Thursday, December 29, 2005

Back from semi-hiatus

It's Winter Christmas Break, and I'm semi-caught up on home organizing. Alas, the grading is still looming, but I'll tackle that later, when I'm properly fortified with food.

There's an interesting discussion going on over at Going to the Mat, about whether there are too many people in college, and what the utility of a college degree is today. One provocative comment suggested that government stop funding the liberal arts degree with loans and grants. I think the idea has merit, but I doubt that it will fly past Congress. Or do they have to approve a rules change like that?

I think you could make a good argument for phasing out subsidies/grants/loans for liberal arts majors over a few years. If people want to study liberal arts, let them pay for it. Then, use 1/2 the money saved for increasing funding in math, engineering, and science.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

All I want for Christmas is....

I know that I can't effortlessly count in binary, the language of this clock, but I want one.

Amazon has a really good idea. They organized their gift suggestions by magazine - each editor has a clickable picture of the magazine that leads to gift ideas for the readers. I checked it out, and it's nice. Good idea for that hard-to-buy-for person - as long as you know what magazines he/she reads.

Tsunami X Blaster Motorized Water Gun

Or, even better:

The Robo Raptor - hey, it's only $99.00! I was playing around with it last Friday, and it is a pretty good toy.

The above available at Radio Shack.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Fun definition

Found on One Cosmos
Bilingual education involves the difficult achievement of learning nothing in two languages.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Nearly done!

I just found the information about a course I took through the University of Hawaii at Manoa in the 90s, that puts me over the top for getting my full certification status. They're issuing me a temporary certificate, with a permit to teach out of field. Once they receive the last 3 credits, I'm in for the full certificate.

At last!

If there is a lesson for all of us, it's keep the paperwork together. It took me months to pull all the information from my fast-fading memory cells. I've been attending classes and workshops for the last 17 years, since I first was certified. I never had to scramble for credits to renew. Usually, I had all the credits in the first year to renew four years later. Often, I was too cheap to pay for the credit, and just by-passed the chance.

Never more. It was a tight squeak, but I made it. Credits, Praxis, and all.

Christmas is going to be VERY, VERY good this year.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

The most important scientific discoveries

On Viking Pundit, Eric posted a list of the most important scientific discoveries of the 20 century. Read the list, and see if you agree with Physicist Alan Lightman.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Virtue may be its own reward, but...

I've been a very good girl today, spend a good portion of the day grading and planning for the semester mid-term, so I could indulge myself with some free time blogging.

Which I am enjoying right now.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

New Blogger for Word

I’m trying out the new Blogger for Word.

It’s a quick add-on, that has features that make it work well for me.  But the biggest advantage is that I can write my posts, then upload them at one time when I have a connection.  That means I’ll be able to do more blogging in my free time during the day, instead of trying to compose at night, when I’m more tired.

We should be getting a faster connection this week, probably cable.  That will make working on projects MUCH easier, not to mention the ease of keeping up on news.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The Weather Rock


I found this on the Web, and thought it was cute.
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Saturday, November 05, 2005

Adult Science Fair Project

As we head into the Science Fair project season, I thought you'd like this link, which might be useful to contemplate after you've come home, late in the evening, after the final judging. You might actually conduct the experiment, if you're really fried.

Update - amost forgot to mention where I got the link. The Vodkapundit, of course.

Even Einstein agrees!

This is S-O-O-O cool! You click on the link, and you can write whatever message you want on the blackboard. The picture is then saved, and you can use is to give the Ultimate Nerd Imprimatur to your favorite person.

How cool is that?

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In my excitement about finding this new toy, I totally forgot to credit the blogger who directed me to the site - Kevin McGehee. Sorry, Kev.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Another update on the SCSC

This is the last day of the South Carolina Science Council conference. As usual, I'm tired and just about ready to get home and get back to my regular life, and yet...

