Weekend reads: Adopt-a-castle, social media for 6-year-olds, welcome to Googleville

Kristin Tyndall's read

Welcome to Googleville. A public agency in Toronto plans to renovate a formerly industrial neighborhood through a partnership with Sidewalk Labs, which was founded by Google (though both are now owned by Alphabet). According to the proposal, the groups hope to create the "world's first neighborhood built from the internet up." Executives say the neighborhood will feature self-driving shuttles, innovative construction that aims to provide more affordable housing, and an emphasis on renewable energy and sustainability.

Seren Snow's reads

Student-athletes are graduating at record rates. A recent NCAA report found that the college graduation rate for Division I student-athletes is at 87%, which is an increase of 21 percentage points since 2002 and is higher than the overall college student population. African-American college athletes, whose graduation rate is 78%, drove much of the increase. Notably, men's basketball players earned a record high of 82%, and women's basketball earned a record high of 92%. "Our student-athletes and member schools should be proud of the work they are doing," says Mark Emmert, president of the NCAA.

A new messaging app is causing a stir. Facebook's new Messenger Kids, a messaging app aimed at children between ages 6 and 12, has sparked a debate among parents, educators, and child-development experts. The app includes the ability to group chat, share GIFS and stickers, and draw on photos. Some experts, such as Jenny Radesky, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Michigan, worry that children in that age group will become too immersed in the messaging app, at the expense of time spent reading, sleeping, or interacting with others face-to-face. Facebook argues that its service will serve as a sort of training for kids before they start surfing the internet without supervision. Still, child advocates are concerned about data and privacy of the young users.

Kathleen Escarcha's reads

Why adopt a highway when you can adopt a crumbling 13th-century French chateau? Around 7,500 strangers bought the ruins of Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers together on crowdfunding site Dartagnans. The thousands of internet users paid about $60 each to adopt the castle and collectively decide how to restore it. Co-owners don't actually get a room in the castle, but for a larger donation users can special access into certain areas. If La Mothe-Chandeniers doesn't tickle your fancy, you can take your pick from a variety of other castles, churches, and hydraulic rams, all ready for adoption.

Following the government’s diet recommendations could benefit your health—and the planet’s, according to an analysis published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The report's lead author, Paul Behrens, a researcher at the University of Leiden, found that in countries where citizens are encouraged to eat less beef and poultry, the diet change would mean less greenhouse gas emissions and water pollution. But for countries like Switzerland that encourage citizens to eat many vegetables, fruits, and nuts, the dietary change would actually add environmental stressors. 

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