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Sunday, August 31, 2014

It’s time for school, but don’t forget the importance of playtime

"The new school year is an exciting time as parents, teachers and administrators try to ensure children succeed in the classroom. But it’s also a good time to remember one of the essential ingredients in a child’s success – play." continues
Sacramento Bee.


Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Play is critical to the physical, cognitive and emotional health of children. The American Academy of Pediatrics says play is so central that it should be part of the very definition of childhood, while the United Nations declares that children have the right to play.

Many forms of play, such as swinging on a swing or climbing a tree, help to build bones and muscles, improve coordination and boost confidence. Playing with simple toys, such as building blocks, helps children develop their intelligence, language skills and imagination. When playing make-believe, children use social and communication abilities such as negotiation, cooperation and sharing – all lifelong skills. 

Creative play with words, music and reading is critical to brain development. We know 90 percent of a child’s brain development occurs by age 5. Daily exposure to reading, writing, talking, singing and playing helps children develop listening, problem-solving and creative-thinking skills. Reading stories together, especially over and over again, builds vocabulary and helps children learn abstract concepts.

Listening to music, singing along and playing musical instruments can help children develop and recognize patterns, which will assist with language and math skills. Play brings families together and inspires lifelong learning by encouraging children to be active learners through hands-on experiences.

And, let’s not forget: Play is fun.
Read more... 

Source: Sacramento Bee
ore here: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/08/31/6664929/its-time-for-school-but-dont-forget.html#storylink=cpy


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It’s time for school, but don’t forget the importance of playtime

"The new school year is an exciting time as parents, teachers and administrators try to ensure children succeed in the classroom. But it’s also a good time to remember one of the essential ingredients in a child’s success – play." continues
Sacramento Bee.


Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Play is critical to the physical, cognitive and emotional health of children. The American Academy of Pediatrics says play is so central that it should be part of the very definition of childhood, while the United Nations declares that children have the right to play.

Many forms of play, such as swinging on a swing or climbing a tree, help to build bones and muscles, improve coordination and boost confidence. Playing with simple toys, such as building blocks, helps children develop their intelligence, language skills and imagination. When playing make-believe, children use social and communication abilities such as negotiation, cooperation and sharing – all lifelong skills. 

Creative play with words, music and reading is critical to brain development. We know 90 percent of a child’s brain development occurs by age 5. Daily exposure to reading, writing, talking, singing and playing helps children develop listening, problem-solving and creative-thinking skills. Reading stories together, especially over and over again, builds vocabulary and helps children learn abstract concepts.

Listening to music, singing along and playing musical instruments can help children develop and recognize patterns, which will assist with language and math skills. Play brings families together and inspires lifelong learning by encouraging children to be active learners through hands-on experiences.

And, let’s not forget: Play is fun.
Read more... 

Source: Sacramento Bee
ore here: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/08/31/6664929/its-time-for-school-but-dont-forget.html#storylink=cpy


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Math apps help kids get ready for school by Jinny Gudmundsen, Special for USA TODAY

Follow on Twitter as @JinnyGudmunsen

Jinny Gudmundsen writes, "During the dog days of summer, your kids' brains are probably more focused on picnic tables than times tables. To help them transition back into learning mode, here's a list of kid apps that make doing math fun."


Slice Fractions

Ululab, best for ages 6-13, $2.99, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android

Rating: 4 stars (out of 4)

Kids help an adorable mammoth as he travels over challenging terrains. In each of the 90 puzzles, players slice objects into fractions to clear out ice and lava blocking the mammoth's path.

What makes it cool: This app uses slicing mechanics similar to that of the mega-popular puzzler Cut the Rope, so you know kids will like to play it. The developers worked with a team of learning experts from the University of Quebec to perfect the math curriculum, which is cleverly inserted into the gameplay. The result is an engaging physics puzzler that feels like a game but which also hones kids' math skills in working with fractions.
Read more... 

Related links 
Slice Fractions 
Bug Mazing - Adventures in Learning
Numbers League
Motion Math: Pizza!

Source: USA Today 


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Math apps help kids get ready for school by Jinny Gudmundsen, Special for USA TODAY

Follow on Twitter as @JinnyGudmunsen

Jinny Gudmundsen writes, "During the dog days of summer, your kids' brains are probably more focused on picnic tables than times tables. To help them transition back into learning mode, here's a list of kid apps that make doing math fun."