This was a very productive conference. I came with my department head, and another teacher in the building. Together, we planned out our days to maximize our time. We made sure that no workshop went uncovered if we needed to find out more about the topic. We were at workshops on content, labs, and the new science standards from the state. We also took time to check out the exhibits, and find out what's new in the technology.

I had new responsibilities, as I will be issued my certification soon for Chemistry & Physics, and need to touch base with the professional organizations, expand my knowledge base, and, frankly, get all the help that I can before I start teaching those subjects next year.

Last night, as you can see from the photos below, we also took the time to relax and enjoy the local sights. While I was there, I had an interesting conversation with Dr. Jeff Goldstein, the Center Director, National Center for Space, Earth, and Flight Science Education. He and I discussed Bill Nye's Keynote address, which touched on the need to teach students the difference between science, which is testable, and theories in religion and philosophy, which are not. We spent some time wrestling with how to approach the subject, and the role of the professional organizations in addressing the issue, admittedly a touchy and polarizing subject in many communities.

Dr. Goldstein will be the featured speaker today at the closing meeting of the conference. I'll take some notes, and post when I return home.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

A blurry Bill Nye cutting cake. His talk was riveting, and he spent considerable time after posing for pictures. Posted by Picasa
Some of the past presidents of the Council. Behind the woman in red is Bill Nye. Posted by Picasa
The Diamond Jubilee cake. Posted by Picasa
Believe it or not, this is a type of seahorse. Posted by Picasa
Jellyfish are so beautiful. Just don't touch them. Posted by Picasa
A hands-on experience with one of the critters at the Aquarium. Posted by Picasa
Bill Nye, the Keynote Speaker at the South Carolina Science Council conference. Posted by Picasa
A lighthearted moment outside the Myrtle Beach Aquarium Posted by Picasa

New Link on the Blogroll

I've a new link, WulfTheTeacher, a thoughtful Physics teacher with some interesting observations on the practice of teaching. He's another southern teacher, from Richmond, VA. I've heard about the Standards of Learning in VA (sometimes the teachers use the abbreviation a little ironically) from workshop participants in the PTRA program.

Welcome to the list, Wulf.

By the sea, by the sea...

I'm in sunny Myrtle Beach right now. There's a state science convention being held here, and, you know me, if there's fun, I'm there. I'll be there through Friday.

I was smart enough to take my laptop with me, and there's wireless access in the hotel, so I'll have some time to catch up on posting. I'll have more time in the future at home, since...


Honestly, after the mix-up with the test booklet and the answer booklet, I was increasingly sure I failed. It took about 2 weeks longer than usual to get the scores to me. Now, mind you, I passed, barely! But, as many a coach will tell the team, even an ugly win is a win. I'll take it.

I'm looking forward to getting to know the science teachers in this state, and learning more about the issues that they are facing. In SC, we have an End of Course Test in Physical Science, which is, by state mandate, 20% of the students' final grade. Unless they have a fairly high grade, a failing grade on that test means they fail the course, which means they get no credit for the course. So, this is indeed a high-stakes test.

I've volunteered to help with the Science Club, and we've decided to enter the science Olympiad. If anyone has any experience with that, could you email me? I could use some guidance on how to prepare a team.

Now, I'm off to eat, and register for the conference. I'll post later, hopefully with lots of pictures.

Sunday, October 23, 2005


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A movable whiteboard

I've found a new web application that I think is "da bomb". It has two parts - one is a shareable "whiteboard", the other a web-accessible planning tool.

You can see a sample here. If you sign in for the planner, you can then create a whiteboard. I've made one to share with the other science teachers at my school. (see the example on the post above)

The whiteboards are a neat idea, particularly when you don't share common planning time, or are working with someone in a different time zone. (2nd example above)

Saturday, October 08, 2005


United Learning has a really cool service. It provides video on demand to your desktop.

The state of South Carolina has bought a 3 year subscription for all schools in the state. The catch is, the teachers have to actually use it. If they don't make use of it, SC may not fund it anymore. So, if you work in SC, find out about it, and actually use it on a regular basis (PLEASE!)

