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VW ID.3 Convertible teased as Volkswagen tries new electric strategy

Volkswagen is teasing a new all-electric convertible, apparently considering a more playful use of its EV drivetrain as the ID.4 crossover arrives in the US. The potential VW ID.3 convertible would be an open-top version of the ID.3 hatchback which went on sale in Europe last year, the first production example of the automaker’s MEB electric vehicle architecture.

MEB has been VW’s focus for the last few years, a modular car platform designed to underpin electric models from across its brands. Although multiple concepts using the system have been shown, the ID.3 hatchback was the first to reach production; in the US, the first taste of MEB is the new 2023 ID.4 electric crossover.

Now, though, VW is testing the waters for something more unusual. The VW ID.4 e-convertible would be, as the name suggests, an electric cabriolet based on the ID.3. It would have two doors and seating for up to five, at least based on the concept sketch that the automaker has released today.

“An ID.3 convertible? Sounds quite appealing: enjoying nature with the top down, with the instant, but silent electric punch,” Ralf Brandstätter, CEO of Volkswagen Passenger Cars says of the idea. “This could provide an entirely new, extraordinary feeling of freedom. I admit: a very tempting idea. We are still pondering how to turn this attractive concept into reality.”

It’s not the first time we’ve seen VW flirt with more unusual applications for the MEB platform. Back in early 2023 the company showed off the ID. BUGGY concept, an all-electric dune buggy with beefy wheels, no roof, and a wash-down-friendly interior. There were even plans to put it into production, with VW intending to provide the drivetrain while another company would focus on the rest.

That ended up hitting a wall, however, and though we had a chance to drive the ID. BUGGY prototype, the idea of a production version was shelved. The automaker remains open to the potential for licensing out MEB so that other automakers can bypass the R&D, regulatory, and testing requirements of making a new EV platform of their own, but we’re yet to see anything as playful as the electric dune buggy.

This convertible concept is certainly more mainstream than the ID. BUGGY would’ve been, though Brandstätter says that these sketches are still simply “some initial ideas.” As such, there’s no guarantee that it’s going to reach production stage.

What’s interesting is VW’s approach to testing the appeal of such an idea. The automaker has traditionally been fairly tight-lipped around its design process, preferring the regular cadence of concept cars unveiled at auto shows, and then the big, surprise debut of a production model to follow. This time around, however, VW execs are being more vocal about the possibilities: as well as Brandstätter’s speculative post, VW group CEO Herbert Diess mused on the potential for an electric convertible on Twitter.

That’s the sort of enthusiasm VW has seen among owners in the past, among iconic models like the Microbus and the Golf GTI. It’s been comparatively absent in more recent years, however. As MEB begins to arrive in dealerships, that motivational homework appears to be something Volkswagen leadership are taking more seriously.

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Hackathons As A New Pedagogy

Students are coming out of school expected to solve 21st-century problems and enter into occupations that haven’t even been imagined yet. Schooling is not designed in this manner, so we wanted to give students an opportunity to solve problems in authentic contexts, using 21st-century skills and collaboration techniques. We wanted to break down walls between classrooms and have students use interdisciplinary skills to solve problems with teams of their peers, with mentors, and with industry professionals.

Why a Hackathon?

Hackathons usually take place over a set time frame such as a weekend, where different people with different skills and abilities work together to propose a solution to a problem. The solutions can be code based, wearable technology, analog, or any type of product imaginable.

It is within hackathons that students are utilizing their skills and knowledge to solve problems. It’s project-based learning, inquiry-based learning, and STEM all wrapped up into one activity! It’s about design thinking and truly a 21st-century learning opportunity. Students are working collaboratively within mixed-ability groups to examine problems and come up with solutions.

Our Event

The winning team blew away the judges with an app called Switch On. The pitch wasn’t just about the coding but about how well they presented, the practicality of the idea, and the creativity demonstrated. With many students missing the school announcements in the morning, this app pushed out school announcements to students, teachers, and parents. Many felt that the announcements were too fast for ESL students, so translators were build in for that population. (Our district has 115 languages (PDF) spoken by students at home. . . yes, 115!)

