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Teach Math in Just 5 Minutes!

Multiply and Divide with Sticks and Steps

If your child isn't mathematically inclined don't despair there's help.  Multiply and Divide with Sticks and Steps is simple, easy and so much fun your child will forget he's learning.

Sticks and Steps is a "multi-sensory method" that will have your child flying through her math homework.  The core is "sticks" are represented by vertical lines and "steps" are horizontal lines.  With this touch, say and print method your child can easily find the right answer - If you can count, you can multiply.

The author, Maureen Sterans, B.A., M.S. has really hit on something here.  I wish this was available when I was struggling through math.

Here's what you can expect to find among the pages of Sticks and Steps;

1.  The Basic Method
2.  Swap the Sticks with the Steps
3.  "Oh no!...A Factor is Missing."
4.  "Oh look!  I See a Pattern"
5.  Multiply Multi-digit Numbers
6.  Take a Shortcut
7.  Divide Using Sticks and Steps
8.  Divide Large Numbers

For Advanced Learners

9.  Find the Least Common Multiple (LCM)
10.  Easy Doubles and Square Roots
11.  Special Rules to Remember

Don't let your child struggle with frustrating math problems, grab a copy of 
Multiply and Divide with Sticks and Steps today.

Fun, Stickers, Stars, and Candy

There’s a lot to be said about using word games to anchor words in the brain while having fun at the same time. A load of positive feedback can work wonders.
Students love the competition, the stickers, the stars, and the candy. Teacher/student-made games, easily made from the internet provide a lot of practices: crossword puzzles work on spelling and meaning; word searches work on spelling and word recognition; bingo can work on meaning and/or spelling, or word recognition; and then, of course, there’s Jeopardy.
Vocabulary building can be a fun time. Students not only increase their vocabulary and become avid scientists, but they become proud owners of a lot of brand new words that can be used to impress and to get those 100%’s.
Valeria B. Girandola
MSEd, Publisher, Editor in Chief
Spigot Science Magazine

Educating Gifted Children

by Linda Warren

Parents of gifted children sometimes find that it is difficult to give their children the education they need. Many people think that having a gifted child means that there are not problems in school for the student. This is far from the truth. In fact, gifted children have as many problems in school as those children of average educational aptitude, or even those children who have learning disabilities. It is just that the gifted children have different problems.

One problem that gifted children have is that they may not learn all subjects equally well. It is commonly thought that a gifted child can easily learn any subject that they are presented. And for some gifted children this is true. Because giftedness comes in many shapes and forms, some gifted children may find math to be a simple subject, easily learning new facts, and needing little repetition or reinforcement to be able to answer problems. That same gifted child might also voluntarily work more math problems that required, willingly exploring more math than is necessary to complete assignments. She might even explore math further, just because she considers it fun or entertaining. This gifted child might have trouble in other aspects of her education. For example, she might struggle with spelling, or other language arts.

The level of giftedness varies between children. Gifted does not mean that learning is effortless. Nor does it guarantee that there is not a cost somewhere else. Gifted children sometimes feel a great deal of pressure when parents or teachers expect them to do equally well in all subjects. Sometimes parents or teachers compound that pressure by telling the child something like, “You are so smart in science, you should be a doctor.” Just because a child may be gifted in science does not mean that being a doctor is what they are interested in. Yet if a child is told every week, from an early age, that they should be a doctor, because they are so gifted, then it becomes hard for them to break free of expectations.

In the classroom gifted children are sometimes given less attention rather than more. In part, this is due to the fact that children who learn easily are thought to not need specialized, or individualized instruction. Gifted students are often assigned as student helpers for children who do need more help. While this is great for the child who needs more help, it does not further the education of the gifted child. Giftedness is not just the ease of learning presented but also the need or drive to attain more information. If that hunger for knowledge is not fed in the gifted child then he may become bored, or even angered. This can lead to behavioral problems. The answer to solving the issues listed here regarding gifted children may not be as difficult as expected.

