Bridge Disasters, Math and Literacy, and Will Christmas Cost More This Year!

[December 2012 MSP2 Newsletter]

Happy December! Thank you all for being members of MSP2. We want to encourage everyone to become an active member of the community and share your expertise and experiences by contributing to conversations, sharing resources, or joining one of our topical discussion groups. Thought I would get the ball rolling by sharing some resources that have crossed my desk in the last month. But first, don’t forget to take the Digital Readiness Survey and RSVP for the January Book Club online get-together!

With Best Wishes, Kim Lightle, MSP2 Team

Still Time to Take the Digital Readiness Survey
You can take a self-assessment that will help you determine how “digital ready” you are. The assessment was developed through an NSF grant with Project Tomorrow and MSP2. The survey will take 15 minutes, and you will receive your personalized and confidential results within 72 hours of completion. Three randomly selected participants who complete the survey will win $100 Amazon gift cards.

The self-assessment allows you to see where you are in your usage and perspective on digital content and also provides insight for MSP2 and the overall NSF grant to determine the types of professional learning opportunities needed by educators like you.

You can access the self-assessment at https://s.zoomerang.com/s/DigitalReadiness_MSP2. The Amazon gift cards will be awarded shortly after the deadline.

MSP2 Book Club January 2013 Selection: Twists in the Tale of the Great DNA Discovery – The Double Helix
A new annotated and illustrated edition of James Watson’s book “The Double Helix” adds interesting details about the rivalries in the race to decode the structure of DNA including information about Rosalind Franklin’s contributions. I read the original years ago and really enjoyed it. I’m really looking forward to reading the new edition and hope that you’ll join us on Wednesday, January 23 at 7-8pm EST to discuss the book. Click here to RSVP.

SCIENCE

Middle School Science Research Models (from MSP2 member Della Curtis)
Are you exploring strategies and ready-made curriculum products for student short and long term research/inquiry?  You might like to investigate the BCPS portal of Online Research Models for grades 6, 7, and 8.

The Online Research Models (ORM), developed by Baltimore County Public Schools, represent an exciting way to guide student research toward higher-level thinking that fully utilizes technology and digital content resources. The research models were developed by teams of library media specialists, teachers, and content specialists at Summer Curriculum Workshops in the Baltimore County Public Schools since 1998. Students who use the self-guided online research lessons are challenged to employ thoughtful reading, analysis, evaluation, and synthesis of information to create answers, not just find them.

The ORM are designed as web pages that present students with a clear research structure, including a research scenario, a learning task, rubrics and scoring tools, directions for use of various media resources, links to useful web sites, creation of a product or presentation, and reflection. Student collaboration is built in to the process. Internet access to the models serves to make curriculum information accessible to teachers, students, parents and the general public.

FabFems: Women in STEM
The “FabFems Spotlight” highlights women from the FabFems Role Model Directory. There are more than 100 FabFems profiles in the database and entries are added daily. FabFems are enthusiastic about the science and technology work they do and want to inspire a future generation of FabFems. Encourage girls to visit FabFems to search profiles, connect with role models, and find resources on career pathways.

Engineering Education “Today in History” Blog: Collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge
On November 7, 1940, at approximately 11:00 AM, the first Tacoma Narrows suspension bridge collapsed due to wind-induced vibrations. Situated on the Tacoma Narrows in Puget Sound, near the city of Tacoma, Washington, the bridge had only been open for traffic a few months. This website, originally designed to document research on dynamics of a linear model of suspension bridges, has been expanded to provide a comprehensive history of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge Disaster, along with photos, videos and analyses.

I added this item because I’m amazed every time I see the video of this disaster. Might want to keep this handy – engineering will become an integral part of science instruction really soon.

MATH

Benton Books: Math Girls 2 – Fermat’s Last Theorem
Continuing Hiroshi Yuki’s young adult fiction that explores “the beauty of mathematics, the excitement of tackling hard problems, and happiness of discussing them with friends,” MG2:FLT follows the mathematical journeys of Miruka, Tetra, and new “math girl” Yuri (who is in 8th grade). Topics covered include number theory, modular arithmetic, the basics of abstract algebra (groups, rings, and fields), proof by contradiction and by infinite descent, and Euler’s identity. The author says the book contains math problems covering a wide range of difficulty. Some will be approachable by middle school students, while others may prove challenging even at the college level. You can download the first two chapters for free from the website. I really enjoyed the first two chapters. See what you think! (Thanks to the Math Forum for this resource and the next.)

Will Christmas Cost More This Year?
For the past 29 years, PNC Wealth Management has illustrated the cost of all the gifts involved in the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” This year, PNC has created a website to track down the gifts, because they have skipped town! Students go on a virtual trip across six continents, journey down the Amazon, battle the Loch Ness monster, and summon ancient Mayan spirits to find the missing presents. Along the way, PNC’s site covers concepts such as inflation and other economic trends. PNC’s partner, The Stock Market Game™, provides accompanying lesson plans in English and Spanish.

5 Dice: Order of Operations Game
I received an email from a middle school math teacher, Justin Holladay, asking for feedback on his first iPhone/iPad app. It would be great if you would provide feedback for Justin on the MSP2 site. I’ve started a discussion in the MSP2 Math group where you can add your feedback about the app.

You can read more about it here: http://www.mathfilefoldergames.com/5dice
Download the app for free: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/5-dice-order-operations-game/id572774867?ls=1&mt=8
Video: http://youtu.be/KfglfA1fGt4

About the Game: 5 Dice: Order of Operations Game, is a math app for middle school kids that helps them really like practicing their order of operations skills. The math game requires students to use higher order thinking to solve the target number by working backwards provided the answer but not the equation. The best feature about this simple math game is that teachers or parents are able to receive immediate feedback of their students’ progress through email.

Boggs’ Favorite Middle School Math Activities

The latest Math Forum Newsletter contained information about Rex Boggs, an international math middle level math educator. He has made accessible his all-time favorite middle school math activities — all freely downloadable. You can get to all of this content by clicking here. Boggs’ flipcharts come in two versions: annotated PDFs; and fully interactive .flipchart files, which require Promethean ActivInspire.

When not teaching middle school math, which he has done for 40 years in schools from New York City to Papua New Guinea, Boggs moderates the Technology in Maths Education User Group, tinspire Google Groups discussion, and math-learn Yahoo! mailing list — each featured in these pages before.

You can subscribe to the weekly Math Forum Newsletter by clicking here.

We Want Your Feedback

We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We appreciate your feedback on all of our Middle School Portal 2 publications. You can also email us at msp@msteacher.org.


March Mathness

There are more than nine quintillion (9 x 1018) ways to fill out a 64-team March Madness bracket — and almost 150 quintillion permutations for the 68 college basketball teams in this year’s men’s tournament of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

The Princeton University Press March Mathness blog includes interviews of sports rankings experts, coaches, and mathematicians. Their predictions take the power of mathematical methods of rating and ranking, and bring them to bear on the NCAA hoops tournaments. The blog will also provide updates on the group’s collective performance, and the best method for picking the winner.

Blog posts, which date back to March, 2011, have described how math is used during tournaments, as detailed in Princeton University Press books such as Mathletics: How Gamblers, Managers, and Sports Enthusiasts Use Mathematics in Baseball, Basketball, and Football by Wayne Winston and Amy Langville and Carl Meyer’s Who’s #1? [Thanks to the Math Forum for putting this information in their weekly newsletter!]

There are all sorts of ways people fill out their brackets. Google has filled out a bracket based on search volume http://www.google.com/insidesearch/collegebasketball.html. Check back often to see how they’re doing.

We’ve blogged about the integration of math and sports in the past, too – check them out at http://msms.ehe.osu.edu/category/sports/.


We Want Your Feedback
We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We appreciate your feedback on all of our Middle School Portal 2 publications. You can also email us at msp@msteacher.org.

All A Twitter About Math

Keeping up professionally takes time and effort and sometimes seems overwhelming. Following a few well-chosen educators or organizations can really help lighten the load. I am a big fan of Twitter. I am amazed at the wealth of wonderful resources that I discover through tweets. If you are interested in delving into the world of Twitter or perhaps are just looking for a few, good folks to follow, check out the following collections from the Best Colleges Online blog.

The 50 Best Twitter Feeds for Math Geeks

50 Essential Twitter Feeds for STEM Educators


We Want Your Feedback
We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts, subscribe via email, or download the RSS feed for this blog. Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We appreciate your feedback on all of our Middle School Portal 2 publications. You can also email us at msp@msteacher.org.

Citizen Science Projects

I came across this post – 12 Days of Christmasy Citizen Science Projects – and thought I would share some of my favorite Citizen Science Projects. One thing to remember – just because the word “science” is in the title doesn’t mean that these projects won’t fit into the middle school math curriculum. Many of these projects provide data sets that can be analyzed in a variety of ways!

If you would like to suggest other projects, please add them to the comments section.

Measure rain, snow, and hail:
CoCoRaHS (Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, & Snow)
Snowtweets

Track when leaves grow and flowers bloom in the spring:
National Phenology Network

Project Budburst

Observe migrating patterns:
National Audubon Society

Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Monarch Butterfly Studies

National Phenology Network

Monitor invasive species:
CitSci.org


We Want Your Feedback
We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts, subscribe via email, or download the RSS feed for this blog. Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We appreciate your feedback on all of our Middle School Portal 2 publications. You can also email us at msp@msteacher.org.