March 14, 2013

Happy Pi Day, from ExploreLearning!

How many diameters does it take to exactly cover the circumference of a circle? And what does this have to do with March 14? If you’re a math person, or just a fan of numerical oddities, I have a feeling you can see where I’m going with this.

It’s Pi Day, boys and girls!

So, first and foremost, please celebrate responsibly. But secondly, celebrate with Gizmos!

Some math Gizmos related to circles, cylinders, and pi:

Circles: Circumference and Area

Prisms and Cylinders - Activity A

Or, if you’d prefer a couple selections from our science Gizmo library:

Measuring Volume

Measuring Trees

So, from the math nerds at ExploreLearning, happy Pi Day to you and your students! We hope you have at least 3.14 times your normal amount of fun in class today.

Posted by Dan at 01:16 PM in Fun/Humor, Math (Real World), Science (Real World), Using Gizmos | Permalink

December 21, 2012

Holiday card contest winner


This year we decided to have a little contest for our holiday card to see if teachers could name all the Gizmos in the sleigh -- plus two special friends from ExploreLearning Reflex!

190 Gizmologists entered our contest, and today we chose a winner. Congrats to a teacher at Flat Rock Elementary School in Powhatan, Virginia. Your Gizmos Flip Camera will soon be on its way to you!

And here are the answers:

  1. Distance Time
  2. Photosynthesis Lab
  3. Triangle Angle Sum
  4. Freefall Tower
  5. Concurrent Lines, Medians and Altitudes
  6. Cell Structure
  7. Modifying the Factorization of Ax2 + Bx + C
  8. Rainfall & Birdbeaks 
  9. Virus Lytic Cycle
  10. Energy Conversion
  11. Triangle Beam Balance
  12. Cell Division
  13. Crabby
  14. Coach Penny


Posted by ExploreLearning at 03:06 PM in Fun/Humor, Site Announcements | Permalink

February 10, 2011

Talk About a Gizmo, Win a Flip Camera

Flip-final Recently we've given away a couple of top-of-the line Flip cameras with a custom Gizmos design. People have responded so well to these great little video recorders, that we would like to get more into the hands of Gizmos fans.

It's easy to enter this contest. Just go to our Gizmos Facebook page and tell us your favorite Gizmo and a few sentences about how it has positively impacted teaching and learning in your classroom. Between now and Sunday, March 6th, math and science teachers who post original entries on our wall and "Like" our page will be entered to win.

As an added incentive, if your post on our Facebook wall includes a photo of you or your students using Gizmos, you will get a second entry in the contest!

All math and science teachers can enter. If you are not a Gizmos subscriber, take a free 30-day trial today. From the library of over 450 Gizmos, you are sure to find a favorite soon.

On March 7, 2011, we will draw from all eligible entries for one grand-prize winner of the Flip camera, and three grab bag winners of assorted EL merchandise.

Of course, this contest isn't just about the prizes. We hope the feedback provided by other educators will give you ideas you can use in your teaching. We encourage you to comment on other posts: ask questions and provide your own insights.

Go Gizmos!

Posted by Ed Pastore at 10:24 AM in Fun/Humor, Using Gizmos | Permalink

September 08, 2008

High Energy Rap

The Large Hadron Collider is about to get cranked up. It will look at how the universe formed by analyzing particle collisions.

Scientists say the collider is finally ready for an attempt to circulate a beam of protons the whole way around the 17-mile tunnel. The test, which takes place Wednesday, is a major step toward seeing if the the immense experiment will provide new information about the way the universe works.

Scientists are excited about the new research tool, but even more people have gotten excited over a rap video that was created by a woman who worked as a student researcher at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory at Michigan State University. That is where I earned my Ph.D., but as I recall...I didn't do much rap back then. I don't think I'll be starting now :)

Click here for the story of the rap video.
Click here for the YouTube page (full size video).
Click here to learn more about the Large Hadron Collider.

Posted by Raman at 01:42 PM in Fun/Humor, Science (Real World) | Permalink

November 13, 2007

Run, Runners!


A photo of several of us from ExploreLearning near mile 19 of the Richmond Marathon.

Posted by Raman at 10:00 AM in Fun/Humor | Permalink

November 12, 2007

EL'er Run Through Richmond

Several people from ExploreLearning took part in the Richmond Marathon this past Saturday. For two of us it was our first marathon. All of us finished and we are already looking forward to next year!


Posted by Raman at 11:16 AM in Fun/Humor | Permalink

May 30, 2006

MIT Students' Dorm Room Automation System

The geeky side of my personality absolutely loves this story. A couple of MIT students totally "tricked out" their dorm room to create what they've dubbed "the custom designed MIDAS Automation System" and which features "everything from web control, voice activation, and a security system, to large continuously running information displays, electric blinds, and one-touch parties."

Too cool.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 01:32 PM in Fun/Humor | Permalink | Comments (1)

March 14, 2006

3.14 = pi = March 14

For all those that enjoy math, today (March 14th) is National Pi Day. NPR ran a story this morning that mentioned the song called Pi by Kate Bush. Very entertaining.

