Research may provide the tools to create better schools

first_imgJust as clinical trials are critical to enhancing human health and medicine, field experiments are critical to understanding human learning and education, according to a new paper published in the online journal Science.A team of economists and psychologists at Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), working together with organizations focused on enhancing education and reducing poverty in India, have demonstrated both the feasibility and the necessity of such experiments, the study noted.“Research in cognitive science has taught us a great deal about what children know and how they learn,” said Harvard Professor Elizabeth Spelke, the Marshall L. Berkman Professor of Psychology and one of the paper’s authors. “Much of that work applies to all children, worldwide, and it gives us methods for assessing children’s knowledge that are robust enough to work when implemented by adults with only high school education, working with children in hot and noisy slums. This research doesn’t tell us how to create better schools, but it gives us the tools to do field experiments that can.”While primary education now is compulsory in India, it was not widespread a generation ago. Poor Indian children are likely to live in families and communities with high rates of illiteracy and innumeracy. Countrywide studies show that many fail to learn the basic concepts and skills taught in primary schools, in large part because the curricula taught in the schools assumes a level of preparation that is not there.Drawing on decades of cognitive science research probing the nature and early development of mathematical reasoning, the Harvard and MIT team created a program for enhancing poor children’s readiness to learn mathematics, and evaluated it over a period of 18 months. More than 200 single-class preschools serving 1,500 children in Delhi were randomized to three conditions. One group received a math curriculum consisting of games training two aspects of intuitive mathematics: sensitivity to numbers, and geometry. Children from wealthy countries master these intuitive mathematics over their preschool years, and research in cognitive science suggests this is critical for later learning of symbolic mathematics.A second group received a curriculum of games with the same structure that trained sensitivity to aspects of human communication: sensitivity to emotional expressions and signs of attention. This skillset also develops in preschool and is widely thought to be critical to learning from others, but was not expected to affect math directly. Over a four-month period, the games were played for three weekly one-hour sessions in these two groups, while a third group of children received the regular preschool curriculum.To measure the effects of the games, all the children were assessed on a variety of abilities, including intuitive abilities close to the content of the games in the two curricula, such as determining which of two sets of objects was more numerous or which of two faces was happier, and symbolic abilities at the center of the primary school curriculum, such as identifying Arabic numerals or naming shapes.In the summer months immediately following preschool, the children showed effects of the math games intervention that closely paralleled effects found in Western children from developed countries: higher sensitivity to numbers and geometry on the intuitive measures that were close to the games, and also better mastery of the language and symbols of intuitive, preschool mathematics. In these respects, the study strongly confirmed the central findings from basic research in the cognitive science of mathematics, showing that those findings generalize across children living and learning in very different circumstances. Moreover, they show that field interventions can be effective, not only when implemented in carefully controlled model classrooms but also when implemented and evaluated by adults with minimal training and little connection to the research team.Shortly after the end of the first year of primary school, the children who had received the math games curriculum still reliably outperformed the other children at tests of intuitive numerical and spatial abilities. Although these children had no access to the math games after the end of the intervention, the benefits from the games persisted.In striking contrast, the intervention showed no effect on children’s mastery of symbolic school mathematics: By the end of first grade, children in the math games condition were no better than those in the other two conditions at deciphering Arabic numerals, performing simple verbal additions, or learning the vocabulary of school geometry. Just as well-supported findings in molecular biology do not guarantee the success of new medical treatments, key findings in cognitive science were reproducible in this population but failed to produce a successful educational curriculum.“We think our findings underscore both the feasibility and the necessity of randomized-controlled field experiments to test frontier cognitive science hypotheses in the field,” said Spelke.Why did the curriculum fail to improve school mathematics, even as it effectively trained intuitive concepts, and how might future studies succeed at this second step?“Our best guess is that our intervention did not increase kids’ performance in school because the gap between intuitive mathematics and formal mathematics is too large, and ordinary conversations and social interactions cannot bridge it in this context,” said Esther Duflo, a professor of economics at MIT and a co-author of the study.“Our ongoing interventions focus on versions of these games that exercise children’s intuitive mathematical abilities while also presenting the primary language and symbols of school mathematics. We should soon learn whether the new curriculum works better. In this respect, field research is no different from basic research: Both require multiple experiments, and learning from failures, to get things right.”This research was funded by the UBS Optimus Foundation and by Harvard’s Foundations of Human Behavior Initiative.last_img read more

