Quote of the day

"I couldn’t do any of my homework because I am in the middle of an identity crisis."

Quote of the day

This morning, I went to the dentist and got some serious work done.  I left the office and 20 minutes later, I was in front of my physics class teaching about Work.  I couldn’t talk very well, so I typed out the lesson and projected onto my Smart Board.  Here’s some of the text I typed:

Good Afternoon.  I can’t really talk that well because I was at the dentist this morning.  It wasn’t fun. 

So, I have to go over one topic with you, mostly silently.  Then I’m going to give you the second period to work on your roller coaster projects.  Sound good? Yay, you’re reading.




This is fun.  Also I can type without looking.  I learned in college.  on my own.  You should learn.  It’s super helpful.



So yesterday, we said Work was Force x distance, with force in the direction of the distance.  But what if they’re not exactly in the same direction? …

Quote of the day

Sitting in robotics, working with students on various designs for a pneumatic lifting device, we started calculating the lifting force generated by a 40 psi cylinder that was 1” in diameter. I thought out loud, “Cross sectional area is Pi R squared, diameter is 1”, radius is a half an inch, so R squared is a quarter of an inch. A quarter of Pi is…”

"Delicious," said one student immediately.

Quote of the day

On friday, a biology teacher reviewed some concepts with my IB Design Technology class because they have to take a biology Keystone exam next week.  While discussing the topic of reproduction, he said to the class: “Alright guys, so what are the biggest problems you are having with sex?”  Immediately, a student replied, “AIDS.”  Indeed. 

Quote of the day

After telling my class I rode a mechanical bull dressed as Santa this weekend, one student asked, “Wait, were you dressed like Santa or was the bull dressed as santa?”

Quote of the day

Today, a student accused me of making her move her seat “for publicity.”

Quote of the day

"Mr. U, are you hung over?" I was not.

Two grants in two days

The RoboLancers won a $3000 grant from Comcast on Tuesday and a $5000 grant from NASA on Wednesday. The Comcast grant was just through word of mouth and based on our work in the area. The NASA grant was a full grant application. We were one of two PA high schools to receive this particular grant (Cheltenham was the other). For more info, check out our team’s web page: http://t.co/2j0cfykj

Quote of the day

It was great seeing students that I’ve had over the last 4 years come back and say hi today. One student said, “Mr. Ueda, my Astronomy professor totally reminds me of you. Let’s see, he’s dorky…”

Quote of the day

Today was Career Day at school, where alumni come back to talk about their professions and how they got there. In one class, an information security guy was talking about all the characters he has to deal with on a regular basis.

“I know all kinds of people who have gotten involved in stuff, some bad stuff,” he explained. “I even know some people who have gone to jail.”

“Oh really?” one of my 17 year-old, African American students offered in the most cordial way. “Me too.”

Defender of 4914

Stormageddon2012 is here. I have three days of battling ahead of me with school’s eventual closing. I am equipped with sword, shield and plastic sheeting. Now where to watch the football games.

A question just asked in my physics’ class: “Is rocket science hard?”


It finally happened. About ten years ago, I left the engineering world because of ethical conflicts with the work I was doing, specifically a product for air force training. Being in the classroom, I’ve sheltered myself from having to make decisions like that again. Except for encouraging students to fill out the military opt-out forms that prevents their info going directly to the military, ethical dillemas involving the military haven’t come up.

I knew it would eventually. I coach a robotics team. I know full well that students getting involved in robotics as a career will most likely get involved in a DARPA project at least at some point. I’m fine with that I guess. I don’t dissuade them. I just want them to make decisions for themselves, well-thought, reasoned decisions. That’s what engineering is all about: making decisions that are carefully analyzed for all outcomes. I also have no problem with my students joining the military; if it’s right for them, then its right for them.

The army has been hounding me the past three years for the chance to speak with my robotics team. I’ve carefully evaded them and delayed any direct decision. Today, the recruiters were at the school with my department chair and I talking about they were not there to recruit; they were there to inspire kids to get into STEM fields by showing them cool army tech. They wanted to speak with my physics classes and my 125 member robotics team. The brightest young engineering minds of Philadelphia at their fingertips.

I said no, not to their faces because they were wearing uniforms filled with rectangular colorful jewelry and it’s intimidating, but to my department chair after they left. She said I was doing a disservice to my kids by not giving them the choice. Maybe she’s right. Maybe I’m just being stubborn, holding on to my anti-war activism past. But I just couldn’t live with that occurring.

Am I wrong?