30 September, 2011
Volume 16 No. 39
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In This Issue

Fall Fermi Math League

Space Math @ NASA

World Space Week


Online PD


Orientation Sessions

Math and Tech Workshops


Problem Based Learning Courses

Graduate Credit:
Mathematics Teaching and Learning Certificate

Master's Degree


Fall Fermi Math League


Do you like to measure, estimate, and play around with technology? Then join the Fermi Off-the-Wall Math League!

Now in its 13th year, this Internet-based math competition welcomes students in grades 1-9 from around the world who seek enrichment, small group work, and creative, technology-rich experiences.

A Fermi question is posed with limited information given. For example,

  • How many water balloons would it take to fill grandma's bathtub?
  • How many cockroaches will fill the trunk of a VW Beetle?
  • How much fabric would it take to make a camo-suit for Moby Dick?
  • How many eggs would fit in the Trojan Horse's body?

Fermi questions require that students ask many more questions; emphasize process rather than "the" answer; demand communication and writing; and utilize estimation, rounding numbers and guesses.

The six-week Fall '11 season of Fermi Math started Wednesday.

PoW taking place: math problem-solving moment of the week

"Changing the representation is a good way to see what happens when you're dealing with infinite situations. Dion's equations might give you a starting point for a graph. Richelle's guess and check is a great start to a table, and Siena's insight means you only have to test the odd integers."
- Max, commenting on the Algebra PoW's latest solution

Space Math @ NASA


The Space Math @ NASA website has officially re-launched. Register for free to access the archives of over 400 math problems, 20+ problem books, and timely news articles with math extensions, all with complete answer keys.

In particular, check out the Inquiry Projects. This new area boasts 15 free Microsoft Excel spreadsheets of data for exploring

  • the sun and space weather
  • rockets, satellites and spacecraft
  • our own solar system
  • the search for planets outside our solar system
  • stars and the Milky Way


Now taking place: math education conversation of the hour

"What's cool about computer programming is the 'show your work' part is built in: you won't have the numbers without showing your work, which in turn is self checking as if the logic is broken, you won't get the numbers. From a math teaching standpoint, you've got one of those to-die-for self-reinforcing feedback loops. Why more math teachers don't couch it in programming is one of those TV pundit questions for the sports bar (you can find me at Claudia's some Thursdays)."
- Kirby, posted to the math-teach discussion

World Space Week


Space Week takes off next Tuesday. This global celebration, as declared by the United Nations in 1999, has grown to become the largest public space event on Earth, with activities in over 55 nations to inspire students to study space.

Check and add to the calendar for events near and far:


Space Week 2011 marks 50 years of human spaceflight. Read more about this year's theme here:


The free downloadable guide includes the lessons

  • Eggnaut ... or ... Houston, We May Have an Omelet!
  • Zero-G Game of Sport
  • Observation Inclinometer
  • Sundial
  • Astronomy and Soccer
  • Estimating Cloud Cover



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