Slice Fractions

Ululab, best for ages 6-13, $2.99, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android

Rating: 4 stars (out of 4)

Kids help an adorable mammoth as he travels over challenging terrains. In each of the 90 puzzles, players slice objects into fractions to clear out ice and lava blocking the mammoth's path.

What makes it cool: This app uses slicing mechanics similar to that of the mega-popular puzzler Cut the Rope, so you know kids will like to play it. The developers worked with a team of learning experts from the University of Quebec to perfect the math curriculum, which is cleverly inserted into the gameplay. The result is an engaging physics puzzler that feels like a game but which also hones kids' math skills in working with fractions.
Read more... 

Related links 
Slice Fractions 
Bug Mazing - Adventures in Learning
Numbers League
Motion Math: Pizza!

Source: USA Today 


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Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Return of Radical Empiricism

Follow on Twitter as @mpigliucci
Massimo Pigliucci, a biologist and philosopher at the City University of New York writes, "“All our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to the understanding, and ends with reason. There is nothing higher than reason.” So wrote Immanuel Kant in his Critique of Pure Reason, one of the most influential philosophy books of all time." 

Kant is also the philosopher credited for finally overcoming the opposition between empiricism and rationalism in epistemology, as he realized that neither position, by itself, is sufficient to account for human knowledge.Kant was notoriously awoken from what he termed his “dogmatic slumber” [1] by reading David Hume, who had written in his Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding:“All the objects of human reason or enquiry may naturally be divided into two kinds, to wit, Relations of Ideas, and Matters of fact. Of the first kind are the sciences of Geometry, Algebra, and Arithmetic … [which are] discoverable by the mere operation of thought … Matters of fact, which are the second object of human reason, are not ascertained in the same manner; nor is our evidence of their truth, however great, of a like nature with the foregoing. … If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.”

The second part of the quote makes it clear that Hume, in turn, was reacting to the philosophical excesses of the Schoolmen, the medieval logicians who attempted to discover truths about the world by sheer power of mental analysis — an approach that, to be fair, goes back at the least to Plato himself, who was himself impressed by the effectiveness of mathematics in arriving at conclusions with certainty, and thought that the task of philosophy was to do likewise when it came to its own spheres of interest.
 
Why am I reminding you of all this? Because I am now convinced that we are witnessing a resurgence of what I call radical empiricism, the sort of thing that we thought we had left behind once Kant came onto the scene, and which, frankly, not even good ‘ol Hume would have endorsed.
Read more... 

Related link  
Immanuel Kant (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Source: h+ Magazine


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The Return of Radical Empiricism

Follow on Twitter as @mpigliucci
Massimo Pigliucci, a biologist and philosopher at the City University of New York writes, "“All our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to the understanding, and ends with reason. There is nothing higher than reason.” So wrote Immanuel Kant in his Critique of Pure Reason, one of the most influential philosophy books of all time." 

Kant is also the philosopher credited for finally overcoming the opposition between empiricism and rationalism in epistemology, as he realized that neither position, by itself, is sufficient to account for human knowledge.Kant was notoriously awoken from what he termed his “dogmatic slumber” [1] by reading David Hume, who had written in his Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding:“All the objects of human reason or enquiry may naturally be divided into two kinds, to wit, Relations of Ideas, and Matters of fact. Of the first kind are the sciences of Geometry, Algebra, and Arithmetic … [which are] discoverable by the mere operation of thought … Matters of fact, which are the second object of human reason, are not ascertained in the same manner; nor is our evidence of their truth, however great, of a like nature with the foregoing. … If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.”

The second part of the quote makes it clear that Hume, in turn, was reacting to the philosophical excesses of the Schoolmen, the medieval logicians who attempted to discover truths about the world by sheer power of mental analysis — an approach that, to be fair, goes back at the least to Plato himself, who was himself impressed by the effectiveness of mathematics in arriving at conclusions with certainty, and thought that the task of philosophy was to do likewise when it came to its own spheres of interest.
 