Lessons Learned

Thanks to Joe Wilson, Senior EdTech Strategist at MaRS, our hackathon was built around a key component of integrated teams. He stressed that for any startup to be great, it needs to have a balanced team that can work together and employ a wide range of skills and experiences. The problem, though, is that most high schools compartmentalize their subjects physically by walls and floors — and also by types of students. As educators, we seem to encourage the mindset that what students learn in chemistry class stays there and isn’t brought into art or business class, and vice versa. At least at the university level, we see programs changing as specializations give way to cross-department programs, because it’s becoming clear that we can’t know just one skill or subject area any more. So within a hackathon, a strong team stems from including the hacker, the hustler, and the designer:


We all know those students who love to code, tinker, and make! The hacker is essential to overcoming obstacles and thinking outside the box. They also have to bring the idea to life through technology.


So you got the product, but does it sell itself? The hustler makes sure that it gets into the hands of the customer. They are interviewing customers, coming up with a business model, and launching that social media campaign.


The designer makes sure that it’s packaged just right, has the aesthetic wow factor, and comes in the right colors. Is the logo catchy? Does the interface work? What’s the UI/UX for the apps?

Benefits For Students

A huge learning factor is failure. Often, school protects students from failure, and students always manage to mix A with B to get C. The hackathon, though, enables a support system where, once an obstacle or failure throws a wrench in students’ plans, they work as a team to get around it. This is still unique at the high school level as it often doesn’t happen in until the post-secondary, masters, or PhD level when researching a novel problem means that there’s no recipe or lab manual about what you should do or expect.

Resources: The Hackathon Kit

Mozilla and Hive Toronto supported our initiative and had us build an open-source hackathon kit that could give districts, families, and classrooms a way to get started doing their own hackathons. The hackathon playbook is loaded with resources, printouts, checklists, and student examples that allow educators to successfully run their own event. Here are just a few resources:

2014 Corvette Stingray Convertible First

2014 Corvette Stingray Convertible First-Drive

How do you reinvent an icon? The Corvette Stingray C7 brings the coveted Chevrolet into its seventh generation, facing perhaps its most challenging competition yet as engines get more powerful, electronics more finessed, and styling more aggressive. Chevrolet’s decision to still aim for that all-American bargain price tag versus the German alternatives is ambitious too, even when you splash out a little extra on the eye-catching Stingray convertible we’ve had the keys to.

The Corvette Stingray is an icon, certainly, but icons aren’t necessarily perfect, and the old convertible was good example of that. It looked the part, but shortcomings in torsional rigidity and underwhelming cabin quality in comparison to rivals from BMW, Mercedes, and other marques left it playing catch-up.

There’s no way you could describe the 2014 Stingray as backward. For a start, there’s that achingly sharp exterior design, with sharp crease lines, deep gouges out of the bodywork, jewel-like lamps, and aggressively proportioned arches and hips with a sharply pinched-in waist. It’s low and sinuous, and looks particularly good if you’re standing over it (or, better, looking down on it) when the design manages to be both reassuringly familiar and strikingly modern. 

Our key concern about the drop-top had been body flex, but Chevrolet had got there before us and fixed it. Unlike the sometimes-wobbly C6, the seventh-gen car is effectively identical to its coupe sibling bar the simple soft hood. GM’s designers specifically crafted an all-aluminum structure clad in carbon fiber and composite body panels that would be all but equally rigid whether it had a hard top or otherwise, considering not only the aesthetic of lopping off metal but the practicalities too. 

As for the hood itself, Chevrolet stuck with fabric rather than opting for metal: it’s lighter, easier to store without consuming all the convertible’s trunk space, and there’s a little soft-top heritage to be considered, too. While it’s fully electric it’s also lightweight – around 60 pounds, Chevrolet says – despite having a proper glass rear window and extra insulation sandwiched between the layers. It’ll disappear in 21 seconds, including while you’re driving at up to 30mph, and you can trigger it from the key fob too. 

