Imagequilts, with Edward Tufte and Adam Schwartz

September 5, 2013

These are pretty cool.

Can you use them in a classroom?  Some of these Imagequilts pack a lot of information into a small space — such as the one for Cézanne.

Here, “Subatomic Particles“:

Subatomic particles, by Tufte and Schultz; click image for a larger version

Subatomic particles, by Tufte and Schwartz; click image for a larger version

Paul Cézanne“:

Paul Cezanne, Imagequilt by Tufte and Schwartz

Paul Cezanne, Imagequilt by Tufte and Schwartz. Useful in art history? European history?

Super Advanced Placement (AP) history teacher John Irish created outstanding PowerPoints showing off art of European eras, or American eras, for use in introducing a unit of history (see a smattering of examples here).  Could these Imagequilts substitute, or do it as well, and — especially — faster?

Here’s another, “Pablo Picasso“:

Imagequilt, Pablo Picasso, by Tufte and Schwartz

Imagequilt, Pablo Picasso, by Tufte and Schwartz

This one could be particularly useful in a physics course, or a unit on the history of science.  Richard Feynman may be most famous, pedagogically at least, for his invention and use of Feynman Diagrams.  Most discussions simply mention the things, though a few attempt short explanations.  Rare is to find a good example of a Feynman Diagram, to see just what they are and how they work.  Tufte and Schwartz offer a bunch:

Feynman Diagrams, an Imagequilt from Tufte and Schwartz

Feynman Diagrams, an Imagequilt from Tufte and Schwartz

Imagequilts is a Chrome App, available for download so you can make your own.  Of course, you’ll need to use Google Chrome to get full effect.

Got any Imagequilts you’d like to share?


Edward Tufte channels Richard Feynman

August 6, 2013

Tufte writes at great length — well, writes and demonstrates — about yellow warning signs.  (Yes, that Edward Tufte.)

In one of his demonstrations, the art comes from the ideas and sayings of Richard Feynman.

Edward Tufte makes art out of Feynman's ideas.

Edward Tufte makes art out of Feynman’s ideas. Sorta. Edward Tufte, Nature Cannot Be Fooled, print on canvas, 78″ x 27 ½”, edition of 3

This guy makes money doing that? What kind of charmed life is that?


Just how fitting is it that Tufte uses the words of Feynman, probably more famous for Feynman diagrams than the work that got him a Nobel?

English: Picture of a Feynman diagram, inscrib...

“Picture of a Feynman diagram, inscribed by Richard P. Feynman to me [who MFB has not identified], in my copy of Volume 3 of his Feynman Lectures on Physics (Quantum Mechanics). Picture taken by self. if you can’t read the symbols, they are \gamma_\mu to \gamma_\mu and 1/q^2 .” Wikipedia image

English: Edward Tufte giving a class and holdi...

Edward Tufte giving a class and holding a scanned copy of a first edition book by Galileo. Wikipedia image

No more than 3 points in your presentation!

February 28, 2013

Interesting video from Ethos3, a company that works on presentations and helping others make better presentations.

Um, no, I don’t think they aim at teachers and educators — it’s a for-profit group, not a charity.

That’s also one of my concerns.  Here’s one of a series of short videos Ethos3 prepared, to help you with your next presentation or, you hope, the woman or man who will be making that presentation you have to watch next Wednesday morning at Rotary Club, or at Scout leader training next Saturday, or kicking off the budget planning exercise next Monday (at 7:00 — coffee provided so don’t be late!):


Generally, I’d agree.

But what about teachers, who have to slog through 150 specific items for the state test?


365 Project - Day 29 - I *hate* Powerpoint

Borrowed caption: “365 Project – Day 29 – I *hate* Powerpoint (Photo credit: mike_zellers)”

  1. Teachers could benefit greatly from learning presentation secrets, and making their in-class presentations much more effective.
  2. No school district in America, public, charter, parochial, or homeschool, will give you time to put together such an effective presentation.
  3. Most teachers get no coaching on presentation effectiveness, and their students lose out.
  4. Just because the administrators won’t cut you slack to do it, doesn’t mean a teacher shouldn’t learn about effective presentation techniques, and use them.

