Bob Barrett

Host/Producer, The Best Of Our Knowledge

Bob has been a part of the WAMC family since 2001.  He currently produces and hosts National Production's The Best Of Our Knowledge.  Over the years, Bob has produced The Environment Show and The Health Show for National Productions and hosted weekend mornings on WAMC for a decade. He is currently a reporter and on air host at WUWF Public Radio at the University of West Florida in Pensacola. 

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There are interesting stories about Common Core and standardized testing all over the country, but if you want real entertainment, you have to look closely at Florida. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear how developing education standards and valid evaluations has been a comedy of errors in the Sunshine State.

We’ll also see how another southern state, North Carolina, is trying to find ways to pay its best teachers. And we’ll spend an academic minute matching the personalities of students and teachers for better early education.

University of West Florida

Let’s start off with an important definition. A phage is a virus that preys on and feeds off bacteria. They are found, among other places, in the soil.

Most educators agree that teaching ethics is an important part of a medical education. What they don’t agree on is when to start. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk about teaching ethics to medical students.

We’ll also hear from a college student about her education in the arts…and the effects starting early in life had on her progress.

Then a conversation about summer vacation…and keeping all that good education from the school year safe between your student’s ears.

Stanford University

I love road trips! Last month I hit the road and ended up in Silicon Valley at the Association of Health Care Journalists annual conference where I had the chance to speak with educators and authors about the latest in medical education.

One in three American young people will be arrested before the age of 23, and many will spend time in institutions that used to be called "reform schools" or "rehabilitation camps"...but can really only be described as prisons.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we'll talk to the author of an extensive study of the juvenile justice system and learn just what is happening to children behind bars.

We'll also spend an academic minute playing with puppies…trust me, it’ll make you feel better.

Everybody loves a good story. So, today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we thought we’d change things up a bit and bring you a few stories from around the country…and overseas to see how educators are helping their students and communities.

University of Kentucky

It always strikes me as a little odd when someone talks about either believing or not believing in evolution. While I understand the theological arguments, and trust me…we’re not getting into one today…the current scientific evidence shows evolution to be a fact, not a belief system.

But still, about half the population of the US says they don’t believe that…and a recent article in Orion Magazine points to school systems as being the number one culprit.

Over the years we’ve heard about the fight against Big Oil, Big Tobacco and, everyone’s favorite, Big Government. Well now we’re hearing about Big Data. Companies are using your data to sell you stuff…but scientists are using it in other ways. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, a discussion on how clinical scientists are using big data.

We’ll also hear how fertility treatments have worked miracles for women and couples trying to have children. But those treatments have also opened up other doors, including the ability to manipulate genes and quote: build a better baby.

If there’s any occupation that needs continuously updated education it’s medicine. With constant updates and advances, physicians need smart, innovative ways to keep pace. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, a look at new technology and adaptive learning for physicians with Dr. Ulrik Christensen, the Chairman of the Board of Area 9 Learning. He is also a member of the executive management team of McGraw-Hill Education team striving to reimagine education through adaptive and personalized learning.

Usually when we talk about class on this program, it’s one of those things they have in school.  Today, not so much. 

During election season we hear the term middle class thrown around like crazy by all sorts of politicians who have no idea what the term means. Most other time, class is just not something we talk about in the US.  But ignoring the issue doesn’t change the issue…class matters. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to the author of a new book about class in the US…and a new study which focused on the class divisions in the activist community.

fredricklane.com

How did we ever get along without the internet? 

I’m sure you’ve heard that line more than a few times over the last decade or so. The amount of information on line has been a great tool for educators. But there are also cyber traps that more and more teachers are falling into. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge we’ll talk about the new book “Cyber Traps for Educators”.

Then we’ll meet a student from the UK who has overcome cyber-addiction and is trying to help others do the same.

University of Vermont

Whenever you saw Alan Alda on the big screen or the small, he usually played a practical, well-spoken character who knows how to communicate to the audience.

Now he is working to make sure that scientists around the worlds have those safe communication skills when getting their ideas across to the public. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge we’ll hear about the Alda Center for Scientific Communication…and find out where they are setting up shop.

University of West Florida

Through the years some artists have gotten their inspiration through science.

Scientists getting inspiration through art is another thing all together and could, perhaps, create a whole new discipline. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge we’ll hear from an art professor who uses art as an exo-discipline.

Then we’ll try to find out why an overwhelming majority of students in Veterinary School are woman. And we’ll spend an academic minute exploring the coral reefs.

wordfire.dot

If you were with us last week, you heard a fascinating conversation about the universe and the great cosmic voids of outer space and time.

I figured this week we’d stay out there, only instead of voids we’d have talking robots and laser battles. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge we’ll talk to Kevin J. Anderson, one of the most prolific and bestselling science fiction authors working today.

Then we’ll come back to Earth and hear how student in Oregon are using language to learn just about everything else.

And we’ll spend an academic minute with…uh….writers block.

If you’re a fan of Seinfeld, you know that was always called a show about nothing.

Well we won’t be nearly as funny as Jerry and the gang, but today’s program is about a whole lotta nothing. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to an astrophysicist and cosmologist, it’s the same guy, about huge spaces in the universe called “cosmic voids”…and see how studying them might bring answers to some very fundamental questions about the universe.

