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Comment: Re: chalk? (Score 1) 387

I teach maths and have taught various subjects for over 20 years. Since I have worked in mainstream schools the last 5 years or so I have come to use the electronic whiteboard more and more. I have no problem teaching off the top of my head with a pencil and paper (or a stick and some sand) but all my planned material revolves around the use and functionality of the IWB (and other devices such as using mobile devices - ipads in our case - to access electronic material).

It is so much more useful in the long run. The students can have an electronic copy of the lesson (before and after), you dont waste time "rubbing stuff out", you can come back to items whenever you please and you can reuse material so easily from lesson to lesson, year to year.

That is before you consider the inbuilt (and other) functionality the electronic whiteboard offers. In our case we have built in transformation tools, on screen rulers, protractors, compasses, graphing facilities etc. Then when you branch out and use apps, websites etc the amount of interactivity and usefulness increases massively.

This never replaces good old fashioned teaching and knowledge and methods, but as an added bonus it can be massive.

However, at the end of the day, you cannot do proper mathematics without resorting to proper work on paper, with a pen or pencil and a bit of brainpower and a lot of patience. That will never be replaced electronically.

Comment: Re:Why is this exciting? (Score 1) 431

by Dazzadowling (#46422925) Attached to: Jewish School Removes Evolution Questions From Exams
What sort of summary were you expecting to be 'written in stone'?
These ideas, fleshed out in detail, in science and mathematics, may grow to be so much more than a cliched one liner:
compare with

In what sense are these not science?

Maybe you are being confused over the terminology:

or more simply

Comment: Re:Pretty sure their model didn't come close (Score 1) 144

by Dazzadowling (#41536571) Attached to: How Cosmological Supercomputers Evolve the Universe All Over Again
Why is that? They have a valid model of a given universe with given parameters to a certain degree of "fineness". Why is that NOT modelling the universe? It is a model.. a mathematical model. (hmmm... interesting... one reply while logged in and one not)

Comment: Re:No, but... (Score 1) 1010

by Dazzadowling (#40816053) Attached to: Political Science Prof Asks: Is Algebra Necessary?
I would contend that she does use algebra but she merely does not recognise it as such

Algebra essentially is "finding the missing thing" and it can be as simple as working out what your change is when you go shopping (as well as a million and one other examples).

People think that because they dont sit down with a pencil and paper and scribble some funny symbols they are not doing maths when in actual fact they are using those skills (maybe innate skills) all day, every day.

Comment: Re:The only thing that surprises me is surprise (Score 1) 224

by Dazzadowling (#36802886) Attached to: Do 'Ultracool' Brown Dwarfs Surround Us?

It doesnt actually matter how many planets or brown dwarfs you think we have missed

There are limits (for very good and well checked reasons) on how much ordinary (baryonic) matter there can actually be

We may have understimated the numbers of extrasolar planets or similar but that still wont account for the vast majority of the missing matter. In any case such calculations have been well looked at for a long period of time and screwed down pretty tight (this is what I did for my PhD almost 15 years ago. Even then it was pretty clear that brown dwarfs were not the be all and end all of accounting for dark matter within galaxies).

Regarding "move beyond the assumption that if we cant see it it isnt there"...surely that is the whole point of dark matter/dark energy. We are confident that 'something' is there, but we cant 'see' it, hence our insistence on using the term 'dark'.

Comment: Re:The only thing that surprises me is surprise (Score 1) 224

by Dazzadowling (#36802682) Attached to: Do 'Ultracool' Brown Dwarfs Surround Us?

It doesnt actually matter how many Brown Dwarfs we have missed

There are limits on how much "ordinary" (Baryonic) matter there can be, regardless of how much we actually have down on our named list here. So no matter how much we have underestimated the number of Brown Dwarfs (and we have done a pretty good job on estimating those numbers, that is what I was doing for my PhD pretty much 15 years ago and even then it was getting obvious that Brown Dwarfs or similar was not the answer) the fact remains that they cannot account for any significant proportion of "dark matter"

As regards "if we cant see it it isnt there" surely astrophysics actually assumes the opposite. Namely that there definately is something there but we cant "see" it. Hence the term dark.

Comment: Teaching Mathematics - not teaching how to pass (Score 1) 1268

by Dazzadowling (#33250748) Attached to: US Students Struggle With Understanding of the 'Equal' Sign
In my experience (over 15 years of tuition and teaching in mathematics and physics to all ages and abilities) people's 'understanding' of such mathematical statements varies wildly. I have had many students who could answer the question correctly and yet fail to explain (correctly) how or why they arrived at the answer. For me that they have not learnt any mathematics there but simply how to get by. I have also had students who could answer the question correctly but their 'explanation' was technically incorrect. In fact this is extremely common with such algebraic statements and most of it is down to how they were taught maths at a very early age. In my opinion most of this groundwork is laid at Primary school age (up to say age 11) and sticks with them for a long long time unless those misconceptions are tackled by an expert. The vast majority of primary school teachers (at least here in the UK) have no formal mathematical qualification (by that I mean at least a decent grade at A Level) and a tiny tiny percentage have any form of mathematical degree (that is before we consider the quality of that degree itself and their teaching) and yet they are responsible for getting this concepts down and clear and laying the foundation for potentially another 10 to 15 years of advanced maths. I have seen many of my A Level students (ages 16-18), some of whom were getting good grades, fail to truly understand or explain expressions similar to those above. It is quite important to tackle these ideas at an early age, and it is surprisingly easy to do as well. Sometimes it can be as simple as not ever explaining what the "=" actually means (or later the difference between an equation and an identity). Sometimes it is an over reliance on just one or two examples (when I introduce algebra I am sure to use a variety of letters, symbols, pictures and examples rather the age old standard "x" or "empy box"). Sometimes it is born out of poor technique ("move things to the other side" - no such mathematical operation). Sometimes it is as a result of the teacher failing to explain what they are doing and why (which can be difficult for abstract mathematics but the maths we want a 6 to 16 year old to learn can be firmly rooted in real life analogies and examples as long as it is made clear they truly are just a crutch to help the student understand).

