POKÉMON GO: GET UP AND GO!

Pokemon Phone

Gotta catch them all!
“I wanna be the very best like no one ever was.
To catch them is my real test, to train them is my cause.
I will travel across the land, searching far and wide.
Each Pokémon to understand, the power that’s inside”.
Pokémon Theme – Composed by Siegler & Loeffler.

Picture by Pixaline. Public Domain License.

Do you want to become a Pokémon Master? Are you ready to catch all the powerful creatures to win the game? Well, there’s only one way you can do this: Get up and Go! It’s no secret that overnight, Pokémon Go has become a global and social phenomenon. Everywhere around the world there are millions of people in the streets walking around and playing this brand new game. Poképlayers are not sitting on their couches anymore as if they were couch potatoes. In fact, they need to walk, run or cycle to “activate” the game and make the Pokémon critters appear in the augmented reality of their smartphones. It sounds pretty weird, doesn’t it? But that’s exactly how the game works. And what is most surprising of all is that many players have begun to socialize with each other and some of them have even become Pokéfriends.

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Picture by Adam Purves. Creative Commons License. 

So doing physical exercise and having the chance to socialize are, beyond doubt, the most revolutionary aspects of this fascinating game. Pokémon Go has managed to transform in just a couple of weeks the traditional passive habits of video game players, which have so far consisted of locking themselves up in their houses, spending long hours glued to their computer screens and not having any kind of social interaction. Some doctors and psychologists have even declared that this innovative game represents a great opportunity for players to get rid of these unhealthy habits and engage in outdoor activities with friends or relatives. So what are you waiting for? Go out and have fun! And remember that the more you walk, the more chances you have to become the first Pokémon Go winner. Good luck!

DRAW THAT POKÉMON CUTIEFLY!

 Video by NewAgeSteel. Creative Commons Public License.

“It takes 20 years to make an overnight success”.

John Hanke – Creator of Pokémon Go.

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THE HISTORY AND TRADITION OF THE OLYMPIC GAMES

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The 2016 Olympic Games will open on August 5th and this time the host city of the competition will be Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. So how about learning some interesting facts and myths about one of the most popular and exciting sporting events around the world? 

Picture by Marisa04. Public Domain License.

OLYMPIA. According to some historical records, the ancient Olympic Games began in 776 B.C in the city of Olympia and they were celebrated in honour of the god Zeus, who was considered the king of the Greek gods. Olympia was a meeting place for religious and political events and the temples of Zeus and Hera were located at the center of the city. The sports competition took place in the same place every four years and the games were open to any freeborn male citizen of Greek origin who wanted to represent his city.

MYTHOLOGY. The most popular myth concerning the beginning of the Olympic Games is related to the story of the struggle between Zeus and Cronus (Zeus’ father) for the throne of the gods. The legend holds that Zeus himself ordered the Greek citizens to organise the games to celebrate his victory over Cronus. After his father’s downfall, Zeus became the king of the Olympian gods. In ancient Greek mythology, Zeus was the sky and thunder god and he was married to Hera, the goddess of women and marriage.

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Picture by Stux. Public Domain License. 

SPORTS. One of the main differences between the ancient games and the modern Olympics is that the programme of the Greek games did not include any team sports because the aim of the competition was to show the physical skills and qualities of each of the athletes participating in the tournament. That’s why all the sports were practised as individual disciplines. In Olympia, the games took place in two different places: the stadium and the hippodrome, which were located a few meters from the temples of Zeus and Hera. The pentathlon (wrestling, disk throw, javelin throw, long jump and foot race) and the pankration (a primitive form of fighting) were held in the stadium whereas the chariot and horse races took place in the hippodrome.

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REWARDS. In the times of the ancient Olympic Games, there was only one winner in each category of the competition and the prize ceremony was organized in the hall of the temple of Zeus. The winner received a crown made of olive leaves and also some red ribbons and palm branches as symbols of his victory. Over the years, the Olympic Games became a very prestigious event and the athlete’s victory was a source of great pride for his city. When the Olympic champion came back to his hometown, he was welcomed as a hero and was given lots of benefits for the rest of his life.

Picture by PublicDomainPictures. Public Domain License.

