Friday, June 29, 2012

The Secret Number: A Short Film

I have always been concerned about the public perception of mathematics and mathematicians.  When I came across this film on io9.com, I cringed.





Once again, the mathematician is played as insane, even if he is right in the end.  However, even if there was a missing number between 3 and 4, how would that allow access to time travel and such.

Your homework assignment is to prove there is no integer between 3 and 4.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

More Middle School Robots

About a month ago, two of my colleagues and I visited the Science Camp at Mason County Middle School.  The last hour of the morning was devoted to robots.
My VEX kit.  The rolling tool box makes it easy to move, as the kit is heavy.
I was happy to be able to do the wheel size lab with students.  Speed Bot was built for this lab, but it wasn't running at the time.  The students timed the robot over five meters with two or three different wheel sizes, depending on the group.  They had to predict how the wheel size would affect the time.  It was interesting to me that some students thought the smaller wheels would make the robot faster.

The students ranges in age from 8 to 13, and were very engaged.  There were different tasks, timing, recording, and driving the robot.  With multiple trials, the students got to do each of the tasks.

In addition to teaching the students about geometry, units, and measurement, there were a few additional benefits to our Science Camp activities.  First, we got to try to sell some of the other science teachers on a robotics team.  The other is that we got to troubleshoot some of our activities for future camps.

One of the most interesting things for me today was a paper from one of the students.  She had to find the average of two numbers, and she didn't have a calculator, so she divided by two using long division.  There is something for people on both sides of the math wars, investigative learning and algorithms on the same page.
So full of win!

Robot Videos

Here are a few videos of robots working.  This is to help with the Robotics Merit Badge on which the local Boy Scout troop is working.  Enjoy.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Solar Eclipse: May 20, 2012

Today was an annular solar eclipse.  We didn't get a very good view, as the sun was setting during the eclipse.  However, I brought the family out to the college, which has a good view of the western horizon.  The physics teacher at the college pulled into the parking lot half an hour after we did, with the exact same idea.  Here are the pictures I got.

This is a projection of the Sun through my telescope.  The green circles indicate sun spots.

A close up of my viewing set-up.  You can see the Sun and my son.

This was as much of the eclipse that I could see on the cardboard.  The setting Sun grew too dim to see after this.


The setting Sun was dim enough to allow for direct photographs to be taken.  This is one of the best shots that I got.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Speed Bot

Speed Bot 1.1 with remote
I built this simple robot to bring to a middle school science class on Tuesday.  It was meant to help the students understand the effect of changing the wheel size on the speed of the robot.  Unfortunately, I didn't get to finish the robot for the class time.  That didn't work out to be a problem because the class was broken into small groups, and one group worked on finishing this robot.

The problem that the students had with this robot is that the radio control didn't work.  After a hour of researching after class, I found out that  the original VEX firmware was erased by the ROBOTC firmware, and that the robot would have to manually programmed to respond to the remote control.  The program I used can be found here.

Sharing Pencasts with my Coworkers

This was from a few days ago.  I was showing my coworkers how to imbed a LiveScribe pencast into a webpage.

Printable Notepad 1 p. 9
brought to you by Livescribe

Friday, May 4, 2012

Graduation 2012

One of the highlights of the academic year at our community college is graduation.  We're small enough that the faculty know most of the students in the ceremony.  Because we have so many first generation college students, the families of the students make a big deal out of the graduation.

Because of the weather, we had to have the ceremony indoors.  We have a small auditorium, so the graduation was held in shifts.  There were five different processions, and the families of the students filed out after each round of degree conferences.  This made for a longer ceremony, but it was much more comfortable for the people involved.  The only possible exception was the college president, who had been at the college since 6:00am.  The draw back for me is that I missed the opportunity to meet the families of a couple of my students.  I was hoping to brag about Carlos to his family.

There is already an article on the graduation on the local paper's website.  You can read it here.  One impressive feature is that it records the graduates by county.  There are 32 counties total represented, and one student from Virginia.

For good measure, here is the best picture of a Clooney that I've yet taken.  It is of the back of Nick Clooney's head.  As a former news anchor, that's an uncommon angle to get his picture.  By all accounts, Mr. and Mrs. Clooney are very friendly people.  I just never get close enough to say "hi".