Following up on lunar distance

by | Friday, March 27, 2009

A followup to my previous posting about the Italian kids calculating the distance to the moon using recordings from the Apollo Space program.

As I read the story on the technology Review website, I came to the comments made by readers. One stuck out. This is what somebody had said:

Wow, they took the speed of light and multiplied by 2.62 then divided by 2. Interesting method of doing it, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist for sure.

By focusing on the surface aspect of the math this person misses the point of the story almost completely. Misses, it I may add by almost the distance from the Earth to the moon.

There are some many responses but I will stick to two main points (and a digression). The first, the issue is not the math – the math is trivial, as we can all agree. What was cool about what the kids did is that they took something that all of us have heard, multiple times, and saw a possibility which most of us had not seen. This is the difference between perception and recognition that is at the heart of true creativity.

The second important point here was the fact that the students were aided in their task by the availability of good, free, (I must add, opensource) software programs like Audacity. Now, seeing an audio editing program as a tool for data analysis is a kind of creativity too.

Finally, the digression, moving away from the somewhat clueless comment. What struck me in this story was the lack of mention of a teacher. Did these kids just figure this out by themselves (no mean feat) or were they guided by a teacher. My suspicion is that some adult must (may) have played a role in setting up this activity… but I need to spend more time on Google to figure that out (more time than I have right now).

A few randomly selected blog posts…

Creativity, risk-taking, education

Creativity, risk-taking, education

EduSummIT is a global community of policy-makers, researchers, and educators working together to move education into the digital age. The last EduSummit (2019) was held in Quebec, Canada and I was a member of Thematic Working Group 3 (TWG3) on Creativity for Teachers...

The utopian/dystopian futures of online learning: New book chapter

The utopian/dystopian futures of online learning: New book chapter

I was invited to wrote a chapter for an edited book titled "The future of online education," edited by Stephen Paul McKenzie, Lilani Arulkadacham, Jennifer Chung and Zahra Aziz. It was an opportunity for me and my co-authors Melissa Warr and Ben Scragg to engage in...

Educators as Designers

Educators as Designers

How might we? Three words, and a question mark. At one level it is a simple question—leaving open what it is that we might do. But at another level its openness is its strength. Because inherent within it is a call to action, a discomfort with the way things are, and...

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

An essay by Mohsin Hamid (titled My reluctant fundamentalist) about the process of writing his novel "The reluctant fundamentalist." What stands out in this piece is an excellent description of the extended and often painful act of creation - in this case a novel. I...

I can’t believe they patented that!

I just came across Inventor's Spot, a website that showcases inventions and innovations from around the world. They claim to be "the most popular invention website in the world." Be that as it may, this a site that I think I would find extremely useful in my 817 and...

Failed Haiku

Failed Haiku

Failed Haiku Five syllables firstSecond one has seven moreA failed Haiku! So close... almost had it. In keeping with the meta-theme, here is another one, written many years ago, and lightly edited by Danah Henriksen. Turvy-Topsy limerick This limerick-wiseHas not...

We are hiring… join our team

We are hiring… join our team

Over the past year the Office of Scholarship and Innovation (OofSI) at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, ASU has been engaged in supporting faculty research; creating digital solutions for learning; bringing collaborative design-based...

A defining moment!

Barack Obama is the democratic nominee for the president of the United States!!! Five months ago, after he had won the Iowa caucuses I had blogged his acceptance speech video (see it here) and had asked a question, "Is this a defining moment of our time?" Today I am...

Facebook Username

I now have a facebook username! Hah! Check out


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *