A relatively tiny donation from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has created quite a stir over the past several days. News broke that Clemson U. had late last year obtained a nearly half million dollar grant from the foundation to conduct a pilot study with Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) bracelets, wireless sensors that track physiological reactions, in schools. The idea supposedly was that children would wear these biometric bracelets in classrooms to measure their engagement. What made this grant even more polarizing was the notion that the bracelets were in fact tools that would evaluate teachers’ effectiveness.
Then came the discovery of another grant, this one for $621,265, awarded to the National Center on Time & Learning Inc. to “measure engagement physiologically with Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Galvanic Skin Response,” also to be used to gauge degrees or levels of engagement.”