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Monthly Archives: May 2013

Chris Hadfield AND Mythbusters?!

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Tested and Chris Hadfield! Now I’m addicted to these movies of shrimp and asparagus, a space burrito, and space games:

Actually, the food videos are pretty funny. It’s a bit of Schadenfreude watching gourmet chefs grimace through freeze-dried space food. Heh. “Food Systems”.

Lunch Dates: Chris Hadfield

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What’s so enthralling about another guy on YouTube? For one thing, he made videos in space.

Sometimes I’ll take a minute between classes and “look” for the ISS with this and then “look out” the ISS window with this. I think most little kids (and many bigger kids) wonder about space and going in a rocket ship somewhere. Few people actually get to experience it. The first astronauts were declared heroes, advancing nations in their quest for knowledge and competition and technology. Current astronauts (at least, in the U.S.) get little to no recognition unless tragedy strikes. Somehow, this guy is different. He’s wired-in.

In case you’ve been missing his tweets, his YouTube videos, and a bunch of news articles (and it would be so, so sad if you haven’t seen them), Chris Hadfield has recently left the ISS as the first Canadian commander of the space station. He just strikes me as an interesting guy. C’mon… he’s singing David Bowie as one of his last submissions from orbit. That can only come from a person with whom I’d like to have lunch.

Major nerd-crush here.

Hadfield (and two other astronauts, Roman Romanenko and Tom Marshburn) just returned from space, landing in Kazakhstan via a Soyuz capsule. He says that being in space was too good to keep to himself.

I’ve been trying to figure out why I (and so many other people) are drawn to his videos. In space. He’s just doing his job. In space. But really, he’s answering simple questions, doing complex research, and acting like a real person. In space. Clearly, he’s not just an everyday guy. He’s military-trained, a test pilot, has an advanced degree, is a Commander. In space. But through his time in videos, it feels like you can ask him anything. He’s not judgemental or condescending. I’d like to think that he knows just how many people want to try out what he did. It’s a kind of charisma, I guess. In space. It goes along with this video (which I’ve posted before) from Dr. Tyson, regarding stopping dreaming:

Random side note: spell check recognizes “YouTube” and “Soyuz” but not “WordPress”. Heh.

Questions and thoughts for lunch conversation:

  • What were the coolest three things that you could do on the ISS? What will you miss?
  • What were the most mundane or annoying things you did on the ISS?
  • What did you miss most on Earth (besides family, I’m sure)?
  • Other astronauts have sent videos back to Earth, aimed at schoolkids, but they haven’t really been popular (or viral). Why do you think yours are such a draw?
  • Are there similar videos by other ISS members (for Russian audiences, etc.)?
  • If you’re online, what are your favorite or most frequently visited websites?
  • Are most transactions on the ISS are in English? How much Russian did you learn?
  • What makes for a good astronaut, and what makes for a good ground-crew member?
  • On the station, how do you monitor or record or keep track of the 100+ experiments? Do you find out the results, or just take data?
  • Did your military training prepare you well for this kind of task? Would you say that military people make better astronauts?
  • What’s the way to encourage education (and science education) in classrooms?
  • Who was your favorite teacher in school? Why?
  • How did you get into YouTube and Twitter in the first place?
  • If your face and nasal passages swell in space, does the food really taste all that good (or bad)?
  • Would you like to go back into space?
  • What’s next?


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I found this blog on how math makes people feel stupid from Math With Bad Drawings, via Slate, and have been musing on the topic for a few days.

A lot of people hate math. Dan Meyer shows just how much people hate math:

And American society says it’s okay to hate math. A lot of people don’t like it and never need it… or so we’re told. In fact, if you don’t understand one day in your high school geometry class, it’s okay to say you hate all of math, not just geometry proofs about angles or trig functions. But if you’re not doing well in, say, English class, you are just not-a-modern-poetry person, or not-a-British-novel person. Discounting the whole subject isn’t acceptable or even considered.

For me, history class made me feel stupid. To pass tests, all I had to do was memorize a bunch of dates and people, and I’d be fine. I’ve lost track of how many ways I’ve tried to remember names and dates (mnemonics, thinking of pictures with labels, flashcards, you name it). Strangely, I can remember numbers and strings of words (like phone numbers and email addresses) pretty easily. But, names and dates did not work for me, and still don’t, which is pretty embarrassing as a teacher trying to remember student names. History class was just painful. I’m not saying that all of history is merely memorizing names and dates, but that is the way that it’s taught in a lot of classrooms.

In college, I actually learned a bit of history through art history classes, because I was trying to learn information about the significance of artworks, which happened to include some historical contexts. I drew rough sketches of the slides next to my written notes, which jogged my memory. And even though I could describe and contrast characteristics of styles and methods, I still had difficulty identifying the titles, the artists, and the date of fabrication.

I liked music, so my mom signed me up for piano lessons when I was 6 or 7. Piano was not my thing, but I was forced to continue the lessons for a number of years. In 5th grade, I found that I liked band a whole lot more and continued that into college.

Sticktoitivness is, I think, a Midwestern term, and something that was impressed upon me in my childhood. It’s the need, the drive to continue to work at a thing until it’s done. It’s sort-of kind-of stubbornness, but with a positive connotation. I had to take four years of social studies in high school and some art history in college, so I just figured out how to do it.

So, when do you, as a learner, have to just suck it up and stick-with-it?

And, how, as a teacher, do you try to help your students get through it? Is it always by integrating other subjects in a non-token way?

And on a societal-big-picture wavelength, when is it okay to denigrate entire subjects? (Okay, really, it’s not okay to write anything off.) Here’s a more grey-area-question: When is it okay to give up and declare yourself just not a good [fill in the blank] person?