COMET • Vol. 6, No. 08 – 12 March 2005


(1)  Revised California Mathematics Framework Approved

Source:  Tom Adams, Director, Curriculum Frameworks and Instructional Resources Division; Executive Director, Curriculum Commission (CDE)
URL (Framework):

At its meeting on March 9, the California State Board of Education approved the updated Mathematics Framework posted at the above Web site. Editing will occur over the next few months, and the printed document should be available in September.


(1) Pi Day Web Site

Contact: Gene Potter (; Mathematics Educators of Greater St. Louis (MEGSL)


MEGSL hosts a Pi Day (March 14) web site with numerous informative and interesting links.

Pi Day Mission Statement:

Pi Day openly promotes the celebration of mathematics education, the collective enjoyment of mathematics, and the ageless, multicultural interest in pi.

Educators, students, and parents are encouraged to join together in a variety of public activities, expressing in imaginative ways their passion for the longstanding creative nature of mathematics.

300th Anniversary of Pi:

The sixteenth letter of the Greek alphabet was first used for the familiar value 3.1415É in the publication, “Synopsis Palmariorium Mathesios,” authored by William Jones in 1706.  2006 will be the 300th Anniversary of the introduction of the mathematical symbol pÉ

Pi Day Resources:

Download an extensive collection of Pi facts, activities, and resources (the collection has been divided into two sections to speed download time and is in Microsoft Word format):

(2)  Brain Awareness Week – March 14-20, 2005

Source: The Dana Foundation

Join us in celebrating Brain Awareness Week’s Tenth Anniversary in North America, March 14-20, 2005.

Brain Awareness Week (BAW) is an international effort organized by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives to advance public awareness about the progress and benefits of brain research. The Dana Alliance is joined in the campaign by partners in the United States and around the world, including medical and research organizations; patient advocacy groups; the National Institutes of Health, and other government agencies; service groups; hospitals and universities; K-12 schools; and professional organizations.

A brochure entitled “Brain Awareness Week: The Next Decade,” provides useful information about BAW.  View the brochure online at

(3) Eight to Receive President’s 2003 National Medal of Science

Source: EurekAlert! – 10 March 2005

President Bush will present medals to eight scientists and engineers, including two Nobel Laureates, on 14 March 2005 for their distinguished careers and lifelong and individual achievements.

The 2003 National Medal of Science, to be awarded to these ground-breaking scientists in a White House ceremony, is the nationÕs highest honor for researchers whose impacts are prominent in fields of science and engineering as well as on their individual disciplines. The medals also recognize contributions to innovation, industry or education.

(The ceremony is scheduled to be webcast, beginning at approximately 10:20 a.m. [ET]. At about that time, links to the webcast will available from the Web sites of the White House,, and the National Medals Foundation,

Receiving the 2003 National Medals of Science are:

R. Duncan Luce, the Distinguished Research Professor of Cognitive Science at the University of California, Irvine, awarded the medal in behavioral and social sciences, has been world-renowned as a theoretical mathematician of behavior of the past 50 years. His theory of choice helped launch the field of behavioral economics and gave scientists a powerful tool for understanding how animal and human learning occurs. He sparked the development of gaming theory, which is now applied to diverse systems including improving the accuracy of predictions of stock market fluctuation. His mathematical tools also developed the scientific study of judgment and decision making across disciplines.

LuceÕs early work in demonstrating the laws governing behavior in humans and his development of measurement theory helped shape research in psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and sociology for more than three decades. It formed part of the theoretical base on which computer modeling of behavior was developed.

Three medals are being bestowed on researchers in the biological sciences.

J. Michael Bishop, Chancellor and University Professor at the University of California, San Francisco, has been a leading contributor to cancer research for the past 30 years. He shared the Nobel Prize in 1989 with Harold E. Varmus for demonstrating that normal cells contain genes capable of becoming cancer-causing genes, a revolutionary finding that inaugurated a new era of research on the genetic origins of cancerÉ

Also in the biological sciences, Solomon H. Snyder, the Distinguished Service Professor of Neuroscience, Pharmacology and Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, is acknowledged for discoveries that form the basis of most modern neurobiology. He transformed scientistsÕ understanding of neurotransmitters and their receptors in the nervous system. He pioneered the labeling of receptors and extended the technique by which numerous other neurotransmitter receptors in the brain are identifiedÉ

Charles Yanofsky, the Morris Herzstein Professor of Biology at Stanford University is honored for discovering an essential element in the genetic code–the linear relationship between the structures of genes and their protein products–the one gene-one protein relationship. This was an important foundation to his subsequent experiments on the regulation of gene expression. His work has revealed how controlled alterations in RNA structure allow RNA to serve as a regulatory molecule in both bacterial and animal cellsÉ

In engineering, John M. Prausnitz, a professor of chemical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, received the medal for a career reputation as one of the main architects of chemical manufacturing processes in the United States. His work led chemical manufacturing out of Edisonian trial-and-error practices into powerful, quantitative prediction methodsÉ

Carl R. de Boor, Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin, Madison, will receive the Medal of Science in mathematics. He is the worldÕs leading researcher in approximation theory, and its practical numerical implementation. A master of approximations by splines, an essential tool in computer-aided design and manufacture, computer graphics and image processing, de Boor was one of the pioneers in numerical computing, attacking the challenging problem of producing practical algorithms that can be applied to real software.