Why am I reminding you of all this? Because I am now convinced that we are witnessing a resurgence of what I call radical empiricism, the sort of thing that we thought we had left behind once Kant came onto the scene, and which, frankly, not even good ‘ol Hume would have endorsed.
Read more... 

Related link  
Immanuel Kant (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Source: h+ Magazine


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Friday, August 29, 2014

Power of Mathematics Opens New Possibilities in Music

Follow on Twitter as @mrmeteor

Steve Koppes, University of Chicago writes, "Anthony Cheung’s formal mathematical training essentially ended with high school calculus. But as a musician and composer, he has explored mathematical phenomena in new ways, especially through their influence on harmony and timbre."

Composers found new ways of fusing the two musical qualities late last century, says Cheung, assistant professor in music. “Through technology and thinking about acoustics, we can change sounds on the computer in innumerable ways,” says Cheung, whose musical composition earned him a 2012 Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome.

/

The work of Cheung and others shows the power of mathematics to open new possibilities in music. Modern experiments with computer music are just the most recent example. According to musician-scholars like Eugenia Cheng, a visiting senior lecturer in mathematics and a concert pianist, the history and practice of music would have unfolded much differently without an appreciation of what unites music and math.

During the Baroque period, a mathematical breakthrough inspired one of Cheng’s favorite composers, Johann Sebastian Bach, to write The Well-Tempered Clavier (1722), his book of preludes and fugues in all 24 major and minor keys.

Expanding an audience for math
As an educator, Cheng is adept at relating just about anything to mathematics, including food. She developed a series of YouTube lectures on the mathematics of food, covering topics such as “The perfect puff pastry,” “The perfect Mobius bagel,” and “The perfect way to share a cake.” The series evolved into a book, How to Bake Pi, which will be published by Profile Books in March 2015. She also has brought mathematics to a wider audience through works such as the mathematics of cream tea, the mathematics of pizza, and mathematics and Lego

Mathematics of musical composition 
Cheung is a composer and musician who readily describes how an understanding of mathematics often can lead to a deeper appreciation of certain musical compositions.

In graduate school, Cheung studied with Tristan Murail, now a professor emeritus of music at Columbia University, who pioneered thoughts about how harmony and timbre could come together. Cheung cites Jonathan Harvey’s Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco (1980), as a classic early example of doing this electronically. In this work, Harvey used spectral analysis and re-synthesis on a computer to morph the sounds of the tenor bell at Winchester Cathedral into the sound of a singing boy, his son.
Read more... 

Source: The University of Chicago and The University of Chicago's Channel on (YouTube)
 


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Power of Mathematics Opens New Possibilities in Music

Follow on Twitter as @mrmeteor

Steve Koppes, University of Chicago writes, "Anthony Cheung’s formal mathematical training essentially ended with high school calculus. But as a musician and composer, he has explored mathematical phenomena in new ways, especially through their influence on harmony and timbre."

Composers found new ways of fusing the two musical qualities late last century, says Cheung, assistant professor in music. “Through technology and thinking about acoustics, we can change sounds on the computer in innumerable ways,” says Cheung, whose musical composition earned him a 2012 Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome.

/

The work of Cheung and others shows the power of mathematics to open new possibilities in music. Modern experiments with computer music are just the most recent example. According to musician-scholars like Eugenia Cheng, a visiting senior lecturer in mathematics and a concert pianist, the history and practice of music would have unfolded much differently without an appreciation of what unites music and math.

During the Baroque period, a mathematical breakthrough inspired one of Cheng’s favorite composers, Johann Sebastian Bach, to write The Well-Tempered Clavier (1722), his book of preludes and fugues in all 24 major and minor keys.

Expanding an audience for math
As an educator, Cheng is adept at relating just about anything to mathematics, including food. She developed a series of YouTube lectures on the mathematics of food, covering topics such as “The perfect puff pastry,” “The perfect Mobius bagel,” and “The perfect way to share a cake.” The series evolved into a book, How to Bake Pi, which will be published by Profile Books in March 2015. She also has brought mathematics to a wider audience through works such as the mathematics of cream tea, the mathematics of pizza, and mathematics and Lego

Mathematics of musical composition 
Cheung is a composer and musician who readily describes how an understanding of mathematics often can lead to a deeper appreciation of certain musical compositions.