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THE END. After the invasion of Greece by the Romans in 146 B.C, the Olympic games began to fall into decline and finally came to an end in 393 A.D when Emperor Theodosius, who had converted to Christianity, issued an edict banning the worship of all pagan gods. For more than 1000 years, the Olympic Games were completely forgotten and the sacred sites of Olympia were struck by floods and earthquakes. However, the discovery of the ruins of the Greek sanctuary in 1766 by the English explorer Richard Chandler, inspired Pierre de Coubertin – French educator and historian – to create the Modern Olympic Games.

Picture by Geralt. Public Domain License.

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ALICE IN WONDERLAND: AN INSPIRING JOURNEY

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Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading , but it had no pictures or conversations in it, “and what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversations?”

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. 

By Lewis Carroll.

Picture by Graeme Douglas. Creative Commons Public License.

These are the first lines of one of the greatest children’s stories ever written in the English language. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderlandwhich came out under the pseudonym of Lewis Carroll, was written by the renowned mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. The pen name was created by Dodgson himself following a playful process: he changed the order of his names, then translated them into Latin and finally came up with two new names (Charles Lutwidge  Lutwidge Charles  Ludovicus Carolus  Lewis Carroll). The novel was first published in the second half of the nineteenth century and since then, the story of a little girl who embarks upon a magical journey through a world full of weird creatures and crazy characters has captivated the imagination of many generations of children and adults alike. So what was it that led Lewis Carroll to build such an incredible and fantastical world? 

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Picture by CEA. Creative Commons Public License. 

In 1861, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was ordained deacon of Christ Church College at Oxford University, and soon afterwards, he became a close friend of Henry Liddell, the dean of Christ Church at that time. The three daughters of the dean – Lorina, Alice and Edith – were very fond of Mr. Dodgson because he used to tell them lots of funny, strange and engaging stories. According to some biographers, Lewis Carroll had a natural gift for telling stories. He was the eldest son of nine children and he enjoyed keeping his siblings entertained by editing some homemade magazines full of cartoons and stories that he himself had made up.

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One summer’s day, Dodgson invited Alice Liddell and his sisters to go on a boat trip along the River Thames together with his friend Robinson Duckworth, a lecturer at Trinity College. The girls accepted the invitation immediately and so began one of the most famous boat trips in the history of English literature. In order to entertain the three girls, Dodgson told them a story about an enchanted world inhabited by quirky characters and governed by crazy rules. The main character of the story was a little girl called Alice and she discovered this wonderful world after following a white rabbit down a rabbit-hole. Alice Liddell was so enthralled by the fairy tale that she asked – actually nagged! – Dodgson to write it down for her. And this is exactly what the deft deacon did! He wrote the first manuscript of the story under the title of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground and gave it to Alice Liddell as a Christmas present. A few months later, Dodgson revised the original draft of the story and added some new characters and chapters in order to have the novel ready for publication. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was finally published in 1865 and it soon became a publishing success. For over 150 years, this puzzling and fascinating fairy tale has been re-discovered generation after generation and it has become a timeless classic of English literature.

Picture by Vera Fainshtein. Typographic illustration by Edgar Ramirez.

Creative Commons Public License.

ALICE IN WONDERLAND – A “SHORT AND SWEET” FILM

Video by Motion Design Factory. Creative Commons Public License. 

“The two Alices are not books for children. They are the only books in which we become children.” Virginia Woolf.

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GAMIFYING EDUCATION

Have you ever heard of the term gamification? No? Well, don’t worry. Even though the word sounds a little bit weird, after reading this post you will see that the concept behind gamification is quite simple. And, if applied wisely and creatively, gamification can become a powerful tool to make learning more fun and entertaining. So let’s start by having a look at the definition of this strange-sounding word.

Gamifying POST

In his book The Gamification of Learning and Instruction, Karl Kapp defines gamification as “the use of game-based mechanics, aesthetics and game thinking to engage people, motivate action, promote learning and solve problems”. In other words, gamification is the use of game elements in non-game contexts to turn mundane tasks into something more interesting and challenging. This new method can be applied to any real world scenario, but in the field of education in particular, the aim of gamification is to engage students in their own learning process. We all know that if a student is bored and unmotivated, it is far less likely that he/she will be able to take in the contents the teacher is trying to teach. So basically the idea behind gamification is that teachers should use those aspects that make games engaging and appealing to create a learning environment that is fun, interactive and entertaining. Okey, so far so good. But how does gamification work?

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According to Karl Kapp, there are two types of gamification methods: structural gamification and content gamification.

