Sunday, July 26, 2015

Win-Win Rocks!

Connections make it happen
There is a grass roots movement occurring to build pathways to Tech Education for Middle Tennessee's children.  I have been involved with the tech community for 4 years and there has always been a wish to see ways opened to help students, especially poverty students, move into these lucrative jobs.  There were various camps held by different user groups which were funded by volunteers.  Each of the camps would serve 20 or so children.  They wanted to make a difference but the work was just a drop in the bucket compared to the 90.000 students in MNPS alone and many more in other counties, private schools and home school groups.

Lately I have noticed this trend gaining momentum.  Part of the change is due to the grants given by government to bolster Tech Ed.  There are groups like the Nashville Technology Council that are identifying the resources and needs in the area of tech education.  There are some innovative programs that have been adopted  by governmental entities such as the Nashville Public Library and Rutherford County Schools.

I was delighted last week to hear about the work Kandy Powers put into implementing a coding program in in ESP, the Rutherford County after care program.  Her programs requires a team of people working in tandem to create needed resources.  She partnered with the Nashville Technology Council, the local branch of United Way, TCAT Murfreesboro, Beth Duffield from the Rutherford County Chamber, and others to bring her programs to life.  She is a fantastic connector and deserves to be celebrated.

I am including an interview from WGNS last week with Bryan Barrett, Representative Mike Sparks,  Beth Duffield,  Kandy Powers and me so you can hear directly from these change agents about the programs they are implementing in their county.  Follow the link below to reach the page for a recording of this broadcast.

Two of the candidates for mayor would like to create similar programs in Nashville.  I have spoken to  Bill Freeman and Charles Robert Bone.  Both men have a plan to implement a program similar to the one Ms. Powers runs in Rutherford County.  I am excited to see these pathways open here.  The next step would see these pathways open in our regular public schools so children can learn about coding early in their education instead of waiting until upper middle school.  We also need to make the opportunities more widely available.  Currently only a few schools offer coding and the entire public school population is not served in after school programs.

So today I am celebrating progress and waiting for more.  There are so many tech jobs opening here in Nashville.  We have the potential to become a video gaming hub.  Talk about a dream job!  We need to get kids ready so they can create the next great game, social media experiment, and/or app.  When we do help them gain these skills the course of their lives and the affluence of our community will improve.  I love win win opportunities.  Don't you?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Rutherford County ESP Tech Teaching

        Last week there was a Coders Camp in Murfreesboro. Tennessee for the students in the Hobgood Elementary ESP.  The enrolled students explored aspects of the tech and maker movement.  Various students built robots, deconstructed toys, programmed on, created games and cards in scratch and built websites.  It was an amazing experience for my children
and fun to watch the children blossom into makers instead of end users.

       They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  I have been given permission by Rutherford County to share these pictures and the story of this Coders Camp.

We began the week with coding.

These two are working together to create a talking unicorn.

This student was the first to demo a game she created.

This young one would rather code than eat.  I was so happy that he was enjoying himself. We did eventually get him out the door for lunch. He was the first back through the door when lunch was over.

Getting to know micro controllers for the first time.

These young girls wired up this micro controller as if they had been working with these their whole life.
They were confident and competent. Their first project. a keyboard made from gummies, worked beautifully.

Working together to create an original drumming song for a video game.

Learning the volt-a-meter inside and out.

A group of students are gearing up to build a video game controller from a Micro controller and tin foil.

These young men are building their first robot from a bottle top and a pager motor.

 These pictures give the highlights but we covered a significant amount of material.  The kids were engaged and the parents we met told us how pleased they were with this camp experience.  The camp broadened the knowledge base and horizons of  the students involved.  It was made possible through cooperation between Rutherford County Schools, United Way of Rutherford County, Nashville Technology Council, Hobgood ESP and the Mott Grant which funded the camp.  We thank all of you for your efforts.

Want to make your own Micro controller art or other do-dad. Here is a link to point you to our favorite first micro-controller for beginners.

Visit us at

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Segment 3 of Dr Rules Notes- Division and Fractions to Enjoy

Division and Fractions

Division is to multiplication what subtraction iss to addition. They undo one another.
Fractions are a special case of division. Here are some things to remember and talk about one at a time with a child to build numeracy skills:

  • 1 and 0 are special numbers
  • All real numbers can be expressed as fractions
  • Fractional parts are between 0 and 1
    • ½, ¼, 1/8 all between 0 and 1
  • Zero is the line of demarcation which divides the positive from the negative numbers
    • It would fall into the category of an even number but it's not divisible by two
  • 0 cannot divide because the answer is undefined. I am going to explain why it's undefined in a minute.
  • As the number in the denominator gets small er the fraction gets larger
    • 1/4<1/3/<1/2<1/1<1/1/2( one over one half) 1/1/2=2 (one over one half equals 2)
    • 1/1/4 =4 (read one divided by one fourth equals four)
    •  1/1/10000=10000 - one divided by one ten thousandth equals one ten thousand
    •  1/1/10000000=10000000 One over one-millionth equals one million
  • As the denominator gets smaller the value gets greater
    • So 1/0 would be infinitely large
We call 1/0 undefined because we cannot comprehend infinity.
If you have 2/0 you would have 2 X infinity which we just can't wrap our mind around.

Another cool things about about fractions to remember. Fractions allow you to divide by multiplying. Its an advantage of fractions over decimals. You can multiply the reciprocal of the second fraction to divide.

Example: One half divided by One fourth = 1/2 X 4/1

I hope you enjoy thinking about these math curiosities this week and testing them as I have.  Next week I will share his thoughts on advanced Math and Math as a philosophy.

Can't stand to wait a week?  I understand.  Try: I love Theoni Papas books.  Her work is perspective changing.  A great math teacher.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Dr Rule's Notes on Odd and Even Numbers

You may have forgotten these or you might not have heard but these are some handy things to remember when dealing with numbers.  There are two types of counting numbers: even and odd. Even numbers can be divided evenly by two.  All counting numbers that aren't even are odd.

8 things to remember if you are dealing with Odd/Even numbers:

  • If you have an even number you know it can be reduced
  • If you add two odd numbers you will get an even numbers
  • If you add two even numbers together you will get an even number
  • The only way you can get an odd sum is by adding an odd and an even
  • If you multiply odd numbers you get an odd number
  • If you multiply even numbers you are going to get an even number
  • If you mult an even and an odd you get an even number
  • The only way to get an odd product is to multiply two odd numbers- Knowing this is handy if you need to dived an odd number by an odd number because you know your answer will have to be an odd number.
You can test these with a child and let them see that these are true.  Usually children are surprised as they begin to check these.  It can be fun to watch how they react.
Pass this information on to a parent.  The best way to help our students learn Mathematics is to scaffold their classroom learning at home. This can be a jumping off point for a conversation over dinner.