On the campus of

AIMS Scholars Engineer Festively!

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 degrees offered by FPU in Math or STEM Education. I would like to tell you about what the STEM Education Master’s candidates are doing during the week of June 19th, 2017, but first I need to give you some history.

Throughout the 1970s, ’80s, and into the ‘90s, FPU Grad Math Science put on a series of summer Festivals. There were festivals in Mathematics, Science, and Technology. Hundreds of teachers would come to the Fresno campus in June for a two-week, day-long collection of courses taught by a variety of experts in their fields. To say that these festivals were life changing would be an understatement, and I can say this because I attended two of them myself in 1989 and 1990. These altered my professional trajectory for the rest of my life. I was not alone, just ask Lori Hamada, the Executive Director of the AIMS Center herself, she had a very similar experience. We were permanently changed by the hot, sweaty hours we spent solving problems for Father Stanley Bezuska, Lola May, Margaret (Peg) Kinney, Wil Reimer, and Jim Wilson, to name the most familiar names.

Unfortunately, these festivals have gone away in recent years. However, through the support of AIMS, FPU’s Master of Arts in STEM Education is once again offering something similar. This year is the second offering of the Engineering in the Classroom Festival. While we do not serve hundreds of teachers like those earlier festivals, we still have a strong and committed group of over 50 K-8th grade teachers who come early in the morning, stay late into the VERY hot afternoons, and they work hard to come to grips with the applications of the mathematical and scientific concepts they have been studying. In my next post I will go into greater detail on what sorts of things they are doing, but to give you a taste, these students are studying the simple machines that humans have discovered, how they can be used to create more complex machines that do the work our backs would prefer not to do. Furthermore, they are designing, modeling, bench testing, and re-designing apparatus to be attached to rockets to slow their descent (see video for one of the rocket engines being used with a car to discover Baseline data for their experiments). To top it off, they are also studying the physics and mathematics of intricate paper-folding techniques that allow such apparatus to be deployed in small volumes on these same rockets. All this amidst a very collegial and collaborative environment to boot.

Share

What Will You Read?

Children ran from school buses with shrieks of excitement and expectations of what the next two and a half months might bring, the telltale sign that school is out for the summer in my town. Teachers have left their classrooms for a well-deserved break. Over the next two and half months they will imagine, think… Continue Reading

Partners in Education

We have talked a lot about partners in the work we are doing here at the AIMS Center. Typically, we refer to our Head Start or school partners, but today I would like to broaden that description. I was invited to join a statewide group known as the California Community of Practice around Mathematics, sponsored… Continue Reading

Divergent Thinking Puzzles

A Touchy Situation

I am indebted to Robert Benjamin, a scientist from the Los Alamos National Laboratory, for A Touchy Situation. Bob first did this activity with his son when his son was in kindergarten. Therefore, he feels that the activity is appropriate for students at all grade levels. He also notes that the activity works best if students use… Continue Reading

Relative Reckonings

Relative Reckonings

This week’s Puzzle Corner activity comes from the field of recreational mathematics where people do math just for the fun of it. One of the areas of recreational mathematics is logic. Logic puzzles are usually challenging and are normally resistant to quick and easy solutions.The puzzle presented here, Relative Reckonings, is no exception. This puzzle… Continue Reading

Shrinking Square Challenge

Shrinking Square Challenge

This week’s Puzzle Corner activity is a seemingly simple one that may prove more difficult than one might expect. In it, students place four pennies on the corners of the square pictured. They are then challenged to move only two of the coins to create a new square that is smaller than the original. Most students will need to… Continue Reading

It’s a Snap!

It’s a Snap!

This week’s Puzzle Corner activity is an adaptation of a classic puzzle from recreational mathematics. It is traditionally posed as a thought problem to be worked out in your head; as such, it is moderately difficult. However, I have found that many elementary school children can solve this puzzle -if they have manipulatives to make it concrete.… Continue Reading

Locating Legs

Locating Legs

This week’s Puzzle Corner activity has a holiday theme. In it, students are presented with a paradoxical scenario and asked to try to make sense of it. In this scenario a child is hiding under a table at her parent’s holiday party. Looking out, she can count 20 legs and thus knows there are 10 adults in… Continue Reading

Family Ties

Family Ties

This weeks’s Puzzle Corner activity is a collection of three riddles all dealing with the relationships between relatives. The first one is thought to be many hundreds of years old and is one of the best known brainteasers of all time. I have chosen to leave it in its original form, even though the style of English… Continue Reading

The Relative Riddle

The Relative Riddle

This week’s Puzzle Corner is a classic riddle requiring reasoning to reconcile. (Please forgive the crude alliteration.) While many of you have encountered this riddle before and already know the answer, the riddle probably caused curious consternation (I beg your pardon once more) the first time you saw it. Riddles like the one presented here… Continue Reading

Alphabetical Puzzlers

Alphabetical Puzzlers

This week’s Puzzle Corner is a collection of puzzles dealing with letters of the alphabet. While they are not necessarily mathematical in nature (although one could argue this point), these puzzles have a place in a well-rounded mathematics curriculum. Alphabetical Puzzlers is a collection of four puzzles that use letters of the alphabet in a… Continue Reading