Over the years we’ve heard about the fight against Big Oil, Big Tobacco and, everyone’s favorite, Big Government. Well now we’re hearing about Big Data. Companies are using your data to sell you stuff…but scientists are using it in other ways. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, a discussion on how clinical scientists are using big data.

We’ll also hear how fertility treatments have worked miracles for women and couples trying to have children. But those treatments have also opened up other doors, including the ability to manipulate genes and quote: build a better baby.

Virginia Union University

Black History Month began as Negro History Week back in 1926. It was held the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass. It was officially recognized as Black History Month in 1976 as part of the United States Bicentennial Celebration. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll celebrate first with a conversation about historically black colleges and universities in the US with Dr.

Our lives are changing faster than in just about any period in human history. And, if you’ll excuse the pun, that’s not going to change anytime soon. And some of the biggest changes have come from the ways we create, and consume, the arts. While music and literature are now more available than ever, it’s become almost impossible for someone to make the arts their life’s work…at least if they want to keeping, you know, eating.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, a look at how the advances of the 21st century are pounding the creative class.

The DREAM Act, legislation that would allow the children of undocumented immigrants to legally remain in the United States and gain resident status, has been introduced into both house of congress various times in various forms since 2001. It has yet to pass, or even be voted on in the senate. President Obama has put some aspects of the act into effect with executive orders, but there are students around the country who still hope the full act will someday become law.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we'll hear from a potential "Dreamer".

Arizona passed a law this month that made it the first state in the nation to mandate high school students pass a test in civics. we've been hearing about the decline of civics education for years...and one issue keeps arising: is it possible to keep politics out of civics?

For that matter, is keeping politics out of the classroom a good idea at all?

You may have noticed that as he approaches his final two years in office, President Obama is trying harder to put his imprint on life in the US…and with his recent proposal on making two years college available to everyone, he has started a whole new conversation on the importance of school beyond grade 12.

Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear about the president’s plan for universal community college.

We’ll also open up the political science classroom and talk about the situation in France with a professor who specialized in European politics.

College costs money.  A lot of money! And that’s one of the many reason that community colleges are becoming more popular with students.  There are over 12 million students enrolled in community colleges in the US. That’s over 45% of all college students. And over the past decade those numbers have been growing. But are community colleges getting the attention…and the money…they need to serve those students?

Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk about the state of community colleges in the US…and what needs to happen to keep them healthy and growing.

You meet the most interesting people when putting together a radio show. Week after week we get to sit down and chat with remarkable people who have accomplished, well, remarkable things. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we'll look back at a couple who really made an impression.

First we’ll play back our visit with Captain William Shepherd, the first commander of the international space station. Then it’s our chat with a mother and daughter who have written a superhero…where the heroes fight school bullies.

We’ve talked about some pretty important topics this year and as 2014 winds down we’d thought we’d take a couple of weeks and revisit some that really got your attention…and lit up our inbox.

We’ll start with a show from February. Four or five decades ago, a college education wasn't worth that much.  Sure, getting a degree opened a lot of doors and many parents encouraged their children to continue their education...but there were plenty of well paying jobs waiting for people with a high school diploma, or less. Today, that's not nearly the case.

Bob Barrett / WAMC News

43 years ago this month, President Richard Nixon signed the National Cancer Act of 1971, effectively starting the so-called War on Cancer.

The law greatly increased the amount of money earmarked for cancer research and scientific study. So, how’s that war going?

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, a conversation with the chief science officer of the American Cancer Society about the past, present future of cancer research.

We’ll also visit a high school in Niagara Falls that is devoting a lot of time and money into STEM education.

Mayo Clinic dot org

We’ve talked a lot about genetic testing on this program over the past year or so. The amount of data that can come from the human genome seems to be growing by the day.

And there are companies that are using that data to market genetic tests for home use. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear about a test called 23 and Me…and find out why the FDA has banned it from being used as a genetic health screen in the US.

Even with all the innovations and new teaching techniques schools have introduced in the last few decades, the actual school day has looked pretty much the same.  Students go to class, listen to a teacher and take notes, then are off to do homework or study for an exam.  But there is a trend starting to take hold in some schools that reverses that school day. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear about schools that are flipping classes…and how it has succeeded where other innovations have failed.

Moving from one temporary home to another with an occasional stint living in a car isn't exactly the roadmap to academic success. In fact, it makes it almost impossible. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we'll hear the story of a homeless student in Washington State.

We'll also find out that all those times your teacher told you to sit up straight, well it was good advice. And we'll spend an academic minute separating the good exercise from the not so good.

Ever drive down the road and pass one of those historical markers a lot of places erect and wonder what it's all about?

You can do that a lot...and if you stopped at all of them you'd never really get anywhere. Not to worry and, please excuse me for using this way overused line but...there's an app for that. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we'll talk to the people behind Next Exit History, and learn how a stop for coffee on a road trip turned into nationwide historical database.

Do you remember the movie "Mean Girls"? The screenplay to the 2004 film was written by Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock star Tina Fey, who also had a role in the film.

The movie was a worldwide hit and remains almost a cult favorite 10 years later. But did you know it was based on a non-fiction book called "Queenbees and Wannabees"? Now the author of that book has left the world of girls and has headed over to the boys.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, a conversation with author Rosalind Wisemen about her book about boys' world: Masterminds and Wingmen.

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