I've already shown some of the videos in my science classes. They range from relatively short (15-20 minutes) to around an hour. They have been decent quality, aligned to the state standards, and have associated teacher's guides.

Think about it. As teachers, we're always trying to find good, visually-oriented instructional resources. We know today's kids are visual, not text-oriented. And the school or local library can't possibly stock a wide enough range of videos to suit us.

Enter the video on demand service. For a set fee, you can have a searchable index of classroom-ready videos. With a projection screen or an digital-to-analog converter for your TV, you can provide virtually unlimited access to teachers.

Thursday, September 29, 2005


I found this site on Dean's World, a blog that I'm very fond of (yes, I realize that I ended that sentence on a preposition - live with it).

I'm thinking that the links could be best used as a springboard to a discussion that allows students to talk about their (mis)conceptions of basic physics principles. For the more advanced students, each could take a device, and write and present a report about the reasons why they wouldn't work.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


I found the above post on The Education Wonks Carnival of Education.
Much has been written about the inequity of the availability of computers and communications tools between different schools. However, the digital divide between teachers exists even in technology rich schools. As Will points out, there are many teachers who have no idea of the power and potential already sitting in their own classrooms.

So, is it possible to help these teachers move faster in their understanding of how to best use what they have - maybe before the next wave of innovation hits? I agree with Will that it’s going to be difficult to impossible as the gap continually widens.

I agree that many of the computers that are sitting in classrooms all over the US are not being fully utilized. But, I can and do disagree that the problem with full implementation lies with unaware teachers. A far bigger problem is that a desktop computer, by itself, is not as helpful as TARGETED TECHNOLOGY.

What is targeted technology?

For the Math teacher, it's 1 computer, and a class set of graphing calculators. Along with some type of projection system that will let him/her show the students what he/she is putting into his calculator, and how it should look when he/she does. That projection can run from around $300 - $3,000. Better that ALL math teachers in the district get a low-end system, than a few get the bells and whistles, and the rest nothing. That last situation is too often the case. Administrators are often impressed by the Porsche systems.

For the English teacher, it might be computers, laptops (to enable students without one to check them out overnight), or, for the relatively low-end solution, the AlphaSmart. The AlphaSmart additionally is less likely to be ripped off.

For the Science teacher, it's 10 graphing calculators, along with probeware to collect data on. Along with a hefty budget for training. The electronic stuff has a steep learning curve. If you have some equipment sitting, and no idea how to use it, go to the PTRA site, and look into booking a workshop. They work. I know. That's how I was trained.

Tech is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. The amounts needed to different teachers may be different. The egalitarian may complain about that.


There is nothing more infuriating to me than equipment not being used, still sitting on someone's desk, just because it's "fair".

No, it's not. If the teacher won't make the effort to learn how to use it, take it away, and give it to someone who will. Unused, it's becoming more obsolete by the minute.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The new Mini-Me Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 12, 2005


The Modeling program at Arizona State University is ot of funds, and its future is uncertain. But the influence of the program continues.

I was fortunate enough to attend the program in 2004. Due to budget constraints, I wasn't able to go this year. I've been lucky enough to have landed a job this year, teaching Physical Science, and I'm finally putting the modeling concepts into practice.

One major difference is that I plan more time at the back end of a lab. It takes time to de-brief the students about their findings. I'm also answering questions with "what do you think?" as a matter of course. It can be infuriating for the student, at first. They're used to getting a quick, decisive answer from their teachers. But, in time, they learn to stop leaning on the teacher for questions they could jolly well answer themselves, with a little thought.

I also spend more time designing my lessons. For example, today I was planning to move right into acceleration. But, on reflection, I decided to re-visit constant velocity, and then move into increasing velocity with the same equipment.

I'm a little hampered by an embarassing lack of stopwatches. For some reason, all of ours are kaput - apparently, since the last time someone used them, they've run out of battery power. I passed the info to my department head, and she's ordering the MyChrono timers. I've used them before, and they're sturdy and relatively cheap.

