Nothing here nor there

This is a post with things neither here nor there. Mainly because I’m too tired to come up with something focused and comprehensive.

1. I’ve been cribbing a lot from Kate Nowak for my logarithm’s unit in Algebra II this year. I used her Log War cards again, to great success, and I cribbed one of her smartboards and converted it to a partner worksheet for kids to discover the log laws. So three cheers for Kate Nowak! I also had students read aloud @cheesemonkeySF’s translation of Napier’s introduction in class. So three cheers for @cheesemonkeySF and Napier!

2. I am feeling anxious about my senior letter this year. What am I going to say? I’ve started and deleted it twice.

3. I have had (and continue to have) a lot of social events on my calendar. This is not good considering all the work I have to get done.

4. I’m getting a little anxious about my multivariable calculus projects. I have 5 students to keep track of, and I don’t have a good sense of where a few of them are. I just sent out an email to the rest of the math department inviting them to join us for the project presentations/project share.

The Multivariable Calculus Class would like to formally invite you to hear about the work we’ve done this last quarter on our final projects. The students in this class have independently worked on:

1. Stu 1: Explaining foundational college level economics with a focus on utility functions
2. Stu 2: Building a model of a 3D hill-like function and using that model to teach some fundamental multivariable calculus topics
3. Stu 3: Building a beautiful origami sculpture (5 intersecting tetrahedra) and using multivariable calculus to figure out the optimal size of paper to use so the sculpture perfectly interlocks
4. Stu 4: Building a machine that can measure the area of any irregular (and regular!) figure — because it is enacting Green’s Theorem
5. Stu 5: Building a special instrument which does something special with sound (I am not saying more for the element of surprise) — an investigation which delves into physics, partial differential equations, and fourier series.

If you are free, we would love to have you join us as we share the projects we’ve worked on with each other.

Stu 1’s project will be presented on Monday, May 16th at the start of B band (9:30-10:20)
Stu 2’s and Stu 3’s projects will be presented on Wednesday, May 18th at the start of B band (8:35-9:25)
Stu 4’s and Stu 5’s projects will be presented on Friday, May 20th at the start of B band (8:10-9:00).

We are in the room S201.

Always our best,
Stu 1, Stu 2, Stu 3, Stu 4, Stu 5, Mr. Shah
The Multivariable Calculus Class

5. I am doing this summer program called the Klingenstein Summer Institute. Part of what we were asked to do is to videotape one of our classes. I did it, and I’m not going to watch it (they say not to). Right afterwards, I actually thought it went fairly well… although my timing was off, I felt the class was solid. Of course, we were asked to reflect upon the class. And the more I thought and parsed and analyzed, the more I came to the realization: the class wasn’t actually very good. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t very good.

They also asked me to email a headshot for a facebook they are compiling. I attached this gem from years ago.

That’s because in most of my photos, I look like:

so my selection is limited.

6. I am getting more and more excited about the second summer program I’m doing called the Park City Math Institute. I did it last year, and it was fantastic, times a million. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

7. I was told today that some kids in a senior homeroom were randomly singing my praises. Which made me melt a little. Okay, a lot.

8. I’ve been listening to this GLEE song on the way to school to wake up and get psyched for the day. I haven’t been sleeping a lot, so this is needed.

9. Today I went to a used book store that was going out of business and bought Volume 1 and Volume 2 of Polya’s Mathematics and Plausible Reasoning. Hardcover. Pristine condition. First printing. Beautiful. (I also bought a copy of Jude the Obscure and Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman. I think I own both, but I love both. And they were only a few bucks.)



  1. Thanks for the shout-out, Sam! Glad you and your students enjoyed it.

    For anyone else who is interested, I have uploaded an improved and nicely formatted PDF version of my translation to so thatj any of you, our dearest fellow math history nerds, are welcome to download and use with your students.

    As Napier himself, “please accept and freely enjoy the fruits of these labors that have been developed by way of my good will toward all. I wish you well.”

    Wondrous Canon of Logs cheesemonkeysf translation.pdf

  2. I’m headed to Klingenstein this summer too (random math teacher teaching in Jordan who made the comment about putting the baby back in with integration by substitution). I look forward to meeting you there!

  3. Hey Sam,

    I’m going to Klingenstein too (I teach English in Manhattan). I was directed to your blog a while ago by some folks over at CSTI, so I lurk on occasion. Meet you soon!


      1. Meera for sure, though Antonio may have said something as well. How’s that KSI homework coming along?

      2. Ah, Meera. Good times. And I haven’t really done all of it yet — but hopefully in the next couple days…

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