Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Mighty Mathematician You’ve Never Heard Of

The Mighty Mathematician You’ve Never Heard Of
Published: March 26, 2012

Emmy Noether’s theorem united two pillars of physics: symmetry in nature and the universal laws of conservation.

Albert Einstein called her the most “significant” and “creative” female mathematician of all time, and others of her contemporaries were inclined to drop the modification by sex. She invented a theorem that united with magisterial concision two conceptual pillars of physics: symmetry in nature and the universal laws of conservation. Some consider Noether’s theorem, as it is now called, as important as Einstein’s theory of relativity; it undergirds much of today’s vanguard research in physics, including the hunt for the almighty Higgs boson. Yet Noether herself remains utterly unknown, not only to the general public, but to many members of the scientific community as well.
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The Hunchback and the Chappatis

The Hunchback and the Chappatis

Islamic Articles – Islamic Stories
Tuesday, 15 March 2011 17:25

A woman baked Chappatis for members of her family and an extra one for a hungry passerby. She kept the extra chappati on the window sill, for whosoever would take it away. Everyday, a hunchback came and took away the chappati. Instead of expressing gratitude, he muttered the following words as he went his way:

“The evil you do, remains with you: The good you do, comes back to you!” This went on, day after day.

Everyday, the hunchback came, picked up the chappati and uttered the words:

“The evil you do, remains with you: The good you do, comes back to you!” The woman felt irritated. “Not a word of gratitude,” she said to herself.

“Everyday this hunchback utters this jingle! What does he mean?”

One day, exasperated, she decided to do away with him. “I shall get rid of this hunchback, “she said. And what did she do? She added poison to the chappati she prepared for him! As she was about to keep it on the window sill, her hands trembled.

“What is this I am doing?” she said. Immediately, she threw the chappati into the fire, prepared another one and kept it on the window- sill. As usual, the hunchback came, picked up the chappati and muttered the words:

“The evil you do, remains with you: The good you do, comes back to you!” The hunchback proceeded on his way, blissfully unaware of the war raging in the mind of the woman.


Everyday, as the woman placed the chappati on the window-sill, she offered a prayer for her son who had gone to a distant place to seek his fortune. For many months, she had no news of him. She prayed for his safe return.

That evening, there was a knock on the door. As she opened it, she was surprised to find her son standing in the doorway. He had grown thin and lean. His garments were tattered and torn. He was hungry, starved and weak. As he saw his mother, he said, “Mom, it’s a miracle I’m here. While I was but a mile away, I was so famished that I collapsed. I would have died, but just then an old hunchback passed by. I begged of him for a morsel of food, and he was kind enough to give me a whole chappati. As he gave it to me, he said, “This is what I eat everyday: today, I shall give it to you, for your need is greater than mine!”

As the mother heard those words, her face turned pale. She leaned against the door for support. She remembered the poisoned chappati that she had made that morning. Had she not burnt it in the fire, it would have been eaten by her own son, and he would have lost his life! It was then that she realized the significance of the words:

“The evil you do, remains with you: The good you do, comes back to you!”

Nabi Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam has said:

“Keep Allah in mind wherever you are; follow a wrong with a right that offsets it; and treat people courteously”
Hadith narrated by At-Tirmidhi

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Vicissitudes Underwater Sculpture - Grenada, West Indies by Artist Jason de Caires Taylor

Vicissitudes Underwater Sculpture - Grenada, West Indies by Artist Jason de Caires Taylor

A database compiled in the late 1990s put the figure for the transatlantic slave trade at more than 11 million people. For a long time an accepted figure was 15 million, although this has in recent years been revised down. Most historians now agree that at least 12 million slaves left the continent between the 15th and 19th century, but 10 to 20% died on board ships. Thus a figure of 11 million enslaved people transported to the Americas is the nearest demonstrable figure historians can produce.