UPDATE: Teen Reported Missing 11 Days Ago Walks Out of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

first_imgOfficials in Great Smoky Mountains National Park have located a teen who was reported missing 11 days ago after an off trail off-trail hike in the park’s remote southwest corner.According to local news reports, Austin Bohanan of nearby Blount County, Tennessee, walked out of the park on his own today, emerging near a remote backcountry area known as Tabcat Creek around 2:30 P.M.He’s was then transported to a nearby hospital in Maryville, Tennessee.The 11-day search for Buchanan was headed up by rangers on the park’s search and rescue team, officers with the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Authority and individuals with the Backcountry Unit Search and Rescue team (BUSAR). All told their were 19 active members of the search party.“By limiting the number of searchers in the area, rangers have the best chance to find Bohanan quickly,” a news release from the park service said. “Dog teams and trackers can be hampered by additional people in the area when searchers are looking for signs of hiker travel.”Bohanan was reported missing by his stepfather on Sunday, August 13, two days after he last saw him in the off trail area the two were hiking in. Stay tuned for further updates to this story as more details become available.last_img read more

Tipp footballers looking to use home advantage

first_imgThe Premier County will need to put another two points on the table in Division 3 when they come up against their Munster rivals in Semple Stadium in Round 4 of the National Football League. Tipp selector Tommy Twomey says it’s a big game for both teams and his side need to use their home advantage to stay in the hunt for promotion.Today’s game at Semple Stadium throws-in at three o’clock and will be live here on Tipp FM in association with Dwans Hardware, Cathedral Street, Thurles.last_img read more

Jeannie Fae McDevitt, 55, Seattle, Wash.: Feb. 6, 1960 – June 13, 2015

first_imgJeannie Faye McDevitt died on Saturday, June 13, 2015. She was born in Tacoma General Hospital to Russell Thompson and Nancy Smith on February 6, 1960.She moved to California as a baby for a few years and then moved back to Washington. She graduated from Tenino High School and signed up with the U.S. Navy. Her military career was cut short when she was diagnosed with Type I diabetes. This began her life long journey with multiple illnesses. She was cheerful and courageous through it all, and made people laugh and smile.She was a loving mother to Todd Mallett and a doting grandmother to Joshua James Mallett. She married the love of her life, Darrell McDevitt on July 4, 1985 and shared almost 30 years of a partnership that can only be envied. Jeannie lived and traveled in several states, including Kansas, Colorado, Hawaii, Virginia, and North Carolina but returned to Washington for the last 30 plus years. She loved her many pets and was an avid Coca Cola collector. In 2005 another roadblock was put in her way and that was blindness.She made sure she still lived and fully participated in her many activities, but had to stop working in the food and beverage services. In addition to her husband, son, grandson, and mother, she leaves behind, brothers, Curt Thompson, G. Scott Thompson, Danny Long; her sisters, Lori Clark, J.Janette Moser, Melissa Long; her step-family: John, Leonard, Alan and Juanita Velasquez, step-mother, Ila Szabo along with 15 nieces and nephews, and a host of other relatives and friends.A celebration of life will be held on Friday, June 19 at a private residence. Arrangements are being handled by Woodlawn Funeral Home, in Lacey, Wash.last_img read more

Huskies earn back-to-back wins over weekend

first_imgWith back-to-back wins, the Huskies improved their record to .500 (8-8-0-0) and sit in the middle of the NWJHL standings.The sled dogs will next take to the ice on Friday, Dec. 2, when they are back in Beaverlodge for another clash with the Blades. On Friday, Nov.25, the Huskies found themselves in enemy territory, taking on long-time rival the Junior Canucks. Despite a 1-0 Dawson Creek lead after one period, the Huskies evened the game in the second while on the power play. Cody Hildebrand scored with the man advantage, with assists going to Robbie Sidhu and recent addition to the Huskies roster, Cody Poggenpohl.Although, the Junior Canucks would score again later in the second frame to conclude the period with the Huskies down 2-1.Fortunately, the Huskies were not discouraged trailing after two periods, and would once again benefit from the man advanatage. Robbie Sidhu tied the game on the power play roughly four minutes into the third period, and Jamie Watson scored the Huskies’ third and game winning goal, once again while on the man advantage. Poggenpohl and rookie leader Dave Marshell would earn the assists on the game winning goal.- Advertisement -Sidhu, Captain Cody Hildebrand and newcomer Cody Poggenpohl all finished the game with two points.Saturday, Nov. 26, the boys were in Beaverlodge to take on the not-so-sharp Bades. To the surprise of many, Fort St. John only led by a single goal after one period, as they entered the second up 3-2. Head coach Gary Alexander must have said something during the first intermission to spark his club, who put on an eight goal performance in the remaining two frames, to earn an 11-3 victory.Robbie Sidhu would finish the game with a 7 point (2 goal, 5 assists) performance under his belt. Forward Cole Calliou also registered 5 points (1 goal, 4 assists) and Brighton Campbell lit the lamp three times for a hat-trick. Multiple other Huskies finished the game with multi-point games.Advertisementlast_img read more