Gifted children tend to be creative and energetic. They are curious and questioning. It is possible to teach to those strengths, and their ability to learn easily and quickly, offering individualized instruction. This may be difficult to achieve in the typical classroom, there are ways to provide this. One alternative is smaller classes, where children can receive more individual attention. These smaller classes would also allow gifted children to explore their interests and delve deeper into subjects that they are good in, or have deeper understanding of. Another alternative to smaller class size is the home school environment, where the education of the gifted child can be completely individualized.

Gifted children can be challenging to educate, but they deserve as much attention as other students. In a time when it is not politically correct to celebrate exceptionalism, gifted students are sometimes not allowed to shine. They have needs, and weaknesses, and those need to be addressed when developing a curriculum. If we can provide these exceptional students with what they need today, society will reap the benefits of their creativity and ingenuity in the future.

About the Author:

Linda Warren is a writer. Her interests include self-sufficiency, and preparedness. She is a home schooling parent of one child for four years and counting with the online curriculum

What Do Math and Exercise Have in Common?

Expert Reveals the Answer Should Be "Your Kids"

Carrie Scheiner is not ashamed of being a bit of a math nerd.  But don’t let her degree in Math education from Rutgers University fool you – she is also a big fan of physical fitness, and her passion for both has led to her to think of exercise for kids in a completely new way.

"As adults, we don’t think about it, but much of our exercise regimens revolve around counting," said Scheiner, creator of Exploracise, an exercise DVD for kids and parents (http://www.exploracise.com/). "So I began thinking about how much more fun, and healthy, math could be for kids if we combined it with exercise. That was the genesis of my combination of the two disciplines."

Scheiner believes her approach actually addresses two of the most pressing problems in the United States today.

"Research shows that exercise improves learning and multi-sensory learning techniques improve the recognition and recall of information," Scheiner added. "One-third of U.S. children are overweight or obese and 61 percent of fourth graders are not proficient in math. That being said, it just makes sense that we start approaching these problems head-on, and we can create an economy of scale in time and resources by doing it at the same time."

Scheiner believes that parents should encourage kids to get off the couch and exercise, too, which is why she has also devised a list of tips for parents who want to see their kids exercise as they learn. They include:

Count Along– It’s not just about counting to ten when you touch your toes. There is so much more you can do when your kids are having fun. It can be as simple as having them do the same thing you do – sets of 10 repetitions of any exercise – and then have them add up all those 10s when they are done. It will help them get comfortable tabulating simple equations in their heads.

Shapes Can Be Healthy– When I was a kid in gym class, they made us do arm circles, but there are so many other shapes that can be explored. Triangles, rectangles and even more complex geometric shapes can be combined with exercise in a variety of ways. Be creative and don’t be content with your kids using their arms like windmills. Make it fun for them and it will help to create healthy exercise habits that will last a lifetime.

Scavenger Hunts– Hide and Seek is a time-honored game, and with a little twist, you can use it to make math and healthy eating fun. Hide some healthy foods around the house, and set your kids to the task of finding them, but write down the calories and fat for each healthy food. When they find them, have them match up the foods with the numbers.
"It’s all about getting kids to put down the video game controllers and to get off the couch," she said. "We owe it to our kids to start them off in life with healthy habits that we never learned as kids. As adults, we had to teach ourselves to work out and eat healthy. It wasn’t something that most of us learned when we were young. With this approach, you can help your kids develop intellectually and physically, as well as help them establish healthy habits that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives."

About Carrie Scheiner
Carrie Scheiner has a lifelong love of helping others, and is passionate about helping children learn math and healthy lifestyle concepts. She won the award for best student teacher for secondary math while receiving her Bachelors of Arts in Math and Secondary Education at New Jersey’s Rutgers University, where she also earned a Masters of Science in Statistics. She has combined her love of math and her passion for healthy eating and exercise to help the next generation overcome its current educational and health crises. (http://www.exploracise.com/)

The Sea Creatures We Love to Hate

They are slimy, giggly, and overall scary creatures. They often are greeted with terms of endearment like “yuck” or “disgusting”.  Nevertheless, kids can’t resist poking them with clam shells when they wash up on the beach.