My kids may have to use the TI-83, with a LabPro and motion detector. I'll have to play around with the equipment tomorrow, to make sure I have all the parts powered.

I've been using the Ranking Tasks lately. It makes a good review of the concepts, and is a quick check on understanding. It also takes almost no time to grade, which I VERY much like.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


I've just finished the first progress reports entry onto the computer since I came to SC. I must admit, the programming makes it relatively easy, even for the newbie (i.e., me) to complete.

Grading and such are probably my least favorite part of teaching. Too often, I put it off until the ungraded work threatens to take over my lab table. Then, I usually complete the job in a frenzy of activity, then go home and have a stiff drink (or two). Although, the grades might be more generous if I had the drinks first.

This year, I've been using the lab notebook method. About seventy percent of what I grade is written in the notebook, which I collect about once a week. By staggering the collection schedule, I've kept the notebook grading from becoming an overwhelming task. I only grade about 20 notebooks, max, a day.

When I grade, I look for specific details - have they structured the report in the way I spelled out at the beginning of the year? Does their data table make sense? Is their graph on graph paper (stapled or taped into the notebook, hinge fashion, folded)? Is the graph "good" - scaled appropriately, labeled, clearly showing a trend that relates to the data, visually appealing? That last I encourage by occasionally making a copy of the graph, and using it on the bulletin board or web site as a good example. It spurs them to improve their graphing skills. To me, that's important; they come to realize that graphs are the favored form of communication for scientists. I like to think of it as improving their communication skills.

The rest of the grade comes from observation in labs (for that, I use a checklist - it keeps them on task), whiteboard reports, and tests/quizzes.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

This was held in my classroom. Posted by Picasa

My fellow teachers enjoying the in-service activity. Posted by Picasa

This is the state resource teacher that worked with us last Monday on the Physical Science curriculum. Contrary to previous experience, and to my delighted surprise, she was knowledgeable and experienced. The day-long session was terrific! Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 28, 2005


The Viking Pundit has a reference to the MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System) test. Having taught for a few years, I can believe that students found this problem difficult. Not surprisingly, one student found the question not to be a challenge:
Anandh Swaminathan, a junior at Acton-Boxborough Regional High School, was surprised to hear that half of his peers in the Commonwealth answered the question incorrectly. He didn't remember it as particularly difficult.

''It's a typical Algebra I problem," said Swaminathan, 15. ''It seems more straightforward. I actually thought that some of the other ones were harder."

Exactly. It's a problem that students would have been confronted with in the most basic Algebra course. So why the #$%^&*( can't they solve it?

Some math teachers think they have the answer:
Math teachers said the baseball question was a fair one, although puzzling to those unfamiliar with the sport.

''I certainly think our kids who are not speaking English as their primary language may not know the word grandstand or the word bleacher," said Debby Feldman, head of the math department at Brockton High School.

''When kids are reading a math problem and come up against words that are specific to a specific area and they don't know what they are, a lot of times it just freaks them out."

Oh, please. Anyone who has been in the country for less than a year may not know where in the stadium the seats are, but the context is clear - the problem is about seating, not location. For those delicate flowers who "freak out", I have just three words - GET OVER IT!

As the Viking Pundit likes to say:
there are three kinds of people in the world: those who can count and those who can’t.

Saturday, August 27, 2005


I was teaching about density last week, and I used a technique I've been using a lot lately.

Students were able to calculate the density of various objects successfully. In the past, I would have moved on at that point.

This time, I posed the question:
What if I had half the mass and volume of the rice?

The silence that resulted indicated they hadn't made that leap to understanding that density is a ratio. It took several minutes of probing to get students to think about how they could reason through the answer.

I'm doing that additional questioning more this year. In the Physical Science class, I had been talking about the experiment of Galileo's that proved that heavy objects don'[t fall faster than lightweight objects (featherweight objects excluded).

Several students admitted that they didn't believe that heavy objects didn't fall faster. I congratulated them on their honesty, and pointed out that Galileo's conclusions were counter-intuitive. We resist the conclusion that seems to be contradicting common sense.