Chevrolet’s reinvention continues inside, and the C7 cabin puts serious distance between it and the underwhelming interiors that came before it. Driver and passenger are each accommodated in their own curvaceous bubble, with the instrumentation cowl flowing down from the binnacle, around the center stack controls – hugging them in toward the driver in the process – and evolves into a grab-handle to echo the handle on the passenger side door. 

Corvettes haven’t shied from molding before, of course, but what makes this 2014 Stingray different is the quality of each of the components. Gone is the oversized wheel, plasticky leather, unpleasantly hard dash plastics, and general lack of inspiration. In its place is a cabin that finally competes with the best of the German brands, Porsche included.

The seats – either the standard set or the $2,495 Competition Sport upgrades – are leather-clad and power adjustable, supportive where you need them to be, but still comfortable enough that we climbed out of the car after extended drives without feeling like we needed a massage. The wheel, smaller and more tactile than in previous cars, is electrically adjustable too, and through it you spy the new 8-inch driver information screen which can be notched through various different layouts ranging from retro, to minimal, to near-data-overload. 

Best of all, it’s all wrapped up in authentic materials, not plastic trying to make do: real carbon fiber, real aluminum, real leather. It makes a legitimate difference when you reach out and touch the dashboard, or grab a handle, and your fingers are telling you the same as your eyes. More than impressive when you consider the $56,995 starting price for the LT1 Stingray convertible.

That gets you the 6.2L V8 VVT DI with Chevrolet’s seven-speed manual gearbox, all new for 2014 and pushing out 450 HP and 450 lb-ft of torque. It’s not only the most powerful standard Corvette engine ever, the company says, but the most efficient; if you’re relying on the Stingray convertible as your daily driver, then you’ll probably be interested in the 17 mpg city and 29 mpg highway estimates too. 

Chevrolet pairs the 6.2L with a mixture of electronic and mechanical magic. For a start there’s 50/50 weight balance, with the engineers juggling different materials to keep front and rear leveled up, and all four wheels get disc brakes with four-channel ABS and tire pressure monitoring. The clutch is firm – there’s a six-speed auto with paddle shifters if you’d prefer – but not out of keeping with the character of the car, and the electric power steering is nicely weighted and suits the smaller wheel well. 

The result is a monster, in all the best ways. Of course it’s fast in a straight line – Chevrolet says the Z51 variant will do 0-60 mph in 3.8 seconds and run a quarter-mile in 12 seconds – and the 6.2L engine does an excellent, addictive job of pressing you back into the leather buckets while the Brembo brakes haul you in with alacrity. However, it’s also fast when faced with corners, the low center of gravity, precise steering, and grippy tires making it a case of simply pointing the Stingray where you want to go and then hurtling there.

Feedback through the wheel and the pedals is as communicative and clean as you’d hope, and the 18/19 standard wheels front/rear (19/20 on the Z51) soak up bumps while at the same time reminding you they’re there, leaving you informed but not bruised. We had the chance to test the optional Magnetic Ride Control suspension, a $1,975 add-on, which further broadens the Stingray’s road-manners, taking it from super smooth long-distance tourer down to aggressive track-car and everything in-between.

It’s no small achievement when you consider how far the C7 needed to come from its predecessors in order to claim that. Design, build quality, performance, chassis, brakes, and refinement: nothing has been left untouched for the new car. That the 2014 Corvette Stingray does it while still costing under $60,000 is, frankly, incredible. It’s the car Chevrolet needed, and the car we hoped they’d make, and this all-American icon just keeps getting better.