In graduate school, Cheung studied with Tristan Murail, now a professor emeritus of music at Columbia University, who pioneered thoughts about how harmony and timbre could come together. Cheung cites Jonathan Harvey’s Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco (1980), as a classic early example of doing this electronically. In this work, Harvey used spectral analysis and re-synthesis on a computer to morph the sounds of the tenor bell at Winchester Cathedral into the sound of a singing boy, his son.
Read more... 

Source: The University of Chicago and The University of Chicago's Channel on (YouTube)
 


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Current Site and App of the Week - August 27, 2014

Current Site of the Week   

As schools increasingly rely on data to improve education, and as teachers increasingly rely on technology in the classroom to improve the learning experience, privacy concerns are being raised about the collection and use of student data. 

Photo: eSchool News

With ‘back to school’ now in full-swing, and to address both the promise and challenges surrounding privacy and data in education, the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) today unveiled a one-stop shop resource website providing parents, school officials, policymakers, and service providers easy access to the laws, standards and guidelines that are essential to understanding student privacy issues and navigating a responsible path to managing student data with trust, integrity, and transparency.

More than at any other time in the evolution of education, data-driven innovations and use of emerging technologies – such as online textbooks, apps, tablets and mobile devices, and internet-based learning – are bringing advances and critical improvements in teaching and learning, with profound implications.

At the same time, the increased use of vendors and data is matched by the need for heightened responsibility to manage and safeguard student data and implement policies that benefit education and minimize risk. Concerns are being raised about how student data is collected and used in a next-stage learning ecosystem buzzing with social media, mobile devices, central databases, student records, Big Data, and an array of vendors and software.
Read more... 

Apps of the Week 

Do you know your states?


Name: Census PoP Quiz

What is it? Test your U.S. state knowledge with Census PoP Quiz, a new population challenge about the 50 states and the District of Columbia from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Best for: Students and teachers
Price: Free
Requirements: iOS 4.3 or later; Android 2.2 and up

Features: With each state challenge completed, users will earn a badge to show their knowledge of various state demographic characteristics. After earning badges from every state, the app will unlock the final U.S. challenge. Throughout the quiz, players can share their badges on social media sites including Facebook and Twitter.
  • Challenges that test your knowledge of topics such as population, housing and commuting from the American Community Survey (ACS)
  • Questions that span locations in all 50 states and the nation’s capital 
  • Badges to share with social media connections

Visit iTunes to buy and download apps 
Google play 

Source: eSchool News     


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Current Site and App of the Week - August 27, 2014

Current Site of the Week   

As schools increasingly rely on data to improve education, and as teachers increasingly rely on technology in the classroom to improve the learning experience, privacy concerns are being raised about the collection and use of student data. 

Photo: eSchool News

With ‘back to school’ now in full-swing, and to address both the promise and challenges surrounding privacy and data in education, the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) today unveiled a one-stop shop resource website providing parents, school officials, policymakers, and service providers easy access to the laws, standards and guidelines that are essential to understanding student privacy issues and navigating a responsible path to managing student data with trust, integrity, and transparency.

More than at any other time in the evolution of education, data-driven innovations and use of emerging technologies – such as online textbooks, apps, tablets and mobile devices, and internet-based learning – are bringing advances and critical improvements in teaching and learning, with profound implications.

At the same time, the increased use of vendors and data is matched by the need for heightened responsibility to manage and safeguard student data and implement policies that benefit education and minimize risk. Concerns are being raised about how student data is collected and used in a next-stage learning ecosystem buzzing with social media, mobile devices, central databases, student records, Big Data, and an array of vendors and software.
Read more... 

Apps of the Week 

Do you know your states?


Name: Census PoP Quiz

What is it? Test your U.S. state knowledge with Census PoP Quiz, a new population challenge about the 50 states and the District of Columbia from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Best for: Students and teachers
Price: Free
Requirements: iOS 4.3 or later; Android 2.2 and up

Features: With each state challenge completed, users will earn a badge to show their knowledge of various state demographic characteristics. After earning badges from every state, the app will unlock the final U.S. challenge. Throughout the quiz, players can share their badges on social media sites including Facebook and Twitter.
  • Challenges that test your knowledge of topics such as population, housing and commuting from the American Community Survey (ACS)
  • Questions that span locations in all 50 states and the nation’s capital 
  • Badges to share with social media connections

Visit iTunes to buy and download apps 
Google play 

Source: eSchool News     


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Monday, August 25, 2014

Is It Better to Learn at Your Own Pace or in a Structured Environment?

