Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Feeling the Power - Using an Analog Computer

We came back from Wyoming with my father-in-law's old slide rule.

These have always been facinating as an engineer - especially because we couldn't figure out how they work!

We found some very useful documents on the web on how to use a slide rule - this one appears to be for grade-schoolers!

Very simple to use and quite powerful. Multiplication is easy and quick to pick up.

Here's a link to the manuals:

It is incredible that NASA put men on the moon, and all of our significant engineering work up to the 70's was based on these old sticks...

Now we get free calculators in cereal boxes - disposable computers!

Speaking of calculators... while up at the cabin over our vacation, the kids started playing Monopoly. "Wait - we forgot to get a calculator!" the boys exclaimed when they first started handling $.

That got our attention - they didn't want to add 2 and 3 digit values without a calculator!

Well, we made it clear that they couldn't play UNLESS they did the math in their head or at least on paper - NO CALCs! The boys really balked at that, but they wanted to play.

The new rule in the house is that NO HOMEWORK OR SCHOOLWORK can be done using Calculators. Even our 3rd Grader is allowed to use calculators in their class work and homework! It is alarming how poor the math skills of our kids are - none of the grade-schoolers are comfortable with their multiplication tables! They don't like the new rule but have agreed to it. In fact, our 7th grader agreed last night that it is better this way... "I can do math better in my head already!" he exclaimed...

Tonight all of our kids are required to read Isaac Asimov's short story "The Feeling of Power". Its a good read, you can find it here:

Go check on your kids, and ask them some simple math questions!

Very frustrating that we have received 2 different notices recently from our School District - about their plans for Sex Education and "Alternative Lifestyle Acceptance" they want to discuss with parents. Our schools appear more interested in teaching social agendas and are failing to teach Reading, Writing, and Arithmatic.