# ZeroSum Ruler (home)

## Blogging on math education and other related things

### Let’s grow some grass!November 7, 2010

Who knew?  Students love growing grass.  Let me elaborate…. Students love taking care of their grass as they watch it grow- enough to get them to do some pretty complicated algebra.

What started out as a simple week-long project that incorporated a bit of environmental sciences (my undergrad background) into algebra became a 10-week long project spanning the curriculum from ecology to linear extrapolation.  It’s been a long time in the making, but beyond a shadow of a doubt this lesson is one of the most engaging that I have created.   My students love the life aspect of the project and hardly complain about doing some pretty complex algebra.

Now, with the magic of a WordPress widget called ”My Shared Files    BOX” (on the sidebar), I was able to upload the Growing Grass Project files onto my blog for all to use!

All three files are important, but the excel workbook includes everything the student needs to create a final portfolio piece, including a formatted final excel sheet that the student can type into and cell directions.

I’m very excited about this and hope that if you do use the project, that you will add a comment to this post on how it went.  I also have other files that go along with the starter ones I posted.

I guarantee that your students will be engaged in their learning and that you will find ways to link most of algebra 1  to what comes up along the way.

WARNING!  This lesson takes on a life of its own!  Proceed with caution!

Now Let’s grow some grass!

p.s. For supplementary files, you can email me at ZeroSumRuler@gmail.com.  The files include ones on scatter plots and lines of fit as well as a PowerPoint and activity on linear inter- and extrapolation.

### Office Space PoetryJune 12, 2010

Back when I was working as an environmental scientist/hydrogeologist (yes, I know that’s not a word but it was my job title for 3 years), and had time to sip my iced coffee while browsing the net until I woke up around 11AM, I wrote a poem:

Am I doomed to Live my Life

As Everyday Joe

Excited for daily lunch break?

Or am I to find my

True Calling-

To which so few awake?

I remember thinking that monitoring contaminated soil and groundwater extracted from underneath gas stations across Massachusetts was not what I had dreamed of doing when I was a kid.  But what had I dreamed of doing as a kid?  My Mom had told me that “I’d better think of something else” when I told her I wanted to be a singer and my high school biology teacher had told me “they don’t make any money” when I told him I wanted to be a marine biologist.  Turns out, I can’t sing and deep water terrifies me.  So what had I wanted to do when I was a kid and there was a world of possibilities I could work towards?  How did I end up with so much oily soil under my broken fingernails?

Turns out, I had no dreams as a kid, or at least none that I can remember.  There was one reoccurring dream or walking and jumping off a pier into darkness, but that doesn’t count.  Nor do I know what it meant.  But I digress.

When I got asked to go part-time or get laid off from my environmental job and I gleefully chose to be laid off, and the quickest job to find was substitute teacher in the Boston Public Schools, I didn’t think anything of it.  But somewhere along the way, probably after getting a full-time position a year later, I remembered all the times I forced my brother to sit in front of my small chalkboard so that I could play teacher.  It would always end in him crying to Mom that he didn’t want to play school anymore and me rationalizing that I was really just helping him, but it was something that could be considered a Life dream being played out.

Back when my job title wasn’t a word and I had time to slack off at work, my poem hung on my blue padded cubicle wall for me to stare at everyday.  I’m no poet, so where had it come from?  It’s funny how Life works.

I still wait for lunch break because it comes after teaching 160 straight minutes, but I no longer have time to sit back with an iced coffee and ponder what I should be doing with my Life.  There is no time to think.  There’s only time to Do.

I like it that way.