Everybody seems to love hating jellyfish. Too many of them can ruin a perfectly enjoyable day at the beach. Sometimes they can actually sting you. Nobody is quite sure what purpose these creatures serve...more

David Cochran
Publisher, Chief Learning Officer
Spigot Science

Whale Sharks Do the Math to Avoid That Sinking Feeling

How the world’s largest fish uses geometry and energy conservation to stay afloat.

They are the largest fish species in the ocean, but the majestic gliding motion of the whale shark is, scientists argue, an astonishing feat of mathematics and energy conservation. In new research published in the British Ecological Society's journal Functional Ecology marine scientists reveal how these massive sharks use geometry to enhance their natural negative buoyancy and stay afloat.
For most animals movement is crucial for survival, both for finding food and for evading predators. However, movement costs substantial amounts of energy and while this is true of land based animals it is even more complex for birds and marine animals which travel in three dimensions. Unsurprisingly this has a profound impact on their movement patterns.

“The key factor for animal movement is travel speed, which governs how much energy an animal uses, the distance it will travel and how often resources are encountered,” said lead author Adrian Gleiss from Swansea University. “However, oceanic animals not only have to consider their travel speed, but also how vertical movement will affect their energy expenditure, which changes the whole perspective.”

For the past four years, Adrian Gleiss and Rory Wilson, from Swansea University, worked with Brad Norman from ECOcean Inc. to lead an international team to investigate the movements of whale sharks, Rhincodon typus, at Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia. They attached animal-borne motion sensors, accelerometers, to the free-swimming whale sharks to measure their swimming activity and vertical movement, which allowed them to quantify the energetic cost of vertical movement.

The team’s data revealed that whale sharks are able to glide without investing energy into movement when descending, but they had to beat their tails when they ascended. This occurs because sharks, unlike many fish, have negative buoyancy.

Also, the steeper the sharks ascended, the harder they had to beat their tail and the more energy they had to invest. The Whale Sharks displayed two broad movement modes, one consisting of shallow ascent angles, which minimize the energetic cost of moving in the horizontal while a second characteristic of steeper ascent angles, optimized the energetic cost of vertical movement.

“These results demonstrate how geometry plays a crucial role in movement strategies for animals moving in 3-dimensions,” concluded Gleiss. “This use of negative buoyancy may play a large part in oceanic sharks being able to locate and travel between scarce and unpredictable food sources efficiently.”

This study is published in Functional Ecology. Full citation: Gleiss. A, Norman. B, Wilson. R, ‘Moved by that sinking feeling: variable diving geometry underlies movement strategies in Whale sharks’, Functional Ecology, Wiley-Blackwell, 2010

About the Journal
Functional Ecology is published on behalf of the British Ecological Society and is a leading journal in organismal ecology. The journal publishes papers on organismal ecology, including physiological, behavioural and evolutionary ecology. At the same time, we are also interested in organism-level studies that have clear and important implications for community and ecosystem processes.

MEG: Origins - A Review

Did you know scientists believe a 70-foot long, 50 tonne shark called the Megaladon once swam the warm ocean waters?  MEG: Origins by Steve Alten delves into the undersea mystery and takes your teen reader on the adventure of the year.

Jonas Taylor a Navy deep sea submersible pilot has pushed himself to the limit, in fact, he's burned out, but that doesn't stop his commander from ordering him on another mission - this one to the Mariana Trench, a 7-mile deep, 1500 mile long gorge located at the bottom of the Western Pacific.  But little does Jonas and his team know that the coming tsunami is no match for the horror that is about to greet them far below the treacherous waters.