More than any other, De Boor is credited with the phenomenal success of spline functions–mathematical expressions that describe free-form curves and surfaces. De Boor was the first to understand their scientific potential, and put forward the novel theory that developed their important properties. Subsequently, he developed algorithms for the fast computation and visualization of spline functions. Much of his work has been applied to fields relying on precise geometrics, such as film special effects and in the aircraft and automotive industries.

In the physical sciences, G. Brent Dalrymple, Dean and Professor Emeritus, at Oregon State University, is acknowledged for his work that improved the measurement of geologic time to new levels of precision, accuracy and application in the research of EarthÕs past climates, as well as biological histories and major tectonic processesÉ

A medal in physical sciences will also be presented to Riccardo Giacconi, Research Professor at The Johns Hopkins UniversityÕs Department of Physics & Astronomy. Giacconi won the 2002 Nobel Prize in physics for laying the foundations of cosmic X-ray astronomy. He detected for the first time, sources of X-rays outside our solar system. He was the first to prove that the universe contains background radiation of X-ray light, and detected sources of X-rays now considered to contain black holes. His work also opened up new extragalactic studies of clusters and active galaxies.

The National Medal of Science was established in 1959 as a presidential award to be given to individuals for their outstanding contributions to knowledge in the physical, biological, mathematical or engineering sciences. In 1980, Congress expanded this recognition to include the social and behavioral sciences. The president appoints a committee of 12 scientists and engineers to evaluate the nominees for the award. The medal, including the 2003 honorees, has been awarded to 417 distinguished scientists and engineers whose careers span decades of research and development, as well as support and outreach to students and society.

(4) The President’s Plan to Improve America’s High Schools

Source: NCLB Extra Credit – 8 March 2005

In response to lagging achievement and completion rates in the nationÕs high schools, the presidentÕs High School Initiative would hold high schools accountable for teaching all students and provide timely intervention for those students who are not achieving at grade level. The goal of this initiative is to ensure that every student graduates from high school with the skills to succeed in either higher education or our globally competitive workforce. In addition, the presidentÕs budget shifts more decision-making power to states by consolidating programs dedicated to a specific purpose and reallocates that money to states to use in order to get better results. In the FY 2006 budget request, the president includes nearly $1.5 billion for the two key components of the High School Initiative:

=  A High School Intervention program that would provide $1.24 billion to support specific interventions, including performance plans for each student, designed to improve the academic achievement of students at greatest risk of not meeting challenging state academic standards and not completing high school; and

=  A new High School Assessments proposal that would provide $250 million to add, by the 2009-10 school year, annual assessments at two additional high school grades, which, along with the one grade currently required by NCLB, would ensure that students are assessed at least three times during high school. Coupled with the current testing requirements of NCLB, students will be tested every year from grade 3 to grade 11.

The presidentÕs 2006 budget also includes more than $400 million for related proposals to strengthen high school achievement, including $200 million to expand the use of research-based interventions for high school students who read below grade level and thus are at greater risk for dropping out of school; $120 million to accelerate the mathematics achievement of secondary school students through research-based professional development for math teachers; $51.5 million to increase the availability of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs in high-poverty schools; $12 million to encourage students to take more rigorous courses through the State Scholars program; and $33 million in Enhanced Pell Grants for State Scholars as they start their higher education pursuits.

Those interested in learning more about President BushÕs new education proposals can order a free copy of the booklet: “No Child Left Behind: Expanding the Promise–Guide to President BushÕs FY 2006 Education Agenda” by

(a) calling the U.S. Department of Education’s Publications Center (ED Pubs) toll-free at 1-877-4-ED-PUBS (1-877-433-7827) or (b) ordering online at  or (c) writing to request a copy: ED Pubs, P.O. Box 1398, Jessup, MD 20794-1398.

(5) Smart Skies FlyBy Math Instructional Materials

Contact: Shelley Canright, Program Executive, Technology & Products Program Office; NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC (

NASA’s Airspace Systems Program and the Ames Research Center are pleased to announce the public release of Smart Skies FlyBy Math: Distance-Rate-Time Problems in Air Traffic Control for Grades 5-9

FlyBy Math brings interactive real-life mathematics applications to grades 5-9 with a series of six Air Traffic Control problems. Using FlyBy Math, students learn to predict air traffic conflicts using distance, rate, and time relationships.

Students assume the roles of pilots, air traffic controllers, and NASA scientists to conduct an experiment and to use guided paper-and-pencil activities to determine the number of seconds it takes each plane to travel a given distance along a jet route. Teachers can assign a variety of mathematics problem-solving methods ranging from counting to plotting points to graphing a system of linear equations.

FlyBy Math reflects teacher feedback from nationwide classroom tests with over 2,000 students. The materials support many National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Standards and Expectations and several National Science Education Standards (NSES).

The instructional materials include: An overall Educator Guide; video clips to introduce air traffic control; and, for each problem, a Teacher Guide for to include answer sheets, student workbooks, and optional pre- and post-tests.

All FlyBy Math materials are free and available to download from the FlyBy Mathª Web site:

Visit the NASA Portal at

Visit the Education Home Page at