To: Friends of Math Cats
From: Wendy Petti [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Subject: Math Cats News (issue #11, June 4, 2002)
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Greetings from Math Cats!
WHAT’S NEW AT MATH CATS
* OBBL ARCHITECTURE BLOCKS
With OBBL, you can build online scenes and designs from dozens of geometric building blocks and cat blocks. Most of these blocks have "gravity" and begin falling to the bottom of the work space, but certain blocks have special properties allowing them to become glued to other blocks to build bridges (including bridges formed of long cat tails!). Bubble blocks float up. Math Cats has teamed up with Maurici Carbo Jordi, an architect from Spain with a passion for programming, to present this activity; Maurici created the original OBBL and, with Maurici's blessing, I've added the cat blocks and put together pages of ideas and help.
Collaborating with an original thinker like Maurici has been an interesting experience. For instance, Maurici did not want a reset button in his own version of OBBL and gave me a whole variety of novel and entertaining explanations for his objections (with subject lines such as "the little green man" and "resetting sins"), but we negotiated a compromise. You can take a peek at some of this correspondence through a link at the bottom of the OBBL page or directly here:
This new section of Math Cats has nothing to do with math. It is a place to share stories of our pets. More and more visitors are discovering Math Cats through a Google search on "cats" (out of millions of cat pages on the Web, Math Cats ranks #10, on the first page of results, even though it ranks more modestly on a "math" search), and after I received a particularly charming letter from a cat lover named Jasmin, I set up a new area for visitors to share pet stories. I've added a few anecdotes of my own -- see the "Young Hunters" link.
Math Cats has always followed the guidelines of COPPA (the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act), but this new page details how Math Cats protects your privacy.
When a young Math Cats visitor recently asked what I looked like, I finally decided to show my face (on the Grownup Cats page).
I am delighted that the new section of math story problems submitted by students has been growing rapidly. I am particularly interested in multi-step problems for upper elementary school children and beyond. I hope you will encourage the children in your lives to share some good story problems with Math Cats!
* NUMBER STORIES ... ALSO GROWING
I've recently received a batch of illustrated number stories from third grade students in Australia. Have a look!
* GEOMETRIC CONSTRUCTION SETS http://www.mathcats.com/grownupcats/geometrykits.html
When my family goes travelling, for amusements we bring along a few books, arts and crafts supplies (including a compass and straight edge for making math crafts!), balls, and our little suitcase full of Frameworks -- a geometric construction set. Our whole family and friends of all ages enjoy snapping together these plastic polygons to form 3D geometric shapes.
Visit this new idea bank at Math Cats for more information on Frameworks and two other geometric construction sets, including photos and purchasing information.
SPOTLIGHT ON A SITE
* THE ARITHMETIC ARCADE
Here are 24 math activities developed in Flash by math teacher David Hellam of Kuwait. They cover a wide range of math skills. Most of them involve some mathematical thinking. As you move through "Number Maze," you collect numbers and operations, trying to reach the number 100 in the smallest number of moves. In "Sequences," you fill in the 4th, 5th, 10th, 20th, and nth numbers in a sequence; examples of how to express the nth term provide a user-friendly introduction to algebra. Other activities involve estimating angles, arranging fractions (or decimals) in ascending order, a decimal guessing game, estimating the percentage of a pie chart which is shaded, and more. The user interface is occasionally funky; in some games you need to use the browser's refresh button to get a new problem, and you need to use the browser's back button to return to the index. But the games themselves are very well done: they are easy to use, fun, and educational.
This ambitious website, hosted by Utah State University, is being developed through a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation. The virtual manipulatives span grades K-12 and are organized by broad categories of math. Guided activities and lesson plans are provided for some of the manipulatives; others are under development. It is a testimony to the flexibility of the manipulatives that many of them can be used with a wide range of grade levels; however, the age level of the related activities is not indicated. I am very impressed with these virtual manipulatives. The pattern blocks applet (for instance) is much easier to use and has more capabilities than another pattern blocks applet which I've seen recommended on many other math sites.
MATH CATS IS HONORED
* Glowing reviews of Math Cats were featured in the May 2002 NRICH Online Primary Kids' Mag and Staff Room. (NRICH is an outstanding British math website and math club.)
* Math Cats is one of 10 math sites among the "700 Great Sites" selected by the Great Web Sites Committee of the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
* Math Cats was one of three "best math sites" to receive Net-Mom's "Nice Site Awards 2001."
* Math Cats was TechLearning.com's Site of the Day on May 13, 2002.
* Math Cats has received a Seal of Approval from Wired Patrol (formerly Cyberangels), May 2002.
You can read more about these honors on the Awards, Honors, and Reviews page of Math Cats: http://www.mathcats.com/awards.html
KEEPING IN TOUCH
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Take care... and don't spend too long online!! Go play outside!
Wendy Petti of Math Cats
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