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Machine Design

Backtalk 06/04/09

Are you smarter than an 8th grader?
Can you answer this in less than 45 sec? Question: How many 2 × 2 × 2 cubes must be added to an 8 × 8 × 8 cube to make a 10 × 10 × 10 cube? Answer: 61 (cubes)

Well, Bobby Shen from Sugar Land, Tex., did to become the National Mathematics Champions at the 2009 Raytheon Mathcounts National Competition. The 8th-grader from First Colony Middle School competed against 227 other middle-school students. The event was hosted by Danica McKellar, best known as Winnie Cooper on “The Wonder Years” and Elsie Snuffin on “The West Wing,” is now an author of the New York Times best-selling books, “Kiss My Math” and “Math Doesn’t Suck.”

“It was my honor to witness this level of passion for mathematics from these middle-school students,” said McKellar. “Their desire to excel in such a challenging subject is admirable and I hope their accomplishments inspire other students and young people around the world.”

As National Champion, Bobby Shen received the $8,000 Donald G. Weinert Scholarship and a trip to the U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala.

Now in its 26th year, Mathcounts is the only nationwide program that motivates and rewards middle-school students for achievements in math. The program has helped over 6 million students develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Sponsor of the competition, Raytheon Co., Waltham, Mass., supports Mathcounts as a component of its MathMovesU program, an initiative designed to engage U.S. middleschool students in math and science through interactive learning programs, contests, events, scholarships, and tutoring programs.

More information is available at and

Home remedies
You’ll be amazed at how simple these home remedies are.
* Avoid cutting yourself when slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold the vegetables while you chop.
* Avoid arguments with females about lifting the toilet seat — use the sink.
* For high-bloodpressure sufferers: Simply cut yourself and bleed for a few minutes, thus reducing the pressure on your veins. Remember to use a timer.
* A mouse trap placed on top of your alarm clock will prevent you from rolling over and going back to sleep after you hit the snooze button.
* If you have a bad cough, take a large dose of laxatives. You won’t dare cough.
* You only need two tools in life — WD-40 and duct tape. If it doesn’t move and should, use the WD-40. If it shouldn’t move and does, use the duct tape.
* If you can’t fix it with a hammer, you’ve got an electrical problem.

Slip of the tongue
This is rumored to have happened at a well known company.

It was a good-bye luncheon for an old and dear coworker. She was leaving the company due to “downsizing.” Our manager commented cheerfully, “This is fun. We should do this more often.” Not another word was spoken. We all just looked at each other with that deer-in-the-headlights stare.

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