All posts by engagetheirminds

Math Art Challenge

Math Art Challenge caught my eye the other day when I saw a tweet from its organizer, Annie Perkins (@anniek_p), about the most recent challenge, “Mandalas,” authored by Siddhi Desai (@SiddhiDesai311).  Mandala projects used to be a student favorite in my gifted and talented classroom, and we have created them from all sorts of materials, such as the traditional sand ones and 3d printed ones.  The students also loved making digital mandalas, especially using words and kaleidoscopes of nature.  When I read Desai’s post, I was blown away by a video she included about the extraordinary mandalas that pufferfish make to attract their mates, and wish I could go back in time to show it to my students.

From the tweet from Perkins, I found that she has a page of Math Art Challenges, with 81 on there to this date!  I have always been fascinated by the intersection of math and art, so this collection is a goldmine to me.  Since I usually try to give specific resources on my posts in order not to overwhelm, I decided to recommend her challenge from Day 53, “Origami Firework From One Piece of Paper.”    This seems like an appropriate challenge for this particular holiday weekend, when viewing a real fireworks show is improbable for many due to the pandemic.

While you are visiting Annie’s site, I would also like to encourage you to go to this page, “Links to Resources on Not Just White Dude Mathematicians,” and the page for  “The Mathematician Project,” both of which promote inclusivity when it comes to math – and STEM in general.

Rangolis Stones Mandala
Image by Maitri Lens from Pixabay

Smithsonian Summer Road Trip

The Smithsonian and USA Today have joined forces to produce a free, 40-page packet of activities, “Summer Road Trip.”  To read more about what is included, and to download the free PDF, visit this article by Darren Milligan for the Smithsonian Learning Lab. The Learning Lab is one of my favorite places to find quality educational materials, including lesson plans, videos, and professional development.  Click here to see some other posts that I’ve done on this blog about specific Smithsonian Learning Lab resources.

Map with Toy Car
Image by ErikaWittlieb from Pixabay

Think Like a Coder

TED Ed has so many great videos for the classroom.  These videos have interactive questions, which can be customized for your own students.  You can sort the videos by subject if you are just browsing, or you can search for keywords.  Many of the videos are short animations offering information about topics like coronavirus and “A Day as a Teenage Samurai.”  Other videos pose riddles for the viewers, such as the ones in this playlist. (The River Crossing Riddle is a student favorite!)

If you know young people who like to code, TED Ed also has a series of 10 short (about 6 minutes long) videos where viewers are given challenges that reinforce coding concepts such as loops and conditionals.  Think Like a Coder tells the story of a programmer named, “Ethic,” and her sidekick, “Hedge.”  It begins when Ethic awakes to find herself imprisoned, and Hedge helps her to escape her locked room.  Ethic must give Hedge specific instructions in order to discover the code to open the combination.  The animation guides the viewer through the process of developing a code with loops, which would be more efficient than creating a line of code for each potential combination.

Think Like a Coder feels like a video game, but it isn’t.  It also probably won’t appeal to students who are brand new to coding.  If I was using this in the classroom, Think Like a Coder would be the perfect supplement for a Code.org studio course, and I might use the TED Ed or EdPuzzle tools to crop the video so that students can offer answers before the solution is given.  This series would also be great to offer students who have high interest in this area, and would benefit from watching the videos independently.

Circuit Board Brain
Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Charty Party – All Ages Edition

Charty Party is a game based on charts. (H/T to @MsMessineo for tweeting about this!)  Played like Apples to Apples, a judge is selected who turns over a card with a chart on it.  Only the X-Axis is labeled.  Players look at their own cards, which have potential labels for the Y-Axis, and choose one from their hand that they think the judge will find the funniest.  The player whose card is chosen by the judge collects that chart, and a new person becomes the judge.  The game ends when someone has collected 5 charts.

The creators of the original Charty Party, which was designed for ages 17+,  received a lot of requests for versions that would be appropriate for classrooms and young families.  So, after interviewing many people, including teachers, they are back with an All Ages Edition on Kickstarter.  The good news is that the game has already been funded, so production is guaranteed.  The even better news is that for every $5,000 the team raises from backers, they will donate 10 Charty Party All Ages games to a school.  As I am writing this post, they have already raised over $56,000. (Their original goal was $10,000.) The kind of hard-to-swallow news for those of us eager to play it is that delivery of the games will not begin until January, 2021.  😦

You can get the original Charty Party right now, and add on your All Ages Cards when you receive them.  I read some of the Q&A on the product’s Amazon page, and in response to, “How many cards would I have to remove before I could allow my high school students to play this at school?” one person answered, “About half.”  Personally, I think it would be fun to have your students make their own cards to go with the charts for the time being.