Posted by Raman at 08:44 AM in Fun/Humor | Permalink

February 13, 2006

Play Our Valentine's Day "Cupid Shooting Hearts" Game/Gizmo

To help you get into the Valentine's Day spirit, we've created a fun little game.

Help the mischievous cherub Cupid shoot his arrow through the passing hearts. Drag Cupid into position with your mouse, adjust the angle, and hit the shoot button. The arrow will obey Newton's Laws of Motion as it follows a parabolic path.

screen shot of the game

If everything in this game was random, the histogram would eventually be representative of the area of each type of heart since it is easier to hit a large target. In this case you would have a normal distribution.

However, things aren't always random. Factors such as where you aim, when you shoot the arrow, and the types of hearts actually falling can influence the histogram. The fact that you will have a finite number of data points can also determine the shape of the histogram.

Although the game is mostly for fun for Valentine's Day, there is actually quite a bit of math working behind the scenes, and the game offers teachers a chance to pose various math-related questions to the students.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 04:27 PM in Fun/Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 09, 2005

It's Snowflake (Gizmo) Time!

Well, here in Charlottesville, we've already had two snowstorms in the past week, which is a lot for this part of the country, especially this early. Our Gizmo maker and talented photographer Raman Pfaff snapped the image below the other night on Charlottesville's Downtown Mall. (The ExploreLearning World Headquarters are just one block from where this photo was taken.)

Charlottesville snow at night

Meanwhile, if you're looking for something fun to do with your students in these days just before the Holiday Break, why not try out Raman's Holiday Snowflake Designer Gizmo? With the snowflake designer, you can cut virtual paper on the computer screen with round dot or square dot "scissors" of various sizes before using physical paper.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 11:43 AM in Fun/Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 28, 2005

Charlottesville's Music Scene

This past Sunday's Washington Post did a piece on a "Crash Course in Today's Music" which featured Charlottesville as one of 3 southern college towns that are "creative enclaves where music bubbles, swirls and mutates into more infectious strains."

I mention this, of course, because Charlottesville is the home base for ExploreLearning, and, more importantly, one of own here at EL, Sarah White, is herself a vibrant part of that Charlotesville music scene. Sarah and her band The Pearls are frequent performers at the music venues mentioned in the feature article. And you can download some of her songs here. (See, we're not just a bunch of math and science nerds. Well, at least not all of us.)

Posted by ExploreLearning at 02:11 PM in Fun/Humor | Permalink | Comments (1)

November 16, 2005

The "Hobo Teacher" Blog

While reading Education Week's blog,, Blogboard, I came across a link to a teacher blog going by the name of "The Hobo Teacher." As the folks at EdWeek say, "he's funny." Though I should add as well he's a bit irreverent, but I tend to like that kind of thing.

Here's an example from a recent Hobo Teacher post.

If you need a "how-to" book for teaching, then here you go:

  1. Grab sleep wherever you can.
  2. Grow rhino skin.
  3. Laugh more than you scream.
  4. Be ready to fail.
  5. Be ready to fail again.
  6. Be ready to fail an infinite number of times.
  7. Steal from other teachers (ideas only, but food when possible).

Head on over to the Hobo Teacher for more tongue-in-cheek wisdom.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 01:40 PM in Fun/Humor | Permalink | Comments (1)

September 21, 2005

Fun with Optical Illusions

I'm a sucker for optical illusions. Check out the image below and force yourself to reconcile the fact that all the lines in the image are straight despite what you see.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 10:27 AM in Fun/Humor | Permalink | Comments (9)

July 07, 2005

Going to Hollywood? Learn Math!

Do you plan to head to Hollywood to become a screenwriter for shows such as the Simpsons or MadTV? If so, you had better learn a bit of math, since they actually have chic math clubs where writers get together to discuss math on television.

This NPR story had a humorous and humiliating take on the Hollywood Math Club.

Link to NPR story
Simpson's (and Futurama) Math Home Page

Posted by Raman at 10:10 AM in Fun/Humor, Math (Real World) | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 05, 2005

83,431 Places and Counting

The folks at the Guinness Book of Records are in the process of verifying the following:

Japanese psychiatric counselor has recited pi to 83,431 decimal places from memory, breaking his own personal best of 54,000 digits and setting an unofficial world record, a media report said Saturday (MSNBC).

A most amazing feat. But you've got to wonder if he takes any grief when his memory fails him. I picture his wife, for instance … "Oh, sure, you can recite pi to 83,431 places but you can't remember our wedding anniversary?"


Posted by ExploreLearning at 10:12 AM in Fun/Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 09, 2005

Math Music

Check out this video clip of a group of math students from Northwestern University and their a capella song called "Finite Simple Group (of Order Two)".

"You're the upper bound in the chains of my heart
Your my axiom of choice you know it's true …"

It's a total riot. (Note: Requires Windows Media Player to view the video.)