first_imgThe LYITLetterkenny Institute of Technology is amongst the highest revenue-generating colleges for its locally economy across Ireland and Britain.The LYIT is ranked among the top 20 educational institutes when it comes to money being generated by its students in the local economy, a study a found.Third-level colleges generate €4 for every €1 they spend, and seven jobs for each person they employ, the study found. Brian Lucey, professor in finance at Trinity College Dublin’s business school and one of three authors of the article, published in Studies in Higher Education, said it was one of the first attempts to analyse the economic impact of the sector.While the data is based on the 2010-2011 academic year, spending was €2.6bn, of which €1.5bn came from government sources.But higher education contributed €10.6bn to the economy, 70% of it generated by the seven universities, and the remainder by the 14 institutes of technology.The colleges employed 22,000 staff, but indirectly supported 150,000 jobs. “While there has been a lot of talk about the financial sustainability of higher education, and the search for new funding models in universities and other higher education institutions in Ireland, little empirical evidence exists to guide policy-making,” said Prof Lucey.“The findings will contribute to the current national debate about the funding challenges facing the sector in a post-bailout environment.”A major aspect of that debate is whether or not students should pay more fees to increase funding for higher education, given that government has cut spending and that student numbers have risen.While speculation has focused on a student-loan scheme to finance increased private funding, this is just one of the possibilities that will face the incoming government after the spring election.The study, co-written with Qiantao Zhang and Charles Larkin, finds that Irish figures are comparable to similar studies of higher education institutions in the UK. Along with the three Dublin universities, University of Limerick and Letterkenny Institute of Technology also feature in the top 20 of all UK and Irish institutions for levels of economic impact.The researchers also suggest the findings could inform debate about mergers and co-location of Irish colleges, and how their income diversity will result in desirable, or undesirable, policy outcomes.“Less-developed regions could concentrate more on developing a dense system of high-tech and innovative firms to enhance the interactions between universities and firms,” they wrote.LYIT AMONG TOP REVENUE-GENERATING COLLEGES IN IRELAND AND BRITAIN was last modified: December 28th, 2015 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:donegaleducationLYITlast_img read more

Hiddink takes heart from ‘important’ away goal

first_imgGuus Hiddink took heart from John Mikel Obi’s potentially vital away goal in Chelsea’s first defeat since the Dutchman returned as boss.The Blues were beaten 2-1 by Paris St-Germain in the first leg of the Champions League last-16 tie, but they have every reason to feel confident ahead of next month’s second leg at Stamford Bridge.“The result is negative but on the other hand an away goal is important,” Hiddink told BT Sport.“It hurt a bit because the team was playing decently against a team with the capacity to play. But we are still in the race.Chelsea had to defend for much of the game in Paris“Over two legs, it is important you have the away goal. If we can do it at Stamford Bridge then a defeat doesn’t count so much.“We were not lethal enough at times but otherwise we can be relatively happy.”Meanwhile, Chelsea defender Gary Cahill insisted they could feel upbeat about their chances of reaching the last eight.More reaction from Paris to follow later.Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img read more