"For employers looking to equip their staff with new information, is it better to set aside office time for team training activities or to take advantage of digital technology, allowing everyone to learn at the their own pace and in their own time?" reports Orion D. Jones.

Photo: Big Think 

Workplace leader Janet Pogue, who studies how people use office space, says letting people take online tutorials with their mobile devices is a great idea in theory. Since scheduling people to be in the same room at the same time has become increasingly difficult, remote learning offers a possible solution. 

Employers should note, says Pogue, that failing to schedule time at the office for certain tasks implies they are not important enough to merit the attention of management, sapping motivation for employees to do them on their own time. 

As edX President Anant Agarwal discusses, self-motivation has definite limits, so basic courses like college prerequisites may experience particular success online.

Anant Agrawal on Online Learning
 

Source: Big Think and Big Think's channel (YouTube).


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Is It Better to Learn at Your Own Pace or in a Structured Environment?

"For employers looking to equip their staff with new information, is it better to set aside office time for team training activities or to take advantage of digital technology, allowing everyone to learn at the their own pace and in their own time?" reports Orion D. Jones.

Photo: Big Think 

Workplace leader Janet Pogue, who studies how people use office space, says letting people take online tutorials with their mobile devices is a great idea in theory. Since scheduling people to be in the same room at the same time has become increasingly difficult, remote learning offers a possible solution. 

Employers should note, says Pogue, that failing to schedule time at the office for certain tasks implies they are not important enough to merit the attention of management, sapping motivation for employees to do them on their own time. 

As edX President Anant Agarwal discusses, self-motivation has definite limits, so basic courses like college prerequisites may experience particular success online.

Anant Agrawal on Online Learning
 

Source: Big Think and Big Think's channel (YouTube).


If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my Email Updates!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

New eBook: Use Lifelong Learning to Your Advantage

It takes just four steps to achieve this win-win situation. 

How to Turn Organizational Learning into a Strategic Advantage

In our new eBook, How to Turn Organizational Learning into a Strategic Advantage,” we take a deep dive into these steps, including examples from companies that have used them successfully to achieve their key business goals.

Here’s a brief look at the four steps:

Step 1: Define Your Organization’s Learning Goals
Whether you need to deliver a three-day training or a three-month course, your goals for a learning program will probably include standardizing learning, creating repeatable content, and sticking to a learning budget.

Step 2: Stare Down Budget Challenges with Your Learning Program
A robust online learning environment immediately lets you eliminate the biggest hits to your budget: travel and hospitality costs.

Step 3: Bridge the Skills Gap
Organizations are facing a baby boom brain drain—people are taking years and years of institutional knowledge with them when they retire. Use an online learning environment to capture that knowledge.

Step 4: Integrate Learning Technologies with Business Software
When you can integrate your new learning platform with existing business applications, you create a powerful environment that’s easy for people to use.
By adopting this kind of robust approach to organizational learning, you can enable your employees to thrive in their careers while investing in your organization’s long-term success.
Professionals of all stripes have embraced online learning, allowing them to open up a world of career development to even the most far-flung employees while helping their companies achieve key business goals.  
Download our free ebook today to learn more about ways your company can turn organizational learning into a strategic advantage.

Source: Blackboard Blog


If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my Email Updates!

New eBook: Use Lifelong Learning to Your Advantage

It takes just four steps to achieve this win-win situation. 

How to Turn Organizational Learning into a Strategic Advantage

In our new eBook, How to Turn Organizational Learning into a Strategic Advantage,” we take a deep dive into these steps, including examples from companies that have used them successfully to achieve their key business goals.

Here’s a brief look at the four steps:

Step 1: Define Your Organization’s Learning Goals
Whether you need to deliver a three-day training or a three-month course, your goals for a learning program will probably include standardizing learning, creating repeatable content, and sticking to a learning budget.

