Saturday, May 1, 2010

Brain/Life Dump

It has been sweltering here in San Salvador, but this week that heat and humidity have finally turned into rain. First, a trickle, and then today, an all-out ugliness outside. I guess this marks the starting of the rainy season. Yuck!


Geoff and I went to the beach last weekend to check out "Atami," a private beach club to which the school has membership. We had heard mixed things about it, so we decided it was something to see for ourselves. They had two types of rooms, $20 for a room with a fan or $36 for a room with an AC unit. We sprung for the one with AC, and it turned out to be a blessing, because the beach area was unbearably humid during most of our stay. But, besides that, Atami had a couple of huge pools (warm even at night because they are completely exposed to the sun during the day); a 100-meter water slide (actual curvy, water-park style); and a couple of salt-water pools right next to the ocean! The salt-water pools were awesome during high tide! The waves actually splash over the edge, but the pool is roped off on the sides so that you would not fall into the rocky ocean 10 feet below.

All in all, we had a LOT of fun at the club, and we think that we will try to go back there with a bigger group of people next time. My only gripe from the whole weekend is that the club is a bit remote from the happening spots along the popular beaches, and yet their food has a high price-to-quality ratio. Our weekend ended up costing a little over $100 bucks -- definitely not cheap for El Salvador -- once you included all the food and drinks, and that was only for mediocre food and a few drinks!


In other news, my dad is out of the hospital! YAY. He was in there for a short stint for something potentially very serious, but in the end, the docs determined that he was OK and let him go after a few days of in-patient care. :) Thank goodness! (Needless to say, this had been very stressful...)

I can't wait to see my parents in June, which seems to be, amazingly, just around the corner.


On the teaching front, I have been working hard to pull together the last projects of the year for my kids. I showed my Geometry kids a super fun movie about dimensions, called Flatland, and they loved it! On Monday, we will launch into a multi-day project on the computers, using this link in combination with some excellently scaffolded spatial puzzles (which I found while digging through the reference books at my school) to do a 3-d visualization/surface area/volume/base perimeter project. I can't be more excited! The entire project will take 3 or 4 days, but it should be super fun and educational for the kids.

In Algebra 2, we're wrapping up the exponential / logarithmic functions unit, so I dipped into my long-past engineering background and worked with the science teacher to figure out an RC-circuit lab for the kids. I have already tried it out, and I think it is going to be brilliant! (We're also doing a water-cooling lab, which is also exponentially slowing down as it approaches room temperature. But, that one is easy to set up, and I had actually already made the kids do it once last year with my friend Tim when I went away myself on a school trip, so I'm not too concerned about working out the logistics of that lab.) I am relieved to be wrapping up the long and very tedious exponential and logarithmic unit with some hands-on science activities.

Addendum July 2, 2010: In the spirit of sharing, here are the RC circuit lab thumbnails. Let me know if it looks interesting and you want the original file!


The last bit of update is that I got to swing-dance to live jazz music last night right here in San Salvador!!

April is apparently the jazz-appreciation month around the world, so the American Embassy had sponsored a free jazz concert in the plaza across the street from La Feria (the San Salvador convention center). I went with my sensible swing shoes on, just in case the music and venue were swingable. And, it was amazing!! Geoff wasn't there, but Andrea and I danced, and then I asked some of the Peace Corps volunteers we had met to dance. By the end of the concert, there were 4 or 5 couples up swing-dancing, and it was so lovely! (Even the locals were looking on, admiring the energy we had spontaneously generated.)

Afterwards, Andrea and I went along to grab a drink with the Peace Corps people we had met. They were super cool, and they gave me an interesting perspective on El Salvador. But, that's story for another time. :)


  1. Oh, I'm glad your Dad is ok! And yes, June is going to be here before you know it.

    Hey, would you mind sending me your RC circuit lab writeup? We do a EE lab for middle school girls every summer, but we're always looking for new ideas every year.

  2. OK. I haven't fully revised it yet, but I'll send it to you when it's ready. :) It's aimed at high-school levels and are specific to our materials, but you can always revise it to suit your needs.

    What kinds of labs do you already do, and do you involve math in it?? I feel like there would be pretty cool middle-school math involved in parallel circuitry.

  3. Hi, Mimi. I'm Dano Johnson one of the creators of Flatland: The Movie (your blog popped up in a Google Alert). We're glad you and your students enjoyed our movie! If you or your students have any feedback or comments on the movie, please let us know -
    In the meantime, we're working on the sequel - Sphereland!

  4. Hi, Mimi. Can you send me the files for your circuit lesson? I'm looking at ways to link with what my kids are doing in their science class this year and this could be precisely what I'm looking for. My email is

  5. Hello Mimi,
    I just recently started reading your blog on teaching. I am having fun realizing the differences in your curriculum and the one I was given to teach.
    I saw the same 3-D applet website you mentioned and let my geometry support class tinker around with it. Now I want something more structured. Did you have a project layed out for your kiddos or did you just let them have at it? If you did make anything would you be willing to share it?
    I appreciate the sharing that you already do.

  6. @Matt I feel torn about this, because I got those worksheets straight out of a book and I think I'd be violating their intellectual property if I just shared it. If you need it in a hurry then I'll scan the hard copies I have and send it along -- but only if you promise to then turn around and buy the booklet, if you end up liking the activity. (Your word would be good enough for me.) Otherwise, the book I used is here . I think it could arrive within a week if you order from Amazon vendors.

    Let me know - if you want me to scan the copies and email you, then drop me a note at my gmail account, mimiyang ...