‘Move To Earn’ In Metaverse Is The New Strategy To Get Free Cryptos

Mew forms of innovations like NFTs, Metaverse, and more, have all made rounds in the cryptocurrency space

The cryptocurrency space has proven to be a very dynamic space with endless possibilities and innovation-making rounds. We see these innovations very regularly in the cryptocurrency space, especially since the Decentralized Finance craze of 2023. Since the DeFi summer of 2023, new forms of innovations like NFTs, Play-to-Earn (P2E),

What Makes M2E Exciting?

Move-to-Earn (M2E) apps allow users to earn passive income while engaged in routine physical activities. The move-to-earn gamification works similarly to play-to-earn wherein players completely own their in-game assets which can be exchanged for crypto or fiat money following their terms.  

What’s the hype all about? The Move-To-Earn Concept

For STEPN, the players will have to purchase NFT sneakers. These NFT collectibles are mintable and come in a variety of designs, rarity levels, and quality. These virtual assets can be purchased and sold in NFT open markets. STEPN runs on the SOLANA blockchain and each NFT sneaker is worth 10 SOL at the minimum or roughly around US$1,100. You need to buy NFT sneakers to be tokenized in these move-to-earn apps. So, whenever the player would move like a simple walking, running, or jogging activity, the app would start tracking their movements and then converts them to in-game tokens.  

Here are some of the best Move-to-earn tokens to watch STEPN

STEPN is a self-styled “Web3 lifestyle app” with GameFi elements on the Solana blockchain. It combines aspects of a play-to-earn game with a fitness app to create a new category coined “move-to-earn.” Users buy NFT sneakers, which they can use to earn in-game currency while walking, running, or jogging. STEPN aims to revolutionize the market of fitness applications by incentivizing millions of users to follow a healthier lifestyle. The app solves several problems like “proof of movement” – proving that users really exercised – and a functioning GPS system. Moreover, STEPN incentivizes users financially and plans to introduce social rewards elements and successfully contributes to carbon neutrality.  


Dotmoovs is a remote peer-to-peer sports competition platform that will revolutionize the way people look at sports performance. The company has developed an AI algorithm that enables them to score sports tricks and movements with a simple video taken with a smartphone. Players will monetize their skills by investing $MOOVs in the platform.  


Genopets is the world’s first Free-to-Play, Move-to-Earn NFT game on Solana that makes it fun and rewarding to live an active lifestyle. Genopets combines user’s step data from their mobile device with blockchain Play-to-Earn economics so players can earn crypto for taking action in real life as they explore the Genoverse evolving and battling their Genopet.  


Launched in January 2023, Step (STEP) is a move-to-earn project that provides users with daily rewards for walking. The mobile app is currently available for users to check out on iOS and Android devices, and we recommend checking it out if you’re looking to start earning rewards.  


OliveX (DOSE) is a gamified fitness ecosystem working to enhance real-world workout experience through the use of game design techniques and play-to-earn mechanics. OliveX allows players to both improve their physical shape and earn real-life revenue through gaming activity.  

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Future Of The Car: The Electric

In the past three years, the thought of companies like Chevrolet and Nissan selling lithium-ion-powered cars has gone from laughable to old news. Late this year, the plug-in Chevy Volt and pure-electric Nissan Leaf arrive. Carmakers from Ford to Toyota will follow in 2011 and 2012 with new electrified models of their own. In the beginning, the electric-car revolution probably won’t seem so revolutionary: a few thousand cars here and there. As long as automakers and battery companies keep pushing technology forward, however—by scaling up production and developing more-powerful ways to store electricity and power a car with it—the future for cars that plug into the wall will continue to brighten. Here’s where this emerging industry stands today.

How Electric Car Batteries are Built

Based on the process used by the American lithium-ion company EnerDel

How Electric-Car Batteries Are Built

Lithium-ion batteries—the dominant technology in forthcoming electric cars—begin when active battery ingredients are combined to form an electrode slurry. A liquid solvent, electrode powder (for the negative electrode, a form of carbon; for the positive, a form of lithium-containing metal oxide or phosphate) and a chemical binder are blended into a paste in what look like industrial pizza-dough mixers.