If you teach math, I envy you, and definitely think you should check out this game.  For other math fun with charts and graphs, see my posts on: Slow Reveal Graphs, Dear Data, and What’s Going on in This Graph?

 

Charty Party All Ages
image from Charty Party All Ages Kickstarter

When Your “President” Says, Kung Flu

When the supposed leader of your country calls a deadly virus, “Kung Flu,” he is being racist.  Deliberately.  It’s not ignorance, and it’s not a slip of the tongue.  It’s a calculated move.  You’re not going to change his mind.

But when your Uncle John says, “Kung Flu,” because he heard the supposed leader of the country say it, you have options.

I’m not going to pretend I have used any of these options.  I despise confrontation.  I’m trying to get over that.  Fortunately, I’ve made it a habit over the years to mostly be around kind and sane people who don’t mind if we disagree every once in awhile.  But there have been times that I am so astounded by someone’s biased comments that I wish I had a cheat sheet to help me get those conversations started.  Or stopped.  It turns out that there are some other people out there who have apparently had discussions with my Uncle John, and they have come up with a few ways to respond to his bigoted words.

Racism Interruptions is a collection of civilized phrases that are excellent alternatives to the expletive-filled replies that may fill your head when Uncle John spouts off at the next family dinner.  This page, created by the graduates of the Oregon Center for Educational Equity (which does not seem to have a working website any longer) was tweeted by Jennifer Gonzalez (@CultofPedagogy).  Laminate it and stick it in your wallet.

Teaching Tolerance has its own 4-step process designed explicitly for confronting Coronavirus racism here.  It includes: Interrupt, Question, Educate, and Echo.  I was a bit concerned when I read the last heading, “Echo,” but relieved to see that we should echo the anti-racist comments of others – not blustering Uncle John.

And if you do happen to get invited to the White House before November, start doing push-ups every day to strengthen your arms, and tattoo this to the palm of your hand, “Dude, pick another word,” so you can hold it up repeatedly.

It won’t work, but he’ll have to pause a long time to read it, and he might just forget what he was saying.

palmrevised

 

Girls Garage

I remember when we moved into our first house together, and my husband casually mentioned something about checking the pilot light on our heater.  For some reason, it had gone out, and I was scared to death he didn’t know what he was doing when he brought an open flame near the decrepit appliance sitting in our garage.  Fortunately, we didn’t blow up.  Sadly for him, that was not the end of my ignorance when it comes to home maintenance.

I’ve tried to make up for what I didn’t learn during my childhood – back when anything to do with tools was considered “the man’s job.”  Now it seems like I’m taking apart appliances, drilling something, or sawing almost every week and I play the ignorance card only when it’s a task that seems a bit gross (like changing out a toilet) or potentially life threatening (like fixing the roof).   In the last few years, I’ve attempted to get my daughter involved in these projects, but it hit me early this summer that she hasn’t learned nearly enough before she leaves for college.  I started hyperventilating as I began a mental list of all of the things she needs to has to know before August.

And then the Girls Garage book came out.

Girls Garage is a nonprofit organization that runs a physical space in California where girls learn to build.  Many of their projects are available here to download.  The new hardcover book includes twelve projects that range from building your own toolbox to erecting a stud-framed doghouse.

Also included in the book are simple descriptions of tools, as well as how-to lessons on measurement and handy life skills – like relighting a pilot light.  This would have been a super book for me to receive as a gift when I graduated, or even two years ago when I began to work in a maker space that was carpentry heaven.

To be honest, I’m kind of torn on whether or not I’m going to give this book to my daughter or just keep it for myself.  A family friend gave her a tool set for Christmas, so it does seem like a good gift to add to her pile of  Destination Dorm items.  I’m sure I can muddle along like I always have.  I mean, I already know most of the contents, like how to patch a hole in the wall (p. 226).

Just use toothpaste, right?

Girl with Hammer
Image by Виктория Бородинова from Pixabay