April 21st, 2009


An Ah-Ha Moment

It's Quiet -- It's Too Quiet

Actually, it's about right. In the midpoint of the middle of my three Final Exams. Will be a lot more crowded in here tomorrow. A lot of the Noon section of PHYS-2070 has bailed on this exam time because of a transportation conflict between the main campus and the engineering campus -- no way can you get from one to the other in the allotted fifteen minutes between finals. I can't remember now, did Northwestern have an hour between final time slots and Michigan Tech half-an-hour? Either would be more civilized.

How To Use A Calculator

So far no calculators have clattered to the floor, which during an exam always prompts Dr. Phil to announce "gravity works". But, sitting here and taking a break from typing -- and switching from my office glasses to regular so I can see the students -- I noticed something.

My high school Advanced Chemistry class was the first class in the city of Greensboro NC that was allowed to have calculators. It took most of the year, but we nearly all bought the same model, a Texas Instruments SR-51A. I'd seen an HP-65 at UNC-G once, never dreaming that at Northwestern I'd own one -- once the price came crashing down in February 1977 when the HP-67 came out. (grin)

But nearly everyone I knew used a single index finger to push the calculator buttons.

These Kids These Days

About half of the engineers in this class seem to be holding the calculator upright, not flat on the desk, and working their thumbs. Dammit, Jim, they're texting, not calculating!

Huh. I suppose, now that they know how to do that...

Dr. Phil