High School SMILE Meeting
13 December 2005
"Bill Cosby and Jaime Escalante head an all-star cast in this one-of-a-kind comedy that answers the most-asked question about math: "Why do I need to learn this?" This exciting and humorous video shows viewers of all ages how math is used in real life, from skateboard design to rollercoaster construction. A great resource for both classroom and family viewing. Originally aired on PBS during Back to School Week, Math ... Who Needs It?! has remained a favorite of students, teachers and parents throughout the country."It is available from FASE Productions; 4801 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 215; Los Angeles, CA 90010 -- tel 1-800-404-FASE, ext. 267. Electronic Order form: http://www.fasenet.org/store/order_form.PDF.
Bill Colson [Morgan Park HS,
Bill called attention to a set of commemorative stamps that honor Richard Feynman and other scientists. For details see the USPS website http://www.usps.com/communications/news/stamps/2004/sr04_076.htm and the Friends of Tuva website: http://www.fotuva.org/online/frameload.htm?/online/stamp.html. Be sure to obtain this stamp before 08 January 2006, when postage rates increase.
Bill also pointed us to the "Things You Never Knew Existed" Catalogue [http://www.thingsyouneverknew.com/] by Johnson Smith Co: http://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!
What is Zulu
Earl called attention to a recent answer to the question "What is ZULU time?" by meteorologist Tom Skilling. It appeared in the Chicago Tribune on Monday, 12 December 2005 on the weather page under the heading Ask Tom Why. The earth's surface is divided into 24 time zones, each representing a longitudinal width of 15 degrees. Each time zone is represented by a letter For the time zone of the Prime Meridian the corresponding letter is Z, which is identified with the word Zulu in the phonetic alphabet .... Able, Baker, Charlie, .... Zulu. Tres Simple! For additional details see the WGN Weather Blog: http://wgntv.trb.com/news/weather/weblog/wgnweather/.
Carl Martikean [Proviso Math and Science
Biochemistry and Other Things
Carl had been discussing motion with his freshman class and asked them to plot the motion described by the first two stanzas of Paul Revere's Ride by J W Longfellow: http://eserver.org/poetry/paul-revere.html. Here is the first stanza:
Carl then passed out samples of Mozzarella cheese that he had made from regular pasteurized whole milk (see http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=550085.). There is also a recipe for Ricotta -- in Italian it is called ricotta because it is made from recooked whey, a byproduct of preparing basic cheese. Junket Rennet tablets (http://www.junketdesserts.com/junketrennettablets.aspx) are located in the ice cream section of the supermarket. Four liters (a gallon) of milk makes about one kilogram (two pounds) of cheese, taking about 5 hours -- most of the time be spent between steps, waiting. Natural lactic acid production by lactobacillus serves to lower the pH in commercially made cheese. Citric acid can be used to speed up the process and to serve the same purpose -- it can also be found in the supermarkets, either as food grade coffee pot cleaner or in the Kosher food section as sour/sauer salt: http://www.spicebarn.com/citric_acid_sour_salt.htm.
Carl also pointed out that (1) European cheeses are often made from non-Pasteurized milk, which is not legal in the USA, (2) Cheese was traditionally developed to preserve milk products --- cheese lasts but milk curdles, (3) low-fat cheeses are made from skim milk, and high-fat cheeses from high-fat milk -- there is no mystery!, and (4) the most common widely milked domestic animal on earth is sheep -- and not cows or goats. Porter Johnson remarked that cheese in many European countries is marked by fat content: 10 means 10% fat content; 40+ means more than 40% fat content, etc.
Your samples were not bad, Carl! Thanks.
Ron Tuinstra [Illiana Christian
Using the projector attached to his laptop computer, Ron ran a graphics package that does virtual dissections to display images involving human anatomy. The graphics were developed from actual dissections of the cadaver of a 68 year old male who died of a heart attack -- and a prototype female is under preparation. The software package is being marketed mostly for college classes, but Ron makes very good use of it for his students. Various functions permit manipulations such as 90o - 180o - 270o rotations, zoom in and zoom out, etc. Ron then gave us a more detailed demo using the tissue selecting function to examine the skeleton. Bones can be identified, or can be added to or removed from the image. This Virtual Dissector software package can be ordered for about $500 (site licenses are available) for installation from the Touch of Life Technologies website http://www.toltech.net/. Ron also ran the Virtual Moon Atlas package, which may be obtained free from the NASA website: [http://www.ap-i.net/avl/en/download]. The planetary configuration could be recovered for any date. Ron displayed them for 29 February 1940, Porter's official non-birthday. The heavens were portentous on that date!
What powerful visualization tools for understanding human anatomy, as well as for astronomy! Thanks, Ron.
During a lull in the activities during setup, Porter described an actual conversation between a Biologist (B) and a Physicist (P).
P: Please tell me something about the human brain.Chris Etapa [Gunsaulus Academy, science] Waves
B: Well, actually there are several brains functioning more or less independently in the human body, with linkages.
P: Wait, wait! You already told me too much!
Next was a simple apparatus. To a tape of length about 50 cm, she attached (hanging vertically) about 30 plastic straws at equal intervals. By flicking the straws appropriately, she produced a clearly visible transverse wave propagating down the tape. It is a variation of the rather pricey Bell Wave Machine [http://www.physics.ucla.edu/demoweb/demomanual/harmonic_motion_and_waves/waves/bell_wave_machine.html], except that this version is practically free!.
Finally Chris had eight of us stand in a line at the front of the room with arms interlocked. She shoved gently at one end of the line to produce motion, which was transmitted down the line to each member in turn. This is a "human model" of how seismic waves are transmitted through the Earth during an earthquake. Longitudinal, transverse, and shear waves were illustrated by these august performers!
Neato! Thanks Chris, and thanks to your valiant team.
Erik Jurgens [Joliet Township HS,
Projectile Motion Made Visible
It can be obtained from K-Mart® for about $10. A similar toy can be found at the Dollar Store®. It is a plastic air gun -- about 60 cm long and 5 cm in diameter --which shoots a Nerf™ projectile. Erik attached a streamer (about 2 m long )to the projectile. When the gun is fired, the path of the projectile is made highly visible, thanks to the streamer which traces out a smooth, roughtly parabolic path. An excellent invention, Erik!
Marva Anyanwu [Wendell Green School,
Teaching the Metric System
Marva asked us to write down in proper format the expressions for three hundred millimeters [300 mm] and thirty-six kilograms [36 kg] on a sheet. Then she gave us each a list of eight questions to answer, as well as an answer sheet. Here are the questions and answers about the metric system [http://lamar.colostate.edu/~hillger/#metric]:
Very nice! Thanks, Marva.
The following people are scheduled for our first SMILE meeting of the Spring semester, Tuesday January 24, 2006, at 4:30 pm in room 152 Life Sciences building:
Happy Holidays! See you next year at our first meeting!
Notes prepared by Ben Stark and Porter Johnson.