Posted by ExploreLearning at 09:57 AM in Fun/Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 23, 2005

"Oh Oscillators!" The Physics Hit Parade

A recent edition of The Wall Street Journal had a feature on Dr. Walter Smith, a physics teacher and founder of the site

Six years ago, Walter Smith, an associate professor of physics at Haverford College, whipped out a baritone ukulele and played a tune he wrote about 19th-century Danish physicist Hans Christian Oersted to a puzzled class of undergraduates. Since then, he has composed and performed 34 other songs about relativity, magnetism and wave oscillation. He also made a startling discovery: He isn't alone. It turns out that quite a few physicists like to dabble in ditties. …

And, the students like it as well as several have gone on to create their own physics songs (all of which are available at the website).

Now if you combine a physics ditty with a physics Gizmo, you're talking some seriously fun learning.

But can anyone compete with this guy when it comes to singing and having fun?

Posted by ExploreLearning at 09:18 AM in Fun/Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 15, 2005

More Pi Humor

If' you aren't completely worn out from yesterday's exhaustive yet always exciting Pi Day related festivities, here's some more Pi humor for you.

Meanwhile, we're already getting ready for next year's Pi Day here at ExploreLearning World Headquarters, where we treat all math related fests with maximum earnestness. Personally, I'm going to rock the house with a variation of a popular tune by the artist Prince. It goes a little like this …

So tonight we gonna party like it's 3.145
we gonna, oww, we gonna party like it's 3.145

(Then again, maybe not.)

Posted by ExploreLearning at 10:35 AM in Fun/Humor | Permalink | Comments (1)

May 03, 2004

ExploreLearning Party

Here at ExploreLearning we recently celebrated our fifth anniversary of being a company. We sent out an invitation (with an RSVP) for party that we were having. Here are a few of the responses we got:

Pythagoras declined - he was a bit of a square.
Descartes wondered if he had enough co-ordination.
Euclid primed himself for action.
Edision lit up at the thought.
Joule had too much work on.
Schrodinger couldn't come - his cat had locked him in a box.
Brunel said it would bridge a gap in his schedule.
Babbage never got round to replying.
Turing said he'd stop all other projects.
Euler said that x=((a+b)^n)/n, hence he would be there.
Nobel was asked to give prizes.
Hooke said he'd spring into action.
Pavlov simply drooled at the thought of going.
Konrad Lorenz thought the invitation insisting he should be there too aggressive.
Jean Piaget thought the whole thing too immature.
Otto Kernberg said he might show up provided the rest of the guests keep within their boundaries.
Demming thought the whole affair was inefficient.

Happy Birthday ExploreLearning!

For more science humor, feel free to visit the Science Jokes web site (which is where the jokes above were found). Can you think of how a historical scientist might respond? Feel free to post a comment with that response.

Posted by Raman at 01:28 PM in Fun/Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 24, 2004

Random Coin Toss?

National Public Radio ran a very entertaining story this evening. A professor has done research to see whether a coin toss is truly a random event. The conclusion - NO! If you have seven minutes to listen to a fun story...

Listen to The Not So Random Coin Toss on the NPR Site.

Posted by Raman at 06:03 PM in Fun/Humor, Math (Real World) | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 05, 2004

The Music and Magic of Words

On of my favorite sites on the web is where they provide you with a "word of the day." It's a great way to not only build your vocuabulary but also learn a little history and various cultural trivia as well.

thumbnail image of earthquake GizmoFor instance, this week's theme at WordSmith is "words that are coined after earls." Heh heh … I didn't even realize there are words coined after earls, but here we have today's word:

orrery — A mechanical model of the solar system that represents the relative positions and motions of the planets around the sun. After Charles Boyle, 4th Earl of Orrery (1676-1731), who was given one of those models by John Rowley, a London instrument-maker. They were invented by George Graham c. 1700.

And speaking of orreries, have you seen our Rotation/Revolution of Near-Earth Planets Gizmo? I think the 4th Earl of Orrery would be proud of our virtual mechanical model of the solar system.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 11:11 AM in Fun/Humor, Science (Real World) | Permalink | Comments (2)

December 23, 2003

Can NORAD Track Santa?

Every year since 1998 NORAD has been tracking Santa and putting the live data on the WWW. How fast would Santa and the sleigh have to move in order to travel across the planet in one day? How can Santa get down a chimney? What is the history of Santa? Find out more at the NORAD Tracks Santa Website.

Posted by Raman at 09:47 PM in Fun/Humor | Permalink | Comments (3)

October 23, 2003

Principia Woochuckia

Yesterday the sky took on its winter look for the first time this autumn. You know what I mean? Emily Dickinson describes it perfectly in her Poem No. 258:

There's a certain Slant of light,
  Winter Afternoons--
    That oppresses, like the Heft
      Of Cathedral Tunes--

Exactly. And fittingly yesterday the arborist (also known as the guy with a pickup and chain saw) dropped off my first load of wood for the coming winter.

Which brings me to today's math topic: How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

While we don't yet have a Gizmo to answer this question of the ages, this doesn't mean mathematicians haven't deeply considered the problem. If you're wondering, according to Stephen Lavelle "roughly 1*10 18 kg of wood could potentially be chucked by a woodchuck operating at maximum efficiency (this is only an approximate maximum limit)." There you have it. Heh heh …

Posted by ExploreLearning at 08:41 AM in Fun/Humor, Math (Real World) | Permalink | Comments (5)