The coater, a machine reminiscent of a printing press, paints the electrode slurry onto long sheets of metal foil (copper for the negative, aluminum for the positive).

The freshly coated sheets pass through an oven for curing at 200ºF. The oven can be a bottleneck; its size and speed determine the rate of production.

To make rectangular, “prismatic” batteries, machines chop the long reels of electrode material into paperback-size pieces, which are then compressed, brushed, and vacuumed.

With a piece of porous separator material (it looks like white trash-bag plastic) between them, the positive and negative electrodes are sandwiched together into stacks. The separator prevents short-circuiting while still allowing the electrodes to exchange ions. The stacks go into plastic pouches that are then filled with liquid electrolyte and vacuum-sealed shut. The result is a cell, the building block of a battery.

After pre-charging (just enough juice to start the chemical reaction), the cell is opened, vented, and resealed. Next the cells are charged to 60 percent, then aged for 14 days.

Cells are bundled together (along with cooling and heating mechanisms, the voltage-monitoring circuitry, and other control systems) to form modules. Modules are then bundled together in a case and wired with additional monitoring circuitry to form the final battery pack, the box that powers a car.

How Electric Car Batteries are Built Continued

The Rust-Belt Battery Boom The Department of Energy spent $2.4 billion last year to launch an American EV-battery industry. These are the biggest winners

Through its partnership with the French battery company Saft, Johnson Controls builds lithium-ion batteries for Mercedes, BMW, Ford and others. A $299.2-million DOE grant goes toward a new factory in Holland, Michigan.

A $249.1-million grant will help the Boston-area company build a cell factory near Detroit, from which it hopes to supply GM, Chrysler and others.

The Dow Chemical joint venture banked $161 million for a new Michigan lithium-ion factory.

A $151.4-million grant will help build a Michigan factory to supply batteries for the Chevy Volt.

EnerDel, a supplier for Volvo and Think, is using its $118.5-million share to build a third EV-battery factory in Indianapolis.

Asia’s Advantage: Battery-Building Dominance

Emerging Electric-Car Hotspots: The East

The Chinese government has a goal: rule the global electric-car market by mid-decade. Of China’s 47 car companies, the Shenzhen-based BYD, which says it will begin selling its e6 EV in the U.S. this year, gets the most buzz. Fresh off a $230-million investment by Warren Buffett, BYD wants to surpass Toyota as the world’s largest car company by 2025, and it has an army of 30,000 workers living in high-rise dorms on its four-square-mile campus to make it happen.

Japanese companies have dominated lithium-ion manufacturing since Sony first commercialized the technology in 1991. Those companies have joined Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota in the scramble for a place in the new electric-car industry.

An American arm of the Korean company LG Chem will build batteries for the Chevy Volt.

America’s Advantage: New Ideas, Big Gamblers

Emerging Electric-Car Hotspots: The U.S.

An intellectual hub for the American electric-car movement, the Bay Area is home to Tesla Motors and various electric-car infrastructure companies. San Francisco is already installing charging stations for the early-adopter market. Stanford University, the University of California at Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory help supply the EV scene with brainiacs, while the Bay Area’s venture capitalists keep the funding flowing.

Luxury plug-in-hybrid start-up Fisker Automotive is here, along with Coda, an American company scheduled to bring Chinese-built electric cars to the States later this year.

The Big Three automakers are still standing, and at least the two biggest among them, GM and Ford, are betting on electrification. In addition to the Chevy Volt, GM’s Cadillac has designed a plug-in concept that may become reality. Ford’s all-electric Focus and upcoming plug-in hybrid are due out in the next two years. At least four battery companies are building automotive-grade lithium-ion cell factories in Michigan, and GM’s new battery-pack assembly plant began producing Volt batteries in January.

