Thursday, August 26, 2010


Today the Tigers are 64 and 64, and officially 8.5 games back.  Do they have a chance?  Lets calculate mathematically the chance.

Current standings:
AL - Central

The baseball season has 162 games, that leaves 162 - 64 - 64 or 34 games left in which to make up their ground with the Twins.  They have 162 - 72 - 55 or 35 more games.  Suppose we are fortunate enough to find the Twins going just under .500 the rest of the season -- 17 wins and 18 losses.  They would finish with a 89 - 73 season.  We'd have to win 89-64 = 25 games out of 34 left, or .735 the rest of the season.  The best teams in baseball are the Rays and Yankees and they have an average of only .614.  Only two teams in baseball history have had .735 seasons -- the 1906 Cups and 1902 Pirates.  Granted, we're not asking the Tigers to play .735 for an entire season, but still....

An interesting mathematical challenge: Calculate the required Tigers percentage for a given Twins percentage x.  I think 35*x is the number of additional Twins wins, and so 72+35x would be their final wins.  (72+35x) - 62 would be our required wins, and so T = (72+35x)-62  /34 should do it I think.
  Here's a graph:

The x-axis is the Twins winning percentage.
The y-axis is the Tigers winning percentage.

What does the y-intercept represent on our graph?
What does the point where the graph leaves off the top of the page represent?

What would the point (0.2, 0.8) represent?  Who would be in the playoffs?  Can you find other points with the same results? Where are they all located?  If you could shade all the points that would allow the Tigers into the playoff, where would the shading be?  Approximately what percentage of the possible area would be shaded?  That's the likelihood that the Tigers can make the playoffs.  

Every day this graph changes -- and if the status quo is maintained, the line will move ever more up and to the right.  What does that mean for the Tigers?


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Probability Questions

Playing a game of backgammon today with another math dork brought to mind a handful of difficult questions in probability.

To make things easier, I'll take away some of the nuances of the game of backgammon--rolling doubles, or the fact that pieces have to be moved in certain ways--and just ask the crucial question:

   If we take turns rolling dice and I have to accumulate 100 points and you have to accumulate 100 points, what's the probability that I get there first and "win"?  Assume you roll 2 dice at a time, and its my turn.

An alternate question is how many turns will it take to accumulate 100 points.  Answering this question suggests that the game should be over in 100 / 7 or probably 15 turns.  But it could end as soon as 100/12 or 9 turns, or could take as long as 100/2 or 50 turns.  What's the probability that it ends in 9 turns, 10 turns, 11 turns, etc....

But would knowing those probabilities help answer the original question--The probability that I get there before my opponent?

I'll say that these are questions I don't know how to answer, even though I love probability and have worked out many difficult calculations before -- perhaps a little more research will help.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Mor"jing" Routine CLICK ME

Trying out a new piece of software called Jing.  It allows you to record a portion of your computer screen while you speak over it, like many of those tech help videos you've seen on YouTube.  This was my first attempt at creating a jing -- it describes my morning routine:
  1. Check Email
  2. Check Calendar and ToDo list
  3. Check Google Homepage
  4. Check Facebook

It's a large file, so it may take a while to load, but it's only 1.5 minutes long, so give it a try and send your feedback!

Click on the title to watch.

Online Group Work

This is my first time working on a document simultaneously with other group members.  The content of the presentation is, coincidently, how to work on a document online.

Podcasting Attempt

This is my first attempt at podcasting.  I had to write a reflection paper on UDL - which stands for universal design for learning. It is a set of guidelines that encourages teachers to make their lessons more accessible to all learners -- specifically those with different learning or physical disabilities.  The teacher allowed us to create a podcast instead of writing a paper -- so I thought I would give it a try, since I despise writing papers.  (Ironic, don't you think, that I have a blog where I write so much?)  

Anyway, it's probably not that interesting, unless you are a teacher -- but if someone is willing to play it and see if they can hear things and what not -- I'd appreciate comments on how to improve, if I plan to podcast at all in the future.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Jet-powered School Bus

Here's my new ride to school -- a Jet-powered school bus!

Sea Levels Rise!

Read on CNN a
story that a giant ice block has broken off Greenland and fallen into the arctic sea. This will cause the sea to rise, just like adding an ice cube to your drink causes the level of the water to rise.