The adventure starts here

first_imgSkydiving over Cape Town(Image: Tim-O-T, Skydive Cape Town,copyright Thutch Productions)Let the adventure begin. Whatever your preference, South Africa has all the adventure your adrenalin can handle.Sections in this article:IntroductionAbseiling and rapp jumpingBungee jumpingParagliding, hang gliding and flyingRock climbing and mountaineeringMountain bikingCanoeing, rafting and kayakingHikingHorse ridingSkydivingScuba diving IntroductionSouth Africa has some of the best rock climbing in the world, with Cape Town particularly well endowed. There are literally hundreds of bolted and natural routes on excellent quality Cape granite or Table Mountain sandstone within the city limits. There are climbing schools and mountain guides in all the main centres, and route guides are available from climbing shops.River trips range from mostly scenic to grade five whitewater washing machines. There are over a hundred listed paragliding or hang gliding launch sites, and many more less well known, with schools in every centre. Also up in the air, there are many opportunities for helicopter rides, balloon flights, aerobatics, skydiving and microlight flights.Thousands of kilometres of hiking trails wind around the country, in desert, forest, mountain or coast, and many have mountain bike trails adjacent. Some hikes are a bit more luxurious – you walk from hotel to hotel and have your luggage taken round.There are wonderful easy horse trails through vineyards, on the beach or in the mountains and, for the adventurous and more experienced, horseback safaris in big game country.We have the highest commercial bungee jump in the world (at 216 metres), as well as lots of pretty abseiling and bridge swinging.For something combining adrenalin, peace and tranquility, and sheer beauty, try the treetop canopy tour in Tsitsikamma.The art of canyoning – known as kloofing in South Africa – is another hot favourite, with self-guided and escorted trips.Useful links 180º Adventures has offices in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg, and activities countrywide. Active Africa Adventure Tours offers Western Cape-based adventure tours covering the full adrenaline spectrum.Adventure Online is a comprehensive web-based directory of outdoor activities, with over 2 000 adventure companies across South Africa listed.Adventure Purists offer various adventure package tours which include a variety of activities across South Africa. is the website for South African enthusiasts of adventure racing – a new sport made popular by the Eco Challenge television series. The site offers news, upcoming events, advice, features and more. Ashanti Travel Centre, based in Cape Town, offers a wide range of packages for adventure junkies, including kloofing, scuba diving, bridge and bungi jumping, great white shark diving, kite boarding, paragliding, sandboarding, skydiving and abseils off Table Mountain.Cape Sports Centre on the Langebaan Lagoon caters for kitesurfers, windsurfers, mountain bikers and kayakers. They sell and rent equipment, offer lessons and tips, and provide various adventure packages.Downhill Adventures offers the Cape Great Eight Adventure Experience, a combination of the best and most exciting adventures available in this area: shark cage diving, sandboarding, mountain biking, surfing, tandem skydiving, abseiling, sea kayaking and quad biking.Felix Unite Adventure Travel is a comprehensive adventure tour operator, providing trips throughout Africa.Glenmore Ecoventures offers loads of adventure activities at Glenmore Beach on the KZN South Coast. Kamala Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape offers the Sheercliff Adventure Centre, with a wide range of adventure sports: a gorge glide, abseiling, mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking, paragliding and the 4×4 Samil mountain ascent. Oribi Gorge Resort near Port Shepstone in KwaZulu-Natal has the Wild Five: abseiling, whitewater rafting, the Wild Slide (a foofy slide 120m along a steel cable 160m above the ground), the Wild Swing 100m into a gorge, and hiking and mountain biking. Otters Den, a river lodge on an island in the Blyde River at the foot of the Drakensberg near the Kruger Park, offers whitewater rafting, hot air ballooning, kayaking and abseiling.The SA Orienteering Federation is the controlling body for the sport of orienteering in South Africa, with a number of affiliated clubs.Stormsriver Adventures operates a wonderful, somewhat strenuous trip called the Stormsriver Challenge: abseiling, tubing and mountain biking. Wildthing Adventures, based in Gauteng, specialises in both soft adventures for all age groups – from eight years and older – and more adrenaline-pumping activities. These include canoeing, rafting, bridge jumping, mountain biking, abseiling and overland rafting expeditions.Back to top Abseiling and rapp jumpingIt’s only recently that abseiling has become an activity in its own right. Really it’s just the method climbers use to get off mountains – or special services forces use to descend deserted buildings into enemy territory in adventure movies – but it’s fun, and so it’s become available as an activity in its own right.You can hang out high over Cape Town abseiling from Table Mountain. The “long drop” is 112m high – and about a kilometre above the city – making it the world’s highest commercial abseil.There are three abseil routes on the spectacular western head at Knysna, further up the Cape east coast – including a really high, very exposed site hanging right out over the crashing waves.Not far from Knysna, and also with fantastic views, you can do a combination abseiling and kloofing (canyoning) trip down the Storms River Gorge, which involves a 100m abseil into the gorge, a tubing trip down the river, a short walk out of the gorge and then a cycle back to the village.You can abseil down buildings in Durban and Johannesburg, or even rapp jump if you like. Rapp jumping is abseiling with the ropes attached to your back instead of your front, so you go down facing the ground – and at a run, if you’re in a hurry.Useful links Abseil AfricaFace Adrenalin Govertical Mountaineering Adventures Oribi Gorge ResortOver the Top AdventuresPure Rush IndustriesRoc ‘n Rope AdventuresBack to top Bungee jumpingWeehah! South Africa has the highest commercial bungee jump in the world – it’s official. At 216 metres, it’s not for the faint of heart.Run by Face Adrenalin, the Bloukrans is on the border of the Eastern and Western Cape.The same company also offers a range of jumps on the much lower Gouritz River Bridge. Here you’ll also find South Africa’s only commercial bridge swinging operation, run by Wildthing Adventures.Not sure of difference between bungee jumping and bridge swinging? With bungee, you jump off a bridge (or other high fixed platform) with giant elastic bands usually, but not always, tied to your feet.Bridge swinging, on the other hand, involves jumping from one bridge while tied in to climbing ropes suspended from an adjacent bridge.Useful linksFace AdrenalinWildthing AdventuresBungee MogaleBack to top Paragliding, hang gliding and flyingOK, not many places don’t have sky, but South Africa has lots of it – and very good quality it is, too …In the hot interior we see thermals like you wouldn’t believe, and many paraglider and hang glider pilots have made record-breaking distance flights, particularly in the Northern Cape.But of course this flat, hot area doesn’t have much in the way of relief – for that you need to head for South Africa’s coastal provinces, or Mpumalanga.There’s loads of excellent ridge soar and some fantastic scenic flying near the coast. In Cape Town, you can launch off Lion’s Head in the evening, flying into the sunset, to land at one of the popular beachfront pubs.And if it’s skydiving you’re into, Skydive Cape Town can take you to a drop zone that boasts one of the best views in the world from altitude.Further up South Africa’s coast, near the Garden Route town of Wilderness, you can fly over the sea, often seeing dolphins and whales. And, of course, the high-lying areas of the Western and Eastern Cape, the Drakensberg and Mpumalanga offer spectacular mountain scenery.There is even reasonable flying about 80km from Johannesburg, near Hartbeespoort Dam, where you can fly under the controlled air space of a number of medium-sized airfields and Johannesburg International Airport.Useful links Aero Club of SA BigSky Aviation AdventuresMicrolight Association of SAMicrolight Aviation in SA Hang Gliding and Paragliding AssociationSA Power Flying AssociationSkydancersSkydive Cape TownBack to top Rock climbing and mountaineeringThe cliffs are big, wild, often remote – and still being discovered. And it’s a climate for being out in. South Africa offers some of the best, and most diverse, rock climbing in the world. Gear up, chalk up, and start cranking!Ever since the German climbing magazine Rotpunkt published an article about Waterval Boven in 1993, foreign visitors have been flocking to this Mpumalanga town for some of the best sport climbing in the universe. The Restaurant (officially known as “The Restaurant at the end of the Universe crags”) offers more than 500 routes, and there are still numerous untouched rock faces in the area.With routes ranging from scramble-easy to a superhuman 33 – and a number of natural or “trad” (traditional, or unbolted) routes – there’s something for everyone here.Outside Durban, there are also a lot of sport climbs, and a few close to Johannesburg. En route between these two major centres, you’ll find some wonderful bolted routes in good hard sandstone in the eastern part of the Free State – notably at the Mount Everest nature reserve near Harrismith.If you’re more of a traditionalist, don’t worry. You can revel in miles of unbolted rock in the fantastic, virtually pristine Blouberg in the Limpopo, the Drakensberg in KwaZulu-Natal, the Magaliesburg in North West – in close striking distance of both Johannesburg and Pretoria – or in the miles and miles of fantastic mountain ranges in the Western Cape.One of these deserves special mention. The Cedarberg, two-and-a-half hours’ drive north of Cape Town, is a world-class bouldering area – and boasts some of the best trad rock climbing routes in the country.But for a close-to-city experience, nothing can beat Cape Town, with hundreds of sport and traditional routes within the city limits. The city is built around Table Mountain, a national park consisting of two great, hard rock types – Table Mountain sandstone, which gives nice positive edges, and Cape granite, which offers fantastic friction climbing.Useful links Mountain Club of South AfricaSouth African Climbing Info NetworkSA BoulderingClimb ZAWildways MountaineeringCape Town School of MountaineeringPeak High MountaineeringRoc ‘n Rope Adventures –Alard’s Bigwall Climbing Site SA Mountain Magazine Adventure DynamicsUKZN Mountain Club – Wits Mountain Club City Rock Indoor Climbing De Bos Back to top Mountain bikingMTB heaven! There are so many fantastic trails it will blow you away. South Africa is a treasure trove of exciting routes, discovered and waiting to be uncovered, with weather allowing for cycling at any time of the year, all day and just about every day.Around Cape Town there are some great single-track routes on the mountain and in the pine plantations. There are escorted trips on the mountain, around the winelands and in the Cape Point section of the Cape Peninsula National Park.The scenic De Hoop National Park near Swellendam, up the east coast from Cape Town, has dedicated, easy trails. There are a few hardcore trails near Swellendam, and then onto the Garden Route, which is just fantastic.There are four superb, laid-out circular tracks in the Harkerville Forest, ranging from mellow to a hectic red route. And nearby are two long, quite strenuous linear trails, Homtini and Petrus se Brand. Locals and international visitors alike agree that the last 6km of Petrus se Brand is the most fun single track ever.Port Elizabeth also has dedicated trails, including one traversing a green belt which cuts right through the middle of the city. An annual MTB race on the Wild Coast set a precedent for pedaling this fantastic area.KwaZulu-Natal has its share of routes, with many great ones in the Drakensberg and the Midlands.The Free State is home to some seriously strenuous trails, and often has competitions. There’s one called the Two Mountains Race, which should give you an idea of what you’d be in for.And Johannesburg has a huge active MTB population, so there are a lot of trails nearby. Many of these urbanites head out to the wonderful trails in Mpumalanga, where you’ll find lots of opportunity to get