official communique about remote learning. To peer over their shoulders while sitting at their laptops and look at their work would be akin to bursting into the real-life classroom uninvited, they said.

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Google files patent for using A.I. to track a baby’s body and eye movements

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In a patent application published this week, Google indicated it’s looking into how artificial intelligence can be used to watch for abnormal behavior in babies.

The system would consist of eye tracking and motion detection and could alert a parent if anything is out of the ordinary.

Google’s hefty investment in artificial intelligence might be making its way to the crib.

According to a patent application filed last year and published on Thursday, Google is researching technology that could track a baby’s eyes, movements and sounds using “intelligent” audio and video. If the behavior seems abnormal, the cloud-based system would notify parents on their device.

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This father of three put everything into bitcoin. Here’s what happened next.

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The Bitcoin Family are traveling the world, unencumbered by centralized currency.

When I jumped on a WhatsApp call with 41-year old Didi Taihuttu, he was a few days away from joining his family on CoinBank’s annual Mediterranean “Blockchain Cruise” — a combination vacation getaway and crypto symposium at which all the movers and shakers in the decentralized finance arena get together to discuss a hypothetical future where government-printed money is rendered obsolete, dropping by Mallorca and Marseille along the way.

According to Taihuttu, invitations to blockchain conferences and seminars have piled up ever since he liquidated almost everything he owned (yes, including his house and his cars) and invested his remaining capital in bitcoin. It’s a financial pivot that’s both irrational and dangerous to an outsider, but within the crypto nation, it can make you a legend.

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Most Americans agree that this is the age that living at home becomes embarrassing

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A survey conducted on more than 3,000 Americans, by TD Ameritrade, examines how every generation views boomeranging back to the nest after college.

 According to a new survey conducted by Zillow, 14.4 million Millennials (people between the ages of 23 and 38) currently live at home with their parents. This is a staggering 21% of all American Millennials.

Although this figure has continued to rise over the years, the stigma that accompanies it has actually experienced a decline. A survey conducted on more than 3,000 Americans, by TD Ameritrade, examines how every generation views boomeranging back to the nest after college. And according to the study, you shouldn’t feel too bad until your nearing your thirties.

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US births lowest in 3 decades despite improving economy

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America’s baby bust isn’t over. The nation’s birth rates last year reached record lows for women in their teens and 20s, a government report shows, leading to the fewest babies in 32 years.

The provisional report, released Wednesday and based on more than 99% of U.S. birth records, found 3.788 million births last year. It was the fourth year the number of births has fallen, the lowest since 1986 and a surprise to some experts given the improving economy.

The fertility rate of 1.7 births per U.S. woman also fell 2%, meaning the current generation isn’t making enough babies to replace itself. The fertility rate is a hypothetical estimate based on lifetime projections of age-specific birth rates.

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CRISPR gene editing is coming for the womb

 

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When an unborn baby is diagnosed with a life-threatening defect, it can be devastating. So some scientists hope to treat the fetus in the uterus, using gene editing.

WILLIAM PERANTEAU IS the guy parents call when they’ve received the kind of bad news that sinks stomachs and wrenches hearts. Sometimes it’s a shadow on an ultrasound or a few base pairs out of place on a prenatal genetic test, revealing that an unborn child has a life-threatening developmental defect. Pediatric surgeons like Peranteau, who works at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, usually can’t try to fix these abnormalities until their patients leave their mother’s bodies behind. And by then it might be too late.

It’s with the memory of the families he couldn’t help in the back of his mind that Peranteau has joined a small group of scientists trying to bring the fast-moving field of gene editing to the womb. Such editing in humans is a long way off, but a spate of recent advances in mouse studies highlight its potential advantages over other methods of using Crispr to snip away diseases. Parents confronted with an in utero diagnosis are often faced with only two options: terminate the pregnancy or prepare to care for a child who may require multiple invasive surgeries over the course of their lifetime just to survive. Prenatal gene editing may offer a third potential path. “What we see as the future is a minimally invasive way of treating these abnormalities at their genetic origin instead,” says Peranteau.

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Verizon’s new ‘Just Kids’ plan aims to become your child’s first smartphone plan

 

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A child’s first cell phone is increasingly becoming an earlier, and pricier, decision for parents.

While each family has its own decision to make on when the appropriate time is for their child to get their first device, Verizon is hoping a new plan will make the choice easier on the financial side of things with its new “Just Kids” plan.

The new plan, available starting Thursday, includes 5GB of 4G LTE data plus unlimited talk and text to 20 contacts pre-approved by the parents. Like other recent Verizon plans, there are no overage fees if the child goes beyond the allotted data, with the speeds simply slowed down instead.

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Lipstick in kindergarten? South Korea’s K-beauty industry now targets those barely able to read.

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PriPara Kids Cafe is one of the many beauty parlors in South Korea that cater to young girls. (Jean Chung/For The Washington Post)

Last year in kindergarten, Yang Hye-ji developed her morning routine. Uniform? Check. Homework? Check.

Makeup? Definitely.

“Makeup makes me look pretty,” the 7-year-old said on her second visit to the ShuShu & Sassy beauty spa in Seoul.

She was wrapped in a child-size pink robe and wearing a bunny hairband. Her face was gently touched up with a puff. Her lips got a swipe of pink gloss.

South Korea’s cosmetics industry, known as K-beauty, has become an Asian powerhouse and global phenomenon for its rigorous step-by-step regimens.

But exacting beauty norms also put enormous pressure on South Korean women, making the country one of the world’s centers for plastic surgery. And increasingly, the beauty industry is looking at younger and younger girls.

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Only two US states are making enough babies to maintain their populations

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But some demographers think it’s a good thing.

Populations of humans around the world are generally on the rise, but the United States is an exception. The US birth rate is at a historic low, and on Thursday, the CDC reported that the fertility rate has plunged in tandem with it. As it stands, there are only two states in the country where there are enough babies being born to keep the population steady.

“There are likely a number of factors behind the drop, including the decline in the birth rates to women under 30 years of age over that last 10 years, particularly the decline in birth rates for teens.”

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Millennial parents: TV becomes the ‘good screen’

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As millennials become parents, the family dynamic is completely shifting again.

The first shift happened when millennials were kids and, for the first time, they became “the boss.” The “baby on board” generation was the rising sun of their parents.

So what happens when the boss child becomes a parent? They want to give their kids what their parents gave them, while maintaining command. So we find a new dynamic: “We’re in this together,” where “me time” means spending time with the kids while still pursuing their own passions.

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Same-sex mouse parents give birth via gene editing

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Scientists delivered pups with genetic material from two moms and two dads. But only pups with two moms survived to have babies themselves.

BIRDS DO IT, bees do it—even laboratory mice do it. But with science in the mix, actually creating new life may not always require a male and a female.

Using gene editing and stem cells, researchers in China have helped mice of the same sex bear pups. While this feat has been accomplished before with mouse moms, the new study marks the first time that pups from pairs of male mice were also carried to full term.

The technology is far from ready for the leap to humans. Though mice pups born from two females appeared healthy and bore their own young, pups with two papas died soon after birth. Of the 12 born, just two survived more than 48 hours.

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