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Showing posts from February, 2011

OpenOffice.org Writer Mail Merge Fields Insert Formula

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I use OpenOffice.org, LibreOffice.org to merge from the Calc spreadsheet to the Writer word processor module. I was merging raw scores and wanted to reflect the percentage correct after the raw score. I could have added a column to my grade book that would have calculated the percentage correct, but to do this for every assignment would double the column count of an already expansive spreadsheet.

Fumbling about with the Insert fields dialog box, I could not hit on the right combination. I even tried copying and pasting fields into the Insert formula dialog box, but to no avail. When copied and pasted, the field pastes as the field names only in angle brackets, such as and generates an invalid formula

Rumbling around inside the help files answered many simpler questions, but not how to set up a formula using a Calc spread sheet field name.


Stumbling about the web for an hour was also of no avail. Searches of the pertinent forums that are out there (oooforum, OpenOffice.org community fo…

Changes in latitude

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SC 130 Physcial Science continued exploring latitude and longitude in laboratory 072. The laboratory centered on the mathematical relationship between minutes of latitude and distance in meters.
Walking a line of longitude northbound
Some students used GPS units to walk the a  line of longitude north. The eight o'clock section walked the E 158° 09.570' line of longitude from N 6 °54.470 to N 6 °54.593. A surveyor's wheel put the distance at 243 meters.
 Alwihter rolls the surveyor's wheel
The eleveno'clock section walked the E 158° 09.569' line of longitude from N 6 °54.462 to N 6 °54.602. A surveyor's wheel put the distance at 284 meters. 

 Jesse and Bersin navigating
The power went off after eleven, thus the 11:00 section did not utilize Google Earth.
 David reads out his final latitude
The 11:00 section chose to cross the entrance road. Coupled with a start slightly further south than the eight o'clock class, the students obtained a longer run of the line…

Hide and Seek

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Every term the physical science students have located me,  in some terms they have located me within twenty minutes, other terms thirty minutes. The students always find me, the question is when, not whether. This term I wanted a location that would be more challenging to locate.
I was hoping for a location that would hold for forty minutes if possible. Using my knowledge of the alignment of lines of latitude and the penchant for the students to usually first "lock on to" the correct latitude line, I chose a latitude that would be potentially problematic if followed blindly. Although the area appears remote and isolated, in actuality the grass is veritably riddled with trails running to private picnic and rendezvous spots.
The trails fork out to different clearings under small trees, each with tell tale signs of human presence such as the blue styrofoam plate peeking out from the Nephrolepis ferns on the right in the image above.

Two teams simultaneously converged on my po…

Island Food Community of Pohnpei visit

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The SC/SS 115 Ethnobotany class visited the Island Food Community of Pohnpei. Coordinator Emihner Johnson gave a presentation on the need to Go Local!
Vanessa, Isabella, Mylinda, and Jasmine make up the front of the class.
In a nation that is number two for obesity and a state where the diabetes rate is 32%, Ms. Johnson led the students through the CHEEF framework. Ms. Johnson noted the need to support local Culture through the growing of traditionally valued crops. She noted too the Health benefits of local foods, especially the high beta-carotene content of particular varieties of local bananas, taro, and pandanus.
Local foods have a lower Environmental impact that foreign foods. The environmental impact of foreign foods that is seen here on Pohnpei is that of the improper disposal of packaging. Yet that is only the tip of an invisible ice berg. Foreign foods are typically energy intensive in their production, and mass production techniques often degrade the environment. The destruct…

Plumeria pudica, orchids, a rose, a lily, and an anthurium

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Plumeria pudica is not presently listed in the Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia with Local Names and Uses, 2010 (Allertonia, 10). The plant is, however, an ornamental found in gardens in Kolonia. Thus either the plant was not collected due to location or the plant is a recent introduction. At present my sense is that the plant is a fairly recent introduction. Allertonia 10 is a must have for any Micronesian scientific journal collection as well as for Pacific island botany and ethnobotany collections.


