Tai Chi Day 30

Did my tai chi after went to work this morning, and it sucked. My breath was off, my balance was off, my foot and hand work were off. Basically, it was the worst form I’ve had in thirty days. Sucks to be me, I guess. I may try it again later today.

The run was better. Pat met me at the door, and we did speed bump to stop sign to S’s house, to speed bump. I have no idea how far that is, and I was near dying at the end, but it got done. Now, an hour later, I feel great. Exercised, refreshed, energized.

I’ve discovered a new program called Sketchup (available at http://www.sketchup.com/ ) Thanks to my cousin Tom over the holidays, I learned about this nifty little program that architects use to develop their ideas for buildings. It creates 3-d models of buildings, and sometimes even terrains. It also includes a tape measure feature, so you can do quick-checks of distances. My first major effort (an hour’s worth of work) was to do a model of the inn in town in my D&D game. My second was to do a Greek theater.

As is usual, I figured out about a dozen ways to turn this program to my advantage as a teacher. It’s free to educators, so you can’t use it in a for-profit context if you have an educator’s license, but even so I’ve got lots of ways to use it. My ninth grade history class is starting ancient Greece when the kids come back, so those boys with laptops are going to have the chance to develop models of ancient Greek buildings, from megarons to temples to stadia to treasuries, to theaters. My first effort at building a theater was not so good, but it also didn’t take very long. Will all of them be interested? Maybe not. But it suggests that I might be able to develop the ground plan for a Roman city, a la David Macaulay, for the spring term, and then ask my students to build buildings to go into that city — an amphitheater, a theater, a basilica, a baths, a city gate, a cross section of the city wall, and so on. We could even use it to develop cross-sections of Roman roads… I’m excited.

I tried playing around with the Sandbox feature in Sketchup, which allows you to build a 3-D model of something organic, like terrain or a wooden bowl, or similar objects. (Science types, this is the sort of program you might use to have your students develop 3-d models of plant and animal cells, actually). It’s not so intuitive, and I’m going to have to fuss for a while before I get a clear sense of how to use it.

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