Tuesday, after I return from my workshop, I plan to use the demonstration that uses a large book and paper, first separately, then with the paper on top of the book (to eliminate air resistance). I'm assigning more observation and reflection writing with this year's students, and it seems to be helping them.


I found a good site for math students looking for a challenge.

Planarity, which provides a neat puzzle, seen below.

The object is to move the vertices so that they do not overlap. There are multiple solutions, and it lends itself to a trial-and-error approach, which novice students might find useful.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


I have access to new technology this year. The department head has made the Quizdom set-up available to everyone (sign-up required), there's a digital microscope floating around (haven't made the time to check it out yet), and I have some CBLs and graphing calculators being sent as I post.

Not quite Nerdvana, but close.


After less than 2 weeks, I feel back in the saddle. I've finally caught up with some of the preliminary paperwork that has been weighing me down, and I'm starting to have a few moments to refresh myself for the next day. Such as today - I actually had time to dip my toes into the blog world, and find out what people are posting about.

On Monday, I have a day of professional development with my fellow Physical Science teachers. Naturally, it's almost more trouble than it seems worth to prepare for the sub. The copying is handled centrally, so I need to be better prepared than I have in previous years (I have a tendency to wait until the last minute to get the copy ready). I currently have a busted overhead, so that's out. And I stupidly picked PERMANENT overhead markers - when shopping, I chose the right kind, then saw a better price. Didn't realize they were different until today. D'oh! As Homer Simpson says.

Still, for all the fish-out-of-water feeling I am experiencing, and the hassle of wanting some equipment that is still in Cleveland, and the loneliness of being without my husband - I am loving teaching full-time again.

It almost makes up for my anxiety about the NTE next month.

Sunday, August 21, 2005


I've been following the discussions in several states lately (the advantage of having divided loyalties) on education. Everyone wants to improve it, but few can agree on how. One thing that definitely has an impact (it's true in any industry) - if the workers have a high turnover rate, that likely is trouble for the quality of the industry's product. Now, some get offended when the word "product" is used to refer to the educated end result of years of schooling. I understand - people aren't widgets. And one-size-fits-all solutions are also not likely to lead to long-lasting educational improvements. Take one popular solution - raising teacher salaries. Here's what Betsy has to say about that:
Take an example from my field: education. People complain that teachers are leaving the field. Polticians and teachers say that the solution is to increase teacher salaries. Well, I'm all for that. But what if that isn't the real cause of teachers retiring from the profession? What if it aggravation with administrators, nasty children, work overload, poor discipline procedures, nonsupportive parents, or any of a host of factors that could lead to loss of job satisfaction? If you increase the salaries and don't address the other problems, you haven't solved the problem. And you've taken money from a whole host of other areas to do so. How are journalists to find out what the real problem is? That's tough. I don't know. I've talked to many teachers who have decided to do something else and the reasons are many and varied. Sometimes the money was an issue, but often it wasn't. Teachers know what the salary is going in. It's the other stuff that can surprise them.

She has a point. We are aware that we are unlikely to get big bucks in teaching. There are compensations, like good benefits, protections against unreasonable firing, summers off (important for moms), and knowledge that the work is important, and makes a difference in the lives of children.


Plaque for the Hampton Colored School.

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This is a marker for a restored building that was designated as the Colored School, pre-integration. The local high school is about 50-50 black & white today.


The Old Colored School, Hampton, SC

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Wednesday, August 17, 2005


I've been informed that, due to the move to SC, I will need to take the PRAXIS II for Physics, Chemistry, and General Science.

When I heard that, I'll admit it, I panicked.

I was certified in OH as the last group of teachers that did not have the PRAXIS required. I'm probably admitting that I'm dumb, but I never thought that I would have to take a test at this late date.

Another teacher in my school hasn't passed it, either, so we're going to study the areas we're weak in (for both of us, Chemistry), and shore up any special topics we might need. Along with the usual grading, planning, and meetings (not to mention extra-curricular mandates).

