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The International Year of the Light – Einstein Centenary

Authored by Linli Chin, Math & Science Teacher

A new theory, proposed by Einstein at the Prussian Academy of Science in Berlin 100 years ago this month, was set to revolutionize the way we viewed space, time, light and the universe around us! This general (and special) theory of relativity demonstrated how two observers, relative to each other, would not experience time and space equally. After a decade of calculation, he reached his conclusion: gravity is a product of warped space-time. The sun keeps Earth in orbit not by exerting a physical force on it, but because its mass distorts the surrounding space and forces Earth to move that way. In the words of physicist John Archibald Wheeler, “space tells matter how to move and matter tells space how to curve.”[1] Special relativity, which focuses on non-accelerating objects, states that the speed of light in a vacuum (approximately 671 million mph or 3x108m/s) never changes even if the observer or the light source is moving (kind of like a cosmic speed limit, as Brian Greene puts it...read more

Topics: Einstein, Linli Chin, relativity

Learn With Me, Laugh With Me

Authored by Vanilla Macias-Rodriguez, Science Teacher

I am a fan of all things nerdy.  No, I’m not a Trekkie or a Star Wars Fan Girl, and you won’t find me walking around in costume at ComicCon. Ok, maybe you will. Want to win my heart?  Serenade me with Walk the Moon’s love song that says, “I know everyone you know, you know everyone I know, our Venn diagrams are one circle,” and I’m yours forever.  If you used one of The Big Bang Theory’s Howard Wolowitz’ pick-up lines on me, say for example, this gem… “If I could make any compound, I’d make uranium iodide so that I could put U and I together,” I’d buy you dinner.  Like I said, major nerd. After this geeky introduction, it’s probably no surprise to you that I am a science teacher.  As such, my job is to make sure my students learn about concepts like photosynthesis, stoichiometry, DNA fingerprinting and the nitrogen cycle.  In 15 years of teaching, I have sadly learned that many of the students I teach will not continue their studies in science when they go off to college.  Their...read more

Topics: Vanilla Macias-Rodriguez, science, science jokes

The Virtues of Classical Languages

Authored by Raven Koch, History Teacher

Embrace the study of classical languages! It is a misconception among students and educators alike that Greek and Latin are “dead,” and no longer useful. Learning these languages can be very helpful for studying many other subjects and for many professions. Language is considered metaphorically alive, because it is generative. That is, people use language to create new words all the time. As long as new words are being created from the language, the language is considered living. Latin is very much alive in medicine and the sciences, and is used regularly to name new stars and species, for example. In addition, learning classical languages makes the study of English easier. Latin, German, and Greek are all very useful to a lover of English. Latin is also the basis of many contemporary languages commonly spoken today throughout the world, like Italian or Spanish, which is spoken by four hundred million people worldwide. Learning a language like classical Latin or Greek also trains a...read more

Topics: Raven Koch, Latin, Greek, classical language

What Should You Look For in a High School?

Authored by Maren Holmen, Director of The Tutoring School

So you’re starting high school next year.  For some, that means that you need to look for a new school.  There are so many things to consider: Will I like the other kids?  Can I be on the debate team and the soccer team?  Do they let freshman have roles in the spring play?  But you may not have a good strategy for finding that new school and making sure that you’ve done what you can to be successful in high school. Make a list of what you want.  I don’t mean “I want a car” or “I want world peace.” I mean, think about what qualities you’d like in your ideal high school: class size (do you prefer to be part of a crowd, or do you need more support in the classroom?) and extra-curriculars (do you want a school with a strong sports program or are the arts more your thing?) Rank your “wants” and decide which are “must-haves.” You’ve just created your perfect school…but we know that life is rarely perfect.  Where are you willing to compromise?  What’s going to make you comfortable in your...read more

Topics: choosing the right school, high school, prospective student, Maren Holmen

The Rule of Three

Authored by James Vescovi, English Teacher

When you sit with a friend at lunch, do you keep your cell phone on the table? If you do, the mere presence of your phone can change the quality of the encounter. “People keep the conversation on topics where they won’t mind being interrupted,” writes Sherry Turkle, in her recent article “Stop Googling. Let’s Talk.”  “They don’t feel as invested in each other. Even a silent phone disconnects us.”  Translation: Topics of conversation remain shallow, fleeting, and possibly irrelevant.  Who wants to risk a novel idea or personal thought when someone at the table will receive it with a nod and then look down at her cell phone? College students reported to Turkle, a professor of technology and social science at MIT, how they divided their attention during conversations—for example, in the dining hall. Among five or six people, etiquette demands that you check to see that at least three people are paying attention to the discussion before you give yourself permission to look down at your...read more

Topics: technology, cell phone, James Vescovi

What Do You Need to Know About the IELTS?

