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If you were on the site between 2:00 and 4:00 EST this morning (Thursday, March 29), you may have noticed some intermittent site outages. The server on which this site resides was undergoing significant upgrades. These are upgrades which will make the site more stable and responsive. As you play games today you will hopefully find that page loads are faster, and everything runs smoothly.

However, whenever there are significant upgrades, there is always the possibility of unexpected glitches. If you are using any portion of the site and discover that something isn't working right, you can let us know about the problems you're experiencing by visiting the Ask Professor Puzzler page and submitting a report.

Most of the games on this site are either word games or math games. There are a few miscellaneous puzzles and quizzes, but one thing we've never had on this site is an art game. That has now changed. Just this week the games "Color Picker" and "Closest Color" were added to the site. These games are both quizzes which are designed to help art students look at a color and recognize where it lies on the color spectrum, how saturated it is, and how light it is.

This is very useful for students who are interested in painting, and want to understand how hue, saturation, and lightness work together to form a color. A good understanding of these components will be of great value to artists who want to be able to match colors they mix to colors they see.

Color Picker Game: This game consists of 10 color swatches, and three slider bars. The slider bars allow you to select what you think the components of the color are. If you are "in the ballpark" the game moves to the next swatch - otherwise, you are required to adjust your sliders in order to zero in on the correct color. You can earn bonus points by being close or exact on the first try.

Closest Color Game: In this game you will be shown a swatch, and then three swatches which are similar to it, either in hue, saturation, or lightness. Your job is to identify the closest match.

We are working on developing a section of art games for the site - here is the page where new games will be added: Art Games.

 

We're delighted to announce the addition of Book Scrounger to our site. To scrounge, according to one dictionary, means "to actively seek money, work, or sustenance from any available source." Into this definition, insert the word "books" in place of "money, work, or sustenance," and you have Book Scrounger's definition of what she does: she actively seeks books from any available source.

In part, she does this for the benefit of her children, so you will find write-ups of many picture books, as well as history, science, and art books written for children. Her children are currently pre-school and kindergarten age, so the blog is currently "heavy" on that age level. Of course, over time, that will change.

In part, she scrounges books for her own pleasure, as she is an insatiable reader, and her bedside table is stacked so high with books in her to-read list that it will take her ten years to get through them all. Except...she keeps adding to the stack, so she may never finish them all. So in addition to finding books for children, you may occasionally find a more "grown-up" book.

In additional to all this, she occasionally permits her husband (the infamous Professor Puzzler of the "Ask Professor Puzzler" blog) to write a blog post.

Do you aspire to being a book scrounger too? If you wish you could have a "to-read" stack as tall as the Book Scrounger's stack, but you don't know how to get started with your scrounging habit, check out this handy list of suggestions the Book Scrounger has written: Book Scrounging Tips.

Note: If you're wondering why a "new" blog has posts dated back several years, the reason is simple: the older posts used to be part of our "Product Reviews" blog. These have been shifted over to the new blog, in order to keep all book reviews together.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, there are currently three more hurricanes in the Atlantic: Hurricanes Irma, Jose, and Katia. All three are concerning in one way or another, but Hurricane Irma has developed into one of the most powerful hurricanes on record. It is currently wreaking havoc in the Caribbean, and is headed in the direction of Florida.

As educators, we should be aware of these events going on in the world, and ready to talk to our students in compassionate and intelligent ways about them. My own students (I teach high school math at a small private academy) want to know what are the possible outcomes of these storms, what are the dangers involved, and who will be effected. Even though we live far from "hurricane country" (the last time a hurricane did any serious damage in our state was before my students were born), being part of a wider community means being both concerned and compassionate about the effects of these natural disasters.

Talking about the hurricanes, and the potential tragedies that may occur as a result of their passing, should be done in an age appropriate fashion. At the high school level, I used some math related questions as a launching point to spend a few minutes talking to my students about natural disasters. The students saw real-world application of mathematics, and had the opportunity to somberly reflect on what that mathematics meant from the perspective of humanity in the path of the hurricane.

If you would like to take a look at some of the discussion that took place in my math classes, you can visit the following links:

Under the Hurricane

Response to a question I received from a resident of Florida, who wanted to know how long she could expect her house to be "under" the hurricane. I used this question as a problem-solving exercise with my upper level math classes.

Waiting for the Hurricane

A write-up of a slightly more complex math question that I worked through with my students. The problem is to identify how long it will be before the hurricane reaches a specific point.

Hurricane Conspiracies

Professor Puzzler gets irate about the conspiracy theories and "fake news" floating around regarding hurricanes.

Tell Us about Your Lesson Plans

Have you done specific hurricane-themed lessons that you would like to share with others? You can send us a lesson plan. If we publish your lesson, we'll reward you with a ProMembership on this site!

In 2002, we launched two major websites: The Problem Site, and Articles for Educators. These two sites were both educational in nature, but had very different focuses. The Problem Site was geared toward students, with math problems and educational games. Articles for Educators was geared toward teachers, with lesson plans and research topics in the field of education.

As time has gone on, the focus of The Problem Site has broadened, and we've provided more and more resources for teachers, such as printable worksheets, reference units, the virtual classroom, and other features. In recent months we've come to recognize that there is no longer need to maintain two separate websites, as the content of Articles For Educators fits within the scope of this site.

Accordingly, we've been working to transfer the content from AFE over to TPS, and at the same time we've developed more robust features for that content; now teachers who use the "Lesson Plans" section of this site can create not just lesson plans, but also slide shows, worksheets, and answer keys. The new version of AFE can be found here: Lesson Plans.

As an example, I just added a lesson plan that I used in my high school Physics class last week. This lesson plan contains instructions for the teacher, a short slide show, and a couple handouts teachers can use. The lesson is: Blue Whales Eating Krill.

You can also integrate lesson plans with "Pro Problems" on the site; set up a slide show that contains selected pro problems for your students. Here's an example: Systems - Word Problems.

I hope you enjoy the updated appearance and easier "Print" capabilities of the new Articles for Educators, as well as the way it integrates with The Problem Site.


On a completely different subject, I would like to wrap up with an apology; The Problem Site had a bit of downtime overnight as we migrated the entire system to a new server. The process took about 1.5 hours 3:00 AM to 4:30 AM (EST). The process was intended to happen over the weekend while schools were not in session, but due to circumstances beyond our control, the process was initiated overnight this morning. 

We understand that may have produced inconvenience for our schools in China, India, and throughout Europe, and I apologize for that inconvenience. The new server is faster and more robust, and we do not anticipate any more downtime in the near future.

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