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Big Learning News 5-10-06

Big Learning News
Karen Cole's Guide to Real-World Learning with Kids
Issue 4:15 May 10, 2006

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Table of Contents
Math Moment: You are one in a million!
Activity: Go Stargazing
Book Review : Video-making tips for kids
Education News for Adults: The New Gym Class
Web sites: Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race Photos

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Math Moment

You are Truly One in a Million

My son asked me the other day, "Mommy, what percentage of the world subscribes to your newsletter?" At first I didn't want to think about it, because I worried that the small number would depress me. But my husband took on the challenge: The population of the the Earth is about 6 billion, and about 6,000 people subscribe to Big Learning News.

6,000,000,000 divided by 6,000 = 1,000,000

So about one out of every million people on Earth subscribe to Big Learning News. Expressed as a percent that is depressing (0.0001% of the world), but for some reason "one in a million" sounds like a lot to me! So, dear subscriber, you are one in a million!

Show your kids how they can simplify the division of big numbers like that by crossing out zeros:

6,000,000,000 divided by 6,000 is the same as 6,000,000 divided by 6 - you took away three zeroes from each number, effectively dividing each number by 1,000. That preserves the value of the ratio but makes the problem simpler.


More Fun Math for Kids

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Stargazing Fun




Ready for a night out? These sites have great resources for the beginning astronomer. The Skymaps site publishes a monthly star map you can download and print.

The Nightskyinfo site article on binoculars explains why they're a better choice for beginners than a telescope - and less expensive too! The article also explains binocular features and how to choose a pair that works well for astronomy.

The Dustbunny.com site has a great article for kids (around age 10 and up) about how to observe like a scientists. Their Beginner's Tools article reviews useful stargazing software packages.

Also, on BigLearning.org, you'll find these reviews of children's astronomy books:

Children's Night Sky Atlas

Glow in the Dark Constellations

...and this free software

Distant Suns Planetarium Software

Comment on this article


Book Review

Attack of the Killer Video Book: Tips and Tricks for Young Directors by Mark Shulman and Hazlitt Krog, art by Martha Newbigging

Ages 9-13

With digital video cameras now under $100.00, lots of kids are finding movie making within their reach. They'll get all the tips they need to start making great videos, all presented in light-hearted, kid-friendly language.

The equipment recommendations are great for kids on a tight budget. The authors tell what kind of equipment a professional would use - say, a tripod to keep the camera steady. But then then they go on to suggest lots of free alternatives - your knee, the back of a chair, etc.

Attack of the Killer Video takes kids through the whole process of video making to "the big show." Along the way they discuss lighting, special effects, directing, and editing. Kids will learn lots of movie-making lingo, like "establishing shot," "gaffer", and "in the can."

Buying Information

More Photography for Kids

Comment on this article here.


Education News for Adults

Taking the Pulse of Gym Class


New trends in physical education classes stress personal fitness over organized sports, according to this article. Kids wear heart monitors and use health-club type equipment. I think it's good to stress personal fitness, but turning school gyms into high-tech health clubs seems a little drastic to me. I've heard of schools are taking a slightly different approach - teaching fun individual sports like roller blading. Maybe the two approaches are combined in some places.

Comment on this article here.


Web Sites

Kinetic Sculpture Race


The Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race features wacky, home-made human-powered vehicular works of art racing around Baltimore through streets, water, and and rough terrain. Your kids will love these photos and videos from this year's race - held on May 6. The videos are BIG and take a long time to download, but do give a better sense of what the race is like. Also take a look at the rules - they're funny.

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