Researchers find opportunities during eclipse

Researchers from around the country view the total solar eclipse Aug. 21 as an opportunity. 

In less than three minutes, scientists will be collecting data to understand the sun, the earth and the moon. Some will be studying radio waves and Einstein’s theory relativity. Others will be looking at animal behavior.

While the National Science Foundation plane will be used to study the sun’s corona, NASA is supporting 11 studies during the eclipse. The National Center for Atmospheric Research will be looking at the effect of magnetism on certain wavelengths. 

Scientists at NASA are also giving citizen scientists an opportunity to help them study the solar corona in the Citizen CATE project. They are also collaborating on the Eclipse Mob project in a low-frequency radio wave propagation experiment. 

 

 

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Principal demoted after asking teachers to do son’s homework

A Florida high school principal was demoted after he had his math teachers do his son’s middle school algebra assignments.

The Palm Beach Post reports former Lake Worth High School principal George Lockhart asked three teachers to do his son’s online math assignments two years ago. He originally denied the allegation to district investigators, then said he requested help to better tutor his son. One teacher told investigators he did the homework out of respect for Lockhart.

Lockhart also didn’t report some student suspensions to the district and violated other policies. He received a $21,000 pay cut and was reassigned.

Palm Beach Superintendent Robert Avossa said he didn’t fire Lockhart because his “bad decisions” didn’t outweigh the good he’s done.

Lockhart’s attorney, Fred Schwartz, said Avossa was “very fair.”

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Principal demoted after asking teachers to do son’s homework

A Florida high school principal was demoted after he had his math teachers do his son’s middle school algebra assignments.

The Palm Beach Post reports former Lake Worth High School principal George Lockhart asked three teachers to do his son’s online math assignments two years ago. He originally denied the allegation to district investigators, then said he requested help to better tutor his son. One teacher told investigators he did the homework out of respect for Lockhart.

Lockhart also didn’t report some student suspensions to the district and violated other policies. He received a $21,000 pay cut and was reassigned.

Palm Beach Superintendent Robert Avossa said he didn’t fire Lockhart because his “bad decisions” didn’t outweigh the good he’s done.

Lockhart’s attorney, Fred Schwartz, said Avossa was “very fair.”

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First woman to win math equivalent of Nobel Prize dies

Maryam Mirzakhani, a Stanford University professor who was the first and only woman to win the prestigious Fields Medal in mathematics, has died. She was 40.

Mirzakhani, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, died on Saturday, the university announced. The cancer had spread to her bones. 

In 2014 Mirzakhani was one of four winners of the Fields Medal, which is presented every four years and is considered the mathematics equivalent of the Nobel Prize. She was named for her work on complex geometry and dynamic systems.

“Mirzakhani specialized in theoretical mathematics that read like a foreign language by those outside of mathematics: moduli spaces, Teichmuler theory, hyperbolic geometry, Ergodic theory and symplectic geometry,” according to the Stanford press announcement. “Mastering these approaches allowed Mirzakhani to pursue her fascination for describing the geometric and dynamic complexities of curved surfaces_spheres, doughnut shapes and even amoebas – in as great detail as possible.”

The work had implications in fields ranging from cryptography to “the theoretical physics of how the universe came to exist,” the university said.

Mirzakhani was born in Tehran, Iran, and studied there and at Harvard University. She joined Stanford as a mathematics professor in 2008.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani issued a statement Saturday praising Mirzakhani. “The grievous passing of Maryam Mirzakhani, the eminent Iranian and world-renowned mathematician, is very much heartrending,” Rouhani said in a message that was reported by the Tehran Times.

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said her death pained all Iranians, the Tehran Times reported.

“The news of young Iranian genius and math professor Maryam Mirzakhani’s passing has brought a deep pang of sorrow to me and all Iranians who are proud of their eminent and distinguished scientists,” Zarif posted in Farsi on his Instagram account. “I do offer my heartfelt condolences upon the passing of this lady scientist to all Iranians worldwide, her grieving family and the scientific community.”

Mirzakhani originally dreamed of becoming a writer but then shifted to mathematics.

When she was working, Mirzakhani would doodle on sheets of paper and scribble formulas on the edges of her drawings, leading her daughter to describe the work as painting, according to the Stanford statement.

Mirzakhani once described her work as “like being lost in a jungle and trying to use all the knowledge that you can gather to come up with some new tricks, and with some luck you might find a way out.”

Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne called Mirzakhani a brilliant theorist who made enduring contributions and inspired thousands of women to pursue math and science.

Mirzakhani is survived by her husband, Jan Vondrak, and daughter, Anahita.

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Florida county bans homework for elementary school students

Homework, schmomework.

Elementary school students in Marion County won’t have to worry about doing any more homework.

Marion County Superintendent Heidi Maier on Wednesday issued a “no homework” mandate to teachers at the district’s 31 elementary schools, Marion County Public Schools spokesman Kevin Christian said.

Maier’s decision was based on research that shows students perform better when given a break from the rigors of a typical school day.

The study, conducted by Richard Allington, a University of Tennessee professor of theory and practice in teacher education, found that reading to a child has more positive effects than homework.

“The research showed that students who are given a preponderance of homework do not perform better, or get better grades, than those who do not,” Maier noted.

Parents will be asked to read with their children for 20 minutes every night, school officials said.

Christian said some assignments, like science projects or research papers, will be assigned on occasion, but daily homework will not be a part of the district’s plan.

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Tougher screenings for sponsor families passed by MDCPS after sexual abuse arrest

The death of a man who had been arrested for allegedly sexually abusing a foreign exchange student has lead the Miami-Dade School Board to pass tougher precautions on screening sponsor families in the future.

Dale Leary legally opened up his Cutler Bay home to foreign exchange students.

But the 50-year-old man was arrested last month — along with his wife, 21-year old Marta San Jose– after both were accused of sexually abusing a teenage girl he took in from Spain.

Only then did we learn that Leary had a criminal past.

He has been convicted in the 1980s of armed burglary, sexual battery, and assault.

Yet somehow he was still cleared to be a host.

“It is both horrifying and a sad realization,”  Miami-Dade Public Schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho said.

Carvalho said the Leary case is just one of many examples of how criminals fall through the cracks, because of lax registration policies.

“What we’re asking for here is a much more rigorous, in-depth background check– FBI caliber that registers fingerprints and registers those fingerprints against the backgrounds of any potential individual who want to be hosts,” he said.

School board members are also behind the idea with a new resolution and are urging the U.S. State Department to take action.

Leary bonded out of jail and committed suicide last week outside of his home.

He was found in a running car with a hose attached.

Leary’s ex-wife, Claudia Leary, was also found, but survived.

It turns out, she is an administrator with Miami-Dade Schools and detectives have yet to determine what role if any she played in the abuse.

“That individual has been removed from her position, she was not in a role where she had direct contact with students,” Carvalho said. 

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