### Respectful Parenting, Electronics System Theory, and Faith

Inspired by the Sara’s recent post about respectful parenting +Happiness is here vis-à-vis Minecraft screen time.  The end analysis there?  Trust your kids, and parent respectfully.

In electrical systems theory, we divide circuits up into two categories, differentiators and integrators.  Differentiators make circuits more sensitive to every little change.  The circuit doesn't miss much, but it might flail around quickly.  Integrators on the other hand cause the system as a whole to be less sensitive to small changes.  Systems with integrators won't respond to a small change, they simply add it to a total response, and wait for more information.  If the changes continue to happen in the same way, ultimately the system will respond, but it takes time and consistency.

This is how I view Sara’s description of handling video game screen time.  I would have been inclined to shutdown all the screens after two days spent exclusively on a video game.  If I'd done this, I wouldn't have given the 'system' of our kids the time to organically respond to their new environment.  By taking a more integrated approach like Sara did, it's easier to see what the system wanted to do for itself, and how it normally behaves without outside influences.

I like the integrating approach better, though it's occasionally difficult to remember to use it when I'm caught up in the moment.  I find myself thinking, 'something's changed, change it back.'  I might also phrase the whole thing with integrators and differentiators in a different way—in terms of faith.  It’s sometimes difficult, but it’s always been helpful for me to have faith that the kids are competent, and are going to figure things out for themselves in a healthy way.  Sure, I can offer advice if they want it, (and I do), but they get the best results, and grow the most, I think, when I’m not involved.

### Cool Math Tricks: Deriving the Divergence, (Del or Nabla) into New (Cylindrical) Coordinate Systems

The following is a pretty lengthy procedure, but converting the divergence, (nabla, del) operator between coordinate systems comes up pretty often. While there are tables for converting between common coordinate systems, there seem to be fewer explanations of the procedure for deriving the conversion, so here goes!

What do we actually want?

To convert the Cartesian nabla

to the nabla for another coordinate system, say… cylindrical coordinates.

What we’ll need:

1. The Cartesian Nabla:

2. A set of equations relating the Cartesian coordinates to cylindrical coordinates:

3. A set of equations relating the Cartesian basis vectors to the basis vectors of the new coordinate system:

How to do it:

Use the chain rule for differentiation to convert the derivatives with respect to the Cartesian variables to derivatives with respect to the cylindrical variables.

The chain rule can be used to convert a differential operator in terms of one variable into a series of differential operators in terms of othe…

### Lab Book 2014_07_10 More NaI Characterization

Summary: Much more plunking around with the NaI detector and sources today.  A Pb shield was built to eliminate cosmic ray muons as well as potassium 40 radiation from the concreted building.  The spectra are much cleaner, but still don't have the count rates or distinctive peaks that are expected.
New to the experiment?  Scroll to the bottom to see background and get caught up.
Lab Book Threshold for the QVT is currently set at -1.49 volts.  Remember to divide this by 100 to get the actual threshold voltage. A new spectrum recording the lines of all three sources, Cs 137, Co 60, and Sr 90, was started at approximately 10:55. Took data for about an hour.
Started the Cs 137 only spectrum at about 11:55 AM

Here’s the no-source background from yesterday
In comparison, here’s the 3 source spectrum from this morning.

The three source spectrum shows peak structure not exhibited by the background alone. I forgot to take scope pictures of the Cs137 run. I do however, have the printout, and…

### Unschooling Math Jams: Squaring Numbers in their own Base

Some of the most fun I have working on math with seven year-old No. 1 is discovering new things about math myself.  Last week, we discovered that square of any number in its own base is 100!  Pretty cool!  As usual we figured it out by talking rather than by writing things down, and as usual it was sheer happenstance that we figured it out at all.  Here’s how it went.

I've really been looking forward to working through multiplication ala binary numbers with seven year-old No. 1.  She kind of beat me to the punch though: in the last few weeks she's been learning her multiplication tables in base 10 on her own.  This became apparent when five year-old No. 2 decided he wanted to do some 'schoolwork' a few days back.

"I can sing that song... about the letters? all by myself now!"  2 meant the alphabet song.  His attitude towards academics is the ultimate in not retaining unnecessary facts, not even the name of the song :)

After 2 had worked his way through the so…