High School Mathematics-Physics SMILE Meeting
1997-2006 Academic Years
Miscellaneous: Science and Society

30 September 1997: James Chichester [Lincoln Way High School] Handout: Bound and Gagged
cartoon of a dog hanging his head out of a car. When the car stopped suddenly, the dog seemed to move backward in his seat [even though the wretch did not appear to have a seat belt on], and ended up with wrinkles in his bottom half. Clearly, the author of this strip [who also did the escalator cartoon shown last year in SMILE] has a non-Newtonian perspective on Physics.  Porter Johnson called attention to the Cartoon Laws of Physics; see http://remarque.org/~doug/cartoon-physics.html.

14 March 2000: John Bozovsky (Bowen HS)
treated us to A Physics Mystery!
Using a tape player (which had crisp, loud sound), he played a cassette of an Ellery Queen mystery. John enumerated the cast of characters on the board for us, and also critical questions for us to think about:

When the tape was done (we tend to forget how interesting the old radio stuff could be!), John pointed to each name and asked us who thought that person was guilty; then he recorded our vote. It turned out that Cornelius van Clique (from Holland) received the most votes - and it turned out that was correct! As John explained, the guilty person had dug in the wrong place because he assumed the map referred to distances in meters, and it was actually intended in yards. The only person from the continent, and who would normally assume meters, was the man from Holland. The measurements that had been paced off were wrong by about 1 part in 10, just about the difference in length between meter and yard. Neat! Cornelius van Clique (from Holland) meters

Comment by PJ: The British fought 5 "marine trade wars" with the Dutch in the 18th century, and lost them all, because the Dutch had better and faster ships. As a result, anti-Dutch expressions from British English are fairly common: i.e., "Dutch courage", "Dutch uncle", and "Double Dutch".

11 April 2000: Fred Schaal (Lane Tech HS)
asked us a few riddles:

26 September 2000 Al Tobecksen [Richards HS],
a long-term SMILE participant and mentor, was recently killed in an automobile accident. We will always remember Al for his light-hearted and dedicated approach to teaching. His wife Therese Tobecksen [ST Anthony School, Calumet City], also a long-term SMILE participant, has asked that I put this poem in our write-up:

-adapted from Robert Lewis Stevenson

Successful teachers are those who have lived well, laughed often, and loved much;
who have gained the respect of their colleagues and the love of children;
who leave the world better than they found it---whether by a hovercraft, water balloon launcher, or other science "toys";
who never lacked appreciation of earth's wonder or failed to express it;
who looked for the best in others and gave the best they had!

She said that she would never have seen Al "wearing his teacher hat" if she hadn't seen him in SMILE. We'll miss you every day, Al!

27 March 2001 Fred Schaal (Lane Tech Park HS, Math)
raised the following questions:

10 April 2001 Fred Schaal (Lane Tech HS, Math)

24 September 2002: Bill Colson (Morgan Park HS Mathematics)    French Educational System
read a dispatch from the October 2002 issue of Teacher Magazine [http://www.teachermagazine.org/] describing legislation under consideration in France, under which students who insult their teacher might be sent to prison for up to six months and/or pay heavy fines, in order to re-establish respect for authority figures. Supporters, including President Jacques Chirac, claim that punishing young people for such petty offenses as incivility with deter them from committing more serious crimes. How do you say spare the rod and spoil the child in French?  Very interesting, Bill!  Porter Johnson remarked that there are some significant differences in the rights guaranteed to citizens by the US Constitution, and Code Napoleon [http://www.pbs.org/empires/napoleon/n_clas/lawsliveon.html], the French / Continental European counterpart.  For a discussion of the impact of French Law in the US, see Louisiana and the Code Napoleon, http://www.la-legal.com/history_louisiana_law.htm.

10 December 2002: Larry Alofs [Kenwood Academy, Physics]    Handout: two items
 alerted us to the following item:  Science Guy Bill Nye Killed in Massive Vinegar/Baking-Soda Explosion, from The Onion: [http://www.theonion.com/].  Thanks, Larry!  Earl passed out a copy of the article by Charles M Madigan, Teachers top poll's list of truth-tellers, which appeared in the 08 December (Sunday) Chicago Tribune

28 January 2003: Bill Colson  [Morgan Park HS, Mathematics]       Krypton is a Gas
 passed around an article titled Shoot! That's impossible . . . ; Or is it? We come clean with tricky pic how-to's. 

