Tag Archives: math teaching

Year 12, Day 0

This week teachers headed into school to prepare for next week and students’ return. This will be my twelfth year!

My teaching this year will include more computer science than ever before:

  • AP Computer Science Principles (full year)
  • AP Computer Science A (full year)
  • Foundations of Computer Science  (spring)
  • Computer Integrated Manufacturing (fall)
  • Precalculus independent study (fall, three students, three separate periods)

I’ll also be working with our new engineering teacher and our librarian+new-computer-science-teacher to help them with their lessons, and collaborating with two geometry teachers around standards-based-grading.

Extracurricular activities and competitions:

  • Coding Club (app development, cybersecurity, & more)
  • Women’s Transportation Seminar’s “Transportation You!” Mentoring Program
  • TRAC bridge builder competition
  • CyberPatriot competition
  • STEM Competition
  • possible (in my mind, I want to do each of these this year): Cyber Movie Mondays, Saturday AP & PLTW study groups, Girls Who Code club
  • probably several others…

Ongoing projects that will occupy some of my time this year include:

  • Comp Hydro (teaching hydrology and flooding through computational simulations & modeling, in partnership with the Baltimore Ecosystem Study)
  • MyDesign (engineering design process app and learning management system, in partnership with NSF & the University of Maryland)
  • Internet of Things project to measure air quality and other environmental factors in schools (in partnership with Cool Green Schools, Johns Hopkins University, and Morgan State University)
  • Continuing work toward my Master’s Degree in Computer Science (taking “Artificial Intelligence ” course this semester)
  • Baltimore City Engineering Alliance, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) we created to provide opportunities to Baltimore City students to further their engineering education, and for which I am treasurer

School starts for students on Tuesday, after Labor Day for the first time in my twelve years here teaching in Baltimore. Wish us luck!


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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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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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It’s Pi Day!!!.

It’s that time of year again: spring is almost here, and you can almost feel a warm mathematical breeze on the air. It’s…

Pi Day!!!.

Since the number pi (π) is approximately 3.14, and today is 3/14, today is sort of a mathematical holiday. (You may have noticed that I’ve included approximately 3.14 exclamation points above and in the post title!)

I started my celebration this morning with some coffee iced with pi-shaped ice cubes:

Pi Iced Coffee

Pi Iced Coffee

Additionally, I noticed today that I follow exactly 314 people on twitter:

Hey look - I'm following about 100pi people!

Hey look – I’m following about 100pi people!

(OK, I admit, I followed one new person today to get that to work out 🙂 )

Today, in addition to celebrating both the number pi and all sorts of mathematics, it’s time to start getting ready for the best pi day celebration of our lifetimes, which will be held in two years: 3/14/15 at time 9:26:53. This will be a much more accurate representation of pi than we celebrated just over an hour ago (at 3/14 1:59). Though perhaps we missed an even bigger party four centuries ago on 3/14/1592 6:53:58.

A few notes, links, and cool things for this pi day:

  • Math geeks can even talk about their mania for this amazing number in the form of a palindrome: “I PREFER PI”!
  • It seems that pi day is getting more popular: Companies like Oreo and GE are getting in on the action!
  • Check out this video, where a few people use actual pies to calculate pi (from http://www.numberphile.com/videos/pie_with_pies.html) :

Lastly, I hope you all can read (and would agree with) the following t-shirt, tweeted by NSBE:

Picture from NSBE

Picture from NSBE

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Happy 12-12-12 Day!

Perhaps it could be called duodecimal day if you look at the numbers, or ternary day if you look at the digits. In either case, have a wonderful 12-12-12 day!

After being treated to a dozen similar days over the last few years (here, e.g.), we must now alas face a desert stretch of a few weeks longer than eighty-eight years until the next time the month, date, and year will all align.

Though at least we’ll have 11/12/13 next year, and 12/13/14 the year after. And of course the best pi day of our lives on 3/14/15 (at 9:26:53am). So I guess, even without repeated numbers, we still have a few good years ahead of us 🙂 .

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Phi Project

So, as I explained yesterday, I decided to create a project centered around golden ratio, phi (φ) ≈ 1.6180339887, and the associated Fibonacci sequence 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,…. My classroom has computers, so I had students go back and forth between watching parts of Vi Hart’s videos (123) on the subject, and doing or reflecting on something mathematical, artistic, or biological.

Here is my project:

I think it’s a little bit lighter weight than some of my other projects. But it does connect to our work with quadratic equations (which we are just wrapping up). And it gives my students a chance not just to see math in the world, but also to think about why our world is mathematical.

The students seem to enjoy working on the project so far. Either that or they just liked the pineapple we ate (after, of course, counting the spirals on it!).

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Math is in the Air!

Math is in the air this week as we close in on that most special of mathematical holidays, pi day.

Pi Day is only a week away, and I for one can’t wait! I’ve emailed our school secretary so pi day will be included in our weekly bulletin. I’m trying to consciously make students appreciate some of the cool things about math (I try to do this all the time, but sometimes get stuck on autopilot teaching procedures and projects).

In preparation for Pi Day, I’ll be posting some links to amazing mathematics over the next week.

To begin, you all remember the interdisciplinary geometry-art project on fractals I did last year? Well, these middle schoolers have gone even deeper into the world of fractals and produced some beautiful works of art, as part of their Fractal Club! Go to this link and check out the video. (Thanks to Ceilon Aspensen for sharing the link on facebook.)

Have a great pi week, and I’ll see you again soon!

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