Authored by Touria Ghaffari, ESOL/French Teacher

As the number of international students enrolling in American higher education has been continuously growing, so has the popularity of International English Language Testing System (IELTS) in the United States—with a respectively higher number of U.S. higher education institutions accepting IELTS scores. As a result, it is important to be aware of its specifications before deciding to opt for taking the test. What is the IELTS? IELTS, or the International English Language Testing System, is a test which evaluates a person’s level of English based on a band score of 0 to 9 for the four skills of listening, reading, writing and speaking. Who creates the tests? IELTS is jointly owned by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia, and Cambridge English Language Assessment. The test is being administered in more than a thousand test centers in over 140 countries around the world. Which IELTS test should you take: Academic or General? There are two types of IELTS tests: the Academic and the...read more

Topics: IELTS, TOEFL, standardized testing, test prep

In Search of the Digital Red Pen

Authored by Michelle Koza, English Teacher

Paper is great, and it gives a flexibility that typing doesn’t. I can leaf through a book faster than I can scan a PDF; word processing software isn’t as dynamic as the scrawls of a red pen. And I require students to mark their texts when they read to create “working texts.” Call me old-fashioned, but I have always been skeptical of jumping into the tech revolution with two feet. How was an app supposed to transform my teaching? I quickly learned that I should always begin with my teaching objectives and allow technology to be the tool that enables my students to achieve them. So for the past year, as my school transitions to iPads, I have struggled with how to transfer some of what I deem my “non-negotiables” to the digital world: annotating the text and marking student papers. I’m also a big fan of hand-written notes. I always squirm a bit when a student asks if he or she can photograph the board, or when I realize a student is typing their notes. Something about both of these feels...read more

Topics: Michelle Koza, digital, technology, paperless

How Bullying Can Bite the Dust

Authored by George Higgins, Headmaster

With the new school year beginning, students and their parents are once again concerned with issues of bullying in school.  As a headmaster, it’s not unusual for a parent (and sometimes even a student) to subtly ask about the level of bullying when interviewing at a new school. I always answer with confidence: the degree of bullying at our school is almost non-existent.  Predictably, the look of calm relief that washes across the faces in the room is measurable. Why is that?  Because, as most students will confess, the act is still widely practiced at most schools, despite all the attention that is given to anti-bullying.  And to be fair to the teachers and administrators, it’s usually off their radar. Here are a few measures that I try to embrace to ensure that our school environment is safe and welcoming for everyone: Make sure you have a faculty that fully supports and consciously enforces a no-tolerance stance on any form of bullying, both in the classroom and around the school....read more

Topics: bullying, high school, George Higgins

What Is a Credible Source?

Authored by Ian Rusten

What is a credible source? Can you turn to Wikipedia as a resource for your next research assignment? How do you choose which of the articles you just found to use as proof of your claim? Whether you are writing about school lunch, GMOs, or national security vs. privacy, learning how to identify a credible source is a necessary skill, especially in this age of abundant information.  Gone are the days of long and arduous trips to the library in search of encyclopedias and microfiches of old newspapers. In its place we have an Internet chock-full of websites and articles and blogs and wikis claiming reliability and providing information on almost any topic imaginable. You read the assignment, chose a topic, identified the issue and now you really need to dig into the argument and find evidence to support your claim. You turn on your computer and enter the issue into your search engine of choice and suddenly a Wikipedia page and 10 possible articles pop up. Click on the Wikipedia page;...read more

Topics: Ian Rusten, research, reliability

What do flying alarm clocks and Algebra II have in common?

Authored by Kate Bendrick, Math Teacher

Procrastination. And not in the way that you think. As a scientist who studies behavior, I spend a lot of time thinking about, well, time. Now or later? Instant gratification or lasting satisfaction? Chocolate bar or apple? If you stop to notice, almost all of your daily decisions involve some sort of malicious tradeoff between satisfaction now and satisfaction later. You might think of yourself as a patient person, preferring to hold out for the big prize. Or like most of us, maybe you notice your own frustrating tendency to cave to the miniscule joys of solitaire, texting, or lollipop hammers. This is what behavioral scientists call “time preference.” Patient type? Wait for grand reward. Impatient type? Seize the moment! …But there is a third category. The third category is the type who just can’t make up their minds. Imagine the following situation: you get a voucher for an ice cream cone of your choice. It’s good for either 1 scoop 30 days from now, or 2 scoops in 31 days....read more

Topics: Kate Bendrick, algebra, procrastination, math, behavior, decision-making

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