Step 2: Stare Down Budget Challenges with Your Learning Program
A robust online learning environment immediately lets you eliminate the biggest hits to your budget: travel and hospitality costs.

Step 3: Bridge the Skills Gap
Organizations are facing a baby boom brain drain—people are taking years and years of institutional knowledge with them when they retire. Use an online learning environment to capture that knowledge.

Step 4: Integrate Learning Technologies with Business Software
When you can integrate your new learning platform with existing business applications, you create a powerful environment that’s easy for people to use.
By adopting this kind of robust approach to organizational learning, you can enable your employees to thrive in their careers while investing in your organization’s long-term success.
Professionals of all stripes have embraced online learning, allowing them to open up a world of career development to even the most far-flung employees while helping their companies achieve key business goals.  
Download our free ebook today to learn more about ways your company can turn organizational learning into a strategic advantage.

Source: Blackboard Blog


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Prime Number: Women mathematicians speak about surviving in a man’s world

Follow on Twitter as @Paromita_C
Paromita Chakrabarti writes, "The mathematical tradition in India has been robust since the time of Aryabhata and contemporary women mathematicians occupy central positions in it."

The distance between Isfahan in Iran and New Delhi is a daunting 2,450 km. But on a July morning in 2007, when Farkhondeh Sajadi found herself in India to join the Indian Statistical Institute for her doctoral degree, she knew, even amidst the anxiety of new beginnings, this was the city that had the possibility of fulfilling her dreams of a career in academia. An MSc in mathematics from the Isfahan University of Technology, she had a few opportunities to go to the West, but India was closer home, with a reputation of being a heavyweight in mathematics, and it seemed more appropriate to come here.

Ever since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 in Iran, the educational system has undergone several changes, but the emphasis on academic and technical training remains. Participation in math Olympiads both at the national and international levels has become common. Every year, Konkur or the Iranian University Entrance Exam sees a steady stream of candidates eager for a chance at higher education.
“Since the 1990s, there has been a significant increase in Iranian women’s participation in higher education. In 2013, the number of girls among 36 top-ranked students at the Konkur was 14, but this year, it is 18 among 36, which means the male-female ratio is the same,” says Sajadi, 37, who completed her PhD last year.

But even if higher education is not an issue, continuing in research often becomes difficult. Many families are unwilling to let women travel abroad, and with marriage and children, a lot of women give up their research goals. India proved to be a happy outpost for Sajadi, and she had the occasion to bump into Maryam Mirzakhani, a 37-year-old fellow Iranian professor from Stanford, at the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) held in Hyderabad in 2010. The quadrennial mathematical meet organised by the the International Mathematical Union (IMU) draws top mathematicians from around the world for lecture sessions and to award the Fields Medals — considered the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for the subject — to two to four outstanding mathematicians under 40. During their student days in Iran, Mirzakhani was somewhat of an icon already, tales of her two gold medals — including one where she had a perfect score — at successive international math Olympiads was common knowledge among students.
“It was a brief meeting, but I told her how she was an inspiration for so many of us trying to make a career in maths,” says Sajadi, who has since moved back to Isfahan and joined Iran’s Social Security Organisation as a statistical expert.


Sujatha Ramdorai; Kavita Ramanan and Jennifer Chayes
Photo: The Indian Express

Four years later, when news of Mirzakhani’s Fields Medal win for her “outstanding contributions to the dynamics and geometry of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces” broke last week at the ICM in Seoul, for mathematicians like Sajadi, it was something whose time had long come. Since its inception in 1936, the winner of all the 52 Fields Medals has been male, indicative of how, at its core, mathematics remains an inherently male bastion across the world. For every woman who succeeds in the intensely competitive field, there are many others who drop off the radar at an early stage, unable to keep up with the multiple roles they are supposed to play, the incessant pressure of self-doubt and the need to prove oneself time and again. There are other overt and veiled patriarchal binds as well, including often, the notion that boys are better at the sciences than girls.

There’s been perceptible improvement over time, with the IMU electing its first woman president, Ingrid Daubechies, in 2011. But even in the US, the land of equal opportunities, the ratio of women who hold tenured positions in mathematical sciences at top universities hasn’t risen significantly in the last decade, though many women now occupy top jobs at leading universities. 

