Title: Q & the Mysterious!


Wedding Woes
At a friend’s wedding, everything went smoothly until it was time for the flower girl and her young escort to come down the aisle. The boy stopped at every pew, growling at the guests. When asked afterward why he behaved so badly, he explained, “I was just trying to be a good ring bear.”

Eleven people were hanging on a rope under a helicopter, ten men and one woman. The rope was not strong enough to carry them all, so they decided that one has to drop off, otherwise they are all going to fall. They were not able to choose that person, but then the woman made a very touching speech. She said that she would voluntarily let go of the rope, because as a woman she was used to giving up everything for her husband and kids, and for men in general, without ever getting anything in return. As soon as she finished her speech, all the men started clapping their hands.

On Our Mind:

Retirement plans change for State of Michigan employees and teachers.  (Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals)
New retirement rules for Michigan

  • Retirement years cap at 30 years of earned time.  Purchased years do not count.
    • If you continue beyond 30 years, your employer will contribute 4% to a defined contribution account and the employee will contribute 3% and may contribute up to an additional 3% for a total of 10% cap.
  • If this goes through there will be an incentive for districts to retain teachers with 30 or more years.  Retirement contributions will go from 19% to about 10%.

Thanks to Dave Bydlowski for the feedback:
Check out his podcast here: http://k12science.net/Podcast/Podcast/Podcast.html

Here is some information from my February 11 — 24 Michigan Science
Matters eBlast:

NASA/USA Today No Boundaries Competition
NASA and USA Today partnered to bring the No Boundaries science,
technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) career curriculum and
competition to middle and high school classrooms.  No Boundaries is a
free, eight-week, cross-curricular project that introduces 7th to 12th
grade students to NASA careers in STEM through a cooperative learning
experience.  Students collaborate to gather web-based research on the
variety of career options available with NASA. Students then develop a
fun and creative way to present the opportunities to other students.
Cash prizes will be awarded (up to $2,000) in addition to a “VIP NASA
experience.”  More information and all project resources are available
at the No Boundaries website at:

Instill Interest in Biotechnology
The WGBH Educational Foundation recently launched the new Biotechnology
collection on Teachers’ Domain. These digital media resources are
designed to deepen the teaching and learning of biotechnology in middle
and high schools throughout the United States. Digital video and
interactives explore laboratory techniques used in biotechnology for
treating disease and improving diagnosis. Video profiles of
biotechnology scientists and technicians offer students compelling
examples of available career pathways into the field.  Please visit:

Climate Change Art Contest for MS Students
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5, would like to invite
6th-8th graders residing in Michigan to participate in the U.S. EPA
Climate Change Art Challenge.  The contest will ask students to create a
drawing or a painting that responds to the question, “What is Climate
Change?” on their own – without a teaching prompt from adults.  The
purpose of the contest is to see what 6th-8th graders think climate
change is, based on what they already know. The artwork will be
educational for the EPA, parents, and teachers, showing us what children
are learning about climate change from the media, parents, and in

Entries must be one-dimensional, must be no larger than 11” X 17” and
must be mailed or shipped (via USPS or FedEx) with completed Entry Form.
To apply, visit the EPA website:

Winners will be chosen based on the most creative and representative
depictions of climate change. All participants will receive a
certificate of recognition. 1st and 2nd-place winners will receive award
plaques and winning art will be posted on the U.S. EPA Region 5 website
in April 2010.  For more information, please contact Cynthia Meyer at
meyer.cynthia@epa.gov or (312) 886-5868, or Elizabeth McWhorter at
mcwhorter.elizabeth@epa.gov or (312) 353-5069.  All entries must be
received by the EPA, no later than Monday, March 22, 2010.

STEPS Summer Camp Experience for 7th Grade Girls
For the ninth consecutive summer, the Regional Math and Science Center
and the Seymour and Esther Padnos College of Engineering and Computing
at Grand Valley State University will hold two sessions of a Science,
Technology and Engineering Preview Summer camp (Sgirls. This year’s camps will be held during the weeks of June 21-24 and
June 28-July 1, 2010.  The deadline to apply is March 15.  For more
information, please visit:

Go Green
Register for the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge, the nation’s
premier sustainability challenge where K-8 students create solutions to
environmental problems in their own backyard.  Simply visit:
to sign up.

