As we hit mid-October—and somehow so quickly—heaters are already purring away, leaves are coloring up and drifting to the ground, and…

ONE:  She’s got two legs, is named Cassie, and she runs. Does she ever! Created by Oregon State University’s Agility Robotics, she’s not as fast as world recorder holder Usain Bolt who ate up 100 meters in just 9.58 second, but her 24.73 seconds ain’t too shabby. She is, after all, “the first robot to use machine learning to control a running gait on outdoor terrain.”  She’s the first, but certainly not the last…

TWO: NYU chemistry professor Matiland Jones, Jr., was fired in August. The reason: Undergrads, many of them pre-med students, signed a petition that read, in part: “We are very concerned about our scores and find that they are not an accurate reflection of the time and effort put into this class.” Translation: “The course was too difficult.”

Said NYU: “In short, he was hired to teach and wasn’t successful. NYU has lots of hard courses and lots of tough graders among the faculty—they don’t end up with outcomes that raise questions about the quality and effectiveness of the teaching, as this class did.”

Maitland, who previously taught at Princeton for 40 years, told The New York Times: “I don’t want my job back. I Just want to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

THREE: Tik Tok challenges, aka “a nightmare for schools,” take a toll on kids’ well-being, too. Among them:

  • Recording themselves eating a Pacqui chip, “the world’s spiciest,” that comes with lots of warnings.
  • Stealing school property.
  • Downing Tide laundry detergent tabs, a spoonful of cinnamon, chicken cooked in NyQuil, and/or large doses of Benadryl.
  • Others include holding your breath till you pass out and calling in false reports of an active school shooting.

FOUR: According to a recent University of Pennsylvania Wharton School study: A universal pre-K program for 3- and 4-year-olds would cost $351 billion over 10 years.

FIVE: The USDA has announced its Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) will provide about $2 billion to be spent in 3 ways:

  • Almost $1 billion to buy food for emergency food providers.
  • Almost $500 million to expand the Local Food Purchase Assistance program.
  • Almost $500 million for schools nationwide to buy food for breakfast and lunch programs.

SIX: The FCC has awarded the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) almost $55 million to support about 125,000 students in California, Indiana, Michigan, Puerto Rico, and Texas. In all, more than 200 schools, 20 libraries, and two consortia will benefit.

SEVEN: When summer ended and schools started up again, a YouGov survey found that:

  • 24% of parents were very happy; 23% were somewhat happy.
  • 14% were somewhat sad; 6% were very sad.
  • 26% were neither happy nor sad.
  • 9% didn’t know or it was not applicable.

~ With thanks and good autumn wishes, Carol