Sunday, March 28, 2010

Math Galaxy, Providing a Universe of Math Practice!

Math Galaxy is a stellar math program that would work alongside any sort of math curriculum your child is using. Designed for grades K-12, I was able to choose (in exchange for my review) just what my kids needed, for their particular ability level.

The key to Math Galaxy is user friendly, repetitive practice…something you almost can’t get enough of when learning concepts that continue to build on each other. The beauty in this program is its capability to generate a NEW worksheet page, every time your child uses it! That makes for unlimited practice without the possibility of memorizing the worksheet answers. Furthermore, with each worksheet, there is an option to generate step-by-step explanations or just the answer.

Using bright graphics (that are a bit on the old fashioned side, not cutting edge like the latest video games) and with the added option of using riddles or games, Math Galaxy should easily hold student’s interest. They also specialize in using visual examples to help make abstract ideas more concrete. In fact, they have really tried to make that leap from the elementary math to the higher levels as painless as possible, linking back to familiar concepts and giving as much practice as needed within every area.

Here is a quote from their website philosophy that I found rang true (and I figured I would butcher it if I tried to restate it!):

“Unlike most math textbooks, which throw a mass of material at the student, Math Galaxy focuses student attention on concepts sequentially and interactively, based upon the ideas behind math manipulatives (such as counting blocks) and connecting new concepts to familiar experiences. Unlike most math software, it goes beyond simple games, low-level operations or rule memorization to link familiar and concrete experiences to higher-level processes. It goes beyond physical math manipulatives by linking each physical operation to its mathematical counterpart at each step, and by allowing manipulations that are difficult to do with physical manipulatives. It stresses concepts that run throughout all of basic math to provide basic understanding rather than memorized rules. Our goal is to provide students a foundation for analytical thinking in the modern world and for higher-level math and science.”

There really is a plethora of options within each category. For example, within the heading of Fractions, there are 14 specific sub-categories that you can choose from, such as: reducing fractions, word problems, volume, and pictographs, to name a few. If that isn’t enough, you also have the option of making a worksheet that uses riddles or other sorts of games using each of these sub-categories! That’s adds up to a bunch of practice, folks! (“Bunch” is a technical math term, used in those higher levels of math, in case you didn’t realize it- hee-hee).

You can order a CD that contains all of these choices that will run on your computer for $29.95 (free shipping!). Furthermore, you can order an eBook of only riddles for specific subjects that will download right on your computer for $14.95. And, on top of all these choices, there are many categories on the homepage of Math Galaxy that you can generate and do through the internet. In fact, why not try it now, and see all of the choices by clicking here, and see what you think? I’m telling you…it’s out of this world!

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At the Intersection of Creation and Evolution: A Dream

The alliterating story below is based on a dream I had several years ago. Please contact me for permission to reproduce.

Darkness devours me.

I am enveloped in emptiness.

Are my eyes open or are they closed? I strain against this shroud of night and still see nothing.

What is this place?

An image illuminates in front of me. A large, leafy tree streaks past and vanishes.

It deserts me to the darkness again.

In a moment, more images appear. A rapid succession of snapshots and thoughts clamor before my eyes and mingle in my mind.

I see seedlings. Several supple shoots have emerged before me and then swiftly stream away.

“The first trees on earth were not seedlings”, my mind observes. “They were not created as small insignificant saplings.”

That thought is rapidly replaced with a vision of a man.

He’s maybe 30; he is muscular and needs to shave.

He fades away.

In his place I see an infant.

A tiny bundle of pink skin upon a soft blanket flickers briefly in my brain.

“Man was created with age,” is the next statement I hear. “Adam did not begin his life as a baby, he began as a grown man.”

The voice seems like my own.

The thoughts do not.

Reeling before me now is a blur of rivers, forests, mountains and even layers of the earth. It is like a movie rushing rapidly before my retina.

The soundtrack of this epic is proclaiming a peculiarly plain concept:

“The earth was created with age. Creation and evolution are not in total opposition. There is a reason that science finds the earth to be quite old: it was made that way.”

Thoughts continue to tumble through my mind; pictures parade before me. I listen in amazement to what seems to be puzzlingly profound and yet rather apparent all at once.

“Adam was created as an adult. Trees and plants were made fully grown.”

I suddenly feel quite certain that, if I were to chop down some of the trees that had been spoken into existence, I would find a range of rings running through their trunks.

“The earth was brought to life with age built into it… just like Adam. He did not begin life as an infant. The earth came into being with what it would need to sustain the life that was created. It was old when it was young. The world was
made with maturity; it was also produced with purpose.”

These thoughts are thrilling. Why had I not seen this before? It seems so simple. Obtusely obvious. Had others not observed this correlation? If they had, why wasn’t it being candidly conveyed?

In the span of thirty seconds I have been ravaged by a radical revelation. I feel the weight of its worth resting on me; it is tantamount to tangible.

I am neither a theologian nor am I a scientist. I don’t claim that the ethics of evolution are completely compatible with the Bible’s account of creation. But certainly Science can come concurrent to creation and affirm our faith with facts.

Of course, the Omnipotent Originator of the Universe is exceedingly elusive to what our mind could ever envision. Above what science could ever extensively elucidate.

Accordingly, creation is confounding too. Each diverse discovery deems it more marvelous to grasp. Many scientists have reluctantly relented to the theory of Intelligent Design.

That’s why, alongside those facts, we also need faith.

Lying inexplicably at the intersection of those two essential elements is an exceptional endowment: the intermittent insight of our dreams.