Abstract: Make like Spidey You'll need: a friend and a brick driveway or walkway. ... Have a friend lie belly down on the brick pavement and pretend she's climbing. (Watch for cars if you're on a driveway.) ... Stand on a step stool or small ladder (to be on the safe side, have someone spot you) and take the photo from above.

This article, which concerns Trick Photography, appeared in the Kid News Section of the Chicago Tribune on 25 June 2002. It can be obtained from your local public library, or through the website http://www.chicagotribune.com/.

Bill then passed around a copy of a significant, recently published book, Krypton is a Gas:  The Science of Superheroes by Lois H Gresh and Robert Weinberg [Wiley 2002] ISBN 0-471-024602-0.  The following book description appears on the website http://www.amazon.com/.

"I found this book to be a hoot from beginning to end. Ms. Gresh and Mr. Weinberg must have spent some time in institutions for the deranged, because well-balanced minds could not have conceived of this project. But thank God for their derangement, for they have produced a package of pure fun from first page to last. If, like me, you admire superheroes from a distance, or if you are a hardcore fan of them, you will enjoy this book as surely as you would enjoy waking one morning to discover that you are invincible, able to fly, and in possession of a totally cool costume behind which to hide your true identity." [Dean Koontz, from the Introduction]
Bill explained that the superman evolved with time, beginning as an extremely strong man, and evolving into an arbitrarily strong superhero with x-ray vision, etc. Bill mentioned that the following questions [among others] were discussed in the book:

14 September 2004: Larry Alofs  [Kenwood HS, Physics]           Extra Credit History Lesson
accidentally discovered a rusty iron statue on the West side of Harlem Avenue, just North of the Stevenson Expressway (I-55).  The statue is of Fathers Marquette and Joliet, along with a native Indian guide, at the Chicago Portage Park. Public tours and informational programs will be held at this monument on Saturday mornings until the end of October.  Details may be obtained at the Chicago Portage Park website:  http://www.chicagoportage.org/Porter Johnson pointed out that Marquette and Joliet had gone down the Mississippi River after crossing Lake Michigan to Green Bay and making several difficult portages down the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers. The natives near ST Louis told them of a "quick path back" by going up the Illinois River and over to Lake Michigan, with only one very short portage to make.  These Jesuit explorers took that very good advice!

Interesting, Larry!

25 January 2005: Fred Schaal [Lane Tech HS  mathematics]           Prose and Poetry Day
In connection with the upcoming Prose and Poetry Day at his school, Fred read us several selections from the classic book Fantasia Mathematica by Clifton Fadiman [http://www.zooscape.com/cgi-bin/maitred/WhitePulp/isbn0387949313].  In particular, he read Bertrand Russell's Dream by G. H. Hardy, as well as "There Was A Young Fellow Named Fisk" by that prolific author, AnonymousFadiman frequently appeared on the TV program What's My Line

Thanks for the ideas, Fred!

08 March 2005: Bill Colson [Morgan Park HS, mathematics]              Poetry
read us these two poems that were used in connection with a No Talent Show at a weekend school event:

Enjoyable, Bill!

13 December 2005: Bill Colson [Morgan Park HS, mathematics]            Catalog
pointed us to the "Things You Never Knew Existed" Catalogue [http://www.thingsyouneverknew.com/home.do] by Johnson Smith Cohttp://www.johnsonsmith.com/. It has a lot of great stuff,  including stuff we have seen/used in SMILE. Roy added that the Oriental Trading Co catalogue [http://orientaltrading.com] is also a good source of materials.  Thanks, fellers!

02 May 2006: Brenda Daniel (Fuller Elementary School)                    Time for Kids ®
distributed copies of the version of Time Magazine for children -- provided gratis -- to her 4th grade class. The children enjoy reading this magazine [http://www.timeforkids.com], which has dealt with scientific topics such Pluto and planet X, the effects of smoking on health, and ecological systems. The magazines also strengthen the skills needed for taking the ISAT tests. Teachers were supplied with teachers’ guides, sample projects, and the like with each issue of the magazine. Worth knowing! Thanks, Brenda.

02 May 2006: Bill Colson (Morgan Park HS, math)                       Interesting  Websites
learned about the following interesting websites from  Make Magazine, Vol 05 http://www.makezine.com/:

Thanks, Bill!