down and dirty.Useful links Mountain Bike South AfricaSouth African Mountain Bike ToursBeach and BushDaytrippersEden AdventuresMountain Biking AfricaOuteniqua Biking Trails Cycle Lab Pedal Power Association SA Cycling Bicycling Magazine Back to top Canoeing, rafting and kayakingSouth Africa has fantastic rivers, so you’ll be spoiled for choice. The most popular – for good reason – is the Orange, which forms the country’s northern border with Namibia. It’s a long, green-fringed oasis running through the mountainous desert area known as the Richtersveld. Incredibly scenic, it also has a few fun rapids.The section below Augrabies Falls is similar, and there is a one-day rafting trip above Augrabies which features some exciting but not radical rapids. The Gorge section of the Orange is a lot more technical and has some high-volume rapids.The Vaal, a tributary of the Orange, has some fun little rapids and is very close to Johannesburg, so it’s a popular destination for corporate trips. Also near Johannesburg, the Crocodile River offers a pleasant day out with some small and mildly challenging rapids.The Doring River in the Western Cape has a short season towards the end of winter, and offers fantastic, quite technical white water, but it’s pretty cold.The Palmiet River is absolutely wonderful. It runs through the Kogelberg Nature Reserve and offers fantastic technical rapids and wonderful scenery. The trip offered takes one day and includes all meals and sometimes a visit to a winery.The Molenaars is a very technical, white water river that only works for a few days immediately after heavy rain in its catchment area, so it’s not easy to plan a trip. The Sonderend River is a smallish river where you can do a fun day trip or overnighter.There are two trips on the Breede River: a one day wine tasting trip near Worcester, which is really just an excuse to have a lovely picnic and sample some local wines, with a little bit of paddling thrown in. Lower down, near Swellendam, two-day trips are run on some small rapids and quite rocky sections. This section is used mainly for corporate trips.There is some fun canoeing in the lakes area of the Garden Route, especially Wilderness and Knysna Lagoon. Other enjoyable flatwater trips include the two self-guided excursions near Port Alfred, one of which is up and down the conveniently tidal Kowie River. The other is a short paddle up the Kleinemond River to a wonderful overnight spot, called Kayak Camp.Far more luxurious would be an escorted trip through the spectacularly beautiful and biologically unique Kosi Bay lake system. And, also in the Maputaland area of northern KwaZulu-Natal, there are fantastic escorted one-day trips on Lake St Lucia, where you may see crocodiles and hippos, and on Lake Bhangazi, also part of the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park.The Umkomaas River on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast offers fantastic paddling with some fun, challenging but not too technical rapids. Just north of Durban, the Umgeni has some delightful little rapids. The section paddled is part of the gruelling two-day Dusi Marathon.The Buffalo River used to be the border between the kingdom of Zululand and the British colony of Natal and is near some fantastic historical sites. It’s a lovely river with some quite challenging rapids. Standard trips are two days. The Buffalo is a tributary of the nearby Tugela River, which also has some pretty impressive white water with some very scary rapids indeed.The Blyde River in Mpumalanga is probably one of the most beautiful rivers in South Africa – a somewhat hectic, technical alpine-style river with a steep gradient. A second trip on a tamer section of the same river is far easier, and the nearby Sabie River also offers an easy day out. The Olifants River, also close by, has some wonderful, big but not too technical rapids and also traverses some beautiful scenery.Useful linksCoastal KayakGravity Adventure GroupHardy VenturesIntrapid RaftingPaddleYak Sea Kayak StoreHiSide GroupSunwa VenturesBack to top HikingThere’s no better way to experience South Africa’s wild places than with your boots on and your feet on the ground, one in front of the other, taking in the country’s fantastically scenic hiking trails. Here are some highlights.The Otter Trail along the Tsitsikamma coast is probably the most popular hike in the country. Lush forests, rugged shorelines, mountain streams and waterfalls and fragrant fynbos make this a special one. It’s strenuous, with lots of ups and downs, but the distances aren’t too great.If you want the scenery and walking with less slog and more luxury, try the Dolphin Trail. It traverses similar terrain to the Otter – joining up with it in places – but instead of hiking huts you stay in fully catered guest houses with great views and good food. Your pack is transported to your next overnight spot by vehicle, and you carry only a day pack with lunch, water, camera and swimsuit.The Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape offers similar trails but dramatically different scenery: miles of deserted beaches, wave-lashed rocks and occasional tropical forest.Accommodation is in coastal hotels instead of huts. The usual is to carry your pack, but you can arrange to have it driven around, if you plan ahead.Purists can tackle the Wild Coast rough as they like. There are miles and miles of unspoiled hiking trail traversing high mountains, deserts and forests, where the accommodation is the usual hiking hut, and the cuisine whatever you decided to carry.For an even wilder experience, you can hike for days in the Cedarberg, near Cape Town, or the Drakensberg in KwaZulu-Natal, without seeing a hut or a route marker. These are designated wilderness areas, and you simply take a map and a permit and set off, sleeping under the stars or in convenient caves.There are many others, some of which are on private land. You can get a reasonable idea of what’s available from the Footprint Hiking Club.Of course, the most important aspect of a hiking trail is that you don’t constantly bump into other people. And the only way to ensure that is to limit numbers, so that means you have to book.Useful linksSA National ParksCape Nature ConservationJohannesburg Hiking Club Footprint Hiking Club Hike Cape Town Boksburg Hiking Club Hiking South Africa Mountain Club of South