Structural gamification consists of the application of game elements in a learning experience without changing the content to be taught. This means that only the structure around the content is modified, but not the content itself. For example, scoring elements from video games such as points, levels, badges or leaderboards can be used to show either the progress of the students or their level of commitment to the tasks assigned by the teacher. The more colourful and lively the scores, the better!

Content gamification is the application of game elements in an educational environment in which the contents are modified in order to make them more game-like. In this case, the teacher creates a fantasy context including some game features such as stories, challenges, mysteries or characters, and then invites the learner to solve a problem, perform a character or adopt a role within that specific situation. In this way, the contents become more engaging and appealing because they are part of a story in which the student has an important task to fulfill. And just like in the video games they usually play, a gamified classroom experience can draw students in and motivate them to take a more active role in their own learning process. It sounds pretty challenging, doesn’t it?

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In conclusion, we can say that gamification invites teachers to use their imagination and creativity to design game-like learning experiences that are meaningful and significant to their students. Therefore, the educational process becomes enriched because some important aspects of the students’ daily lives outside the classroom are integrated into the school’s learning environment.

Image source: Open Clipart. Public Domain License.

GAMIFICATION AT THE WORKPLACE

Video by KNOLSKAPE. Creative Commons Public License.

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GAME OF THRONES IS BACK!

Fantasy fans all over the world are elated with the release of the sixth season of HBO’s award-winning fantasy series Game of Thrones, which has become a global cultural phenomenon since it was premiered in the USA in 2011.

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Picture by ColdSmiling. Public Domain License.

Game of Thrones is an epic medieval story based on George R. R. Martin’s best-selling book series called A Song of Ice and Fire. The seven novels of the saga chronicle the bloody civil war between two noble families, Stark and Lannister, which are fighting for the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. Basically, Game of Thrones is a story about ambition, corruption and the pursuit of power. But also, it is a story about love, courage and justice. Over the last few decades, there have been lots of TV shows dealing with these universal themes and values, but why has this drama series in particular become such a huge social media phenomenon? According to some psychologists, Game of Thrones seems to have struck a chord in the minds of 21st century audiences. Each season invites the viewers to get immersed in a world of revenge and triumph which looks pretty real to them, even though it is set in a fictional medieval society far less complex and sophisticated than our contemporary society.

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Picture by Gellinger. Public Domain License.

After many years of working as a scriptwriter for Hollywood, in 1991 George R. R. Martin set out to write a series of epic and fantasy novels following the narrative style that J. R. R. Tolkien had created for The Lord of The Rings trilogy. From the very beginning, Martin was convinced that he needed to build a parallel fantasy world that was plausible and realistic for the readers. Therefore, he thought that it was essential to include in each book of the saga very detailed descriptions of all the fictional characters, histories, genealogies, religions and languages of the imaginary world he himself had created. For him, setting was one of the most important elements in the development of the story. That’s why the American author decided to resort to some major events of universal history to build the narrative structure of the novels.

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Picture by Laddir Laddir. Creative Commons Public License.

The imaginary medieval world of A Song of Ice and Fire is broadly based on events from English history. The feudal fight for the Iron Throne is reminiscence of the Wars of the Roses, a series of wars for control of the throne of England between the houses of Lancaster and York in the 15th century. However, as the story unfolds, we are encountered with visual imagery that can be related to historical events from all over the world: Egyptian history, Greek history, Roman history and Medieval history. Also, there are descriptions of specific events that remind us of the Crusades, Hadrian’s Wall, the Hundred Years’ War and the Italian Renaissance, to mention but a few. And on top of that, we also find elements from the fantasy genre such as dragons, direwolves, krakens and the White Walkers. So we can say that George R. R. Martin has created an amazing and fascinating alternative world where we can get immersed in and let our imagination fly, at least for a couple of hours.  

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DAVID BOWIE: THE MAKING OF AN ARTIST

David Bowie, also known as The Thin White Duke, was an English musician, singer, songwriter, painter and actor who was constantly pushing the boundaries of his own imagination and creativity. He was a revolutionary artist in the truest sense of the word and his a unique talent made him an icon in the world of music and fashion. In fact, he is considered the founder of the Glam Rock movement that started in the UK in the early 1970s. Some critics and fans believe that Bowie’s experimental approach to creating music and performing live expanded the concept of what a rock star or an entertainer could be on stage. And today, his legacy can still be found in many contemporary artists from a wide variety of fields: art, music, fashion and entertainment.

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Picture by Q Thomas Bower. Creative Commons Public License.

