October 11th, 2012
02:03 PM ET

This 'Mousetrap' can crush a car - and teach physics

by Jamie Gumbrecht, CNN

Dearborn, Michigan (CNN) - If the crooked blue staircase, colorful crank and dangling bathtub looked familiar, well, that's the point.

"Who wants to play 'The Life Size Mousetrap' - and sign a waiver?" a big top voice boomed across the Maker Faire at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, this summer.

Ahh, yes. At this annual celebration of DIY culture, of course this would appear: a scaled-up version of "Mouse Trap," the Hasbro game bent on marbles zigging through a plastic labyrinth. And the circus voice? That would be Mark Perez, creator of the larger-than-life board game. Almost every run begins with a boardwalk-style sales pitch of his grand machine.

"Are there any engineers in the house?" a voice bellowed over the sound system, drawing a few claps.

"Who likes to do math in here?" it demanded, drawing ... nothing.

"Let's not have this weak applause for math! MATH!"

Perez played "Mouse Trap" a lot as a kid - kind of. Nobody followed the rules, he said. They just liked to build the machine and make it work. In his house, they built and rebuilt the contraption so often, they'd get a new version of the game every couple years.

"I decided one day to put three of them together to see if I could make them all work and hopefully not poke my sister's eye out," he said.

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Education a focus on International Day of the Girl Child
Afghan schoolgirls study in an open air school in the outskirts of Jalalabad on September 11, 2012. Violence and abuse against women continues to be a major problem in Afghanistan a decade after US-led troops brought down the notorious Taliban regime.
October 11th, 2012
04:12 AM ET

Education a focus on International Day of the Girl Child

By Donna Krache, CNN

(CNN) - The United Nations has designated October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child. 

The mission of the day is “to help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls’ lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential.”

One ingredient crucial to affording girls the opportunity to reach their full potential is education.

International Day of the Girl Child comes as the world reacts to the shooting of a 14-year-old Pakistani girl, Malala Yousufzai, who attends school and wrote online about the value of educating girls. The Taliban took responsibility for the attack, which also injured two other classmates. The shooting has been called despicable and cowardly, and has drawn tremendous international interest.

"And why are they so afraid of Malala?" columnist Frida Ghitis wrote on CNN.com. "Mostly, because she is not afraid of them."

But many girls don't have the support Malala does.

The reality

In more than 100 countries, school is not free, and parents of limited resources choose to invest in their sons’ education, not their daughters’.  The high rate of child marriage in some cultures means that many girls in developing countries never even have the opportunity to go to school. Worldwide, only 30% of girls are enrolled in secondary school.

And when it comes to overall literacy, there is a gap between males and females worldwide.  Though there has been progress over the past decade, there is a 5.1% gap between male and female youth literacy, meaning that fewer young females are literate.

According to UNESCO,Despite progress, girls and women continue to be disproportionately excluded from education, especially at secondary education level and in the area of adult literacy.”

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Filed under: Issues • Practice