Game Designer

I’ve added being a game designer to my long list of hobbies. This activity combines many of my interests- gaming, art, mathematics, and creation. Im still just getting started with this, but first game has been printed through the game self publishing outfit Gamecrafter.

Check out my first game blog here:

The Stones of Fate

The Economy and Education- Inextricably Tied

Hello world,

I’ve been away from blogging for a while.

Education funding is suffering mightily in the current economic downturn- as tax dollars drop, so goes education. This is not inevitable. Repeatedly, liberals have attempted to structure education funding mechanisms that were not so acutely tied to revenues. Their efforts are consistently thwarted at every level by conservatives who attempt avoid funding public schools.

The compromise that is inevitably reached in this power struggle is that school funding is inextricably tied to variable and fragile funding streams that vary with fluctuations in the economy, and variations in tax rates. Consequently, when taxes are cut, schools also suffer.

When taxes are cut in an attempt to create stimulus, during a period of economic downturn and low tax revenues, schools are hit doubly. Localities are then hit with devastating choices of loss of personnel, school closures, large classes, eliminated programs and services, and inevitably: education decline.

There are young people’s lives caught in this power struggle. Kids who need help, attention, and special services. Kids who need sports, or music, or technology to thrive; denied.

The economic downturn is wreaking havoc on education funding. There is no lesser need for high quality education during recessions. History has shown quite the opposite- that boosts to education and retraining during downturn and vital to economic recovery.

I beg our leaders to find a way. I urge conservatives to stop placing public education in the same category as expendable services.

HIV Curriculum Pilot- Remarks to the School Board

Blog Post from Luke Laurie’s Teacherblog:

Comments to the school Board on HIV Prevention Curriculum Pilot 5-4-11

I thank the board for allowing me to speak this evening,

In the field of education, we’re always operating within an economy of scarcity. Far from an ideal system for serving the needs of our students, we do not have not enough money, nor enough time, and we have too many students with tremendous needs; academic, social, behavioral, emotional and physical.

In the standards-based educational push of the last decade, we were caught up in fervor to enhance academic learning, specifically, of course, Math and Language Arts. Because resources and time are scarce, schools across the country eliminated programs and courses in the fine arts, health education, physical education, and even science. With this unbalanced approach, we were doing less to educate the whole child.

In our district in this time period, we haven’t done enough to provide our students with the health information and skills they need to make good choices about their sexual health.

The HIV Prevention Education requirement in State law is there to address issues that are vital to our youth. A large fraction of our students are sexually active, and many lack the knowledge and behavioral skills to protect themselves from disease or unintended pregnancy. Santa Barbara County has a teen pregnancy rate for latinas that is the highest rate in the State at 9%. That’s nearly 1 in 10 of our latina population, and three times the average rate for all California teens.

We all know that the challenges for teens who become parents are numerous. And challenging too, are the lives of our students who are being raised by young people who became parents too early themselves. We all bear the costs. And while the Red Cross curriculum is not specifically focused in preventing teen pregnancy, the same knowledge and skills they will gain from learning to prevent HIV will also prevent pregnancy and other sexually transmitted diseases.

The Red Cross Positive Prevention Curriculum provides a framework that teaches the means of transmission and prevention of HIV, but it also includes lessons on behavior and decision making, as well as identifying and avoiding risky situations, and developing refusal skills. The material in this curriculum is presented in a manner that is useful to teachers, and provides them with tools for handling controversial subjects sensitively.

I strongly encourage the board to support this committee’s work and to move forward with the pilot program for the Positive Prevention Curriculum. I also would like to encourage the board to support other improvements in health and sexual health education to provide our students with vital information and skills that will help them live healthy lives.

Thank you.

(The Board was unanimously and overwhelmingly supportive of the committee’s work and dedication to the topic.)

10,000 Visitors

Blog Post from Luke Laurie’s TeacherBlog:

Thank you to my readers, I hope that the words I’ve put here have provided you with information, entertainment, or at least a little diversion for a moment.


MESA Robotics Rules – Repost

Blog Post at

Robotic Sumo

Robotic Tug O’War


Since the year 2000, I have been working with students on the Central Coast of California, teaching them to build and program robots, mostly using LEGO Mindstorms. Last year, several MESA centers across California piloted rules I developed for UCSB’s RoboChallenge program. These rules are designed to enable students using most kinds of robotics formats to build Tug O’ War Robots (for Junior High) and Sumo Robots (for Senior High).

It appears that some schools and MESA centers will again be using these rules for Demonstration events during their MESA competitions. I’m posting these draft rules to make it easy for students, teachers, and MESA coordinators to find them,along with some additional resources that will be helpful. The rules have not been modified since written in early 2009.

Tug O’ War (Junior High)

Tug O’ War draft MESA rules:

MESA Draft Rules for Junior High Tug O’ War (MS Word)

Tug O’ War Tutorial and Video:

Tug O’ War Blog Page:

Sumo (Senior High)

***Note on Sumo: The size of the Sumo board in the rules is somewhat small. A larger board makes for more exciting matches. I prefer a board that is approximately 4 feet in diameter, painted black, with a white border about 4″ wide.