Comment: Re:Huge Waste of Taxpayer Dollars (Score 1) 177

by Dazzadowling (#29778027) Attached to: LHC Successfully Cools To 1.9K In Lead-Up To Restart
Not to mention that disassembling it will require a VAST amount of money and the market for several stories of detector and superconductors that require a good years installation isn't that great (outside of the academic sphere of influence that the LHC is sitting in). So even though I personally think it is money well spent, if you did take the view that it should be broken down and sold for bits, you wouldn't get much return on your investment. Far better to let it continue on and do what it was designed to do. And of course we could always raise the (same old tired) argument about why not spend our defence budget on the needy and homeless? Why not the media budget? and so forth.

Comment: Re:Science Questions (Score 1) 656

by Dazzadowling (#29053015) Attached to: Parents Baffled By Science Questions

>However, more worrying is that in my work with schools, I've come across all of the above categories of TEACHER. That's a lot more scary. I regularly see kids told off for daring to ask "Why?" or "Why not?" and, yes, some of them are just deliberately being annoying but I've witnessed no end of kids that are shut out of learning because the teacher "needs" to have a chat, text their husband, fill in paperwork, go to lunch, etc.

Unfortunately, all too often it is because the teacher themselves simply doesn't know (or doesn't really know in enough depth or detail)or simply does not possess the skills to explain to the child.

They all fall into a teaching rut, quoting the same old sentences day in and day out, without really thinking or making the kids think.

All too often it is recitation, not teaching. A crying shame but it does keep me in work!

Comment: Re:Teach kids to find answers. . . (Score 1) 656

by Dazzadowling (#29052839) Attached to: Parents Baffled By Science Questions

I agree.. to a point.

That is why teaching institutions exist... if it were all a simple matter of "look this up" I would be out of a job.

I have taught (private tuition) for nigh on 15 years and I have been involved in Scouting for many more, in short I spend almost all day every day working with kids of all ages.

Much of the teaching in schools actually resists kids asking questions. With my classes, I "have a go" at them for NOT asking questions. I teach them not to take everything I say at face value, to question, to ask why. But in order to complete that important part of their education I need to explain why, I need to answer their question, or explain why their question doesn't make sense or doesn't have an answer.

It takes children many many years at school (and university) to learn the schools of research and even then it can be difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff without expert knowledge.

Now I have had my fair share of kids that ask why, why, why just to be annoying, but these are easily dealt with. I can bore them back by explaining why, why, why... until it gets to a certain point that is ably demonstrated by something my step daughter and fiance said the other day:

"oh no... quick... stop asking... else I am going to catch his science germs".

Parents who are poorly educated are simply unable to help their kids find answers.

I have had umpteen homeworks handed in that are mere printouts of a webpage. Fine.. nothing wrong with that, in fact I encourage it. But in class the first question I ask them is : "Do you understand this?". The second is: "Can you explain this to me?". If not, I still have a job to do. :)

Comment: Re:Not a single mention of MUDs??? (Score 1) 130

by Dazzadowling (#28747763) Attached to: A History of Early Text Adventure Games
Indeed. I can remember whiling away many an hour on MUDs at university... the interaction and vast range of options seemed to really put them apart from the very limited PC games of the day. The great success of things like World of Warcraft today are very firmly based on MUDs, all that WOW has really is some very pretty graphics overlaid on the "interaction stuff in the background". If anything, I would say with some MUDs that there was much more interaction and depth than with modern MMORPGs.

Comment: Re:That's why... (Score 1) 268

by Dazzadowling (#28747731) Attached to: 12% of E-mail Users Have Responded To Spam
Yep... it makes very interesting reading when you have a unique identifier with every website/company you have used. I have been "spammed" by hotmail, yahoo, banks, large online retailers and many more. Yet, when you email them and point it out or politely question it, you are entered into the great "lets lead you round the houses and teach your grandma how to suck eggs" routine which invariably leads in flat out denial of the plain facts or a simple and sudden end to communications.

Boy Scouts Ask Open Source Community For Help 973

Posted by kdawson
from the trustworthy-loyal-helpful-friendly dept.
Lucas123 writes "The Boy Scouts of America are looking to the open-source community for help in building software to use for fundraisers, special events, and other functions, for their more than 121,000 local scout troops. Some open source advocates, who are former Boy Scouts, support the idea, despite a few reservations. According to the article, there are no plans for a scout merit badge in open source — but there has been a merit badge in computers since 1967, 'and it is possible that if the program is successful, it could eventually be used by IT-savvy scouts themselves.'"

Modeling paged and segmented memories is tricky business. -- P.J. Denning