Inspire Environmental Preservation
Action For Nature’s International Young Eco-Hero Awards recognize the
individual accomplishments of young people (aged 8–16) whose personal
actions have significantly improved the environment.  Action For Nature
will award cash prizes of up to $500 to young Eco-Heroes whose
individual initiatives will inspire others to preserve and protect the
environment.  The deadline to apply is February 28, 2010.  Please visit:

MathCounts is seeing a drop off in participation in our area.  Check it out.  It might be a neat enrichment class idea or an Advisiory component to your middle school.

To secure America’s global competitiveness, MATHCOUNTS inspires excellence, confidence and curiosity in U.S. middle school students through fun and challenging math programs. With the generous support of all MATHCOUNTS sponsors and volunteers, and leadership of the National Society of Professional Engineers at the local and state levels, MATHCOUNTS is providing today’s students with the foundation for success in science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers.

MATHCOUNTS is a national enrichment, club and competition program that promotes middle school mathematics achievement through grassroots involvement in every U.S. state and territory.

Currently in our 27th year, MATHCOUNTS is one of the country’s largest and most successful education partnerships involving volunteers, educators, industry sponsors and students. President Barack Obama and former Presidents George W. Bush, William J. Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Ronald W. Reagan have all recognized MATHCOUNTS in White House ceremonies. The MATHCOUNTS program has also received two White House citations as an outstanding private sector initiative. Particularly exciting for our Mathletes® were the hour-long ESPN programs on each of the National Competitions from 2003-2005.

MATHCOUNTS offers two unique programs to middle school teachers and students:  The MATHCOUNTS Competition Program and the FREE MATHCOUNTS Club Program.

From the Twitterverse:


Be Lucky (Richard Wiseman):

  • After many experiments, I believe that I now understand why some people are luckier than others and that it is possible to become luckier.
  • The findings have revealed that although unlucky people have almost no insight into the real causes of their good and bad luck, their thoughts and behaviour are responsible for much of their fortune.
  • Take the case of chance opportunities. Lucky people consistently encounter such opportunities, whereas unlucky people do not.
  • Personality tests revealed that unlucky people are generally much more tense than lucky people, and research has shown that anxiety disrupts people’s ability to notice the unexpected.
  • unlucky people miss chance opportunities because they are too focused on looking for something else.
  • My research revealed that lucky people generate good fortune via four basic principles. They are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities, make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition, create self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations, and adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good.
  • In the wake of these studies, I think there are three easy techniques that can help to maximise good fortune:
    • Unlucky people often fail to follow their intuition when making a choice, whereas lucky people tend to respect hunches. Lucky people are interested in how they both think and feel about the various options, rather than simply looking at the rational side of the situation. I think this helps them because gut feelings act as an alarm bell – a reason to consider a decision carefully.
    • Unlucky people tend to be creatures of routine. They tend to take the same route to and from work and talk to the same types of people at parties. In contrast, many lucky people try to introduce variety into their lives. For example, one person described how he thought of a colour before arriving at a party and then introduced himself to people wearing that colour. This kind of behaviour boosts the likelihood of chance opportunities by introducing variety.
    • Lucky people tend to see the positive side of their ill fortune. They imagine how things could have been worse. In one interview, a lucky volunteer arrived with his leg in a plaster cast and described how he had fallen down a flight of stairs. I asked him whether he still felt lucky and he cheerfully explained that he felt luckier than before. As he pointed out, he could have broken his neck.



‘Algebra-for-All’ Push Found to Yield Poor Results

By Debra Viadero
Quite a bit of disagreement over the value of teaching algebra to 8th graders. Apparently the results are mixed (feign surprise here).