“My experience as a mathematician has been positive. However, the percentage of tenured women faculty in higher-ranked mathematics departments in the US remains low. There have been concerted efforts in the US to promote equal opportunity for women in mathematics. Some of these have achieved moderate success, but there is still a minority that misconstrues these initiatives as preferential treatment,” says Kavita Ramanan, professor of applied mathematics at Brown University. “Some women find it harder to balance family and work, especially when they are expected to prioritise their partners’ careers over their own,” she says.

Like Ramdorai, Jennifer Tour Chayes, 57, distinguished scientist and managing director of Microsoft Research New England in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which she co-founded in 2008, says it’s a problem that is not specific to maths alone, but to the sciences. During her four years at Princeton University, she recalls not seeing “one woman get a PhD before me in mathematics or physics. A few women were admitted, but all either dropped out, or took a very long time to finish. There just wasn’t a critical mass of women for a healthy or encouraging atmosphere,” she says.
Read more..

Source: The Indian Express


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Prime Number: Women mathematicians speak about surviving in a man’s world

Follow on Twitter as @Paromita_C
Paromita Chakrabarti writes, "The mathematical tradition in India has been robust since the time of Aryabhata and contemporary women mathematicians occupy central positions in it."

The distance between Isfahan in Iran and New Delhi is a daunting 2,450 km. But on a July morning in 2007, when Farkhondeh Sajadi found herself in India to join the Indian Statistical Institute for her doctoral degree, she knew, even amidst the anxiety of new beginnings, this was the city that had the possibility of fulfilling her dreams of a career in academia. An MSc in mathematics from the Isfahan University of Technology, she had a few opportunities to go to the West, but India was closer home, with a reputation of being a heavyweight in mathematics, and it seemed more appropriate to come here.

Ever since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 in Iran, the educational system has undergone several changes, but the emphasis on academic and technical training remains. Participation in math Olympiads both at the national and international levels has become common. Every year, Konkur or the Iranian University Entrance Exam sees a steady stream of candidates eager for a chance at higher education.
“Since the 1990s, there has been a significant increase in Iranian women’s participation in higher education. In 2013, the number of girls among 36 top-ranked students at the Konkur was 14, but this year, it is 18 among 36, which means the male-female ratio is the same,” says Sajadi, 37, who completed her PhD last year.

But even if higher education is not an issue, continuing in research often becomes difficult. Many families are unwilling to let women travel abroad, and with marriage and children, a lot of women give up their research goals. India proved to be a happy outpost for Sajadi, and she had the occasion to bump into Maryam Mirzakhani, a 37-year-old fellow Iranian professor from Stanford, at the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) held in Hyderabad in 2010. The quadrennial mathematical meet organised by the the International Mathematical Union (IMU) draws top mathematicians from around the world for lecture sessions and to award the Fields Medals — considered the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for the subject — to two to four outstanding mathematicians under 40. During their student days in Iran, Mirzakhani was somewhat of an icon already, tales of her two gold medals — including one where she had a perfect score — at successive international math Olympiads was common knowledge among students.
“It was a brief meeting, but I told her how she was an inspiration for so many of us trying to make a career in maths,” says Sajadi, who has since moved back to Isfahan and joined Iran’s Social Security Organisation as a statistical expert.


Sujatha Ramdorai; Kavita Ramanan and Jennifer Chayes
Photo: The Indian Express

Four years later, when news of Mirzakhani’s Fields Medal win for her “outstanding contributions to the dynamics and geometry of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces” broke last week at the ICM in Seoul, for mathematicians like Sajadi, it was something whose time had long come. Since its inception in 1936, the winner of all the 52 Fields Medals has been male, indicative of how, at its core, mathematics remains an inherently male bastion across the world. For every woman who succeeds in the intensely competitive field, there are many others who drop off the radar at an early stage, unable to keep up with the multiple roles they are supposed to play, the incessant pressure of self-doubt and the need to prove oneself time and again. There are other overt and veiled patriarchal binds as well, including often, the notion that boys are better at the sciences than girls.