I've since looked over the practice tests. Although they ask some challenging questions, most of it appears to be stuff I know. I do know this: if they ask me anything about equilibrium reactions, I'm going to assume I missed that question. There's no way a month's worth of cramming will prepare me for THAT!

Sunday, August 14, 2005


I've posted about Alliteracy (not INability to read, just a disinclination) before. A potentially bigger problem is INNUMERACY - inability to understand math.

Unlike alliterates, innumerates don't understand the basics; they can add, subtract, multiply, and divide (at least with a calculator), but they often have absolutely no clue when to perform which operation in real life. Hence, you have the problem of cashiers who cannot give proper change without prompting (and will unhesitatingly accept whatever the display tells them, no matter whether it makes sense or not), restaurant customers who cannot calculate the 15% tip (hint: try figuring out what 10% is, then adding half again as much), and even the large numbers of taxpayers who enrich the commercial preparers by paying for the 1040EZ to be filled out.

Many students confuse the process for entering division problems into a calculator with the procedure for hand-calculating them. In fairness, it's anti- the standard American practice of reading left to right.

Even more students (and their parents) have difficulty with understanding or using fractions and decimals. Too many elementary teachers are not totally comfortable with those functions - they can do it, but they can't coherently explain the process, and the mathematical reasoning for it.

One suggestion I've heard over and over again is - no calculators until at least middle school - some would raise that to high school. It's not that use of calculators mysteriously inhibits learning math, but that students' facility with the tool keeps teachers from learning who still doesn't understand the process.

Where, in this scenario, can technology fit?

Possibly, some of the better programs may be able to help students. I've heard good things about CAI programs such as Successmaker. At least in improving basic skills, they have been known to be of assistance.

However, too often, computer use in elementary and middle schools is a huge waste of time.
  • When researching, many students are uncritical consumers, blindly accepting the first few sites to pop up in a web search.
  • Often, teachers spend an inordinate amount of time monitoring students' activities, & keeping them from playing games, aimless browsing, and reading about sports, music, and tv/movies.
  • Most webquests are a joke, replete with factoids, trivia, and role-playing. They seldom are worth the time they take.
  • One exception to the general rule - The Jason Project is excellent. It is well designed, packed with activities that are aligned to standards (Science, Math, English, and Geography), and easy to use. It also has Student Journal, book reading and discussion forum, and teacher interactions. That last is important, as it gives inexperienced or isolated teachers the benefit of collegial feedback.

    One advantage to Jason is the training program - teachers are taken through the curriculm, and try out selected activities. Each year, teachers can return to learn about the new mission (it changes yearly).

What can be done if a student is behind 2 or more levels in math?
  • Thorough evaluation, followed by individualized program of remediation.
  • Use of a Mastery approach. Math is cumulative - failure to understand a basic concept leads to later failure, particularly when the math is taught via an integrated curriculum.
  • Grades should be Pass/Fail. "Effort" Ds are all too common. A "D" indicates that the student does NOT understand the concept.
  • Proficiency tests are a floor. If a student can't pass them, that indicates a serious problem. I've heard students say they "only missed passing" by 1 or 2 questions. EVERY students should pass these tests with room to spare.

Graduation should mean more than just barely managing to fulfill requirements.

Tracking has a bad reputation. Sorting students by presumed ability level is said to discriminate against miniorities.

I have an alternative suggestion: tracking by desire to learn.

All students who want to be in the highest-level, can.

There's just one catch - they can be dropped if they can't keep up. Any student in the lowest section of the class (1/4 to 1/3), must work extra (tutoring, before/after school assistance, CAI, online help, etc.).

What about the student who is chronically absent? What about them - if they work to keep up, they can stay. But if they can't cut it, good-bye.

