The last blob, and the first winner

This week's contest has taught me two things about our readers: (a) You are funny. (b) You are smart. Approximately three milliseconds after I posed the initial question ("what is that thing?"), Drew Hicks wrote in to tell us it was:

a picture of the rock Vesta. About 500 kilometers across, it orbits out past Mars. The image is a false color conglomerate made by the Hubble telescope. The small portion of the picture shown actually shows a large crater that covers pretty much its entire southern hemisphere. Another interesting tidbit, this "˜rock' could possibly be reclassified as a planet by next week's end.

Indeed. Vesta, which last we checked is still just a plain old rock, looks like this:


So Drew wins the "correct answer" part of the contest (send us your contact info and we'll get your book on its way!). The winner of the "creative answer" part will be announced on Monday -- and by the way, we are loving the entries we have already. You can send us more up until 9 EDT tonight. But we know what you're really interested in right now is Pluto -- more on that later today.

College Board Wants to Erase Thousands of Years From AP World History, and Teachers Aren't Happy

One would be forgiven for thinking that the Ides of March are upon us, because Julius Caesar is being taken out once again—this time from the Advanced Placement World History exam. The College Board in charge of the AP program is planning to remove the Roman leader, and every other historical figure who lived and died prior to 1450, from high school students’ tests, The New York Times reports.

The nonprofit board recently announced that it would revise the test, beginning in 2019, to make it more manageable for teachers and students alike. The current exam covers over 10,000 years of world history, and according to the board, “no other AP course requires such an expanse of content to be covered over a single school year.”

As an alternative, the board suggested that schools offer two separate year-long courses to cover the entirety of world history, including a Pre-AP World History and Geography class focusing on the Ancient Period (before 600 BCE) up through the Postclassical Period (ending around 1450). However, as Politico points out, a pre-course for which the College Board would charge a fee "isn’t likely to be picked up by cash-strapped public schools," and high school students wouldn't be as inclined to take the pre-AP course since there would be no exam or college credit for it.

Many teachers and historians are pushing back against the proposed changes and asking the board to leave the course untouched. Much of the controversy surrounds the 1450 start date and the fact that no pre-colonial history would be tested.

“They couldn’t have picked a more Eurocentric date,” Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, who previously helped develop AP History exams and courses, told The New York Times. “If you start in 1450, the first thing you’ll talk about in terms of Africa is the slave trade. The first thing you’ll talk about in terms of the Americas is people dying from smallpox and other things. It’s not a start date that encourages looking at the agency and creativity of people outside Europe.”

A group of teachers who attended an AP open forum in Salt Lake City also protested the changes. One Michigan educator, Tyler George, told Politico, “Students need to understand that there was a beautiful, vast, and engaging world before Europeans ‘discovered’ it.”

The board is now reportedly reconsidering its decision and may push the start date of the course back some several hundred years. Their decision will be announced in July.

[h/t The New York Times]

North America: East or West Coast?


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