In a world of bad bosses, it’s almost impossible to get a really great principal at a school.  Teachers gotta slog on anyway.

You won’t have the time to do the presentation your students deserve, but you should try, anyway.

Dreaming for a minute:  I wish I could get a team like this to help out with designing a curriculum, figuring out where presentation work, how to give them real punch, and where not to use them at all.

What do you think?  Can you tell your story in just three points?  Can you reduce a lecture to three key points that would be memorable, and that spurs students to learn what they need to learn?


Economic history of the world in 4 minutes, from Hans Rosling at BBC

November 27, 2011

I would have sworn I had posted this earlier.  I can’t find it in any search right now.

So, here it is:

Hans Rosling does a program on BBC showing, among other things, great data displays.  In this one he shows how the development of trade and free enterprise economics lifted most of the world out of dismal, utter poverty, over the course of 200 years.

“200 countries, 200 years, in 4 minutes – the Joy of Statistics”

How can you use this in the class, world history teachers?  Economics teachers?  Does freedom mean you can get rich?  Or does getting rich mean you get freedom?  Can a nation achieve riches without freedom, or freedom without riches?

You need to know:

Uploaded by on Nov 26, 2010

More about this programme:
Hans Rosling’s famous lectures combine enormous quantities of public data with a sport’s commentator’s style to reveal the story of the world’s past, present and future development. Now he explores stats in a way he has never done before – using augmented reality animation. In this spectacular section of ‘The Joy of Stats’ he tells the story of the world in 200 countries over 200 years using 120,000 numbers – in just four minutes. Plotting life expectancy against income for every country since 1810, Hans shows how the world we live in is radically different from the world most of us imagine.

Tip of the old scrub brush to The Tufted Titmouse.

Fight the Nerd Loop – science education and communication for a troubled and troubling world

October 14, 2011

See Hank Roberts’ comment in the post on another repeat of the old DDT/Rachel Carson hoaxes.

Clearly, performing the science and writing the journal articles isn’t getting the messages out that need to be gotten out, not on the continuing destruction of our environment, which leads to the continuing destruction of our climate, nor on health care, nor sex education, nor the destruction of public education in the name of “teacher accountability, nor evolution as the vastly superior and more accurate portrayal of life than creationism, nor the failure of supply-side economics, nor on a number of other issues.

Remember Flock of Dodos?  Andrew Revkin at Dot.Earth, a New York Times blog, interviewed Randy Olson about the Nerd Loop.  Specifically, Olson thinks we need to avoid it.  I like Olson’s use of graphics in this interview.

You should read Olson’s post at his blog, too:  “The Nerd Loop:  Why I’m losing interest in communicating climate change.”

Alas, Olson doesn’t offer us any pixie dust.  Maybe we need to stop waiting for pixie dust, eh?

What do you think?

Radiation dose comparison charts from XKCD

March 20, 2011

No, there’s no humor in this thing — just good, solid information.

XKCD put together a chart that shows in geometric terms how various radiation doses work. With a tip of the pen to Bob Parks, the chart notes that cell phones don’t count here because cell phones don’t put out ionizing radiation, the type that causes cancer, but just radio waves.

The chart won’t be easy to read here — click on the image and go to the XKCD site for a bigger, more readable image:

Radiation Dose Chart from XKCD

Radiation Dose Chart from XKCD

It’s a good, clear graphic in its full size.  Go see.

Nuclear weapons: History and policy, in a poster

December 23, 2010

Wish I knew who created this poster, and how.  Some minor inaccuracies — can you find them?  Could you prevail on the Big Format Printer person at your school to print one of these full size for your U.S. history, world history or government class?

Nuclear Weapons, a poster

Nuclear Weapons, a poster

How about a similar poster for the Cold War?  Vietnam War?  Civil Rights Movement?  Gilded Age?

Tip of the old scrub brush to Kenny, cold in Pinggu.

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