School Buses May Soon Come with Seat Belts


The days of school bus passengers riding unencumbered by seat belts may soon be over. This week, the federal National Transportation Safety Board made a recommendation to state agencies that new, larger buses should come equipped with lap and shoulder belts, as well as automatic emergency braking and anti-collision systems.

Traditionally, most large school buses have allowed students to ride without being secured in their seats. That’s because the buses are designed to surround passengers with shock-absorbing, high-backed seats spaced closely together, an approach referred to as "compartmentalization." In an accident, kids would be insulated in an egg-carton type of environment and prevented from hitting a dashboard or window. For smaller buses—usually defined as weighing 10,000 pounds or less—belts are standard.

The Safety Board’s conclusion comes at a time when recent bus crashes—including one with two fatalities that took place in New Jersey just last week—have reopened discussion as to whether larger buses need belts. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration maintains that the compartmentalization of larger buses provides adequate safety, while the American Academy of Pediatrics argues that belts should be mandatory on all buses in the event of high-speed collisions or rollovers, where the high-back seats would offer less protection.

For now, the National Transportation Safety Board’s suggestion is just that—a suggestion. No states are required to follow the advice, and there’s considerable expense involved in retrofitting older buses with belts. Currently, eight states require seat belts on large buses.

[h/t ABC News]

25 Amazing Ivy League Classes You Can Take Online for Free in 2019

If you resolved to further your education in 2018, there are plenty of opportunities to do so without leaving home. Free college courses are abundant online, and the convenience doesn't necessarily mean you have to compromise on quality. For the best, tuition-free education the internet has to offer, check out these free Ivy League classes compiled by Quartz.

The eight Ivy League schools—Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale—offer about 396 free, active online courses between them. While many cover conventional subjects, like marketing, computer science, and Greek mythology, there are plenty of unique classes, including options like "Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies" and "The Ethics of Memory."

Many of the courses are self-paced and offer certificates for a fee. That certification may cost between $50 and $100—meaning your class won't technically be free, but it will still be a lot cheaper than attending an in-person lecture at Harvard.

Here are 25 notable free classes being offered by Ivy League universities this year.

1. "Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies" // Princeton University
2. "Artificial Intelligence (AI)" // Columbia University
3. "Animation and CGI Motion" // Columbia University
4. "The Global Financial Crisis" // Yale University
5. "Crowdfunding" // University of Pennsylvania
6. "Viral Marketing and How to Craft Contagious Content" // University of Pennsylvania
7. "Moralities of Everyday Life" // Yale University
8. "The Ancient Greek Hero" // Harvard University
9. "Visualizing Japan (1850s-1930s): Westernization, Protest, Modernity" // Harvard University
10. "American Capitalism: A History" // Cornell University
11. "Science & Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science (Part 1)" // Harvard University
12. "Power and Responsibility: Doing Philosophy with Superheroes" // Harvard University
13. "Super-Earths and Life" // Harvard University
14. "Women Making History: Ten Objects, Many Stories" // Harvard University
15. "Modern Masterpieces of World Literature" // Harvard University
16. "The Ethics of Memory" // Brown University
17. "Buddhism and Modern Psychology" // Princeton University
18. "Designing Cities" // University of Pennsylvania
19. "America’s Written Constitution" // Yale University
20. "Lessons from Ebola: Preventing the Next Pandemic" // Harvard University
21. "The History of Medieval Medicine Through Jewish Manuscripts" // University of Pennsylvania
22. "The Science of Well-Being" // Yale University
23. "Everyday Parenting: The ABCs of Child Rearing" // Yale University
24. "Introduction to Italian Opera" // Dartmouth University
25. "Music and Social Action" // Yale University

You can find more free online offerings from the Ivys and other top schools at Class Central.

[h/t Quartz]

Ohio Is the Latest State to Reinstate Cursive in the Classroom

Many people have strong opinions on cursive, whether because they use it everyday or resent their elementary school teachers for wasting their time teaching it to them. In the wake of many schools abandoning teaching cursive writing in the classroom, legislators in Ohio recently took a strong stance in favor of the handwriting style: Beginning in kindergarten, students in the state will now learn to write in cursive in addition to print, WKRC reports.

On Wednesday, December 19, Governor John Kasich signed a bill mandating a cursive curriculum throughout elementary schools in Ohio. The course is optional for teachers, but students will now be required to write cursive legibly by the time they leave fifth grade. The same curriculum also makes it so that students must learn to print letters properly by the end of third grade.

Ohio's decision is part of a larger trend of schools bringing back cursive following a nationwide backlash. Once thought to boost the developmental benefits that come with writing by hand, research has shown that learning cursive isn't uniquely beneficial, and it may even slow down the learning process because it's more complex than regular manuscript. And as computers have become ubiquitous, cursive lessons have taken a backseat to typing in many school systems.

But cursive still has its champions: Linking letters together to create "whole" words promotes clearer, more complete thinking, according to cursive supporters. And even in today's digital world, knowing cursive has its uses, from reading historical documents to signing one's name.

Ohio joins more than a dozen U.S. states that have reinstated cursive lessons in classrooms. In just the past few years alone, Alabama, Louisiana, and New York City—the largest public school system in America—have all once again made cursive part of their curriculums.

[h/t WKRC]