With the influence of American avant-garde artists and rock n’ roll musicians, a new youth movement emerged in London in the late 1960s. This special generation, characterised by its psychedelic charm and glamour, transformed the city’s culture and lifestyle for good. At that time, David Bowie was taking his first steps as a musician in the London scene and he became a member of a number of rock bands which didn’t last long. Even though music had always been Bowie’s greatest passion, in 1969 he decided to pursue acting in addition to music. That very same year, he started taking classes with performance actor Lindsey Kemp, who had been a student of the famous French mime Marcel Maceau. According to some biographers, Lindsey Kemp had a profound impact on Bowie’s career because through his lessons David acquired some theatrical skills that allowed him to explore his artistic talent and express himself in a more versatile way.

Bowie lightning

David Bowie was also a huge fan of American avant-garde artists, especially Andy Warhol. He was fascinated by Warhol’s revolutionary approach to creating art, so he decided to incorporate some aspects and techniques of this pop-art painter into his own works. Bowie had the ability to merge a number of separate artistic elements into a unique piece of work that would ultimately become innovative and original. Apart from being a musician, David Bowie was also an art school-trained person who produced some interesting paintings and drawings. As a matter of fact, the strong and deep connection that he developed with visual art eventually gave shape to the way he composed music and performed on stage. And, in the long run, this particular kind of artistic background was going to become the key to his unprecedented success.

Picture by Kristian Bjornard. (Adapted version). Creative Commons Public License.

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By the time he was 25 years old, the maverick artist had already had many failed attempts on his quest to become a famous musician and he was feeling rather disappointed. He thought that his dream of becoming an international rock star was slowly slipping away. In order to help her boyfriend, Angie Barnett suggested that David should adopt a more androgynous look to differentiate himself from the rest of the aspiring rock stars in London at that moment. Bowie followed Angie´s piece of advice and on the covers of his next albums The Man Who Sold The World and Hunky Dory he appeared wearing makeup and feminine clothes. This new shocking style immediately caught the attention of the press and the sales of the albums jumped significantly. The young artist realized that this media hype represented a great opportunity for him to launch his career as an international musician. Therefore, he carefully planned a stunning move that would eventually transform himself as an artist and change the world of rock n’ roll forever. He took all the elements he had learned from his acting classes and art lessons to create a fictional character from another planet called Ziggy Stardust. This extraterrestrial stage persona was strange, daring and glamorous. In other words, Ziggy Stardust was “out of this world”. Consequently, thousands of young people all over the world began to feel drawn to Ziggy and his flamboyant band called Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. The release of the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars was an international success and David Bowie, together with the androgynous space musicians from his band, inaugurated a new era in the history of rock n’ roll: the era of Glam Rock.

Picture by Fill. (Adapted version). Public Domain License. 

 

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THE STORY BEHIND SAINT VALENTINE’S DAY

There’s no doubt that Saint Valentine’s Day is one of the most popular holidays around the world. People usually celebrate this special occasion by giving gifts, buying heart-shaped boxes of chocolates or sending flowers and greeting cards. Also, having romantic dinners is part of the tradition, especially among young couples. But who was Saint Valentine? Was he a real person? And how did this mysterious priest become associated with love and romance? Find out about the surprising story behind this famous celebration.

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Picture by Cdd20. Public Domain License.

Valentine was a priest who lived in Rome in the third century. At that time, the Roman Empire was constantly being attacked by many different tribes that lived on the borders of the empire. Claudius II, who ruled briefly from 268 to 270, believed that marriage made soldiers weak because married men became emotionally attached to their families. The tough ruler was convinced that this emotional bond didn’t contribute to the making of a strong soldier. That’s why in 270 he issued an edict that banned marriage for young men. Valentine thought that this decree was quite unfair, so he decided to help lovers by holding marriage ceremonies in secret. When the Emperor heard about these secret gatherings, he immediately sent some soldiers to have the “rebellious” priest arrested. After a while, a verdict was issued against the cleric: he was found guilty of treachery against the Roman Empire and was told that if he wanted to avoid execution, he would have to agree with the emperor about the ban on marriage. Valentine refused to do so and was finally executed on February 14th, 270. However, it was not until the end of the V century that Pope Gelasius declared February 14th as a Holy Day to honour Saint Valentine. Soon afterwards, the holiday became definitely associated with love and romance all over the world.

Picture by Quinn Dombrowski. Creative Commons License.

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