Tag Archives: Nic

Soccer in the Grass (Nic)

What? You mean we can kick the ball around twice a week?!

Yes: Once in the gym, and once outside.

Let’s jog up to Yesler Terrace, set up some cones, and have a lot of fun. Maybe we’ll even try playing on that little kiddie field some times…

MS Math Lab (Nic)

Note: This class is open to middle school students only.

Math is an art, even if our culture does not usually see it that way. Mathematicians make patterns out of imaginary ideas. (Whoa.) Math is wondering, playing, asking questions, and finding ways to do it beautifully.*

This is the math I want to do with you: math that will make you think “Oh, so this is math too? I actually like this!”

I won’t be teaching you how to calculate this, that, or the other thing. (Though you might find yourself doing some of that.) I won’t be having you practice some specific technique over and over until you’ve memorized it. (Though you may find yourself getting better at some techniques.)

Mostly, I’m just going to get you playing math.

I’ll bring in activities for us all to do together, with me facilitating. This won’t be the choose-your-thing-and-go-in-a-room model of Math Jam; it’ll be all of us in one room doing the thing I’ve brought in.


* Credit for some of this language to Paul Lockhart’s famous essay.

A Visit From The Goon Squad (Nic) (BLOCK)

This is a block class.

Note: This class is open to high school students only.

A Visit From The Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan’s (are-they-short-stories-or-is-it-a-)novel, won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. It’s one of my favorite books I’ve ever read.

I’d like to read it again. With you.

Here are some things reviewers have said about it:

  • it’s a “star-crossed marriage of lucid prose and expertly deployed postmodern switcheroos”
  • it’s about “how rebellion ages, influence corrupts, habits turn to addictions, and lifelong friendships fluctuate and turn”
  • it’s “a frequently dazzling piece of layer-cake metafiction”

It’s about rock ‘n’ roll, getting older, how fast the world changes, and the elusiveness of happiness.

We’ll average ~30 pages of reading per night.

Required texts/materials: A copy of the text. The instructor will procure the texts/materials.

Ultimate (Nic)

Springtime! We’ll jog back up to the grass field at Yesler Terrace to run, throw, catch, swat, and maybe even dive for a disc or two!

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Nic) (BLOCK)

This is a block class.

Four young lovers, in a bizarre love quadrangle. Six buffoonish actors, making off-color jokes as they rehearse a play (within the play). A world of fairies and sprites, manipulating the behavior of everyone. Themes of love, magic, transformation, gender, and the supernatural.

We’ll read it out loud together, tease apart the 400-year-old poetry, and watch some clips of film adaptations as we go.

No prior experience with Shakespeare necessary!

Required texts/materials: A copy of the text. The instructor will procure the texts/materials.

Data Analysis and Statistical Reasoning (Nic) (BLOCK)

This is a block class.

Given our data-rich world, I believe every citizen should know how to draw and evaluate conclusions based on large amounts of information.

In this class, we will work together through an online course from Duke University — yes, an introductory college-level course. I led a group of PSCS students through this course three years ago, and I found the materials to be excellently put together. I’ve done a lot of online courses; this one stands out as high-quality.

You will learn “how to collect data, how to analyze data, and how to use data to make inferences and conclusions about real world phenomena.” We’ll also learn to use R, a programming language used by many data scientists for processing information.

There are lectures, problem sets, projects, and quizzes. Outside of class, you will watch lectures on your own time. There will be a lot of lecture-watching homework for this class, as the course is estimated to take 100 hours of time to complete, but we’ll have only 24 class hours. We won’t get through the entire course, but we’ll cover quite a bit of it.

During our class meetings, we’ll work problems and projects together, helping each other understand the content.

To get the most out of this course, you should be very comfortable with basic math, and ideally have some algebra under your belt. Given the pace of this college-level course, having a strong affinity for math will certainly make this more enjoyable. There are no programming prerequisites for this course. If you have any questions about whether you qualify, talk to me.

Current Events Jam (Nic)

We get together to share interesting articles from the news of the week, and dig a little deeper into questions that come up.  We do spontaneous research, I share my (limited) expertise, and we come out on the other side with answers to some of our questions about what’s going on in the world, country, region, and city.

You don’t need to already be a news geek to take this class, but you do need to be interested in exploring current events.

Each participant is required to bring in at least one article per week, summarize it in front of the class, and be prepared to talk about why it interests them.

The Grapes of Math (Nic)

About five years ago, English author and math geek Alex Bellos published a cool collection of essays about math in the world: The Grapes of Math: How Life Reflects Numbers and Numbers Reflect Life.

Each chapter covers its own topic. Here are a couple of his descriptions of chapters, as an example:

Chapter 4: In which the author explores proportional growth. He gets feedback from a YouTube celebrity in Colorado, and provides a biography of the special number behind capitalism, matchmaking, and Catalan architecture.

Chapter 6: In which the author shines his torchlight on the cone, and sees its reflection in rockets, planets and towers. He learns about the joy of rolling balls—either dipped in ink in Renaissance Italy or bouncing off the cushion in upstate New York.

Each week, you’ll read one chapter before class, and we’ll come together to discuss it. In class we’ll play with the math, make sure we understand it, and do some rabbitholing.

Required texts/materials: A copy of the book. The instructor will procure the texts/materials.