The CEO of the Indianapolis-based lithium-ion company EnerDel calls greater Indy the “Silicon Valley of the auto industry.” EnerDel, which makes EV batteries for Volvo, Think and others, is building a third factory here, and electric-drive-component suppliers such as Delphi, Allison Transmission and Remy are also in the area.

Nissan will build up to 150,000 Leaf electric cars per year at its plant in Smyrna by 2012. It will make the batteries for those cars in a Tennessee factory it’s building with a $1.4-billion loan from the DOE.

Chevrolet Volt

DUE OUT: November

Nissan Leaf

DUE OUT: December


DUE OUT: Late this year

Coda Sedan

DUE OUT: Late this year

Ford Focus BEV

DUE OUT: Next year

Prius Phev

DUE OUT: 150 cars in the u.s. this year

Tesla Model S

DUE OUT: Officially next year, although 2012 seems more likely

As Google’s Search Share In China Shrinks, A New Competition Emerges

Recent data compiled by comScore, a digital business analytics firm, shows continued strength for Google in the search engine field. The leader in search engines, Google remains the top choice among searches in the United States and is still the top search engine in the world. However, Google has not been able to establish that same position of strength in China, the world’s most populous nation with a fast growing consumer base.

Now the news is getting worse for Google behind the wall as a new competitor is emerging in the search engine business in China. Alibaba, an Internet company based in China, is launching a new search engine titled Aliyun in an effort to not only challenge the most popular search engine in China (Baidu) but Google as well.

Aliyun, which will be housed within the AliCloud subsidiary of Alibaba Group, will provide Web surfers with many of the same features that other search engines offer. The page will feature Internet, news, image, and map searches. The map service available on Aliyun will be powered by AutoNavi, a Chinese digital mapping and navigation firm.

While the main goal of any company launching a search engine is to challenge the leader, Baidu in this case, Alibaba appears to be out to stick it to Google. For starters, it seems to be no small coincidence to industry analysts that Aliyun’s search engine will have more in common visually with Google than other competitors in the Chinese marketplace.

Beyond a similar look to its search engine, Aliyun’s entrance into the market may be another shot across the bow in the battle between Google and Alibaba in China. Yes, these two competitors in the tech industry have a history with one another in the country, and it is not one that would be described as friendly.

Last year Alibaba created the Aliyun mobile OS for use on smartphones in China and had convinced Acer to develop a handset running the operating system. However, Google quickly stepped in to rain on Alibaba’s parade by forcing Acer to back out of the project. Google’s reasoning was that the Aliyun mobile OS, which uses Android technology, was not a strong and compatible Android OS. As Acer is a member of the Open Handset Alliance, it was not allowed to sign onto the project and pulled out.

In an explanation at the time, Google pointed out that:

“Compatibility is at the heart of the Android ecosystem and ensures a consistent experience for developers, manufacturers, and consumers.

Non-compatible versions of Android, like Aliyun, weaken the ecosystem. All members of the Open Handset Alliance have committed to building one Android platform and to not ship non-compatible Android devices.

This does not however, keep OHA members from participating in competing ecosystems.”

To summarize, Google doesn’t care if Acer develops handsets for use with Windows Phone 8, Apple iOS, or Blackberry OS. On the other hand, they are not allowed to create a handset that operates on an Android OS that is deemed to be inferior.

It seems obvious that there is no “fuzzy feeling” between these two companies, but Alibaba’s move with the Aliyun search engine could work out better than the Aliyun mobile OS did in China. Google’s position in China is admittedly weak, and data from 2012 shows that Google’s positioning in fourth place is not exactly concrete.

While competitors that are already ahead of Google in China, namely Qihoo 360, experienced growth in 2012, Google’s position weakened. Qihoo 360 saw a 2 percent jump in page visits and unique visits during the final quarter of 2012 alone, going from 7.3 percent and 7.4 percent respectively to 9.6 percent and 9.8 percent. By contrast, the final quarter of 2012 saw Google’s share of the market dip from 5.1 percent and 5.2 percent respectively to 4.7 percent and 4.5 percent.

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