Happy Spring, Everyone! Before diving into what we're up to, I'd like to share some news I received from the Center for Biological Diversity - especially for you D&D fans:
The Center for Biological Diversity is helping launch an exciting project to resurrect the histories of extinct animals in a surprising new way: through the popular roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons. We’re partnering with creator Lucas Zellers and Mage Hand Press to release The Book of Extinction, a game manual that tells the stranger-than-fiction true stories of animals now lost, alongside game statistics giving them new life as fantasy monsters. We’re hosting a webinar to let you explore the tragic stories of extinct animals like the passenger pigeon and Florida fairy shrimp — and learn what they can teach us about stopping the extinction crisis. Join us on Thursday, March 23, at 4 p.m. PT / 7 p.m. ET to find out more about this creative project and how we’re expanding our efforts to save life on Earth. The event is free, but registration is required, so sign up and check your email for a link.
The world of math and science has been interconnected since the beginning of time. They are intertwined with our day to day existence and are within our very being. Our life has rhythm. Our beating hearts, the rotations of the earth around the sun, the steps we take as we walk, the meter in the sentences we speak is all intricately patterned and beautiful. Our brains are wired for pattern detection and our ancestors created language around all that we detect. Pattern detection was crucial for survival - as is communication about our findings!
This is math! Galileo says, The book of nature is written in the language of mathematics. I don’t know about you, but this gets me very excited.
So, if it’s true that our minds house the very essence of math and science, why are these subjects so intimidating? Why are there some who seem “to just get it” while others are on the struggle bus?
Math is cumulative! Therefore, if something is missed early on it can make a student feel lost or lose confidence in themselves.
The presentation can be too technical or boring.
Math and science are process oriented and it can be easy to lose patience in repeating a process over and over again.
Our brains are different! We could be neurodivergent, left-brained, right-brained, have short attention spans .. Nature meets nurture or Nurture meets nature. But did you know that Stephen Hawking, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Nobel Prize winner Carol Greider, Michael Faraday, and even Galileo Galilei were all thought to be considered dyslexic?
I too was considered dyslexic when I was growing up. Another challenge was that my primary parent was not a native English speaker. Not good at math. Not good at English. What’s a kid to do?
Frederick Douglass says: “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”
Oprah says something similar: “Where there is no struggle, there is no strength.”
But I think my favorite sentiment is expressed by Stevie Wonder: “Life has meaning only in the struggle. Triumph or defeat is in the hands of the Gods. So let us celebrate the struggle.”
And, of course, we all know what Rudyard Kipling’s advice is about those two imposters: “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two imposters just the same.”
The secret is, we’re all on the struggle bus sometimes. As far as this kid goes, my mom and I couldn’t play games based in English so we played math games. You wouldn’t think “playing” or “games” would provide lessons to get a kid through school, but not only did it help me personally, I now know there is a mountain of evidence that game play is invaluable when it comes to learning. Games and Play also help keep the Boring away. My teachers even wanted me to skip a grade!
I like to remember that all these beautiful geodes and crystals and rock formations... diamonds even.. are formed in gorgeous layers through time and sometimes heat and pressure, a mixing of the elements ... alchemy!
Right now, because this semester will be all about the math and science of fossils and the history of life on Earth, we will still be using our old math games (Sumoku, Yatzee, cards), but will be incorporating new games that have to do with the National Parks, Leave No Trace, data collection, geology, and fossils!
So far, we’ve learned about different rock types (ie sedimentary, ignatius, metamorphic) as well as fossil evidence of evolution, superpositioning, and types of fossils and how they’re made. We will continue with minerals and gems as well! Learning has never been more fun.