Posts Tagged ‘Education’

Calculus: The Musical

December 8, 2011

On Tuesday a friend invite me to join him for a show at Huge Improv Theater called Calculus: The Musical. It was a small production. Two actors portrayed many different characters, there was no intermission, and there were several frenzied costume changes during the show. Both actors played guitar at points, and one had several pieces on an electric keyboard. It had all the elements that I love in a musical comedy: Witty characters, fast-paced dialogue and action, a dash of slapstick, various overdone accents, a multimedia presentation, a blending of musical styles (from classical to rap and a lot in between), and a man playing Sir Isaac Newton talking to a little action figure of himself (“Little Isaac”) and then having the action figure answer back in a higher-pitched version of his true voice. Okay, that last was specific to Calculus: The Musical and not at all something I look for in musical comedies.

As the name might imply to those among you who are particularly quick-witted, it was about calculus. As a mathphobe who never made it all the way through a calculus course I was worried that all of the jokes would go right over my head. I did miss some of them; several times my friend’s giggling indicated that something humorous had transpired on stage after some dialoguey gobbledygook about derivitives, functions, limits and infinite series. But the writer managed to incorporate calculus without making the storyline completely unintelligible to the uninitiated.

You can listen to songs from the musical at maththeater.com. Here are the lyrics from the only song that I can actually claim to have understood entirely. It’s called 5 Sizes of Numbers:

There are 5 sizes of numbers,
Big Infinity and small Zero,
And the Finite in the middle,
They’re the ones, I’m sure you know.

But now we look between Finite and Zero.
To numbers so small, they’re nothing at all,
But still a little larger than a Zero.
Their name is Infinitesimal.

On the other side of Finite,
There are numbers too large to say,
Infinites are what we call them,
They are big, in every way.

But they will never quite be Infinity,
They’re not quite as big, not even close.
We’ll use all of these numbers in Cal-cu-lus,
The numbers, I love the most.

It only gets nerdier from there. They have a song about Bernhard Reimann in the style of Eminem’s Without Me. Just sayin’.

Calculus: The Musical has been touring nationally for six years, and it stopped in Minneapolis only for a couple of days. But they have shows scheduled from now through May of 2012 in different parts of the country. I had a good time, maybe even learned a thing or two, and it reminded me that I really need to stop procrastinating and start reading that copy of Jennifer Ouellette’s Calculus Diaries that I got for Christmas and have left languishing on my bookshelf for the last year!

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(notes on) biology video

April 4, 2011

This video is awesome on so many different levels. Aside from the unique video style and sound, there is an underlying message that we all have different learning styles. Oh yeah, and ROBOT ELEPHANT!!!

(notes on) biology from ornana films on Vimeo.

Thanks to my FB buddy, Rico, for the heads up.

Poopy Nuclear Reactors

March 23, 2011

I saw this on Street Anatomy. I was really excited to watch it because…yeah – how do you explain the science of the nuclear reactor crisis in Japan to children? My initial reaction – it’s FREAKING WEIRD and HILARIOUS. But it’s also not too bad of an explanation. Little kids don’t know much about nuclear reactors, but they do know poop.

And as one of the commenters said on youtube: “Kudos to the Japanese for taking the time out to calmly explain this to the kids. Not like the fear mongering thats so rampant in the States.”

From Street Anatomy (via HuffPo)

If you’ve been watching the news recently, you most certainly know that Japan has quite a problem on their hands with their nuclear power plant they have been trying to cool down. One can only imagine what it must be like to live it and hear it all day, everyday since the quake. In an effort to educate and quell the fear among the kids that have to live through this terrible event, they made this funny video to help children understand what’s going on.  What better way to explain science than by equating the problem with certain bodily functions? I wonder how accurate the translations is, but the concept is simple and light. If I were a kid, this would most likely make me feel a bit better; hang in there kids!

VA Firearm Safety Classes

May 5, 2010

Yeah for Kindergarden!  Who doesn’t love kindergarden????

8am – Play Time!
9am – Snack Time!
10am – Sing the Bananaphone Song!
10:30am – Learn the Colors!
11am – Lunch Time!
11:30am – Play Time!
12:30pm – Nap time!
1:30pm – Gun Safety Class!
2:00pm – Play Time!
2:30pm – Snack Time
3:00pm – Go home with Mommy(ies) and/or Daddy(ies)!

Hey wait…what’s that at 1:30pm?

Virginia lawmakers have tasked the Virginia Board of Education to draft a firearm safety education class for elementary students.

I think it’s a great idea.

As long as we have guns all over the place, we might as well teach children to respect the damn things and to not be afraid of them.  We teach kids to not play with fire, not walk alone after dark, not hang around swimming pools without adult supervision, we might as well teach them not to look down the wrong end of Daddy and Mommy’s hunting rifles and/or pistols.  Gun safety, I’m all for.  I don’t know if teaching kids how to shoot guns should be under the educational system’s purview; I think I’d have to go with the family’s wishes – maybe it would be an extracurricular club or an elective class?  The VA board of education hasn’t yet released any details about whether they would offer training in the use or maintenance of guns.