Density of soap

The fall term began with a laboratory that introduces measurement through the measurement of the density of soap.

Redsea carves soap
I began the laboratory with the Freeman Dyson quote:

For a physicist mathematics is not just a tool by means of which phenomena can be calculated, it is the main source of concepts and principles by means of which new theories can be created... ...equations are quite miraculous in a certain way. ... the fact that nature talks mathematics, I find it miraculous. ... I spent my early days calculating very, very precisely how electrons ought to behave. Well, then somebody went into the laboratory and the electron knew the answer. The electron somehow knew it had to resonate at that frequency which I calculated. So that, to me, is something at the basic level we don't understand. Why is nature mathematical? But there's no doubt it's true. And, of course, that was the basis of Einstein's faith. I mean, Einstein talked that mathematical language …

Algebra and trigonometry outside a computer laboratory

For twenty years, since 1997, MS 101 Algebra and Trigonometry has been taught in the A204 math science computer laboratory permitting the use of desktop computers in the course. Due to a scheduling conflict one section of the course was scheduled outside of the computer laboratory this term. The class was assigned to a classroom known as B201.

B201 second floor, left end of B building
By coincidence the college had just installed a new directional WiFi antenna that lit B201.

New antenna atop south faculty building seen against the sky to the right of building center
On the first day of class 14 of 21 registered students attended the class. I found that nine of the fourteen students had mobile technology - either a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. I also found that only five of the fourteen had a copy of the textbook, a textbook that retails for $294 dollars at the bookstore. Knowing that we needed graphing technology provided by Desmos, I saw the obvious solution. Have those in the class …

Numeric information in graphic forms skills pre-assessment

Underneath the focus on physical systems, SC 130 Physical Science is built on a foundation of connecting physical systems to their mathematical models and communicating the results in writing. Laboratory exercises lead to the writing of a full laboratory report that is marked for content, syntax, grammar, vocabulary, organization, and cohesion.

Cutting soap to make a new volume versus mass measurement
The majority of the laboratories investigate systems that involve a linear mathematical relationship. Reports include xy scatter graphs, best fit linear trend lines, slope, and y-intercept analysis. The course outline includes the learning outcome, "Students will generate mathematical models for physical science systems." This serves a general education program learning outcome, "Students will be able to present and interpret numeric information in graphic forms," which in turn serves an institutional learning outcome for quantitative reasoning: "Students will be …


Day two in ethnobotany was a field day searching for plants lost in a sea of Ischaemum polystachyum.

Kira cleaning up around Myristica fragrana
Reinhardt Jr. cleaning around the Cymbopogon citratus
Saccharum spontaneum
Working amidst the Macaranga carolinensis, Merremia peltata, and Ischaemum polystachyum
Jamie with the Cymbopogon citratus
Shanaleen pulling Ischaemum polystachyum
Senna alata on the left
Senna alata from the inside
Post-class explanations The plants and their uses are briefly cited in the class flora.

Mangrove health and canopy insects of the mangrove

Ethnobotany class began this fall with a day one presentation by researchers who are studying the health of the mangroves and the canopy insects of the mangroves. The team members that visited the class included Richard MacKenzie, Maybeleen Apwong, Kristin Jayd, and Ethan Hughes.

The presentation led off with Richard introducing the team and their background. Maybeleen Apwong is on the far right of the image above.

Ethan Hughes is seen on the left above, he joined the team from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

The ethnobotany class launched with 19 of the 23 students registered present on day one.

Dr. MacKenzie covered the important role of the mangrove habitat to the environment. The mangrove provides food for communities, is a source of wood for fuel and construction - wood which is also a carbon sink, wildlife habitat, filters runoff from the island, provides a nursery for many fishes, buffers against storms and waves, and provides a sources of many traditional medicines.


Mathematics content workshop day five: Technology and workshop assessment

Friday the sessions moved into the PICS dining hall. There I hooked up a television to a ChromeCast unit using ED District One's free WiFi. A shout out of thanks to Senator Ferny Perman for his role in supporting the deployment of Internet to schools in his district. The ChromeCast and Internet allowed me to demonstrate Schoology, open educational resources, and Desmos to the mathematics instructors.

The session led off with a demonstration of capabilities of Schoology. In the brief time I could only scratch the surface of the vast depth and breadth of capabilities in Schoology. I showed the teachers the assignment submission system, online testing, attendance, gradebook, grade setup, the use of custom marking rubrics. I mentioned messaging and the phone app for Schoology.

I then showed the teachers the open educational resource from OpenStax that I used in my algebra and trigonometry course this past summer, OpenStax Algebra and Trigonometry. While OpenStax focuses on collegiate …