Monday, May 31, 2010

Möbius Strip Fun

I would like to leave this month off on a more positive note so here a few möbius treats.

This image is from the Autologlyphs website. Henry Segerman put the word möbius into a möbius strip. You will also find a cube cube, a torus torus and more.
This may be a little dry if you are not a knitter but I think it is pretty cool that it is possible to knit a seamless möbius strip.

And we can't leave this without Escher's ants and some related math:


Friday, May 28, 2010

Road blocks to active living

*Sigh* well it has finally come down to it. I feel outright compelled to post a complaint. Sorry in advance.

Time and time again we have hit road blocks trying to raise healthy kids. These road blocks are put in place by well meaning adults. They say it is for our children's protection, but it is really about money and fear.

Very slowly the playground equipment from our neighbourhood park has been removed piece by piece and so there is less and less to do there. First the tire swing was taken, "In accordance with the CSA’s national guidelines... where play equipment requires repair, yet doesn’t meet current CSA standards, the component cannot be repaired and the subject piece is to be removed/dismantled," city workers informed us. Great! One of the rocking horses went next and finally the swings were taken. We heard from the city that someone was teaching their dog to chew on the swings so they removed them to repair the damage.

Well, the swings just got replaced but they only put back up 1/2 the number - again in accordance with new CSA guidelines. There are now 2 toddler swings and only one swing for older children. So this means no children over 3 can swing together at the park.

Ok, I can talk to the city about it and all of the park equipment is (wastefully) scheduled for replacement in 2012 anyway. Why the complaining blog post? You might ask. Well, this is a straw-that-broke-the-camel's-back of sorts. Several kids' athletic programs have also slowly been becoming more and more expensive due to rising insurance costs. This causes both less people to wanting to run them in the first place because of scary liability issues and expensive start up costs, and/or more people having to cancel them because they don't have enough participants who can afford to sign-up. 

Where have you CSA/insurance people been?! In case you haven't noticed, we have an obesity epidemic in North America!

CSA guidelines for park equipment is getting stricter and stricter and park equipment is gearing more and more toward toddlers (i.e. becoming less and less fun for the majority of children). At the same time rising insurance costs are preventing kids from accessing extracurricular active programs. No one wants to be held liable when a child is seriously injured and no one wants to have to face the resulting financial crisis.  Sports and active activities are "riskier" by nature and this fear of financial ruin is downright encouraging kids to live sedentary lives in front of screens.

Now here, I should explain that I am not condoning children getting needlessly hurt or risking their lives. I am also not blaming the city workers at all; they have no choice but to obey the legal guidelines. We are really quite lucky to have our neighbourhood park. It is one of the best around. Our park is bordered on one side by a caring neighbourhood and on the other by a beautiful river.  I am even grateful for some changes made to truly, senselessly hazardous playground equipment. But, at the same time, children need to live in the world. They need practice navigating difficult landscapes. If you lock them in a dark room until they are 20, yes they will survive, but you can't convince me that they've lived. 

It makes me wonder which has actually harmed kids more: falling off a tire swing/climber or not wanting to go to the boring park because sitting hours on end and experiencing adventures virtually is actually more exciting? There may be less broken arms this way, but then with that comes increased life-threatening obesity.

Thank goodness nature doesn't have to follow CSA guidelines or pay insurance.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Khan Academy

If you are interested in teaching or learning math or science and you don't know about Khan Academy, you should. It is very simple but fabulously helpful. Salman Khan "received his MBA from Harvard Business School. He also holds a Masters in electrical engineering and computer science, a BS in electrical engineering and computer science, and a BS in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology" 1 and he has set out to tutor the world. He has put together over 1200 ten minute YouTube videos where he delves into math and science topics.

This collection of videos and exercises is the ultimate supplement or recap to math/science learning.  Even for me, I find if I have forgotten how to take a derivative or how did the Krebs cycle work again?, I can get a quick refresher by watching a video. 

check out his website at

Here is an example of a video on dividing decimals:

Sir Ken Robinson reprise

Sir Ken Robinson presents a second brilliant TED talk about learning and education.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Musical High Jinks: Piano Stairs and Faerie's Aire

While performing on your stairs, be sure to note when to release the penguins... 

Saturday, May 15, 2010


We helped naturalize a local park this afternoon. We removed invasive species and planted a diverse compliment of trees. 

There are some activities involving hard work that kids throughly enjoy, and planting trees with friends at the park is definitely one of them.