This is different then sea ice melting -- that does not cause the level of the waters to rise, just like an ice cube already in your drink does not cause the water level to rise higher....

Thought it would be interesting to actually calculate the height the sea will rise from this particular chunk of ice.


First, the facts from the story:
The ice is 260 square-km (100 square miles). For comparison, our Kent county is 872 square miles. I usually encircle a 100 square mile area on my drive into and home from work each day.

The ice is "about half the height of the empire state building" which is 381 meters (1250 feet) tall, so we will be generous and say the ice is 200 meters tall.

Volume = Area * Height = [260 km² * (1000² m²/km²)][200 m] = 52 billion square meters of water. 1 cubic meter is 264 gallons, so 52*264 is nearly 14 trillion gallons. For comparison, at 100 gallons of water per day (unfortantely this is the lowest I could find for average American usage) this is 14,000,000,000,000 gal/ 100 gal per person per day/365 days per year/300,000,000 Americans = 1.27 years worth of fresh water. It would probably last us much less time. The article suggested 120 days -- which we would get if we assumed we used 388 gallons a day, or if the block was only around 100 meters high.

Anyway, the real question is how many beach houses will be flooded now... so lets continue.
The area of the oceans is roughly 335,258,000 square km. if we assume that the 90% of the ice block is in the water, and that the displaced water spreads itself out uniformily over the entire earth, and we assume the water level is a rectangular prism (volume = area*height) instead of the more difficult spherical shell (volume = 4/3π(R³-r³)), .. blah blah blah...
(.90)(52 billion km³)/(335,258,000 km² * 1000² m²/km²) = 0.000139 meters

That's the projected rise in sea levels. Granted, this is an over-estimate because the more accurate spherical shell calculations would be lower.

0.000139 m is a tenth of a millimeter, the width of the fattest crustiest piece of hair you can find.

That's like, really small.

No need to cancel your spring break Panama City plans.

Some might think I put this up to prove sarcastically that global warming isn't occurring, or is nothing to worry about -- that was not the intention at all. In fact, those who know me more closely would know the hesitation I had in putting this up in the first place because of that very reason. While I am hesitant to sell my beachfront property -- I do think caring for the environment is an important priority that we should not just shrug off as "God's job". If I remember correctly, it was one of the first things God asked us to do?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Aurora Laura Rorealis

The other day, a giant zit on the surface of the sun popped and sent a flood of protons and electrons sailing toward the earth. In truth, this sort of thing happens all
the time, but this was an extraordinarily large pop. When these charged particles approach the earth, they get caught in our magnetic field and interact with atoms high in the atmosphere. Some atoms pick up electrons, others give them up, others move electrons from one location to another in the atom, each of which releases photons of different energies. A photon is a wave of electromagnetic radiation, which if at the right energies, our eyes detect as visible light, of different colors. This can often result in a beautiful arrangement of light and colors, often referred to as the Northern Lights, or the Aurora Borealis. (Aurora comes from the greek Goddess of dawn, and Borealis from the greek god of North winds).

This display is something I have always wanted to see, but never gotten the chance. Supposedly, this large wave was possibly going to cause the northern lights to be visible as far south as mid-United States, but I haven't had a chance to see it. Typically, the aurorae tend to be seen at high latitudes, because the magnetic field lines are stronger there -- but during strong waves of the solar wind, they can be seen lower.

I wanted to name my daughter Aurora-- partly because I thought it was a beautiful enigmatic display, showing herself only secretly, and partly because the name Aurora Laura Roer was so fun to say. But my wife convinced me Abby was better. Abby means fathers deLight, so I still have the lights reference in them.

Random facts about the northern lights:
  • They occur also in the south, called Aurora Australis
  • They occur on other planets.
  • They can be seen from space - the international space station has taken many beautiful pictures of it.
  • The collisions occur about 50 miles above the earth, or roughly 1% of the radius of the earth above the earths surface.
  • The auroras reach furthest toward the equators around midnight, so on any given day that would be the best time to try to observe them.
  • Solar Flares, or "zit poppings" occur often -- once a week or so during good times and several a day during rough solar complexion. This varies in an 11 year cycle (why 11 years?!) and we are approaching a peak, 2013 should be a year of a lot of flares, and likely a lot more auroras visible. Perhaps the sun just ate a bunch of pepperoni pizza?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

New Phone: 799-ROER

Got a new phone number today. I'm now using Google Voice, an application provided by the omnipotent Google. Basically, you sign up and pick a phone number (its a local 616 area code) and you can have it forward any calls to that number to any of several phones you have. So I have two phone numbers now -- my personal number and this new (616) 799-ROER.

