WebAssign & Breaking Bad!


We’re pretty excited about the Breaking Bad series finale coming up this Sunday. We bet your students are too. Check back next week for the results of WebAssign usage during the show time. Let’s see how many students put their homework on hold while they watch what happens to Heisenberg.

Learn more about WebAssign’s Original Chemistry Content here!

NCTA 21 Awards and NC Tech Tour

We are looking forward to North Carolina Technology Association’s visit to WebAssign as part of the NC Tech Tour happening later this week! Earlier this month, WebAssign was selected as a finalist for the NCTA 21 Awards in the categories of Software Company, Midsize Company, and Best Workplace Culture.


The NCTA 21 Awards is North Carolina’s most prestigious and longest running statewide technology awards program. The annual showcase honors companies and individuals in 21 categories who represent the best and brightest in technology and business.  “Since 1995, the NCTA 21 Awards has honored technological excellence and innovation throughout North Carolina. As a finalist in this year’s awards, WebAssign has distinguished itself as one of the state’s technology leaders,” said Brooks Raiford, President and CEO, NCTA.

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“WebAssign has always been a company committed to creating software that enhances education and providing a culture that fosters personal and professional employee growth,” said Alex Bloom, president of WebAssign. “We’re pleased and gratified to be recognized by NCTA in these categories.”

A review committee comprised of non-profit, media, education, and technology leaders representing various regions of the state selected this year’s finalists. Winners will be announced and recognized at the annual awards gala, presented with title sponsor Grant Thornton, on Thursday, November 7, 2013 at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel and Convention Center in Durham, N.C.

15 Anniversaries for our 15th Anniversary: 9/8 – 9/14

To celebrate WebAssign’s 15th anniversary, each Monday we will be bringing you 15 anniversaries in science, technology, mathematics, and education that you can look forward to throughout the week. Here are some important dates in history coming up this week:

September 9

1737 – Italian physician and physicist Luigi Galvani is born. Galvani becomes a pioneer in the study of bioelectricity when he observes that the legs of a deceased frog move when subjected to an electric spark. Prior to the research conducted by Galvani, the prevailing theory of muscle motion was balloonist theory.

1940 – A computer is operated remotely via telephone lines for the first time by American physicist and computer scientist George Stibitz.

1941 – American computer scientist Dennis Ritchie is born. Ritchie develops the programming language C. Working together with Ken Thompson, Ritchie creates the operating system UNIX. Many modern devices and operating systems are built upon the foundation set by C and UNIX.

September 10

1892 – American physicist Arthur Compton is born. Compton demonstrates that light possesses the properties of a particle via the Compton effect. The wave nature of light had been well-documented at that time, and Compton receives the Nobel prize for his demonstration of light’s dual nature. Compton later with Enrico Fermi oversees the building of the first nuclear reactor, the Chicago Pile-1.

2008 – The most powerful high-energy particle collider ever built is powered up in Geneva, Switzerland. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is operated by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), who in March of 2013 tentatively announced the discovery of the Higgs boson.

September 11

1935 – Russian cosmonaut Gherman Titov is born. Titov becomes the fourth person in space, and the first case of space adaptation syndrome. Going into orbit at age twenty five, Titov is the youngest person to go into space.

September 12

1897 – French chemist Irène Joliot-Curie is born. Joliot-Curie receives the Nobel prize for the discovery of artificially induced radioactivity.

1958 – The first integrated circuit is demonstrated by American electrical engineer Jack Kilby.

September 13

1851 – American physician and biologist Walter Reed is born. Reed and his team confirm the research of Cuban physician Carlos Finlay regarding the transmission of yellow fever by the mosquito. Reed’s team’s confirmation that yellow fever is not transmitted by human-to-human contact presents new opportunities for the control and treatment of the disease.

1887 – Croatian biochemist Leopold Ružička is born. Ružička’s lab is one of the first to synthesize the sex hormones androsterone and testosterone. Ružička receives the Nobel prize for his study of these hormones.

1898 – Photographic film made from celluloid is patented by Hannibal Goodwin. This film is used in early motion pictures.

1956 – The IBM 305 RAMAC, the first computer to utilize disk storage, is unveiled by IBM.

September 14

1804 – English ornithologist John Gould is born. Gould identifies the birds that become later known as “Darwin’s finches”. Gould’s study of the differentiation of species of birds between the Galápagos Islands is one of the inspirations for Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

1936 – American physician and pharmacologist Ferid Murad is born. Murad receives the Nobel prize for demonstrating that nitroglycerin dilates blood vessels by releasing nitric oxide. Nitroglycerin is later used medically to treat heart conditions such as congestive heart failure.

1959 – The Russian spacecraft Luna 2 becomes the first man-made object to reach the moon.

Friday Funny!


Have a better math/science/teaching joke than this one? Send it in here to be posted as one of our Friday Funnies!

WebAssign Launches Exclusive Physics Video Collection

New from WebAssign, the “Physics Explorations with Direct Measurement Videos” collection features questions with embedded video clips of actual events and systems, such as objects colliding and rockets launching.  The videos utilize rulers, grids, frame-counters,  and other graphical overlays that allow students to make measurements directly from the video to analyze and apply physics concepts, giving real-world context to the physics they are learning.


Following WebAssign tradition, these videos were created by a teacher, veteran physics instructor Peter Bohacek, who was looking for ways to enhance his students’ learning. “Direct-measurement videos offer many advantages over traditional word problems,” explained Bohacek. “Instead of simply describing the launch of a rocket, these videos show the launch in all its spectacular glory. Not only is this captivating and engaging, but students can see and clearly understand the situation they are analyzing.”

An electrical engineer by training, Peter Bohacek worked in the high-end audio electronics industry for 15 years before becoming a high school physics teacher. He began using WebAssign seven years ago, and was struck by two things: the power of providing students with instant feedback, and the ability to create a wide range of question types. Over the course of several years, Bohacek refined his ability to make direct measurement videos and embed them into interactive WebAssign questions.

This new resource is unique because viewing a direct-measurement video instead of reading a word problem changes how students approach the problem. With word problems, students sometimes scan through the sentences, searching for numbers they can use in a physics equation. Even if they get the correct answer, they don’t always know what the numbers represent, or why their solution worked. With direct-measurement videos, students’ first step is determining what information they will need, a crucial step in real-world problem solving.  Once they gather this information from the video, they then use their measurements to solve the quantitative problem.  This helps strengthen the connection between the numerical value (5 seconds) and a physical quantity (the time for the rocket  to travel 80 meters).

space shuttle screen shot

The three key features of questions in this collection are:

  • Instant and customized feedback: Each question has custom feedback to help the students make correct measurements. Not only does the feedback tell the student if their value is too high or too low, but it also suggests ways to improve the quality of the measurement.
  • Question randomization: One powerful features of WebAssign is the ability to randomize questions so that students don’t all have the same answers. The questions in this collection are randomized as well, with multiple video versions of the same event. WebAssign randomly selects one version of the video when a student begins work on the question. All student feedback is then based on the correct values for that video. In addition, key values, such as the mass of an object, are also randomized.
  • Instructional scaffolding: Some questions provide “scaffolding” –question structure that helps the student learn as they progress through a problem or lab. These questions combine traits of labs, tutorials, and word problems.

The result is an exciting, engaging, new method for physics instruction. This question set is available with any WebAssign physics course at no additional cost and can be added to your course as an additional resource or by contacting a sales representative.