There’s been perceptible improvement over time, with the IMU electing its first woman president, Ingrid Daubechies, in 2011. But even in the US, the land of equal opportunities, the ratio of women who hold tenured positions in mathematical sciences at top universities hasn’t risen significantly in the last decade, though many women now occupy top jobs at leading universities. 

“My experience as a mathematician has been positive. However, the percentage of tenured women faculty in higher-ranked mathematics departments in the US remains low. There have been concerted efforts in the US to promote equal opportunity for women in mathematics. Some of these have achieved moderate success, but there is still a minority that misconstrues these initiatives as preferential treatment,” says Kavita Ramanan, professor of applied mathematics at Brown University. “Some women find it harder to balance family and work, especially when they are expected to prioritise their partners’ careers over their own,” she says.

Like Ramdorai, Jennifer Tour Chayes, 57, distinguished scientist and managing director of Microsoft Research New England in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which she co-founded in 2008, says it’s a problem that is not specific to maths alone, but to the sciences. During her four years at Princeton University, she recalls not seeing “one woman get a PhD before me in mathematics or physics. A few women were admitted, but all either dropped out, or took a very long time to finish. There just wasn’t a critical mass of women for a healthy or encouraging atmosphere,” she says.
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Source: The Indian Express


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The Scout Report: Research and Education - August 22, 2014

Check out these highlights from The Internet Scout Project.
 



British Library: Playtimes
 
http://www.bl.uk/playtimes
 
What would it be like to play games in wartime Britain? Or any other time for that matter? This remarkable website from the British Library helps curious visitors learn about playground games of all sorts. Visitors can watch a video of girls dancing to celebrate the end of World War One and also look at children performing traditional songs and games. In the Kids Zone, visitors can use the interactive playground to peruse some of these most fascinating pastimes. The Your Stories section lets visitors learn about images submitted by young people themselves documenting their favorite games. Teachers will also find the materials here helpful when teaching their charges about how children play around the world. 
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Early Washington Maps: A Digital Collection 


http://www.wsulibs.wsu.edu/holland/masc/xmaps.html

Documenting "the struggle between Britain and America for the ownership of the region, and the further development of one of the last frontiers on the continent" is one of the primary goals of this digital collection of maps relating the history and development of the area that eventually would become Washington state. Created by a partnership between the University of Washington and Washington State University, the digital collection includes a timeline of early Washington maps that orients its users to the breadth and depth of the digital collection. There is also a drop-down menu that allows visitors to look at thumbnails of each map, organized by different themes such as forests, Puget Sound, and railroads. A general searchable index to the collection is also available for visitors looking for any number of thematic maps. The site will be of special interest to those curious about Washington state history, historical geography, and the practice of cartography over the past few centuries. 
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In Search of Shakespeare: Shakespeare's Sonnets Lesson Plan 
 
http://www.pbs.org/shakespeare/educators/language/lessonplan.html
 

PBS has created a wonderful lesson plan on Shakespeare's sonnets that addresses students' most common complaint about the Bard: the inaccessible language. This website for educators has videos and other technology for students, as well as academic articles for educators that are meant to help them better understand how to teach Shakespeare. Visitors should not miss the updated "translation" of Sonnet 18, the classic that starts out "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" Another gem of a lesson plan that visitors should check out is the "Soliloquies Buster" under "Professional Development" on the right hand menu of the website. It includes a handout that gives the step-by-step process on making the dreaded soliloquy not just accessible, but engaging and fun.
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Get the Math

 
http://www.thirteen.org/get-the-math/

How does math get used in the "real world?" The short answer is that it is used to create hip-hop music, in fashion design, and through a number of other endeavors. This interactive website combines video and web interactive to help young people develop algebraic thinking skills for solving real-world problems. The series is funded by The Moody's Foundation, along with assistance from WNET and American Public Television. The sections of the site include The Challenges, Video, and Teachers. In The Challenges area, users will find video segments profiling the various young professionals who use math in their work, along with interactive tools to help students solve the challenges they are presented with. Moving on, the Teachers area includes resources for teachers, such as a training video showing how to use project materials in the classroom, along with student handouts. Visitors shouldn't miss the Basketball challenge, featuring NBA player Elton Brand talking about the problems presented by free throw shooting.  
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Source: Internet Scout Project


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