What's the point?

Well, the new number will be what I give out to my students and parents this coming school year. It keeps my work and personal lives a little more separate, even though they all come to one phone (the only one I have). You can change your availability to each phone as well - so I can say that I'm unavailable for work, and those phone calls will go straight to voicemail.

Voicemails are super sweet -- when you leave a message on 799-ROER, it sends me a text message and an email OF YOUR MESSAGE! It will translate the spoken words into written words -- here's one from carrie earlier today:
It mistranslated a little... "And he says hi" is actually Abby says hi. Higher earlier is "hi earlier." Not sure what "So in the You need bye bye" was -- but I can listen to it if I click on the play button.

I got that as a text, but it's also obviously visible from my computer -- where it is STORED. and that is the power of Google voice - these interactions are stored in a sortable database. That's why educators can use them -- it's a great way to keep track of and log conversations with parents.

Tim and I sent a handful of texts back and forth -- and they are all combined into one chunk above because they were all one conversation.

Anyway, thought you might want to know why I got a new phone number. But the old still works too.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Boring Blogposts

I feel like I've been doing nothing but writing papers for the last two weeks, so I haven't had any posts lately. Figure maybe someone somewhere would be interested in reading my philosophies of Christian education, and the role of technology in Christian education, which is where I've spent most of my blogging energies of late. Maybe more interesting posts will arise later?

Technology in Christian Education

The foundation of my beliefs is that this world was created by God. God is eternal, which means he has always existed and always will. God is all-powerful, and all-knowing, and deserving of all our worship. I believe God created mankind with that purpose in mind, that the things we do and say would glorify him.

I also believe that God is holy – he is pure and perfect, true love, truth and just. Man was created in that image, but man chose to live apart from God. As a consequence, there is evil, pain, and suffering in the world, and everyone now is born corrupted by sin and inherently living against God. Thankfully God loves us too much to let us stay apart from him, and he sent his son Jesus to save us and restore us to relationship with him. God calls us to know and live with him using two methods. First he uses general revelation, which is the nature all around us that points to him as creator. Second, he uses the special revelation that is his word, the Bible.

My role as a Christian educator is to help share this story, and reveal God to others, specifically to my students. As a math and science teacher, I tend to focus on general revelation, showing how the patterns and beauty and order we see in the world exhibits the properties of its creator. I use a lot of technology to do that. I show pictures of things I cannot physically bring into the classroom. I use microscopes and telescopes to see details in things that would otherwise be less glorious. I use databases and graphs to help show patterns. I even use technology like calculators to help teach other technologies like solving equations and quantifying things with numbers, all with the goal of describing the world as we see it.

There are lots of technologies that help teach via special revelation as well. The simple book binding machines that bring us our Bibles in the first place are a technology. More advanced tools are presentation tools like PowerPoint or word processors like Word that help present the ideas and stories of the Bible more effectively. There are videos that inspire us and instruments that help us sing the words of truth we get from the Bible. There are computers that help us communicate with others around the world and share our beliefs and discuss what the Bible teaches.

However, many of these technologies is also used by enemies of God to keep us away from him. Atheists can make presentations and propaganda using the same tools we can. Instruments can be used to sing songs that speak lies instead of the truth. Pornographers can create pictures and videos that tempt us to live for self instead of God. Telescopes used under the wrong assumptions can even lead some to believe this world is not created at all, but is itself eternal and infinite.

Technology is amoral – neither holy nor evil. It is similar to money, food, or even words for that matter. God has allowed us to have all these things and given us the choice in how to use them. We can either use them to honor him, or dishonor him. We can use them to help tell others about him to give him praise, or use them to communicate lies. We can even use them to glorify ourselves, or satisfy our own sinful desires, such as greed, pride, lust, or sloth. It is up to us to use the gifts and technologies he’s given us correctly.

And many times, just discerning the correct way to use our words, money, or technologies is an educational goal of its own.

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