BLOSSOMS What's New? August/September 2015

 August 2015 What's New? Follow us on

Learning Graph Theory through the Friendship Paradox
Have you ever asked yourself whether your friends have more friends than you do? This question is answered in a new BLOSSOMS lesson, “The Friendship Paradox: Why We Can’t All Be Popular.” The lesson explains this paradox -- including the intuition behind the result, how we use graphs to formalize the paradox, and a proof of the paradox. While the primary learning objective here is for students to understand how one proves the Friendship Paradox, a secondary objective is to introduce students to graph theory. Students should come away with an understanding of the vocabulary related to graph theory (vertices, edges, etc.) as well as how to use graphs to model simple situations (e.g., social networks). The lesson is interspersed with six classroom activities for students, involving partner discussions, extending algebraic formulas from the video, and working with provided social network datasets. This lesson was created by Katrina LaCurts, a lecturer in the MIT Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. It can be viewed here.

New BLOSSOMS Lesson Helps Students Understand Stoichiometry
The word “Stoichiometry” is difficult to pronounce, to spell and to understand! The aim of this new BLOSSOMS lesson from Malaysia is to relate the concepts of stoichiometry to daily life activities such as baking a cake, production of cars and the chemical reaction in the Haber Process to produce ammonia. Starting out with the analogy of cake baking, this lesson demonstrates the meaning of a limiting reactant and how the amount of product produced depends on the limiting reactant. Students need to see that the number of cakes that could be baked is limited when the amount of one of the ingredients is limited, (i.e. amount of cake baked must be equivalent to the amount of ingredients) and how this situation is related to stoichiometry. From here the lesson moves through increasing levels of understanding, bringing students to a final activity of numerical problem-solving that involves the oxidation of fat tristearin (C57H110O6) in a camel’s hump to produce water. The lesson was created by Dr. Norini Binti Jaafer, Head of the Chemistry Department at the Science Girls School in Seremban, Malaysia and Azie Nurul Akhtar Binti Nabir, a chemistry teacher at the Sultan Alam Shah School in Putrajaya, Malaysia. Watch the lesson here.

Introducing the New MIT BLOSSOMS YouTube Channel
MIT BLOSSOMS is inaugurating its new YouTube Channel and over the next few weeks will be exporting all of its lessons to that channel. Visit us there.

 MIT BLOSSOMS Adding New Language Search Page In an effort to make it easier for educators worldwide to access BLOSSOMS lessons in a particular language, the website homepage has a new menu item, “Language”, to help facilitate this search. Now that BLOSSOMS lessons are available in 11 languages, we feel that teachers need a direct guide to the language of their choice. Check Out these Resources for the Upcoming School Year The Great Diseases Curriculum from Tufts University is targeted to elective biology (Biology II). It is divided into four different modules: Infectious Diseases; Neurological Disorders; the Metabolic Disease; and Cancer. Biograph from the MIT Scheller Teacher Education Program is a series of high school biology units and support materials using agent-based computer models to explore complex systems. Applied Mathematics Practices for the 21st Century provides a new approach to high school and middle school math curriculums. These curriculums can form the basis for project-based learning in mathematics. Highlights of Calculus is a series of short videos by MIT Prof. Gilbert Strang that introduces the basics of calculus—how it works and why it is important. The intended audience is high school students, college students, or anyone who might need help understanding the subject.