Engineering Symposium & Showcase

Hi friends, our engineering seniors are wrapping up their capstone course by developing prototypes and presentations of their new inventions and innovations on products they’ve been developing this year. Consider donating $20 or whatever you can to help make our EDD Symposium & Innovation Showcase a success.

Donation link: https://rally.org/baltimorepltw2015

Website link for more info: https://sites.google.com/site/baltimorepltw2015/home

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PI DAY OF THE CENTURY

Happy Pi Day everyone!

This year is extra special, since it’s 3/14/15! Some have called it the “Ultimate Pi Day”, or the “Pi Day of a Lifetime” or the “PiPocalypse” (although I may be mixing that last one up with the snowstorm of a few years ago).

I wish you all an extra-wonderful ten-digits-of-pi-moment at fifty-three and a half seconds past the twenty-sixth minute of the nine o’clock hour this evening, or 3/14/15 9:26:53.5.

On this pi day, I encourage you to celebrate pi, and math, and the amazing things you can do with both! From last year, here are:

MY TOP PI WAYS TO CELEBRATE PI DAY

1. Share pi (and pie) with friends
2. Read and learn more about pi
3. Contemplate the wonder of the universe and mathematics’ role within it
.14159…. Shout “Happy Pi Day!” and/or “Happy Pi Moment” at the top of your lungs when the appropriate time occurs

Some awesome pi-related things to check out this year:

  • A cool pi day sudoku
  • How to estimate pi by weighing a circle [video]
  • “Why Pi Matters” by Stephen Strogatz
  • This argument of pi vs. the Pythagorean Theorem
  • An article on this pi day by Borwein & Bailey, famous pi mathematicians
  • This video making fun of our obsession with pi, tau, e, golden ratio, and other *amazing* numbers – it might take a little math knowledge to get the joke but it’s hilarious once you do

Hope you have a great pi day, and many more!

– Nick the Pi Guy

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Pi and Pancakes

Happy Pi Day – 1 everyone! Only one more day until the pi day of the century!

PIDayIpswich

In the meantime, check out this awesome pancake 3D printer (article, kickstarter).

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Roots of Unity Final Projects

 

These are the results created last November for the art/math integration project described here.

 

By the way, happy pi week everyone!

Pi Week

Pi Week

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Happy Holidays!

Saw this on Facebook this morning, and since we just finished a unit on logarithms yesterday, I figured I had to try it myself. Gave this as a warm-up activity to my Algebra 2 class today:

Challenge of the Day for Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014.

Challenge of the Day for Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014.

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Art Integration: Roots of Unity & String Art

I talked with an art teacher this afternoon about ways to integrate art and math into a project. She had some great ideas, plus we came up with more ideas in the course of our discussion, many of which I plan to try for Algebra 2 or Precalculus (both which I teach this year, fall and spring respectively). Geeking out while discussing the intersection of math and art reminded me of this awesome collaboration and its result from a few years ago!

Our first idea (in terms of implementing soon) was some colorful string art crossed with a discussion of the roots of unity, since my students are (today) using and graphing complex numbers for the first time. Math teachers, art teachers, and any interested others, check out this rough draft of the project and let me know any thoughts and advice:

Roots of Unity Project

 

Colorful "string" art on the 17 th roots of unity

Colorful “string” art on the 17 th roots of unity

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Teamwork: The POE House

This was an assignment I just wrote for a course I’m taking: to describe a day in my classroom from a journalistic third-person perspective. I figured I’d post it here as well. This is a slightly-fictionalized version of what occurred in my Principles of Engineering class on and around March 25th, 2014.

POE House Lighting

POE House Lighting

Upon walking into Nick Yates’s engineering classroom at Patterson High School in east Baltimore, the first thing one notices is students gathered together working on a project at the center of the room. Walking closer, the project reveals itself to be a large structure, roughly eight cubic feet, which the students explain is a model house. Each wall has a different truss design, built out of coffee stirrers that form triangles that fit together into a square wall, two feet on a side. The students are collaborating in teams, each team responsible today for lighting up a wall of the house.

The students are a diverse group. Six countries of origin are represented here in this one room: United States, Nepal, Mexico, Congo, Nigeria, and China. Among students born in the US, the majority are black, but some are white and some are Latino. Boys outnumber the girls in this engineering class, as they do in the engineering field, but the girls tell of after-school mentoring programs and field trips that have helped encourage them to stick with their engineering classes and to pursue a STEM career.

As one boy positions a light emitting diode (LED) on the wall, his partner pulls off electrical tape and hands it to him to secure it in position. Another partner reads off of a circuit diagram in her engineering notebook, where they have designed the electrical circuit, instructing her teammates how to connect the wires in between LEDs. And the fourth team member is using alligator clips to join three solar panels together to make this wall’s lights powered by environmentally sustainable source.

After a while, the team steps back to admire their handiwork. They bring over a lamp to simulate the Sun’s rays hitting the solar panels, and flip the light switch to on. But the LEDs do not light up. They are daunted for just a moment, but soon start troubleshooting the problem to try and fix their electrical system. One student suggests they check all the wire connections, to make sure they are all twisted together properly, and two members of the team immediately start to do that. Another suggests getting a multimeter to check if the solar panels are even generating electricity. As others check every place where two wires meet manually, she goes to get a multimeter from the teacher’s desk. She asks one of her partners to hold the multimeter’s leads to the wires while she operates the device. Each solar panel is reading about 1.83 volts of electricity, but the lights are still not lit. Another team member suggests checking the plan, to make sure the solar panels are wired in series so that their voltages add up. The team consults their notebooks, verifying that their actual work reflects their design; it does. Some of the team is beginning to lose hope, and one suggests calling the teacher over for help. But one student, remembering the time he held an LED to a nine-volt battery too long and the bulb blew out, suggests making sure each LED is working. His teammate asks how they should test the LEDs, perhaps by holding each one to a battery to see if it lights up? He grumbles a little about this, thinking of all the work they had just done to tie the LEDs together with wires into a circuit, only to have to undo it all. But at this point the girl with the multimeter steps in, saying they could use the multimeter to figure out which if any bulb was dead. The team works together and finds they did have a non-working LED. They replace it with a new one, and the lights come on. Success!

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