Monthly Archives: March 2013

Climbing robots -Super Science Saturday


There are aclimbing robot lot of weekends in the year. Having Science Olympiad and FIRST Robotics on the same day left me feeling as if I had one day of strawberry festival, and I gorged myself. Totally sated.

I actually prefer the intellectual nature of Science Olympiad, but I am satisfied with a comment from another adult running between both venues – Science Olympiad is better to participate in, FIRST robotics is better to watch. I like that I can take one kid to Science Olympiad: for a couple of hundred bucks, she can participate. FIRST costs a small fortune. But the pole-climbing robot is way cool. And I can be grateful that someone else runs a FIRST robotics team where our kids can participate. I could not do his job.

I blame the adults for wanting to train kids for jobs – let’s just learn it first, people!


Rolling down to spring break


Last week felt like a lull in the pace. Sure I had 2 kids do a perfect job on the styrofoam cups. I had one kids begin to work (!) after 24 weeks. I guess it finally got boring. But I feel as if – this is their second math class. They are being passed along in their regular math class, and it’s clear they have no clue what any of the math means. Are we doing them any favors? I think not.

I blame the “every child is perfect” culture. We have Little Buddhas too.

Our cups floweth over


cupsThree types of Styrofoam stackable cups. Each group gets three of each type. Choose one type to find the number of cups to be the same height as teacher, another to reach the same height as a group member, and use the third to match a Perfect Man.
We even did “try it.” You think 18 cups match me? I am pretty short, but stack ’em up, and show me. Are they my height? No, they are up to my knee. No, don’t come back with a new guess of 30 cups. Go away and measure. Measure one cup, measure two cups, measure three cups. I want a table, a graph, and an equation, and an explanation. How do you put oen guess into a table? Maybe that should make you think about your one guess.
How many groups managed it? One. The hardest part? Me staying out of it. The three measurements were the only hint. Should we use Excel? good idea. Can we do this by hand? good idea. Should we look for a pattern? good idea. I hope they come to their senses by tomorrow.
This is high school? Thanks Fawn

I blame the decoupling of measurement from reality.

Woah! Slacker poster! Perfect Man and Hot Dogs


Has it really been 2 weeks since I posted? Oddly, in my head I posted the results from the great hot Dog experiment and the Perfect Man project (which I stole unbashedly).
First, the Perfect Man. yes, i know it’s a middle school project, so it was well within the range of challenge for my low performing students. I solicited contestants for the “Perfect Man.” I am so lucky to work with some great guys who were willing to be measured, as long as all the measurements were along the outer sides of the body. It was enlightening for some of our English teachers to see the measurement skills of our students – they are getting an inkling of the skills our students need to master at 9th and 11th grade in “math” class.
Then we calculated ratios of the “perfect man” and of the “measured man.” Finally, the students calculated the percent difference, and were able to create posters for “their guy.” We put the posters outside in the hallway, and we’ve had several visitors. Now I have created an essay contest for the “Perfect Man”- persuade me that the person you pick is indeed perfect. I have a give-away TI84 calculator as a prize.
Then last week, we completed the Hot Dog experiment. I bought 100 hot dogs and 50 buns. I found we only had 6 thermometers in the entire school (it was school of Health, Science and Technology – now the school of Health Science, apparently we have no technology). So we had groups measuring the temperature drop over time of a hot dog in air and in a bun. I did this at home, and I had a good difference between air and in the bun, but we did not see this at school.
We did get nice exponential drops in temperature – clearly not linear. And most kids got the excel modeling done in 2 days instead of a week. Clearly some skills are improving. Hurrah!
Too many hot dogs. I blame the ‘flu, as having 25% of the students gone meant there were too many hot dogs, even for teenagers.