Thursday, March 27, 2008

Painting swords

This is an MMS message.Boys paint sword props for Johns Shakespeare play at school
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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Testing mobypicture service

This is an MMS message. My messy desk at work
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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

YoungerSon shows off his mad math skillz

At the end of February, Tuckahoe Middle School participated in the annual Virginia Math League competition. Students are given a 40-question multiple-choice test and 30 minutes to complete it. YoungerSon scored the highest for the entire seventh grade at TMS ...

... out of 428 students!

Math League's 7th grade contests challenge students and schools in interschool league competitions. Students in each league compete for the highest scores, while schools compete for the highest team score: the total of the top 5 scores in each school. Each contest's questions cover material appropriate to each grade level. Questions may cover: basic topics, plus exponents, fractions, reciprocals, decimals, rates, ratios, percents, angle measurement, perimeter, area, circumference, basic roots, patterns, sequences, integers, triangles and right triangles, and other topics, depending on the grade level. These contests encourage a variety of problem-solving skills and methods, to improve students' abilities and understanding of mathematical connections, while having fun!

Tuckahoe Middle School came in 29th place in the state (out of 64) with a combined score of 129.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Merit Badge Weekend

Flickr Album: Merit Badge Weekend 2008

Well ... that wasn't too bad.

Last year Scott Davis and I foolishly agreed to be Camp Director and Program Director for our local Boy Scout district's Merit Badge Weekend. Little did we know what we were stepping into. The camp was held from Friday, February 29th to Sunday, March 2nd and attracted over 750 people! We had over 550 Scouts signed up in over 30 merit badge classes and thanks to efforts of our incredible staff of over 75 dedicated Scouters, we managed to pull off what many called the best MBW they ever attended.

And I might ... just might ... be willing to do it again (I can already hear polMom sighing).

And of course our boys participated. Here's a picture of OlderSon helping instruct during the Scouting Fundamentals course that's sponsored by our Order of the Arrow chapter. Every year during MBW the Pamunkey chapter of the Nawakwa lodge holds an all-day course for new Scouts that have recently crossed over from Webelos into a Boy Scout troop. They focus on teaching some of the Scout skills that are requirements for the early Boy Scout ranks of Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class. It's always a popular class and this year was no exception with over 60 new Scouts attending.

YoungerSon participated in the Cooking merit badge class taught by Richard Brett who is a great instructor and a longtime Scouting friend. Richard was my mentor during our Cub Scout years and is the one who presented me with my Wood Badge beads. He also runs one of the most popular merit badge classes at camp. Scouts in his class had to come in early to cook breakfast and stay late to cook dinner. In between, they learned about safety, cleanliness, how to plan meals, how to budget, and also became proficient with different cooking techniques. They even took a field trip to a local supermarket to test their planning and budget skills.

During the evening campfire, YougerSon also got "called out" for the Order of the Arrow. We had elections at our troop meeting on February 26th and all Scouts that received votes on over 50% of the ballots that were turned in were elected. To become a full member, he will be participating in an "ordeal" during the OA Spring Service Weekend that takes place March 14th-16th.

Egg Drop and Engineering

Flickr Album: Egg Drop Contest & Engineering Day

On Sunday, February 24th, the Science Museum of Virginia hosted an Engineering Career Day that was sponsored by the Richmond Joint Engineers Council. There were several engineering groups there, like the IEEE, that had stations set up in the lobby area and provided hands-on experiments as well as career information. Both boys visited groups representing chemical, electrical, and mechanical engineering.

The big draw, however, was for the 15th Annual Great Egg Drop Contest. The goal is to create an egg container that is light, but strong enough to prevent a medium-side egg from cracking. There were two divisions for middle school and high school students and each division awarded prizes in three categories: 1) the lightest cushion-type container that hits or comes closest to the target; 2) the lightest parachute-type device that hits or comes closest to the target; and 3) the most creative design.

YoungerSon was going for lightest so he created a padded container from the top of soda bottle attached to a parachute. OlderSon went straight for creative as he built his own version of DaVinci's "Aerial Screw" from wooden dowels and Mylar.

During the competition, both boys dropped their contraptions from 25 feet and attempted to hit the target on the floor below. YoungerSon's parachute got caught by a breeze and drifted away from the target but his egg was intact. OlderSon hit the target and also had his egg survive.

Both boys received 3rd place (and $15) for "Most Creative" in their divisions. Both boys were also interviewed by the Richmond Times-Dispatch and OlderSon was mentioned at the end of the article:

John Hutchinson, a ninth-grader at the Center for Engineering at Highland Springs High School in Henrico County, won third place for creativity for a design inspired by scientist, artist and engineer Leonardo da Vinci.

John assembled his parachute-style "flying screw" using Mylar polyester and dowel rods on Saturday night.

"I saw it online, and I thought it would be cool to make one like that," he said.
Very cool!

Catching up ...

I have about seven blog postings I've got to get up from events that have taken place over the past couple of weeks. Look for them to come out over the next couple of days (hopefully).