Pi Day Snow Day!

After a winter with no snow (no snow that’s stuck, anyway, there’ve been flakes in the air a few times), it’s a pi day miracle: a snow day!

Last night, when the call was made, we were predicted to get 6-12″, but with more sleet than snow, we’re on the low end of that range or a bit less. Here’s a joke I’m stealing from my friend Matt:

In honor of pi day, and with the extra free time of a snow day, I baked a quiche pi!


I tried to arrange the broccoli in the shape of the symbol ŌÄ (pi), which you can see if you look closely ūüôā I’ve outlined it below.


And, of course, I had to break out my pi cutter to slice it with!


If you’re more ambitious than I am with your pi day baking needs, you could ¬†try a “celebrity chef” pie, or Vi Hart’s Venn Pi-agram (she has both a dessert pie and a pizza pie version):

In Pi Day news, there have now been over 22 trillion digits of pi calculated! Hooray!

Whether or not you, too, are snowed in, have a wonderful pi day, and check out some of the following links!

Even though there are skeptics out there,

I agree with Cookie Monster:

Me love pi (and pie)!

Leave a comment

Filed under math

#teach180, part 3

Weeks 7-11:

  • Day 31: robot brought in for demo for our engineering advisory committee
  • Day 32: Students staying after school for an intense CyberPatriot practice round!
  • Day 34:¬†Finding errors in G&M code for computer numerically controlled (CNC) milling
  • Day 35: Driving home via the original Washington Monument
  • Day 36:¬†Students presented research on different types of manufacturing processes in class
  • Day 37:¬†teaching G&M codes for students to carve out their initials and a nice sunset
  • Day 39:¬†Two teams securing virtual computers at yesterday’s CyberPatriot competition practice round
  • Day 40:¬†In computer science class, students making their first app: the Magic Trick
  • Day 41:¬†Students working on a bandsaw and on CNC milling simulation software during their lunch period today
  • Day 42:¬†First blocks machined on the CNC mill today!
  • Day 43: A closeup of a block¬†in the CNC mill after machining
  • Day 44:¬†More initials plotted, programmed, and milled out today, then a nice view of the Washington Monument at night
  • Day 45:¬†More blocks designed, programmed, and machined on the computer numerically controlled (CNC) mill
  • Day 46:¬†Beautiful sunrise on drive to work this morning, then some interesting cityscapes w/ 2-point-perspective posted in hall
  • Day 48:¬†Getting ready for the STEM Competition
  • Day 49: 8th Annual STEM Competition!

Leave a comment

Filed under teaching


I don’t know if I have the words in me right now to write about this thoughtfully and coherently, but I’ll try.

Staying up and watching the election returns Tuesday night into Wednesday morning was difficult. It was difficult for me, as a political leftist and radical, as a believer in social justice movements, as someone who cares deeply about issues of poverty and climate change (two topics barely touched upon in the media coverage of this campaign). In some ways, it hearkened back to the 2000 election, and feelings of outrage and disappointment I experienced then and thereafter during the Bush presidency.

But, although there are some comparisons to be made, in many ways this election result was much worse, at a whole new level. What has made it more difficult for me is thinking of my students, the hatred they see directed at them, and the fear they must feel. From words and actions of Trump himself, and also from the words and actions of his supporters at rallies. My black students, faced with a president-elect who courted and did not reject the support of the KKK and other white supremacist groups. My Latino students, called rapists and murderers by our president-elect. My Muslim students, who are told by Mr. Trump that their entire religion should be banned from entering the United States. My immigrant and refugee students, who feel unwelcome and fear deportation, due to many things said over the course of the campaign. My girls, who now face a president-elect who has evinced zero respect for women throughout the campaign and his career, and is famous for talking on tape about how he would/could sexually assault women.

Although I can imagine how it might feel for them, I do not actually know what it is like¬†living in fear for one’s life or liberty or home that many of my students are probably feeling. Nor do I know the day-by-day degradation of being told your life doesn’t matter, that your rights don’t matter, that your body doesn’t have any rights that others are bound to respect. The fact that Trump has not only said all the horrible things he has said, but that he has encouraged violence from his supporters directed at non-supporters, and that he has normalized this kind of language, hatred, disrespect, and violent actions: this is what scares me most.

The Baltimore Sun interviewed students at my school on Wednesday, including one I teach, for an article on the election: “Immigrant communities fear deportation after election of Trump”


Leave a comment

Filed under teaching

#teach180, part 2

Weeks 3-6:

  • Day 11, software installs
  • Day 12, art everywhere
  • Day 13, AP CSP daily agenda
  • Day 14, Sonic Pi (video)
  • Day 16, using Computer Vision to find lines and circles
  • Day 17, trash on the floor
  • Day 18, 6th Annual Back To School Night & Community Fair
  • Day 19, OneNote for class collaboration & a calendar look ahead
  • Day 20, cake from celebration honoring my colleague
  • Day 21, Comp Hydro training (video)
  • Day 22, design flaws
  • Day 24, my colleague on ABC2 news (video link)
  • Day 25, my students on the news (video link)
  • Day 26, sunrise in the city
  • Day 28, nighttime with moon and lights from the school parking lot

Part 1 (weeks 1-2) can be found here.