This may sound harsh. But it's realistic. In high school, I had struggled with geometry, due to many absences (I had chronic brochitis, & was later diagnosed with asthma). Some things in life go to those that work harder. would American Idol contestants win if their performance was lacking, but they hadn't been well or had family problems or had a cold & couldn't hit the high notes? I think that's a major reason the "reality" shows are so popular - they don't take excuses for failure. They do't allow "do-overs".

In professional sports, it's similarly a game of survival of the fittest. Lebron doesn't get spotted a few extra points because he's jsut a kid.

If you play in the big boy's game, you play by the big boy's rules.

No exceptions.

Saturday, August 13, 2005


I'm in South Carolina, teaching science to 9th grade students. They are generally very nice, the teachers and the administration have welcomed me warmly, and I'm feeling cautiously optimistic about the future.

As I get acclimated, I'll try to post a few pictures of the surroundings - it's really lovely. Most of my spare time over the next month or so is going to be dedicated to making sure I'm prepared to teach. I moved down with virtually no equipment or supplies, so I will be improvising a lot.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Tom Senior demonstrating the use of his Light Fluctuation Detector (solar cell inside a cheap pen barrel). It works beautifully!

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Our PTRA host this year

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Mountains surrounding Salt Lake City, Utah

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Thursday, July 21, 2005


On the Common Sense and Wonder blog, I found an exam. According to the blogger:
This is what happens on your final when you drink beer and party instead of studying all semester


Winnie Cooper, the girl from The Wonder Years, is grown up and working as an actress. But, did you know Danica McKellar is also a math whiz?
Danica took a hiatus from acting for college, and she graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics! While she was there, she even co-authored a math proof - new research proving an original math theorem - highly unusual for an undergraduate. In fact, she was the only undergraduate invited to speak at Rutgers University's biannual Statistical Mechanics conference a few years back. Although she has returned to acting full time, she still retains a passion for it, and likes to stay active.

Another surprise in his diversity of interests is Dolph Lundren, the action film actor.

Lundgren attended the Royal Institute of Technology. Spending time abroad in the United States on various academic scholarships, he attended Washington State University and Clemson in South Carolina. In 1982, he received a scholarship to complete his Masters degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Sydney in Australia. The following year, he was awarded a Fullbright Scholarship to the world-renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


It's been an eventful summer.

First, for all those trekkies out there, the man known as "Scotty" has died. The Canadian-born James Doohan, the Enterprise's engineer, passed away at age 85 of pneumonia and Alzeheimer's.

Mr. Doohan's life was not uneventful, apart from the Star Trek series.
He was among the Canadian forces that landed on Juno Beach on D-Day. "The sea was rough," he recalled. "We were more afraid of drowning than the Germans."

The Canadians crossed a minefield laid for tanks; the soldiers weren't heavy enough to detonate the bombs. At 11:30 that night, he was machine-gunned, taking six hits: one that took off his middle right finger (he managed to hide the missing finger on the screen), four in his leg and one in the chest. Fortunately the chest bullet was stopped by his silver cigarette case.

Saturday, July 09, 2005


It's been an interesting summer, so far. I took a temporary job, which brings in immediate cash, but leaves me unable to take advantage of many summer workshops. OTOH, I do get to spend the day in air conditioning. The last few weeks, that was a definite advantage.

I am keeping busy, however. I've been posting to my other blog regularly. With all the activity happening in current events, there is much to comment on.

I've been learning how to draw Manga - it's a Japanese cartoon style. It's kind of fun to learn something so removed from other aspects of my life. I'd really enjoyed drawing when I was a kid, but, like so many of us, once I'd decided that I wasn't talented enough (how much is "enough"?), I gave it up. This time, the point isn't to satisfy someone else, it's just to make me happy.

Have a wonderful summer!

Sunday, June 19, 2005


If you click on the titel of this post, you will find a page called Chris Doyle's Reasonably Clever.Com. He has an application there to create a customized Lego graphic, just like the one below.

My Lego Figure

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Friday, June 10, 2005

Don't have room to store every poster? Try taking a picture of the end project.

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Escher picture

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When good chess pieces go bad

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