How to incentivize curiosity


How Long Does It Take to Get to Tatooine?

On an early autumn morning in 2009, Randall Munroe, a NASA physicist turned full-time cartoonist, was teaching a weekend physics class to high-school students in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The course was part of an M.I.T. program designed to introduce students to topics ranging from sculpture and ancient Greek to geoengineering. Though Munroe’s lecture that day had the lively title “Solar Panels, Hand Grenades, and Blowing Up the Moon: How to Think About Energy,” for the first hour and a half he adhered to a fairly standard lecture format. What is energy? What can it do? How do you know how much you have? The students reacted as, well, typical students. “They seemed pretty bored,” Munroe recalled. “I could tell, because I remembered being that bored student.” Maybe, he joked, one of them had even begun doodling—his own preferred method for passing time when he was in school, and a habit that would later evolve into his popular online cartoon strip “xkcd.” ….[READ]


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