Science Mom's Tower of Math Knowledge
 Hello Patrons,

A quick little update on my projects:

Today I spent a good 6 hours editing Part 2 of Science Mom's Guide to Water. I may have gone a little over-board with drawing cartoons for this one, but I think they help convey the material---and it was a lot of fun to make. I just need to clean up the audio and then the finished product should be up tomorrow or the next day.

Making videos has had a steep learning curve. My very first attempt at this, I didn't dare try to film myself (and I didn't have a camera that would take more than 2 minutes of video), so I asked Audrey Balzart--a friend and film student from Nevada State College--if she would help me put together some science videos. This was in November. We spent a few hours filming and I learned several things:

1. I froze up in front of the camera. I had to tell myself over and over "Pretend you're talking to a group of kids..."

2. If I ever wanted to have a white background (which is best for several expeirments I had planned), then I couldn't wear a white labcoat, or I'd look like a floating head.

3. As wonderful as it was to have professional videographers help me with a video... I felt super bad about the time commitment I was asking them to give, both in filming and editing. I needed to buy my own camera and box lights (and figure out how to edit videos).

Today Audrey sent me a copy of the first video we made: the Tower of Math Knowledge, and I wanted to share it with you. 

The idea for a math tower all started a couple years ago when I was talking to my kids about how adding and subracting could be... well, boring. "What's the point?" They asked --- And I thought of how a person's quantitative skills could either make or break a chemistry class in college, and how much I loved calculus, and I wanted to share that end goal with them. "If you are strong in math, then the sciences are open to you! You can study and really understand any type of science!" But without strong math skills? The doors to a whole heap of potential careers slam shut. Not to mention, you lose out on some beautiful moments of wonder and beauty.

So I came up with the idea of this visual activity and built these blocks. My husband (who is a mathematician) and I had some fun discussions about the order -- because while counting and place value have a very clear and easy place in the tower, "graphs" does not. To me, thinking of the simple graphing in my kid's elementary school homework, graphs seemed very simple. To him, thinking of graph theory, it was rather complex, and probably belonged right up at the top with calculus and statistics.  But the exact order doesn't really matter. This tower is all about the concept of putting in the necessary practice to get each math concept securely in place so that you can build on it and learn more. 

I've taken these blocks to dozens of classrooms in the last two years and it's been a great activity. At the end when we pull out the block and the tower falls, that's always a big hit. And fairly often, teachers will tell me that their students have better attitudes about practicing math after seeing this exercise because now they have an end goal: getting to calculus and statistics.

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