Life and Musings of Ed

Archive for January, 2010|Monthly archive page

Wolfram|Alpha Blog : Is It Cheating to Use Wolfram|Alpha for Math Homework?

In Uncategorized on 28 January 10 at 5:12 pm

Ok — I am posting this after listening to only the first few minutes because I really enjoy the power of Mathematica and the effort of the Wolfram|Alpha Team. Wolfram|Alpha represents a paradigm shift to me and it is fascinating to contemplate new uses. I can assume that the talk will answer the question in the post title negatively and am looking forward to listening to the full explanation from Conrad. Will you check it out too? [NOTE: I will listen to the rest of the talk as soon as I complete this post]

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Carrots, Eggs and Coffee

In Christian Education, Life and living on 27 January 10 at 8:25 am

A sweet friend of mine sent the following story to me this morning and as a coffee lover, this resonated with me.

A carrot, an egg, and a cup of coffee…..You will never look at a cup of coffee the same way again.

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up, She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word…

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, ‘ Tell me what you see.’

‘Carrots, eggs, and coffee,’ she replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg.

Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, ‘What does it mean, mother?’

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

‘Which are you?’ she asked her daughter. ‘When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.


When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Do you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy.

The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way. The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can’t go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.

When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling.

Live your life so at the end, you’re the one who is smiling and everyone around you is crying.



May we all be COFFEE!!!!!!

Teaching About Derivatives

In Ed Does Math, Math Tutor on 13 January 10 at 4:58 pm

I found this fascinating quote today:

Last semester I stumbled upon an approach for teaching the concept of the derivative, and later the integral, that worked surprisingly well with my students. It stems from a realization I had that much of what students see when they first learn about derivatives has very little to do with understanding what a derivative is. The typical approach to introducing the derivative throws students directly into the trickiest possible case: a smooth nonlinear curve, and we want to calculate the slope of a tangent line to this curve at a point. To do this, we have to bring in a lot of “stuff”: average rates of change, tables of sequences of average rates of change, and in a vague and non-rigorous sort of way the notion of a limit. It’s this “stuff” that confuses students — not because it’s hard, but because maybe it’s not suited for their first contact with the idea of the derivative. Maybe we need to build their intuition first.castingoutnines.wordpress.com, Casting Out Nines, Jan 2010

You should read the whole article.A tangent line on a curveImage via Wikipedia

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Teaching 2.0 – Doing More with Less

In Uncategorized on 11 January 10 at 6:05 pm

This is a great talk and just what I needed to hear as I begin “remixing” and “re-creating” some labs for DUML physics during this spring semester. I also plan to use many of the ideas presented in my Gramercy classes this spring. Thanks to John Brown and UC-Davis for igniting my passion and fueling some creativity.With the institutional resources shrinking and the costs rising, teachers are being asked to do more with less. John Seely Brown explores how technology can help. [12/2008] [Education] [Show ID: 15…

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