Sumo draft MESA rules:

MESA Draft Rules for High School Sumo (MS Word)

Sumo Tutorial and Video:

Sumo Blog Page:

Media from the Einstein Summit

Blog Post from Luke Laurie’s Teacher Blog:

I was fortunate enough to have participated in the Einstein Fellowship 20th Anniversary Summit, where I met with friends new and old for the purpose of improving STEM education nationwide. Many photos from this event have been posted on the web. Some links to photos, video, and the Einstein Summit Report are below.

Me and Art: The Big Lebofsky

Making a Point on the STEm education Panel

Me and my kids at the welcome reception.

Mad scientist turned stern moderator.


Tons more media:

Picasa Web Album

Picasa- whole group photos

Photos from the Wilson Center

Video of part of the Summit from the Wilson Center

The Einstein Summit Report (.pdf)


Sarah Palin Mad Libs

Blog Post at Luke Laurie’s Teacherblog

I made this “Mad Libs” up during the presidential campaign. I recently reread it and was surprised at how relevant it still is.

There’s a .pdf version too.

An Interview with Sara Palin

Interviewer: “Good evening, and welcome to _________________ (TV Show), I’m_________________(news personality), speaking today with the Republican Vice Presidential Candidate, the Governor of Alaska, in her ____(number less than 5)(-st, -nd, -rd, or -th) real interview. Let’s get right down to the _________________ (noun). Governor Palin, how will we_________________(verb) ourselves out of this economic crisis?”

Palin: “Well, you know, what we gotta do is look at  ______ (prefix) -regulation. That’s what we did in Alaska when we had to deal with _________________ (any problem). Americans know we can’t _________________ (verb) our way out of this, and CEO’s on Wallstreet can’t_________________ (verb) the _________________ (noun) on Mainstreet. Big government and more taxes is _________________(verb ending in -ing) small businesses, which needs to get out of the _________________(noun), and let private industry drive the _________________(a machine) of this economy, by relieving the tax burden on families.”

Interviewer: “So you are, or are not in favor of increased regulation of_________________(any industry)?”

Palin: “The principle of that is reducing taxes, and the principle of letting the free market_________________(verb) Americans, instead of government trying to control your_________________(plural noun). Do you want big government standing between you and your _________________(Member of a profession)? We need to stand up and band together, hocky moms and _________________(stereotype, plural). Nobody listened when John McCain, the _________________ (name of TV show starring James Garner) sounded the alarm bell on  _________________ and _________________ (two names ending in ‘ie’). Go to any kid’s _________________(sport) game, and talk to _________________ (common male first name)_________________(quantity of bulk alcoholic beverage), and he’ll tellya all about it.”

Interviewer:“What about foreign policy with regards to _________________ (any nation)?”

Palin: “Well, we’ve got to be careful when those _________________(animal, plural) rear their heads. When I’m reading those _________________ (form of printed information-plural), that have been in front of me all those years, I think _________________(exclamation). Darn Right_________________ (world leader) is dangerous. We need to shore up our_________________(plural noun), because those dictators with their connections to_________________(international organization), and Barack Obama wants to sit down and_________________(verb), without any _________________ (plural noun) being met. As a mayor and governor who provides 20% of America’s domestic supply of _________________(noun),I have executive experience from leading America’s _________________ (adjective ending in -est) State. We share a maritime border with _________________ (an allied nation). While I was building pipelines to carry _________________(fluid) to quench America’s thirst for_________________(noun), and the surge, which John McCain supported, and Barack Obama_________________(verb, past tense) it.”

Interviewer: “What about your stance on _________________ (any well accepted scientific theory) ?”

Palin: “I’m tolerant of the scientific community. I think there’s something to be said for man’s influence on _________________(a phenomenon). It is real. Schools should get vouchers to teach both _________________ (plural noun) of the story. But there’s also_________________ (adjective) cycles and we gotta use an all of the above strategy to end our dependence on foreign _________________ (liquid).”

Interviewer:“How about an exception to allow abortions, in cases of_________________(crime), or _________________ (crime).”

Palin: “I believe that life begins at the moment of _________________ (noun ending in -tion). If someone, _________________ (Deity) forbid, were to be a victim of such an act, I would counsel that person to choose _________________ (noun).”

Interviewer: “What makes you ready to become president of the United States, if John McCain got _________________ (verb ending in -ed)?”

Palin: “Like Ronald Reagan, I have executive experience. I fired my _________________ (type of service employee), because I didn’t think taxpayers should have to foot the bill for my_________________ (plural noun). You know what I did with my _________________ (luxury item)? I sold it on Ebay. And I don’t _________________ (verb) those Washington insiders who say they voted for it but now they’re against it. In Alaska when when there’s some_________________ (adjective) idea we don’t like, we Mavericks say, ‘Thanks but no thanks,’ like I said to the Bridge to _________________ (a nonexistent place).”