Drawing Shapes Is Hard

My wife is putting together a simple gift for our niece. Lest I spoil a surprise, I’ll be vague about the specifics. It required some hexagons. We started, logically, with an octagon.

I approached this mathematically. Find the midpoint on one edge, work an equal distance out either side, then connect the dots. Bam.

Regular hexagon failure 1 flickr photo by bennettscience shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Wait…that didn’t work.

So, I moved to a circle that represented the diameter of the octagon pieces. Well, a circle was hard because I didn’t have a protractor to get the angles right. So, I moved to a rectangle with some right triangles taken out.

Regular hexagon failures 2 and 3 flickr photo by bennettscience shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Regular hexagon failure 4 flickr photo by bennettscience shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Well, with no protractor, it’s hard to draw a 120 degree angle. I could do a mean 45 with the quilting square, though.

Admitting defeat, I jumped to the Google and found a number of posts by searching, “draw regular hexagon.” The image searches were promising: one linked to a post from New Mexico State University which described how to draw a regular hexagon using a circle and a compass.

I went out to the garage and found a compass my grandfather probably had since before I was born that I snagged while cleaning out mom and dad’s garage last year. It sat contentedly in our garage until called upon, after which it performed wonderfully.

Compass for the win flickr photo by bennettscience shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

This provided me a quick reminder on the mental dissonance between thinking I know how something should work and being able to describe how it actually works. The best thing is that the number of points on the circle is infinite, as long as the radius is known. The more points I draw, the closer I get to another circle. This blew my mind in Flatland, (apparently, there’s now a movie?) and it blew my mind again when I did Saturday afternoon.

We’re on our way to one sweet gift (all planned and executed by my talented wife).

Gift progress flickr photo by bennettscience shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Badging Patterns

Some more, mostly unfiltered thoughts on badging programs run at the K12 level. (Initial thoughts for some background from back in August.)

– Articles and websites announcing badge initiatives at K12 peaked in 2014-2015. I haven’t found many articles from the last two years.

– Many (seem to have) started with schools who had a high level of teacher buy-in for PD to begin with. Building the drive for development took place before badges were introduced.

– Most of the programs started as a way to (seemingly) expose teachers to different software and programs they can use.

– Very few of the programs required evidence of implementation along side reflection on implementation. Most implementation evidences were photos or videos of you using the app/program/thing with students.

– No site talks about benefits for completion other than being given a [adjective] digital sticker!

I’m not convinced badging/credentialing is a bust. I’m more convinced that programs that offer long-lasting value for teaching staff are elusive and take careful planning. It’s also apparent that consistent implementation through support and updated offerings is difficult. Having a staff who is able to meet the shifting needs of a district over multiple years is key. It’s also going to be important to have a very clear mechanism for evaluation of change in instruction because that’s the component that benefits students.

_Featured image is by

Melinda Martin-Khan on Unsplash_

Parsing a JSON log feed with Python

I have several Google Sheets doing several things on their own through Google Apps Script. I’ve started to make it a habit that each action is logged to a separate, isolated spreadsheet so I can pop in and look for error messages in one places rather than several.

This poses a small problem. I have to actually remember to open that sheet. Usually, something goes wrong, and then I remember to check the logs. I wanted to have something more up to date that I could glance at without too much effort.

You can get Google Sheet data as JSON which is handy in a number of contexts (here and here are two examples from my own work). It’s not as straightforward as tagging .json on the end of the URL (though that would be sweet) but the process isn’t hard. To get the data, this post details how to publish your sheet and find the feed.

Once the dataset was live online and updating regularly, I needed to decide how to get it. I use GeekTool on my desktop so I decided to use a Python script and the Responses library to gather and process the feed.

I put this into a Geeklet on my desktop and voila!

Give it a try with your own sheet. You can run it in your terminal to get a printout of the last 5 entries of the sheet. The JSON output from Google is really weird, so it helps to put it into a prettifier to make it more readable before parsing keys.

What did I miss? What would you do differently?

Featured image, Logs, flickr photo by CIFOR shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license