AfricaBack to top Horse riding and trailsHorse riding trails in South Africa are as diverse as the terrain. You can take a brisk canter along a beach, an amble through vineyards, a fast ride across sweeping grasslands or a meander through magnificent mountain scenery.If you’re comfortable on a horse, you can ride among some big game. If you’re not, there are some easier options where the game is not likely to consider eating you (or your mount).Trips range from an hour or two on the outskirts of cities to multi-day treks in the wilderness; in some places you can even do moonlit rides at full moon.For a different trail experience, try Spier wine farm’s Segway Tour. While gliding on a self-balancing two-wheeler, visitors will check out the vineyard, the biodynamic farming area, the protea garden and even its wastewater treatment plant.If you’d like to get in some hunting while you’re in South Africa, note that we only offer drag hunts. Everything – dress, formalities, hounds – is traditional but the “fox” is a jackal-scented bag dragged by a hunt member. Drag hunting is run by the Rand Hunt Club near Johannesburg, and by the Cape Hunt and Polo Club in and around Cape Town.Useful links African Horse Company Amadiba Trails Ant’s Nest Horseriding Safaris Bhangazi Horse Safaris Biggarsberg Horse Trails Bokpoort Horseback AdventuresCape Nature ConservationDer Kap RittEquus Horse Safaris Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Fynbos Trails Grootbos Nature ReserveHorizon Horse TrailsHorseback AfricaKaapsehoop Horse Trails Mkulu Kei Horse Trails Rand Hunt Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve Riding for the Disabled SA National Equestrian Foundation Spier Segway ToursThornview Horse Trails Trail Linx Tswalu Kalahari ReserveWait a Little Horse TrailsWine Valley Horse TrailsXplora ToursBack to top SkydivingIf you’re a skydiver, you know about adrenaline addiction and the attraction of gravity, so you won’t want to miss the chance for a quick jump while you’re on holiday.South Africa has skydiving clubs in all the major centres and in even some unexpected smaller places such as Grahamstown and Pietermaritzburg.The biggest club in the country is Pretoria Skydiving Club, which is your best bet if you want to get involved in some big RW. They fly two Pilatus Porters, so 20-way formations are a real possibility.And if you’ve never skydived, consider doing your first jump in South Africa. With our favourable exchange rate, you’ll find it a lot cheaper than in other countries. You could choose between a standard static line jump or a tandem jump, where you are tied to an instructor who makes all the decisions for you.If you think you might get serious about skydiving you could do an accelerated free-fall course while you’re in South Africa and save a bit of money, as it is the most expensive part of a skydiving career.Then there’s the scenery. Even if it’s your first jump and you think you’ll have your eyes closed the whole time, don’t worry, you will see the view.Many of South Africa’s drop zones are in pretty locations and, hey, here’s a bonus: do a tandem (or single) jump in Cape Town and get a pic of yourself hurtling earthwards in front of Table Mountain. That wouldn’t look bad on your desk (or desktop) when you get back to the office.Useful linksSkydiveXtremeSkydive Cape Town Aero Club of SA Go SkydiveTandem Skydiving Adventures Parachute Association of SAJohannesburg Skydiving ClubPretoria Skydiving ClubSkydive CitrusdalWitbank Skydiving ClubPietermaritzburg Parachute Club Back to top Scuba divingIf it’s variety you’re after, you’ve come to the right place. South Africa has an enormously long coastline ranging from about 35°S to 27°S, which isn’t quite within the usual range of tropical diving.But the Mozambique Current flows down our East Coast, bringing warm tropical water with it, and at Sodwana Bay we have the most southerly coral reefs in the world. Of course, they have the full complement of pretty colourful fish and some great nudibranchs, including the outrageous Spanish dancer (Hexabranchus sanguineas).Whale sharks, turtles, dolphins and ragged-tooth sharks (Carcharias taurus) are often seen in specific places.And then, as you head down the coast, the underwater fauna and flora change gradually until, once you’ve reached Cape Town, you’re diving in chilly but beautiful kelp forests.There are three major types of kelp, and a short portion of the Western Cape coast is the only place in the world that they all grow together. If you’ve always shunned cold water diving, consider it.Sure, you do have to dress up in a great thick wetsuit with constraining hoodie and gloves, but it’s worth it. Diving in kelp is like walking in a forest. You float beneath the canopy and admire the surprisingly colourful reef life.Off Cape Town, divers regularly see anemones in colours ranging from electric blue or deep red to pale pink, nudibranchs of almost every colour you can imagine, and a whole range of small creatures in and around the bright orange and sulphur yellow sponges.There are dive schools in almost every centre in the country – with a surprising number in the landlocked Johannesburg area. Perhaps it’s not so surprising: most people do their training up there and then head down to Sodwana Bay for their qualifying dives.There is even an inland dive resort near Johannesburg, where students can do their first dive or two in a disused quarry. Komati Springs is a much deeper disused quarry in Mpumalanga where rebreather, mixed gas and deep diving courses are run.When you come here to dive our wonderful reefs, do take careful note of your no-fly limits. A flight from sea level to Johannesburg can take only an hour, and you gain 2 000 metres (7 000ft) in altitude – that’s without even considering the flight.This really is a major risk, so adjust your itinerary to include a day of sightseeing, shopping or beach lounging between diving and flying to Johannesburg. Even driving to Johannesburg immediately after a dive, for example at Sodwana Bay or Durban, can put you at risk, as the drive is only six hours.Useful links Adventure Diving SafarisAfrican OdysseaAliwal Dive ChartersAmatikulu ToursCoral DiversDive South AfricaDive the Big FiveDive Travel CentreExtreme 3 AdventuresKwaMnandi Dive LodgePro DiveScuba ShackTouch Africa SafarisThe Great White HouseBack to toplast_img read more

