Monday, March 21, 2011


The stories I was hearing at work today were making me wonder if this were April 1 rather than March 21! These might be "had to be there" situations, but I'm gonna share them anyway.


One of my colleagues is particularly concerned about people smoking in non-smoking areas. He has a daughter who suffered terribly from asthma, and he spent many hours in ER with her throughout her childhood, so he knows what second-hand smoke can do, particularly to those with health issues. Whenever he sees a someone smoking in a non-designated area on campus, he points it out to them and asks them to stop.

This happened today. He was walking across campus, saw someone with smoke curling up from their fingers, and he let them know they couldn't smoke there. The person said to him:

"Oh . . . it's OK . . . I'm not smoking it, I'm just holding it."



We have to be careful to protect student confidentiality in all areas - one of them being grades. This is a bit tricky, because students like to have instructors post grades so they can check what is officially recorded for them. We obviously can't use names, and we really aren't supposed to use ID numbers. One of my colleagues was looking for an idea of how to post grades while at the same time protecting privacy. He was given the idea of having students make up nicknames for themselves that others wouldn't guess and then posting the grades using the nicknames.

So off he went to class to implement this new idea. He asked the students to take out a piece of paper and write their name on it and then a nickname that could be used for posting purposes. More than one student turned in the paper with only their new nickname (apparently thinking he was psychic - in which case why turn it in at all?). Also while the students were at work on this one shouted out to him, "Can't you just pass around one piece of paper and have us all write our names and nicknames on it?!"


CONCLUSION: We do our best as faculty to protect our students' health and privacy, but sometimes . . . sometimes . . . uh . . . you know . . . sometimes we're just left scratching our heads! (and maybe chuckling a bit too :-)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Monday, March 14, 2011

Happy PI Day!!

- a shout out to Wade for sending this on - Thanks!!

And happy birthday to 3 of my favorite people: Sue, Carla and Einstein! :-)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Seeking Your Input!

I always want to keep my classes lively. A topic coming up in my liberal arts math class is logic - you know, reasoning and statements and syllogisms and truth tables and so on. As I cover this topic I want to bring in some attention-grabbing, interesting items from popular culture. For instance there is the "Battle of Wits" in the movie The Princess Bride; there is the Ferry Scene in Batman: Dark Knight; there is a scene in the 1986 movie Labyrinth, where the heroine has to decide what door to choose (see clip at bottom of post).

There are examples in literature as well, what comes most immediately to mind is Lewis Carroll's work in Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. There are the writings of philosopher, mathematician, pianist Raymond Smullyan.

I'm looking for any well-known books, movies, commercials, cartoons, comics, poems, games, and/or other items that involve logic puzzles in any way in order to bring this to life for my students - whether you are a math teacher, a student who saw something cool in class, or someone who has just come across something along these lines, please send it on to me in the comments section!


Saturday, March 05, 2011

Renewed Hope

I found myself in an oasis of hope today.

With the ongoing economic crisis and states making budget cuts and all the rancor and finger-pointing going on - much of it pointed at education and many negative things being said about teachers and schooling in general, I was so refreshed by being in the midst of a picture of all that's right and hopeful in education right now.

The county Science Olympiad was today, a competition for junior high and high school students. There were literally thousands of people involved. What struck me was all the volunteers and supporters. Many of my colleagues (science professors) were creating and running events - as were other volunteers including students from the college, teacher/coaches and parents were there supporting the kids - as were administrators from many of the schools involved as well as at the college hosting it (dean and VP of instruction) and the county superintendent of education, huge teams of kids from many schools were involved. That too was encouraging, as I too often read in the paper how we are falling behind other countries and as I too often hear from students such things as "Why do we have to learn this?" - not today - not with this group - and it was a BIG group. The kids were engaged and totally jazzed about what they were doing, and those who won (though cool teenagers) were not shy about showing their enthusiasm!

This gives me hope for our future!

Today I saw everything that was right about education - enthusiastic kids, administrators from all levels there all day on a Saturday to cheer the kids on, parents and other family members encouraging the kids and interacting with educators, college professors using their time and energy to make a difference for kids in grades 7-12, and teachers who go above and beyond their classroom responsibilities to take time throughout the year to coach the kids and then to be there all day with them, and I do mean all day. It was an 8am to 5:30pm even on a Saturday. Nobody got paid for this. It was all about the kids. All these people were there volunteering to promote education and science and for the benefit of these kids. Awesome! Awesome! Awesome!

Kudos to all involved.

Pictures yet to come (once I get the camera from David).