Scratch is a wonderful project out of the wonderful school, MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This project is designed to allow children of all ages to learn the basics of programming by hiding the language, and structure of programming behind pretty pictures, called sprites. It also makes adding sound and movement to a presentation very very easy.
So, I have put some time in and I have created demos for some of the "Properties of Real Numbers" that I teach during pre-algebra lessons and that everyone should be familiar with if they did not sleep through their 7th and 8th grade math classes. If you did, then maybe you should pop over to http://scratch.mit.edu/ and search for the distributive property, or the commutative property. Please leave a comment there if you do, and vote it up!
Math and computer programming tutor
I discovered this week, a free arduino library called TVout. With this code loaded into your arduino compatible board and a simple circuit that just has two resistors, can use any display that will accept standard RCA component video input as your display. For more information go to:
If someone would like a lesson on this system I have completed all my research and I am comfortable with every aspect. I can help you to make the cables, load the libraries, create and convert 1 bit bitmaps, and create sketches for displaying presentations or even 1 bit video games.
It is very well done and very cute. And it must of took, what? $1000 dollars to make. I just goes to show what you can achieve if you are just willing to follow your heart and your imagination, and if you meet a precocious child.
Yesterday I participated in LA Hackathon 5. For those readers who don't know, a hackathon is a gathering of programmers together to help each other out on computer coding projects. Usually, these projects are "open source". That means that the programs that are being created are given away, freely to the public, and that even the raw computer code, the source code, is available to anyone. That has two great benefits: One, if you are trained in read code, then you can see exactly what the program is being told to do, line by line, symbol, by symbol. Two, if you would like to change, usually enhance, what the program does then you can do so. You just get a copy of the code, and add your own new lines of code to it.
So, in my case I paired up with a physics graduate student, and we worked on creating a visual aid web page that thought certain concept surrounding the idea of a quantum computer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_computer). We discovered a powerful 3D graphics...
I have found a great one at http://www.quia.com. They have accomplished something that I have been wanting to do for a long time. They have developed a system to make it quick and easy to make games and quizzes out of any information that you have on hand and would like to teach. Maybe they could use a little more style, but they are very quick and effective. You can make, flash cards, crosswords, quizzes, Jeopardy style game boards. You can even enroll a class and track their progress. I am a web programmer myself, and I can tell you that a lot of work went into programming this site. They even support audio and picture uploads. Make sure your pictures are web-sized. You can borrow content from other educators on the site, as long as they have shared it, and you can share your own content. So, I highly recommend that all of you home schoolers and tutors check it out. Again, the web address is http://www.quia.com.
Many years back I was studying for the CSET math exams, the hardest tests that I have ever taken, without a doubt, bet I created some great flash cards to help me to pass the exam, over 150 of them. Now I am using Corel Draw, and Audacity to make digital copies of these wonderful flash cards and they will be in very standard, low-weight formats. I also have plans to create my own virtual world math institute and to bring these resource into said institute. There will actually be maybe 1000 cards with visuals (in TGA format) and audio (in WAV format. I am very exited about the project. I know that these resources will also work in web pages, or in smart phone applications.
This morning I passed the GED and SQL tests. Life is sweet. Yesterday I was at a great event about the Scratch programming language. Scratch is a language for kids to make interactive cartoon movies, but it is closely tied to things that you will find in standard programming languages, such as loops and responding to mouse clicks and playing sound files. It is really cool.
Students have a lot of trouble understanding and mastering negative numbers and how to perform the basic operations on them. Part of the problem, I have noticed, is that students use their ingrained "regular" multiplication skill when trying to find an answer to a negative number math problem. For example, when asked, "What is negative 5 multiplied by 7?" one of the most common wrong answers is 35. Of course the correct answer is negative 35. A negative number, multiplied by a positive number is a negative number, but the force of habit is strong, especially on test day. The question then was, "How do you undo a bad habit and expand it so that it can handle the larger set of numbers?" The answer that I came up with was a "super multiplication table". I expanded the normal, positive numbers only grid of 10 x 10, to a 20 x 20 positive and negative number table. Now the answer to any multiplication question from -10 by -10 to 10 by 10 can be looked...
I just passed my background check and right away I got a couple of direct emails from interested parents. So, even though there is some expense I think that it will be well worth it. If I were a parent I know that the background check would be a big selling point to me.
In the summer time, maybe you can take a week off from work, and build a row boat with your child. Plans can be had on the Internet for free. Or check out http://instructables.com for more project ideas that you could do in 4 life times. Don't be afraid to learn, and to be confused in front of your kid. What kids need to learn most, especially in this information age, is HOW TO LEARN. If you are totally confused, what do you do? Get frustrated? Give up? I hope that the answer to those is no. Because your child is watching, and they will learn, and imitate.
Also, go on outings to museums or historical location. Often you can find things right by you home. Here in LA we have the Battle ship Ohio at Los Angeles harbor: http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jul/08/local/la-me-iowa-museum-opening-20120708. We will also soon have the Space Shuttle Atlantis right here at the California Science Center. This is not a paper mac he prop. This is an actual orbiter that actually logged millions...
I gave my first tutoring lesson with WyzAnt yesterday. I had to call their technical support to fully understand how to get paid, but they have live, friendly people right there on the phone and they got me straightened out very quickly. Now I have direct deposit set up and the money from my tutoring session will go right into my account. So far, working with WyzAnt has be a wonderful experience.