I do love spreadsheets! There’s nothing like the feeling crunching a ton of data in a well-made spreadsheet. Sometimes it’s almost like magic. Today I got to do a very fun lesson with 6th graders. On spreadsheets! While I can’t say they were as excited about them as I, I did manage to convey some of the magic feeling to them. When they saw me instantly get the average of 350 data points, they definitely saw the usefulness! Especially since they already knew they were going to have to find averages, medians, and modes of their own data. I could talk about spreadsheets all day, but they can’t listen quite that long. So I broke up the spreadsheets with an excellent little challenge by Kern Kelley. I’ll end with a section I call “How to make graphs lie,” which always sparks discussion and gets a laugh.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar turns 50 today! I wish I’d known earlier. I’d have baked one piece of chocolate cake! And maybe made a sign.
One of the things I’ve tried to do is make my office an inspirational learning environment for the kids (and for me as well!). When I first moved into the office, it was a pretty standard wiring closet. About a quarter of the wall space was taken up by wiring, and the rest was covered by disorganized boxes and shelves. It was exactly what you would expect from a utility closet with no regular visitors. I almost immediately began redecorating. I discarded boxes and boxes of obsolete and unused equipment, got rid of old shelving units, took everything out that could be moved, and cleaned. Then I had the walls and floor painted. I swiped the color scheme from our front lobby, so it looked pretty nice. The only part I couldn’t get to was the plywood mounting board on the walls. I couldn’t paint the wires or equipment, of course, so they remained a sickly yellow. I brought in a faux leather chair to encourage visitors, and some Ikea storage units. I found some interesting wall coverings (like a beautiful map of submarine internet cables). Later, I built a custom desk with a beautiful copper epoxy top. The idea is to make the office interesting enough to get the kids asking questions. It seems to work, as most days I have a steady stream of kids in to see if anything new has been added.