Upvote this: Teach kids in underserved communities how to code with Minecraft

LA Makerspace co-founder Tara Tiger Brown shares a project that her kid-friendly maker workshop is trying to make a reality.

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Why students are forced to buy this expensive and obsolete Texas Instruments calculator

Twenty years ago, Texas Instruments released the TI-83 graphing calculator, a stupidly expensive piece of old technology that most high schools still require their juniors and seniors buy for around $100. Why? Because. That's why. From Mic.com:

Pearson textbooks feature illustrations of TI-series calculators alongside chapters so students can use their TI calculator in conjunction with the lesson plan. The calculators also have a significant learning curve, and moving students over to new technology is a risky proposition when success in the classroom is so tied to the technology being used.

TI calculators have been a constant, essential staple in the slow-moving public education sector. Students and teachers are so used to generations of students learning the familiar button combos and menu options that TI provides a computer program that perfectly resembles the button layout of the TI-83.

However, even if teachers wanted to be bold and bring in better technology, they would end up right back at square one because of that infamous force in American education: standardized testing.

College Board and other companies that administer the country's standardized tests have approved lists of calculators. TI-series devices are ubiquitous — mobile apps are nowhere to be found.

"I'm actually at the point now where when I do parent conferences, I tell the parents it's in their students' best interest to buy one, because the device will become necessary," Bob Lochel, a math teacher in Hatboro, Pennsylvania, told Mic. "But you feel dirty, because you're telling parents they need to buy a device, and I know I can teach without it."

"Remember Your Old Graphing Calculator? Read the rest

Podcast: Effective Altriusm interview with the author of "Doing Good Better"

Rick Kleffel talks to William MacAskill, the core of Effective Altruism, discussing EA and his book about it. It's much more pragmatic and entirely reasonable, not about extreme statistics and speculations." Read the rest

Why the United States refuses to go metric

"Let's be bold -- let's join the rest of the world and go metric," said Democratic presidential candidate Lincoln Chafee when he announced his bid for the Oval Office. CNN interviews John Bemelmans Marciano, author of Whatever Happened to the Metric System?, about why the US is the only industrialized nation not to use the metric system in business, or most other fields. (Above, U.S. Office of Education public service announcement from 1978.) From CNN:

"People say the metric system makes sense," Marciano says, "But in nature we don't think about dividing things by 10, do we? We think of halves and feet and thirds."

Acres, for instance, were based on the amount of land a man could plow in a day.

"Throughout history we have measured things by ourselves," Marciano says. "We are really losing something with metric."

And another thing: People think the metric system has something to do with science. It doesn't, Marciano says, except that it is used in science and every scientist will probably put forth a convincing argument for why it's silly not to be metric.

"That's the biggest misconception," Marciano says. "The metric system has everything to do with capitalism. It's all about a selling system."

"Refusing to Give an Inch" (CNN)

Whatever Happened to the Metric System?: How America Kept Its Feet (Amazon)

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Donald Duck taught me how to play billiards

Before the age of YouTube, you cherished the chance to see a rerun—and you had to take notes.

The geometry of fireworks

“Enjoy the parabolic envelopes that form while those bright, sparkling, parabolic curves are etched into the sky tonight.”

Video: HOWTO put a Rubik's Cube in a bottle

YouTuber Mathologer shares his technique for reassembling a Rubik's Cube inside a glass container. The secret? Magnets! Read the rest

Statistics Done Wrong: The Woefully Complete Guide

From a brilliant Web-rant to an indispensable guide to the perils of statistics and their remedies, Alex Reinhart's Statistics Gone Wrong is a spotter's guide to arrant nonsense cloaked in mathematical respectability.

This 'numerical sledding game' is like Skifree, but with math

If you like math, puzzles or winter sports, you need to play Sinerider, a sledding game where you transform the slope with math equations. Read the rest

3D printed blooming Fibonacci zoetropes

Stanford design prof John Edmark, as part of his artistic residency at Autodesk, created these 3D printed "blooming" Fibonacci-sequence zoetropes, which seem to grow, writhe, and pulse as they're spun before a camera shooting every 1/4000 of a second. Read the rest

How to have mind-boggling fun with infinity

The human brain is happy working with nice finite numbers. As soon as you start working with infinity, things start happening that are completely counter-intuitive.

Crypto puzzles and games for kids

Dev Gualtieri's newly published Secret Codes & Number Games: Cryptographic Projects & Number Games for Children Ages 5-16 is a thoughtfully designed introduction to crypto for kids. Read the rest

The beauty and wisdom of mathematics

Scientist and inventor Cliff Pickover introduces his newest book on the beauty of math, The Mathematics Devotional

Parable of the Polygons: segregation and "slight" racism

Vi Hart and Nicky Case created a brilliant "playable post" that challenges you to arrange two groups of polygons to make them "happy" by ensuring that no more than 2/3 of their neighbors are different. Read the rest

Beautiful, easy animations of equations

Max writes, "I made a small 'web-thing' that renders a 100x100 square of colored pixels based on an equation input by the user. You can use it to explore mathematics, or just enjoy the pretty colors. All creations are easily share-able by copying the URL." Read the rest

WATCH: Origami expert creates "impossible" computer-generated shape

Mathematician and origami expert Tom Hull created this pleated multi-sliced cone from paper, never before accomplished since Robert Lang designed it via computer. Read the rest

Pi fleece provides warmth, irrationality

Thinkgeek's Pi Fleece keeps you warm and irrational with the first 413 digits of Pi in machine-washable fleece, measuring 45"x64". Read the rest

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