Leave a comment

Filed under teaching

#teach180, part 1

As I mentioned in my New Year 2016 post, I am posting a photo most school days.

This year I am thinking I shall try to keep up with #teach180 on Twitter, posting a photo tweet every school day (more explanation here).

Some are photos of my students, others are photos of projects they are working on, others are screen captures of lessons or tools that I use, others are more random (a new art piece on the wall at my school that I really liked).

My goal is one photo (and caption) every day on twitter. I have already missed a few days, but here are my first two weeks:

  • Day 1, digital syllabus
  • Day 2, my classroom
  • Day 3, origami balloons in CIM
  • Day 5, map mosaic
  • Day 6, course homepage on LMS
  • Day 8, helping teachers build web pages
  • Day 9, students making music on Raspberry Pi

Happy teaching!

1 Comment

Filed under teaching

New Year

Greetings readers, and happy new (school) year! This is year number eleven for me (who knows where the time goes?).

This year I shall be teaching the following subjects:

  • Computer Integrated Manufacturing (my tenth year with this, my most-frequently-taught class) – Fall, two sections
  • Foundations of Computer Science – Spring (ninth graders, to be recruited)
  • Precalculus – Spring
  • AP Computer Science Principles (a brand new AP course this year, though it has been in the works and piloted for several years, including last year by me) – Full Year

Here’s the College Board’s Intro Video to the new CSP course:

I’m super-excited for the new year, and the new CSP course in particular (if you’d like to follow along with our daily agenda, it will be updated each day at http://www.tinyurl.com/PHSCSP¬†).

This year I am thinking I shall try to keep up with #teach180 on Twitter, posting a photo tweet every school day (more explanation here). We’ll see if I can keep that up, after my abysmal recent record of updating this blog. ūüôā

I’ve also just started my fall course from Georgia Tech, Computer Vision. I’m very much looking forward to it, and learning how computers can make sense of what they “see”!

To all the other teachers out there, hope you have a great year!

1 Comment

Filed under engineering, math, teaching

Black Lives

Just heard earlier today that, after one mistrial and three acquittals, the remaining three officers’ charges were dropped in the case of the murder of Freddie Gray. I feel sad and angry at the state of our justice system, although at least it can be said that the charges were brought here in Baltimore, as opposed to so many other places where police are so often not even charged or go¬†to trial for their killings of black people.

I guess I don’t really know which of the six officers is most responsible for his death, and that was part of the problem for the trials too. There was not enough evidence to convict any one of them, and the lawyers for each were able to cast blame upon the others (and on the rest of police leadership/culture). The driver wasn’t responsible for buckling in Freddie Gray; he deferred to the Lieutenant who was of higher rank. The Lieutenant wasn’t responsible; it was too crowded with hostile bystanders¬†at the scene of the arrest, and after the van started moving he became the driver’s responsibility. And of course, none of them are¬†responsible since somehow, although it has been law in Maryland since 1986 for non-police to use seat belts while driving or riding in a car, somehow it has only been police policy in Baltimore to seat-belt¬†prisoners since 2-3 days¬†before Gray’s arrest, and none of the¬†officers¬†got/read the email in those few days.

Again, what is outrageous is less the outcome of any single trial (many observers agree that evidence presented was lacking, and the no-snitching culture of the police equals or exceeds that of the streets), than the fact that no one was held accountable for such a clearly wrongful death. Gray should not have been arrested in the first place (why the hell is it probable cause to arrest someone for running?); even after being arrested, he should have been seat-belted in the van (common sense, and law in most states); and it is likely that he was taken for a ‘rough ride’ to punish him for running and ‘making’ the police officers chase after him (there was video of the van swerving many times over the yellow line).

There are still reminders, with every new incident, and with every failure to charge or indict or convict, that black lives do not matter to our society as much as white lives. Not to mention “blue lives”, which are clearly valued (e.g. Dallas, outpouring of support, shooter killed by robot immediately even without trial). As many have said, no one is arguing that¬†only¬†black lives matter, but that black lives should and do matter as much as any others. And this, to me, is self-evidently true and worth fighting for, just like being a feminist means¬†that we should all support equal rights for women. And yet, both of these still (somehow) ignite controversy.

I leave you with two videos: a Samantha Bee clip with her team interviewing folks at the Republican National Convention¬†about Black Lives Matter, for a humorous take on people¬†hating on¬†BLM without understanding anything about it, and an interesting spin at the end; and a video of musician Raury singing his song¬†“Fly”.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized