Author Archives: Chris Brownell
Engineering Week. It’s a lot like Shark Week, but with the kind of interaction where you learn to make the Miura fold instead of losing an arm.
Before going much further, watch the video at the top of my earlier blog post on this topic: AIMS Scholars Engineer Festively! From June 23, 2017. In it, you will see a rocket cart with no “recovery apparatus” attached. Note how far it travels.
During the week of June 19, 2017, a good portion of the present AIMS Scholars attended FPU’s Engineering in the Classroom Festival. It is a required course for those working on a MA in STEM Education and an option for a few other degrees. This year’s focus was on Mechanical Engineering. The participants, all of whom are teachers in the Central or Southern San Joaquin Valley of California, were provided instruction in several areas related to this theme. They passed through a rotation of classes with Mr. Daniel Loewen, Dr. Steve Pauls, and Ms. Aileen Rizo.
Dan’s section focused on the mechanics of slowing a rocket sled, and the mathematics needed to calculate precisely how much slowing could be accomplished with various apparatus. Of course, it’s easy to make a sled stop, just strap a big brick to the back of it that has too much mass for it to go anywhere. This was not the goal though. Instead, these teachers were to model, using mathematics, a few designs that met some very specific mass and volume limits and maximize slowing within those parameters.
Steve’s section focused upon the use of what are known as “Simple Machines” (internet hunt quiz time: what are those five machines, and are there examples of each of them within your muscular-skeletal system?). The teachers performed numerous physics experiments upon each of these machines to understand and communicate that understanding to students the properties at work.
Aileen’s section was the most eclectic. For this session, the teachers were investigating the physics and mechanics of paper-folding, its applications, and methods to model it within a virtual medium like a computer program. They folded paper to create rigid-structures that could withstand compression (a topic from last year’s Engineering Festival) in order to increase reference area for deployment in rocket systems. Then, they examined some very interesting fold patterns that occur in sudden compression. For example, what happens when a piece of paper is wrapped around two cylinders that are separated by a ¾” gap, then the two cylinders are twisted in opposite directions and pushed together to close the gap? Try it for yourself and see.
Now watch this video. In it, you will see AIMS Scholars who have mathematically modeled a particular paper fold and parachute volume that is designed to slow the rocket sled within a predicted distance. The fold came from the lessons learned within Aileen’s class, the use of machines was analyzed in Steve’s, and the modeling and application was accomplished in Dan’s. What do you suppose could come from this experience in the classrooms of these teachers? We are AIMSing (pun intended) for great things.
Wilma T. Hashimoto is also a member of the AIMS Early Math Team and joins Chris in the studio. She talks of her journey to become a researcher of early learning, her many years of working on behalf of young children, and some of the active research she is involved in. For Wilma learning through… Continue Reading
Elizabeth Gamino shares her story the Early Math Team’s focus on brain development and its influence learning in pre-school aged children. The effects of early math on later academic success became a focus, and driving force into further study. Ultimately this team has focused “Center-based Activities,” and some games that this team has created for… Continue Reading
The AIMS Center for Math and Science Education, the working arm of the AIMS Education Foundation, has committed to helping teachers in the greater Central Valley of California pursue their Master’s degrees at Fresno Pacific University. To this end, funds have been set aside to scholarship teachers interested in earning one of the two MA… Continue Reading
Beverly Ford, updates us on the progress she and the other members of her team are observing in their work within a particular school setting. She tells a few stories related to how her students are demonstrating various stages of learning. Bev expands on some of the things her partner, David Pearce, discussed in last… Continue Reading
David Pearce, presently a member of our Coordinating Units team spent that last year working with the K-1 students. He relates to us a few instances where he saw the work of Steffe and others come to life, and how it is changing his perspective on children’s mathematics. Continue Reading
Aileen Rizo is a member of our Early Math Team and works primarily with children in the Pre-School ages of 3-4 years old. Their work and investigation into how children at this age is primarily focused upon how youngsters develop from being able to recite a number word sequence (one that may not, in fact,… Continue Reading
Description: Dr. Steve Pauls talks with us about what are the factors that can alter perception. We discuss the role of context and how it can reveal or conceal information that your brain processes. With nearly 11 million bits of sensory data assailing your brain at any single moment, our brains have evolved impressive routines… Continue Reading
The California Mathematics Council is a statewide organization dedicated to enhancing the learning and teaching of mathematics to all students. Most California readers of AIMS blogs are likely familiar with the work of this organization, but may be unaware that it has local expressions. These local entities are known as “affiliates” within the organization itself.… Continue Reading
Grace Florez is a member of our “Units Construction” team that works primarily with children of Kindergarten age. They work to understand the research around how these children progress from the need to see and touch physical objects to count them; to being able to construct units out of tens. Grace tells us of a… Continue Reading