NAB 2017: Freefly Announces 3 New Products

first_imgFreefly announces three new pieces of equipment for their camera control systems lineup.Top image via Freefly.NAB 2017 is off to the races with companies like Sony, Black Magic Design and Freefly announcing big releases. One of the first announcements this morning was that Freefly will be releasing three new products in their line of stabilization equipment. Between the XL, the Pilot, and the Carbon, Freefly’s latest offering steps up their already impressive camera control game.MōVI XLThe latest offering to the world of camera control and stabilization is not tied to power conditioners or wires. The new stabilization system interfaces with the entire Freefly ecosystem. Using a new quick release feature, users can shift the MōVI XL from platforms like tripods, cars, or jibs without any restrictive tools.MōVI XL features internal wiring to prevent damage / snags during usage. We also included protective ‘e-chain’ for pan wiring and designed the wiring with serviceability and in-field replacement in mind. Each motor features a hollow shaft to allow users to easily route cables through the gimbal.Freefly has worked with RED Cameras to ensure maximum user capabilities while using the MōVI Controller MIMIC or Pilot at distances up to 600 feet. Allowing users long-range bidirectional control of MoVI pointing, settings, control and real-time telemetry, the MIMIC is a must for MoVI users, and it is compatible with the XL.Freefly has designed a versatile, modular, and adaptable ecosystem to allow filmmakers to operate in whatever way is most productive for them. This means you can use MIMIC, MōVI Controller, Pilot, and the MōVI XL app to distribute control of gimbal pointing, FIZ, and camera controls in whatever way makes sense for your shot.The MōVI XL is fully compatible with theMōVI Pro App, available here.Specs:Expandable and modular designdual 10Ah 22.2v batteries25 lbsBoots in 2 seconds; Autotunes in 10 secondsGives users real-time feedbackThe MōVI XL is not yet available for purchase, but you can reserve it here.PilotControl your focus, iris, zoom, MōVI pointing, and settings wirelessly like a pro with the new MōVI Pilot. Freefly has built the Pilot to integrate efficiently with RED, Sony, ARRI, Phantom, and LANC Cameras.Pilot was designed to integrate seamlessly with the MōVI Pro ecosystem. It gives users the ability to adjust key MōVI parameters and get real time feedback from the MōVI from 600+ feet away. Pilot is built on the same core frequency hopping spread spectrum 2.4GHz link that is found in the MōVI Pro.One of the most enticing features of the Pilot is the multi-controller, which allows multiple operators to interface at the same time to make the most of tasks like focusing, zooming, and controlling iris. Users can mount the Pilot on a tripod, MōVI handle, or 1/4″-20 mount.75 mm soft focus knobAuxiliary Pilot control over DIT station25mm tube mount30mm tube mount1/4″-20 to rosette mountReserve your Pilot here.MoVI CarbonThis 5-axis stabilizer is the first of its kind, and it is both drone and handheld mountable. The Carbon’s stabilization relies on 2 inner axes that keep your shot steady at up to a full 240mm zoom. The Carbon also comes with an integrated a7s II and Sony 24-240mm lens.Each Carbon will be hand-built, so reserve your copy here. Prices aren’t set yet, but expect the final price to be below $30,000.Freefly is at NAB right now with a booth showcasing some of these latest offerings. If you’re there, swing by and tell us what you think of the new products.Stay tuned for more PremiumBeat coverage on NAB announcements and reveals.last_img read more

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