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  1. Good morning, my fellow nerd-faces. I've had an idea for a while now. During my time back in school, I've learned a bit about myself. Firstly, I didn't learn shit math-wise in high school. Going back for engineering school required me to learn everything I should have learned in high school over the course of a semester when I started this program. Add to that, a few years ago I began to tutor high school students in math, science, reading, whatever they needed. I never thought I would really like teaching high school kids, but it turns out I enjoy it a ton. It's great to twist the minds of the easily swayed idiots mold the minds of the future. While teaching these kids, I've noticed a very unified theme among everyone struggling with math. Which is, "What's the flippin' point of learning all of this crap?!?!" Well, I want to change this. Math is taught in high school as repetitive arithmetic and rules without basis or definition. It's a lot of "Eat this problem, do this, don't ask questions, don't bother remembering it. Just do it for the test and move on." My idea is to put together a little book. A little black book of industrial disasters. Industrial disasters that I can research and build a narrative of what happened, why it happened, and finally, how somebody screwed up the math and then people died. My daydream is to one day be an old crotchety man with 40 years of industrial chemical engineering experience, sitting in a math classroom in some tiny high school somewhere, scaring the shit out of kids. And this book would be the way to do so. In my chemical engineering classes, we go over failures in design that lead to disasters. Reactors that blow up, high pressure pipes not designed correctly or high temp lines not insulated properly. I believe I can take every one of these disasters and work them down to a set of high-school level equations that can be solved, though with difficulty, by children. Hypothetical situation, a child asks "Why is this crap important? I'll never use this ever." I break out the black book . "Come to the board, and let's do some math." If the student cannot solve the problem, or he/she doesn't remember to take a negative sign through the equation or square root the answer, I can silently nod and then bring up the source of the problem. "Oops, forgot to drop the negative at this point. Let's see what that does... Oh, your pressure is far too high. Here's what happened due to your mistake." The powerpoint comes up and shows the pictures of the crater that is the only thing left after a chemical plant creating fertilizer exploded. "25 people died, over 70 more injured, and over a billion dollars in damages. Including an elementary school. Good thing it wasn't occupied on the night shift. How many people are in this classroom, kid? About 25? Imagine you drop a negative sign tomorrow, and everyone in this classroom dies." Boom, Instant horror. Instant context. Now this may be the the wet dreams of a sadist, but I feel that this book would be a fun way to add context to math for kids who question why they are being forced to learn these "arbitrary" rules over and over again. Here's an outline of each article in the book. TITLE OF DISASTER Picture of said disaster Quick summary of the location, the background, the chemical/material that failed, quick explanation of why it failed. Original equations, with known constants and assumed values. Broken down, simplified, integrated equations, made to have one or two unknowns to solve for. Solution to simplified equations. Then, finally, the aftermath of the failure and what happened. More pictures. This is a rough post-breakfast draft of what I would be doing for each disaster. I'm sure I can get a number of disasters to analyze and break down into this form. In summary, I need your help. Give me disasters to analyze and I'll put them in the book if there's enough information. Give me the proper information and I'll build something to scare children into realizing that math has a purpose, has context, and is still the most important thing they'll learn in school.
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