Among the newer findings:

• An analysisRequires Adobe  Acrobat Reader using longitudinal statewide data on students in Arkansas and Texas found that, for the lowest-scoring 8th graders, even making it one course past Algebra 2 might not be enough to help them become “college and career ready” by the end of high school.

• An evaluation of the Chicago public schools’ efforts to boost algebra coursetaking found that, although more students completed the course by 9th grade as a result of the policy, failure rates increased, grades dropped slightly, test scores did not improve, and students were no more likely to attend college when they left the system.

• A 2008 paper by the Brookings Institution suggested that as many as 120,000 students nationwide were “misplaced” in algebra programs, meaning they had test scores on national exams that put them about seven grades below their peers in algebra classes. Further, it said, states with a high proportion of students taking algebra in 8th grade didn’t necessarily outperform other states on national math assessments.

Just putting students in Algebra doesn’t seem to work. Students who are adequately prepared for it seem to do well. However, those students who are far behind struggle. 8th grade is considered the pivotal year. Some opine that the low level courses are absolutely worthless. Chicago tried “double dosing” those students who were prepared. There seems to some finger pointing in terms of research technique, data analysis and data collection. There’s also discussion about whether or not what is taught in Algebra class is really Algebra.

An as of yet unpublished study from Michigan State University shows students who were enrolled in Algebra did better than those who weren’t.

Some are wondering about the difference between causal and correlative data. Does Algebra really help prepare kids for college or is it that kids who were taking Algebra were going to college anyway. The point is made that one size doesn’t fit all. There is also that issue of students who are doing well in math. Those students have benefited from tracked classes. More students entering into Algebra may have a derogatory effect on their achievement.


Blue Ribbon Middle School

A team of researchers hired by the U.S. Department of Education is spending much of this week at Sherwood Middle Academic Magnet School in Baton Rouge trying to learn what makes that school tick.

The federal agency has in the past issued “best practice” reports drawn from a selection of Blue Ribbon schools, but this year the plan is try a multimedia approach.

“This is the first time we’re trying to do this with audio and video,” said Carol Keirstead, a senior research associate with RMC.

Keirstead said the team is looking at six aspects of Sherwood: teacher leadership; the rigor of the curriculum; the quality of professional development; transition help for incoming sixth-graders; use of classroom technology; and the school’s culture.

Sherwood is a magnet school in which students need a 2.5 GPA to enroll. Even so, teachers there say some of the students enter well behind their peers and the school has to work hard to catch them up.


Math comes to YouTube at Palmyra Area Middle School

By BARBARA MILLER, The Patriot-News

It’s the first such use of YouTube in the district, said Collene Van Noord, assistant superintendent, although there are other sites, such as TeacherTube, a similar service for teachers. Since YouTube is blocked at school, students have to view Binkley’s videos at home.



Get your kids to generate questions with a Q-Matrix.


Marble is a Virtual Globe and World Atlas that you can use to learn more about Earth: You can pan and zoom around and you can look up places and roads. A mouse click on a place label will provide the respective Wikipedia article.

Of course it’s also possible to measure distances between locations or watch the current cloud cover. Marble offers different thematic maps: A classroom-style topographic map, a satellite view, street map, earth at night and temperature and precipitation maps. All maps include a custom map key, so it can also be used as an educational tool for use in class-rooms. For educational purposes you can also change date and time and watch how the starry sky and the twilight zone on the map change.

In opposite to other virtual globes Marble also features multiple projections: Choose between a Flat Map (“Plate carré”), Mercator or the Globe.

The best of all: Marble is Free Software / Open Source Software and promotes the usage of free maps. And it’s available for all major operating systems (Linux/Unix, MS Windows and Mac OS X).

FCC Expands Broadband Access at Schools

Essentially, the bandwidth not being used by schools during school hours will be open to the community.

Events & Happenings:

Calendar of Events:

NMSA News:

Other News:

  • ISTE Eduverse Talks are the recorded sessions held on ISTE Island every week. Join ISTE in their Second Life conference location for their weekly talks on education.
  • The Ohio Middle Level Association Annual Conference February 2011, Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, OH.
  • Second Life: