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American Revolution Sacrifices

What a great short video about the sacrifices of our patriot fathers.  David McCullough has a great storytelling voice doesn’t he?  If you want to read some additional really cool stories about little known patriots of the Revolution, pick up a copy of Unlikely Heroes by Ron Carter from Amazon.  It’s an amazing book about people who rose to the challenges they faced at the peril of their lives and risked it all to help win our freedom.

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Seattle Board President Finally Gets It

Three years after voting for Everyday Math, Seattle’s school board president has delivered an articulate message about how content is king.  In ASD, I’ve heard many times from a couple of great teachers how they can use Investigations math and the kids really learn.  I still have my doubts that those students are keeping up with peers that are receiving more content, but I have no doubt they are among the best students on Investigations.

What this board president has finally come to realize, is that the bottom 90% of teachers teach from the text, not from a position of math mastery.  They only teach what the book contains because they don’t know enough to cover anything else.  Solid texts contain material that those 90% of teachers need.  Of course the best result would come from solid texts and solidly content math trained teachers who know and understand the math they are teaching.

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Math Achievement Problem Solved

The United States has finally arrived at what is sure to be the “rising tide” that “lifts all boats”.  A new federal study has shown…that chewing gum raises math test scores by 3%. No word yet on how much Wrigley poured into the study to fund it, or if different flavors affected performance adversely like garlic lemon flavored sugar free-gum.

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Model Rocketry

I loved model rocketry as a kid.  I got started when I was in cub scouts and my Boy’s Life magazine had ads in it for Estes and Century rocket kits.  I think my first rocket was the Alpha 3, a simple starter kit with the plastic fin unit so you didn’t have to clue any individual fins on.

I remember building the Mean Machine, a 6 footer, which I did poorly as a child and wound up using tape as an extra help for the seams between body tube parts.  It still didn’t act solid and I remember when we went to launch it, it came down with the tail on fire and was going to land in a corn field.  One of the adults with us went running in and all you could see was his hand stick out above the corn and catch the rocket.

My favorite rocket (after I got proficient) was the Omega 3.  It was a 3 stage D engine rocket and I owned at least 2 of them, maybe 3.  I lost one after it went so high into the air we lost sight of it till it was coming down and over 1/2 mile away.  We never caught it.  Those were great rockets.

I loved night flights too.  We’d stick firecrackers into rocket tubes upside down instead of chute wadding and when the hot gasses would fire to eject the parachute, the firecrackers would explode several hundred feet in the air.  Cylume sticks taped to the outside of the rockets allowed us to track them as they came down.

One time I even got a bad batch of rocket engines and one of my bigger diameter rockets was caught on film totally by accident, having a flame out on the launch pad with the engine splitting open on its side and instantly burning a hole in the side of the rocket and spinning it wildly in front of us.  That was great fun.

Oh and then the time we were at the church for scouts and thought we’d fire off a rocket in the parking lot rather than the field and for whatever reason (I’m convinced it was solely because of Murphy’s law) the rocket went up about 100 feet and then spun around and shot straight into the parking lot full of cars, hit the pavement and went screaming off toward some cars just narrowly missing them.

Nowadays, the hobby is so big you have to invest a lot more money than the old $0.99 Mosquito rockets.  Engines don’t stop at D any more, they’re up through E, F, G, H…I think I’ve seen M’s online somewhere.  That’s massive.  But this video takes the cake (at least for now).  Wish I could have been there for this launch.

(turn up your volume to feel the launch)

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Atlas Shrugged

Mark Perry runs a great blog called Carpe Diem and I encourage you to check out some of the things he posts.  This particular link will show you the Google hits and Amazon books sales graphs for the book Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.

If you haven’t read the book (and as of this post I haven’t, but it’s sitting next to my bedside waiting for me to finish up the book “Blink”), it is a novel published in 1957 that was an expose on socialism and the loss of individual rights.  It begins with a simple question, “Who is John Galt?”  If you’ve seen that on a tax party day sign, this is the source.

Here is a video with pictures of Ayn and quotes from the book.  The quotes go too fast to read them completely so you’ll have to pause the video periodically.

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Euclid’s geometry

I got into an interesting discussion with a teacher in Massachusetts and he sent me a link to a Euclid’s geometry book online that is pretty neat.  This is more for schools and teachers as a resource, but some of you parents or engineers may enjoy checking this out.

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“Universities will be irrelevant”

Kudos to David Wiley at BYU for his forward thinking on higher education. Check out this article in which he discusses the need for open learning.

“At its core, the open education movement and the larger open content, copyleft movement has “a fundamental belief that knowledge is a public good and should be fully shared,” explains Catherine Casserly, senior partner with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Wiley, she says, is viewed in the open education realm as an imaginative innovator who is always thinking of new applications for disseminating knowledge to the many instead of keeping it “locked up” for the benefit of the few.”,5143,705298649,00.html

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News Flash: Gore Tells Congress Climate Most Important Issue Ever

Al Gore never ceases to amaze.  Solving global warming will now take care of all our problems…  We’ve got to fix this NOW! 🙂

Gore told a House hearing that the Democratic bill that would limit carbon dioxide and other pollution linked to a warming of the earth will simultaneously solve the problems of the climate, economy and national security.