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How to Reduce Students’ Anxiety About Tests

How to Reduce Students’ Anxiety About Tests

A certain amount of student anxiety about tests is normal and even helpful to performance, says SUNY/New Paltz professor Spencer Salend in this Kappan article. But between 25 and 40 percent of students experience severe test anxiety – they are extremely nervous and apprehensive, have physical symptoms (perspiration, nausea, rapid heartbeat, dizziness), have difficulty concentrating, and engage in negative self-talk – all of which has a serious impact on their ability to perform well and harms their development and feelings about themselves and school.

Salend distinguishes test anxiety from the more generalized “trait anxiety”, which applies across a wide range of situations. A number of factors can produce test anxiety, including:

–   Anxiety, attention, or obsessive-compulsive disorders;

–   Perfectionist tendencies and unrealistic expectations;

–   Negative self-esteem, self-statements, and procrastination;

–   Stereotype threat;

–   Inadequate study and test-taking skills;

–   Poor performance on previous tests;

–   Pressure from family, teachers, and peers;

–   Unfavorable testing environments;

–   Invalid, flawed, and timed tests;

–   Ineffective teaching that leaves students unprepared to handle a test.

One or two of these factors can snowball to others, working a student into an anxious and unproductive mental state.

Salend suggests a number of strategies to alleviate test anxiety. These are helpful to all students, not just those with extreme test anxiety.

Make tests student-friendly. This includes crystal-clear test directions, using questions that relate to students’ lives, giving students choices, and spreading tests out so students aren’t over-tested in any one time period.

Maximize validity. It’s important for teachers to know the topics, concepts, vocabulary, and skills that upcoming tests are going to assess so they can align the curriculum accordingly. The number of test items for each area should correspond to the amount of instructional time spent during the year. Some aspects of the curriculum may lend themselves to observations, clickers, performance assessments, and portfolios rather than paper-and-pencil tests.

Make tests graphically accessible. This includes clear layout and format, clear transitions from item to item, not too many test items on a page, grouping similar types of questions, and providing students enough space to respond.

Enhance readability. This means using as few words as possible in short sentences; using comprehensible vocabulary, sentence structure, and voice; avoiding pronouns, double negatives, abbreviations, acronyms, and parentheses; using readable type fonts and sizes; not putting too many words per line; and avoiding right-justification.

Foster motivation during testing. This includes embedding prompts at strategic points in a test to help students stay focused, remain calm, and succeed.

Teach anxiety-reduction strategies. This might include advising students not to arrive early for a test (to avoid tense conversations with peers); using meditation, prayer, yoga, smelling fragrances, deep breaths and breaks; and using positive self-talk, guided imagery, and focusing on past successes.

Teach test-taking strategies. These include developing and reviewing study guides, using effective study techniques (e.g., spaced practice, self-testing), getting students working in collaborative study groups, using memory strategies, using educational games to prepare, thinking through possible test questions, doing a memory dump at the beginning of the test, scanning the whole test before beginning, budgeting time efficiently, and highlighting key words in the directions. Students whose IEPs entitle them to accommodations should take full advantage of them.


“Teaching Students Not to Sweat the Test” by Spencer Salend in Phi Delta Kappan, March 2012 (Vol. 93, #6, p. 20-25),

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Precious Knowledge – Trailer

PRECIOUS KNOWLEDGE Director: Ari Luis Palos; Producer: Eren Isabel McGinnis Documentary/60 Minutes PRECIOUS KNOWLEDGE interweaves the transformative stories of students in the Mexican American Studies Program at Tucson High School. The program has become a model of educational success with 100% of their students graduating from high school and 82% attending college. We filmed their social justice throughout an entire school year to document disenfranchised youth becoming engaged, informed and active Chicanos. However, Arizona lawmakers believe the students are being indoctrinated with dangerous ideology and that the classes teach anti-American, anti-capitalist destructive ethnic chauvinism.
PRECIOUS KNOWLEDGE is a co-production of Dos Vatos Productions, and the Independent Television Service (ITVS), produced in association with Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB) and Arizona Public Media, with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).
For more information about LPB, please visit the website at:



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