Category Archives: Math

Chronicles of COVID-19, Part 3

If you haven’t seen the updates that I’ve made to this post, please check it out.  There have been some difficulties out there in accessing the COVID-19 Diary that I shared.  I think I inadvertently turned off editing when I tried to fix them, but I’ve turned it back on.  Unfortunately, you may still have issues if your district blocks access.

Here are two more entries from Our COVID-19 Diary by Kids Around the World.  It looks like a lot of contributors own cats, and all of them, so far, have pets!  Hmm… I’m already seeing lots of math possibilities with this project as more people add to it – graphing pet numbers, mapping locations, etc…

If you haven’t shared the Diary with your students and asked them to add to it, please do!  I would like to make this as globally inclusive as possibly.  (Did I just make up a new phrase?  I’ll have to Google that…)

Our COVID-19 Diary from Kids Around the World (9)

 

Our COVID-19 Diary from Kids Around the World (10)

Slow Reveal Graphs

If you are a fan of helping students learn how to be critical thinkers, then you will appreciate the Slow Reveal Graphs site.   Rather than presenting a full graph to students and asking them to interpret it, teachers use Slow Reveal Graphs to allow the students to discuss, think, wonder, and predict as each stage of the graph is shown – hopefully resulting in deeper learning.  (This technique is similar to the one used in the New York Times’ “What’s Going on in this Graph?” feature.) Courtesy of Jenna Laib (@jennalaib) and other contributors, The Slow Reveal Graphs website has examples of different types of graphs (Circle, Bar,  Line, etc…), many of which have links to slide decks that have already been created for the slow reveal.  “How Long Can Animals Hold Their Breath Underwater?“, for example, begins with a bar graph that has no title or labels and incrementally adds them as you advance each slide.  The slides also have suggested discussion questions in the notes.

In case you are thinking this site will only appeal to math teachers, I should note that there are three special categories of Slow Reveal Graphs: Social Justice, Save the Planet, and Incarceration in the U.S.  Of course, any of the graphs on the site can be used in multiple subjects, including ELA.

To read more about how Slow Reveal Graphs are used in classrooms, from primary to high school, visit this list of bloggers who have written about SRG’s in the past.

If you like SRG’s, consider trying Clothesline Math and Would You Rather? Math.  One of my most popular posts, 15 Math Sites that Won’t Make You Fall Asleep, has examples of these and more. Also, follow the #mtbos hashtag on Twitter for more great math teaching strategies!

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Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

 

STEM Cookbook

Who says that Robotics can’t be tasty?  If you believe that, then the L’Essor Secondary School Robotics Team, Team 6331 SaBOTage, would disagree with you.  The team has produced a downloadable STEM book of recipes titled, appropriately, How to SaBOTage Your Kitchen. The students researched and published this guide to preparing delicious dishes. It includes scientific health tips and explanations, and has recipes that will appeal to a variety of taste buds, ranging from “Big Bang Caramel Popcorn” to “Exploding Bacon Pulled Pork.”  To learn more about this FIRST Robotics team, located in Canada, you can visit their Robotics website.  This unusual perspective on how STEM can even enhance our cooking is a great resource for families and students who may have a more narrow view when it comes to the usefulness of math and science in their everyday lives.

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Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay

Daily STEM

Chris Woods (@DailyStem) tweets STEM challenges each day.  Even if you are not a Twitter advocate you can go to his website and download his weekly STEM newsletters for free.  There is an archive of at least 30 newsletters on this page.  Each one-pager has a puzzle, a mystery photo, and other short STEM articles that often have links to learn more about the topics.  The articles are perfectly bite-sized previews about different ways that we see STEM all around us, and are often timely (such as this one that shares how candy can be looked at through a STEM perspective – right in time for Valentine’s Day).  They would be great to post in your classroom, send home to families, or to comb through for awesome lesson ideas.

While you are visiting the Daily Stem website, go to the Resources Page for STEM movies along with project suggestions for each movie, as well as the Podcast Page for dozens of interviews with educators and other STEM experts.

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Image by LisaBMarshall from Pixabay

 

Turtlestitch

One of the many things I didn’t know anything about when I first started teaching at Advanced Learning Academy was working with textiles.  My skills were limited to hand-sewing buttons.  Even though my in-laws had given me a sewing machine a decade ago, I still didn’t know how to thread it or why in the world I needed a bobbin.

I had seen the Turtlestitch Kickstarter page, and was intrigued by the idea of using coding to design for textiles, specifically for embroidery machines.  My colleague and I decided to order a combo sewing/embroidery machine (Brother SE600) for Zorro Astuto, and it arrived about a month before I retired.  I took it home for the Thanksgiving Break to try it out and, with the help of a lot of YouTube videos, figured out how to use the machine.  Although I was by no means an expert, I begged my family to buy me one for Christmas.  I knew I would suffer from fabrication withdrawal once I was no longer teaching in Zorro Astuto, and the Brother SE600 seemed far more practical than adding a 3d printer or laser cutter to my personal collection – though I’m certainly not ruling those out for the future 😉

I’ve made a lot of mistakes with this machine, which makes sense since I knew zero about it when I started.  For example, I didn’t know that you need to put a stabilizer behind your fabric (sometimes even on top of it, depending on the fabric), and that there are many, many different types of stabilizers.  The type of fabric, or other medium, and the types of stitches will determine your stabilizer and needle types.  This blog post was really helpful.  I have also learned quite a bit about how to service my machine as pieces of thread and fabric have gotten caught inside when I didn’t stabilize correctly or a needle broke.

You can download embroidery designs, but most of them will cost you money.  Finding just the right software for creating your own designs can be overwhelming.  That’s why Turtlestitch is such a genius idea.  Using block coding, you can create your own design and export it to a USB – for free.

To start, I decided to choose from one of the many free designs already available on the Turtlestitch site.  The project is called, “Twisty.”  Because I wanted my design to be in different colors, I decided to remix the original by randomizing the RGB colors.  Each time I run the code, the colors will come out different.  However, once I like the colors, I can export the file as a .dst, and those colors will be the set used for the embroidery file. The machine lists each corresponding Brother Thread color number as it is needed, and I was fortunate in this case, as almost every single thread color was part of my original package of threads.turtlestitchtwisty

My machine will stop for each color change, which turned out to be a bit demanding on this project, but I’m thankful for the automatic needle threader!

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Turtlestitch “Twisty” remixed, stitched on felt, using tear-away stabilizer on bottom

I love using coding with math, and there are lots of possibilities here.  There are a few fractals projects already on the site, as well as tessellations.  If you follow the @turtlestitch Twitter account, you will see examples of student projects, including jewelry (my next personal challenge).

The Art of Engineering

There aren’t any fancy graphics on this video, but I love the message that Katie Correll gives in this short presentation.  I keep trying to convince my students that engineering is so much more than math and science, that’s it’s not just about following formulas and rules but about learning how to use them to innovate and sometimes even break those rules.  One of my students pointed out that Katie’s message about thinking outside of the box to problem solve can really apply to anyone – not just engineers.

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Math Craft

As seasoned readers may know, I have always been intrigued by the beauty of math.  (See here, here, or here for some examples.)  Now that my job title is S.T.E.A.M. Master Teacher, I have been looking even more for ideas on how to integrate math and art.

Math Craft is a great place to start.  From mathematical knitting to Sierpinski Christmas trees, there is no shortage of inspiration on this site (though it is a bit heavy on polyhedrons).  Not every post gives you instructions, as some of them feature work by professional artists – but you could always pose the question to your students, “How do you think they made this?”  They may end up making something completely different, but equally as beautiful, along the way.

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CC image from Pixabay