Happy Thanksgiving from WebAssign!

Here’s an early “Friday Funny” to get you in the holiday spirit! We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving from everyone at WebAssign.

Q: What do mathematicians eat on Thanksgiving?

A: Pumpkin Pi.

Have a better math/science/teaching joke than this one? Email us to have it posted as one of our future Friday Funnies!

Coming Soon: Assignment List Upgrade

Based on user feedback, WebAssign will be updating the assignment list to improve the scheduling experience particularly for instructors and course coordinators who work with many sections and assignments. These enhancements will go into effect soon, but will not affect your current course set up or any of the functionality you use on a regular basis. Instead, it is designed to make it easier to find the assignments you need when you need them, and to view your assignment schedule over the course of the semester.

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For assistance with setting up and managing your section schedules, please contact WebAssign Customer Support. For more information about how WebAssign can help you achieve your teaching goals, contact a sales representative at 800.955.8275 or sales@webassign.net.

15 Anniversaries for our 15th Anniversary: 11/24 – 11/30

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:

November 24

1712 – French educator Charles-Michel de l’Épée is born. After observing two deaf sisters communicating in sign language, Épée dedicates his life to learning, organizing, and teaching sign language to the deaf citizens of Paris. Épée opens the first free school for the deaf, and although he does not invent sign language, he learns from the citizens of Paris who were already communicating in sign language. Épée categorizes and improves upon the existing sign language, and makes his work publicly available for others to use. A student of Épée’s school, Laurent Clerc, will travel to America and co-found the American School for the Deaf, the first school for the deaf in the United States. American Sign Language is developed at the American School for the Deaf.

1859 – On the Origin of Species is published by English geologist and naturalist Charles Darwin. Darwin’s work forms the foundation of evolutionary biology.

1925 – Dutch-Swiss physicist Simon van der Meer is born. Van der Meer receives the Nobel prize for his discovery of the W and Z bosons at CERN. The discovery of the W and Z bosons is one of the first big successes of CERN, and confirms a prediction of the Standard Model of particle physics.

November 26

1678 – French geophysicist, astronomer, and chronobiologist Jean-Jacques d’Ortous de Mairan is born. De Mairan performs experiments on the plant mimosa pudica, and observes that the plant continued to open and close on a predictable schedule even in the absence of light. These observations lead to the discovery of circadian rhythms in organisms.

1876 – American engineer Willis Carrier is born. In order to address production problems at a publishing facility, Carrier invents a device which controls the temperature and humidity inside of the facility. Carrier’s device is the first example of the modern air conditioning system.

1898 – German chemist Karl Ziegler is born. Ziegler makes important discoveries related to free-radicals, organometallic chemistry, and polymers. Ziegler develops a catalyst that makes industrial production of polyethylene possible. Ziegler receives the Nobel prize for his work with polymers.

November 27

1701 – Swedish physicist and astronomer Anders Celsius is born. Celsius publishes observations of the aurora borealis, and is the first to suggest that the auroras are related to the Earth’s magnetic field. Celsius also creates the Celsius temperature scale.

1955 – American engineer and educator Bill Nye is born. Nye’s television show designed to teach science to preteen viewers, Bill Nye the Science Guy, wins 19 Emmy awards and runs for 5 years. Nye becomes the executive director of The Planetary Society.

2001 – The Hubble Space Telescope discovers an atmosphere composed primarily of hydrogen on the planet Osiris. This is the first atmosphere detected on an extrasolar planet.

November 28

1772 – English meteorologist Luke Howard is born. Though others had earlier posited naming conventions for clouds, Howard utilizes the more universal language of Latin to develop a nomenclature for clouds. Howard creates names for the three primary categories of clouds: cirrus, stratus, and cumulus, as well as names for the intermediate forms, such as cirrostratus.

1964 – The Mariner 4 probe is launched toward the planet Mars by NASA. The Mariner 4 probe returns the first images of the surface of Mars, surprising much of the world by showing an inactive planet apparently devoid of life.

