Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Week0: CK-12 Resources

CK-12 is an incredible STEM resource. Log on to it and peruse the subjects you want to learn.  The site is designed to offer self-paced learning, achievement tracking, grade based content.  Perhaps most significant is the ability of the student and educator to create eFlexBooks  in .mobi, .epub, and PDF formats. The mathematical and statistical lessons are of very high quality. And this resource is free.  Check out these two flexbooks:
This type of resource allows an opportunity for myself as an instructor to discuss how technology increases learning. I highly recommend the use of a portable reader such as a Nook or Kindle or the use of reader software on your smart phone or laptop. Simply put, mathematics is sometimes best learned in small doses at places convenient for the student. To prevent visual fatigue from interfering with comprehension, I prefer a reader that handles the display of Greek Letters with optimum clarity in all types of light.

For these articles, the student may find a resource on the use of Greek Letters in Mathematics helpful. Please see my (upcoming) post on the use of greek letters in mathematics and their representation in statistical software.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Scilab is multi-platform, open source software that offers functionality similar to MATLAB, including user contributed add-ins for statistics and data analysis. The software is well used in secondary and university locations for teaching  and practicing engineering and mathematics  An extensive help menu is available with the software. There are many third party tutorials available from science and engineering departments across the world. For example:

I have found the product surprisingly well-featured and mature and easy to learn.  There appears to be a substantial technical community committed to Scilab. In addition, I find the semantics and syntax of  Scilab form a gentle and well-featured introduction to command line computing for upper and high school students.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Climate Data from BEST

Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) has released a significant study documenting the rise in the Earth's surface temperature from 1753 to 2011. The study includes a detailed discussion of statistical methodology and locations for  the MATLAB code and data. MATLAB is a commercial mathematical, statistical, and presentation software used by many academics and scientists.  A movie of land temperature anomalies can be found here.  The conclusions from this study represent the collation of exhaustive amounts of temperature data to create conclusions about a land surface temperature anomalies over time  Some presentations on the complexity of their statistical methodology can be found here and here.  Correlating historical climate data to understand evidence of global climate change has proven to be a complex and controversial challenge. The BEST sponsor NOVIM hopes to promote scientific studies without political bias concerning significant world resource issues.

Questions for Students:

(1) What does the BEST statistical methodology suggest about the complexity and nature of the analysis of data from historical records?  Do you think the study helps us understand how complete our understanding of statistical reasoning needs to be for very large data sets?

(2) Read the NOVIM website highlighted articles:
How do the sciences of mathematics and statistics help us come to unbiased conclusions? 

(3) Read the Wikipedia articles on Scientific Method and List of Biases in Judgement and Decision Making . How important do you think the study of data science is to the future of humankind?  How does improving the scientific method by learning how to remove bias from our scientific methodology improve our chance to prosper and survive on this Earth?