Category Archives: On Raising Smart Healthy Kids

With one child in 1st grade, one entering preschool next year and a third in daycare*, we place a high degree of emphasis on providing our kids a solid education, enriching experiences and models of good healthy behavior. The goal, of course, is to raise independent adults making healthy choices and making positive contributions to society. So, this will be the catch all place where I post things about raising kids.

* I know, I know… three kids is a bit crazy, but we love every minute (ok, all minutes except cold & flu minutes and minutes involving talk back).

Math and Science: Do What You Love

Math and Science is cool! Or so I hope this is the message that Hadley Elementary School students walked away with after hearing my half hour talk on this year’s Math Day.

Walking in to the school cafeteria to the music blaring and very cool ‘OK Go’s This Too Shall Pass’ on the big screen immediately captured and engaged their attention. “How do you think Math and Science might have been used in the making of that video?” I asked after the video. Delivered to three different age brackets (Kindergarden through 2nd, 3rd/4th, and 5th/6th), it didn’t matter the age … students immediately honed in the complex task these artists had of planning and coordinating lots of things, from music to angles to how different objects weight and volume had to be taken into consideration. Takeaway: Even if you’re an artist, musician, or writer, math and science is fundamental to your success.

The study of math can lead kids to pursue very cool futures and that the real trick was finding out what they loved to do… what they were passionate about. “Why should you ‘do what you love’?” I asked. “Because if you don’t, you’ll quit it,” answered one 6th grader. So, I went on to present examples of people who studied math or were part of math clubs/programs that went on to pursue very cool professions (found through searches on LinkedIn). One important point made before we jumped in was that the types of jobs that will be available to them when they graduate from High School or College are VERY different from those that were available to their parents or grandparents. If they wanted to pursue the coolest of these careers, they MUST focus on math and science today.

We started with the beloved Apple iPhone, a universally favorite high tech gadget. We then took a deep-dive look at movies we love and discussed animation at Pixar. I took this opportunity to show them how the bar charts they might study now lead to XY graphs, then study of the 3-dimensional plane (XYZ), then calculus which can lead them to a future in animation or the creation of video games. Takeaway: Even though today’s math may seem hard, it is vital that they master it in order to have the most career choices and pursue the coolest of professions.

We discussed people who studied math and went on to pursue jobs at Google, ESPN, ABC Family and Disney. We talked about Micheal Jordan as a math major who pursued a career in sports and is also an exceptional businessman. Finally, I highlighted three female inventors: the inventor of Barbie Dolls who founded toy giant Mattel, the inventor of the Chocolate Chip Cookie who went on to license her recipe to Nestle’s Toll House Cooke (so they could print in on every package of chocolate chips sold) and the inventor of the Kevlar bullet-proof vest sold by Dupont.

I closed by telling them my story. I use my math major to help students and faculty in colleges across America bring their inventions and innovations to market. I also told them that I wasn’t always good at math… in fact, I got C’s until sophomore year in high school. I didn’t believe I was good at math until I found the right teacher, after which it all clicked. Once I had the confidence of realizing that I could work hard, focus and figure it out… I knew I could do any kind of math.

I encourage anyone who reads this to download the presentation, make it yours and go present to your local elementary school, junior high or high school. Today’s girls and boys need to hear these messages and it’s in your power to make it happen. Let me know how it works out.


Love note from a son.

I debated about whether I should post this entry. Dee was the voice of Noah, saying he’d be so embarrassed if he knew. But, as a person who works really hard in life, in pursuit of the entrepreneurial dream and for the singular purpose of giving her children the opportunities they deserve it is especially gratifying to get a love note from her oldest son. Yesterday, my 6.5 year old son Noah took great pride in typing up a little letter on his own computer in Windows Notepad. It brings a smile to my face every time I read it. Now, I know it won’t have the same exact affect on you, but it brings me great pride to publish my son’s first piece (exactly as he typed it, spelling, punctuation, et al):

“Dear moma Dee and moma Huie. I Love you becouse
you tace care of me. and you play bascetbaLL.and 2+8=10. that is math.
and 100+100=200. that is math to .I Love you very much and viLits
are bLue Rouses are red that is a song for you mom.
and 1+8+9+2+3=23.that is a Lot of math.
and I Love you becouse you heLp me wen I am hurt.
that is a Lot of ways that I Love you. I Love you very much moma Huie and moma Dee.”

Talk about the balance of right brain, left brain activity going on! If there is a pattern, it is: Love, Basketball, Math, Love, Poetry, Math, Love, Love. Here’s hoping the love notes to Mom never end.

Math day! A presentation to 1st Graders.

Yesterday was math day at my son’s Elementary School.  I only just learned now from last night’s Rachel Maddow Show why it was Math day.  Yesterday was 3/3/09… where the month and the date is the square root of the year!  Apparently this only happens a few times a century.  The last time was 2/2/04 and the next one will be 4/4/16.

Anyways, for math day, I was asked to come speak to my son’s 1st grade class on how my Math degree has helped me in my career (I knew that darn math degree would come in handy) and how people use math in their careers.  I’m posting my presentation if case you ever have a chance to  present to a pre-K – 2nd grade group on any STEM subject.  It is a simple presentation with more images, less words, designed to be highly-interactive.  Frame the discussion around each picture then ask the class to comment on how they think Math is used in that context (or, substitute in science).  You’ll be amazed at just how much these students get about these matters. 

One slide has a picture of the space shuttle in orbit with the earth in the background. One kid talked about math being used in the context of impact of the sun’s heat! Which led to a brief discussion of temperature. Another kid mentioned math being used to determine avoiding asteroids and the sun, which we could then correlate to their recent exposure to geometry, insofar as angles and direction, the path of the space shuttle and how they’d need to plan in advance how it turns, et al. Another slide has a picture of a curved modern glass-facade building. One kid mentioned the use of math to determine how many windows were needed and we talked about how we’d need to carefully determine the shape/curve of the windows so that construction workers who showed up to install didn’t get upset that there weren’t the right number or the right shape. According to my son, the coolest part was when I flashed a picture of an iPhone, which led to a discussion of Wii, Computers, Playstation DS and other things which incorporate a lot of math in building the devices and the software.  Such fun!

UPDATE 1: I’m still a blogging newbie and I have no idea why I seem to be having trouble uploading this presentation. If you’re interested in it, please email me at humera at humera dot com. It would be great if you would also let me know the context of your interest in it and how you could see using it.

UPDATE 2: Thanks to Natasha (see below), I figured out a way to make the presentation downloadable here: Why Math?