November 29

1825 – French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot is born. Charcot’s research forms the foundation of modern neurology. Charcot makes many new observations and categorizes and names several neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, Charcot joint, and Parkinson’s disease. Many of Charcot’s students make important discoveries or contributions to neurology and psychology, such as Joseph Babinski, Sigmund FreudWilliam James, Pierre JanetAlbert Londe, Charles-Joseph BouchardPierre Marie, Georges Gilles de la TouretteAlbert Pitres, and Alfred Binet. Charcot names Parkinson’s disease after James Parkinson, and Tourette syndrome after Charcot’s student Georges Gilles de la Tourette.

1857 – German pediatrician Theodor Escherich is born. Escherich discovers the bacterium Escherichia coli (E. Coli), and publishes his observations on the effect the bacterium has on human digestion.

November 30

1756 – German physicist Ernst Chladni is born. Chladni observes that sand on a vibrating plate will collect and form lines in the areas of the plate that are experiencing zero vibration. The designs that are created during this process are called Chladni figures, and they are still used in the production of musical instruments. Chladni publishes a paper in which he proposes that meteorites were not of a volcanic origin, which is the prevailing theory at this time, but originated from a source other than the Earth.

1889 – English electrophysiologist Edgar Adrian is born. Adrian receives the Nobel prize for his discovery of the “all-or-none law” of the electrical stimulus of muscles and nerves.

Friday Funny!

Friday Funny

Have a better math/science/teaching joke than this one? Email us to have it posted as one of our future Friday Funnies!

WebAssign Thanksgiving Potluck & Food Drive

One of our annual traditions each year is to tie in our November birthday celebration with a Thanksgiving potluck lunch.  In addition to turkey and ham sandwiches, employees brought in their favorite holiday dishes to share with everyone.

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This year we also wanted to give back to the community by hosting a food drive through the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina.  So far we have collected:

Food Collected

Canned Soup/Meals: 69
Canned Vegetables: 82
Peanut Butter: 7
Canned Fruit/Fruit Cups: 35
Canned Meat: 14
Dry Goods (cereal, rice, pasta, beans): 97
Paper/Hygiene Products: 18
Everything Else: 19
Food Tally

Friday Funny!

Today’s Friday Funny was sent in by one of our readers.  It is a video created by animator Xiangjun Shi, a graduate student at Rhode Island School of Design, who looks at physics and physical properties in this short video that celebrates our fascinating world. Have your own math/science/teaching joke or video to share? Send it in here to be posted as one of our Friday Funnies!

WebAssign Wins Best Workplace Culture Award!

We are excited that WebAssign recently received the 2013 North Carolina Technology Association (NCTA) 21 Award for 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. A review committee comprised of non-profit, media, education, and technology leaders representing various regions of North Carolina selected this year’s finalists. Winners were announced and recognized at the annual awards gala on Thursday, November 7, 2013, where 800-plus leaders gathered to honor finalists in each category.

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“Each year, the NCTA 21 Awards brings the community together to celebrate technology excellence,” said Brooks Raiford, president and CEO, NCTA. “WebAssign has a deep commitment to North Carolina and to fostering its national reputation for a strong, high-quality university and college system. We are pleased to award WebAssign this year’s Best Workplace Culture Award.”

WebAssign has hired 60 employees in the past 12 months, and established an employee stock ownership plan, enabling all employees to benefit from the company’s growth. Restructured as a Benefit Corporation dedicated to enhancing education, our company encourages employees to participate in charitable giving and service by matching donations and providing paid community service leave, which was cited as a main factor in NCTA choosing WebAssign as the award recipient.

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“We are proud to be selected for Best Workplace Culture by NCTA,” said Alex Bloom, president of WebAssign. “Winning this award is especially meaningful as providing a quality workplace was very important to our founder, Dr. John Risley, and we are committed to honoring that tradition.”