Obspatulate leaves.

I know the days are short, dark, and deeply gray in the northern hemisphere now. Punctuated by occasional days of blindingly cold sun on a white snow. I know that the heat and humidity of an equatorial marine rainy climate can be oppressive to those not acclimatized to the torrid tropics. There are bonuses, however. With proper neglect of the plants one can sit on the front driveway and enjoy a display worthy of any garden sh…

Rotary Club 5k fun run

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The first run of 2011, the Rotary Club of Pohnpei 5k, went off under cloudy, cool skies that gave way to rain. Good conditions for running hard here in the equatorial tropics. With children off on overnights, and a spouse still snuggled in bed on a dark morning, I was unaccompanied on the run.
 Sweeter and Debra Male mster's division winner Gary Female master's division winner Limat on the left, overall winner Rendy on the far right The future generation of runners

Gardenia jasminoides Variegata and a cloud

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Variegated Cape Jasmine Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides Variegata, also known as G. augusta, G. grandiflora) in bloom in the garden. One of the pleasures of Pohnpei is that plants such as variegated gardenia bloom with minimal care and attention.
A couple of sites note that the plant is not a prolific bloomer in the tropical lowlands. Here the plant, semi-shaded, blooms regularly and beautifully.
An orchid that opened up in the front yard. Cumilis humilis puff ball

Heat capacity of metals

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Physical Science laboratory 062 built off of a 31 year old video tape title Eureka: Heat and Temperature the students viewed on Monday. The college had acquired the video in 1993.  At the time I showed the video, I was unaware of the age of the video. Despite the age, the humor connected and the students laughed at a number of different sections.

I wanted to chase the idea of heat capacity, and I knew the lab had an eclectic collection of specific heat capacity materials. I opted to use Styrofoam cups as calorimeters because of their simplicity and insulation qualities.

I deliberately chose to avoid the mathematical formality of Q = mcΔT and the loss of heat by the heated metal objects and the gain of heat by the water. On a first run of the experiment I wanted the students to engage in a more open ended exploration of which metal held the most heat.
End of lab wrap-up
The experiment was by no means a discovery or constructivist oriented experiment per se. In a guided discussion I direc…

Saraca asoca, Saraca indica

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The soil in the triangle between the A classroom building, the B classroom building, and the north faculty office has killed off six Cananga odorata trees. Even the grass struggles to grow in the top soil free red clay. Thus the success of Saraca asoca is a pleasant and fragrant surprise.
Native to India, the tree is known as the Ashoka tree and is used in traditional ethnobotanical medicines. The bark apparently contains an estrogenic ketosterol compound. The bark is also the active ingredient in a number of gynecological medicines.


Scientific classification Kingdom: Plantae (unranked): Angiosperms (unranked): Eudicots (unranked): Rosids Order: Fabales Family: Fabaceae Genus: Saraca Species: S. asoca Binomial name: Saraca asoca (Roxb.) Wilde Synonyms: Saraca indica Linnaeus

Cantilevers, physical science, and rational functions

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As an experiment, I opted to conclude the week on forces not with a quiz but rather with demonstration of a non-linear system in which a meter stick cantilever arm balances an increasing amount of mass on the other of the suspension line. This was a modification from earlier terms.
The final mass was a whopping 3050 grams suspended by a single string
In 056 Center of gravity and static force, a single 200 gram meter stick is suspended from an overhead track using a string. The exercise begins with no mass hung from one end of the meter stick and the string tied at the 50 cm mark. The meter stick hangs balanced.

A 50 gram mass is added as close to the end as possible, and the string is moved towards the mass in order to rebalance the system. The length of the balancing arm of the meter stick was recorded in a table. Then additional masses were added. The data gathered is contained in the following table.


Cantilever length (cm)mass (gmf)Theory (gmf)500-059.5504761.5606063707065.5909067.71…