MEG: Origins is also available on; Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook

About the Author:

Steve’s novels are used by thousands of middle and high school teachers as part of their curriculum to encourage teens to read and, in fact, MEG was rated #1 Book for Reluctant Readers. This resulted in Steve launching his nationwide, non-profit program Adopt-An-Author that has over 10,000 teachers registered to date and has an unprecedented success rate in getting teens to read. See: http://www.adoptanauthor.com/.

As a special bonus to readers, this international best-selling author commissioned renowned “MEG artist” Erik Hollander to create nine original color images to introduce each chapter. Combining a white-knuckle story with dazzling images has set the bar for an e-book, with readers raving about the high-tech entertainment experience. Finally, as a way of honoring his loyal readers, Steve Alten is practically giving MEG: Origins away, pricing the e-book for only .99 cents!

For more information, visit http://www.stevealten.com/. And for anyone who has not yet read any of the MEG books, MEG: Origins will surely whet their appetite for things to come. Pleasant dreams…for now.

Planning for 9-11-11

What to teach? and How to teach it? Certainly the first biggest event in the plan-book this fall will be the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attack on 9/11. Being ready is a real priority for all teachers.  Two suggestions:
First–In Spigot’s publication TREES, ”The Miracle Tree,” pp. 29-31, tells about a 150 year old sycamore tree that was standing 50 feet from Tower Seven of the World Trade Center, and how its demise saved the historic St. Paul’s Chapel. The chapel became the center for rescue workers and Firefighters, a place for their equipment and a place to rest as they fearlessly rescued many people from the burning towers. …more
Valeria B. Girandola
MSEd, Publisher, Editor in Chief
Spigot Science Magazine

by Sarah Hoyle

For an adventurous female zebra finch a similar personality is more important than a male's appearance or the condition of their beak, reveals research led by the University of Exeter and published in Ethology. This is the first study to show that personalities influence partner choice in non-humans.

The study focused on a population of more than 150 zebra finches, Taeniopygia guttata, as the research team used a series of behavioural tests to assess male and female birds for personality traits.

In one series of tests the team measured levels of adventurous behaviour by assessing a bird’s willingness to explore new environments and reactions to new objects. Each female watched as a pair of brothers explored strange new cages.

Unbeknown to the female one of the brothers was made to look less exploratory than the other as it was restrained within an invisible box. The team then put the female together with the brothers and observed which male she spent the most time with.

The results showed that exploratory females are more likely to favour the most apparently outgoing and confident males. This was regardless of the male birds body size, condition or beak colour. Less exploratory females on the other hand, did not show a preference for either male.

“This is strong evidence that females care about the apparent personality of their male independently of his appearance,” said team leader, Dr Sasha Dall, from the University of Exeter. “We have the first evidence that it is important for partners to have compatible personalities in the mating game. This is something we would probably all agree is the case for humans, but it has been overlooked for other species.”Previous studies have shown that there is a link between a pair’s personalities and their reproductive success across a range of species.
“Exploratory females seem to have the most to gain by choosing exploratory mates,” said lead author,

Dr Wiebke Schuett of the Royal Veterinary College. “We have shown previously that pairs of zebra finches that are both exploratory raise offspring in better condition than those that are mismatched or unexploratory. Similar patterns have been seen in other birds and fish. However, this is the first evidence that the personality of both partners plays a role in mate choice."

About Wiley-Blackwell:
Wiley-Blackwell is the international scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly publishing business of John Wiley & Sons, with strengths in every major academic and professional field and partnerships with many of the world’s leading societies. Wiley-Blackwell publishes nearly 1,500 peer-reviewed journals and 1,500+ new books annually in print and online, as well as databases, major reference works and laboratory protocols. For more information, please visit http://www.wileyblackwell.com/ or our new online platform, Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com), one of the world’s most extensive multidisciplinary collections of online resources, covering life, health, social and physical sciences, and humanities

Tour of a Leaf Factory

Science Connection - Spigot

When we look at a leaf fluttering in the breeze, it’s hard to imagine that there is a lot of activity going on inside it. A leaf is like a factory that converts the sun’s energy into read more...