21 October 2016

lincoln10-21Dear Citizens,

It’s election season.

Many people try to avoid politics because it’s scary or boring or dispiriting. It’s easy to keep to ourselves and only do our voting on The Voice. But politics is about how we want to live together. What’s more important than that?

My hope for you is that you fully engage in self-government throughout your lives. That means more than just voting. It means learning about the issues, being a good citizen, and running for office.

Abraham Lincoln best summed up what the great experiment of American democracy should look like when he called it a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

20 October 2016

earthsorbit10-10Dear Model Makers,

Yesterday you made models that showed what causes the Earth’s seasons. I love models because they simply but clearly show a process. When you make models, you have to show the really important parts and how they interact.

What you make your model out of doesn’t really matter. For us, Earth was dum-dums and the Sun was a yellow dot. What matters is that you show how the parts are related.


Mr. Heimbuck


19 October 2016

schoolofathens9-7Dear Abstract Thinkers,

In school you learn to make sense with symbols–letters, numbers. Throughout school, we get more and more abstract with those symbols.

In kindergarten you draw pictures of penguins. Then you’ll write and read about penguins. And later you’ll learn  what makes a penguin a penguin. In Kindergarten you count objects. Later you’ll use numbers much bigger than you can ever count. And later you’ll learn about numbers’ attributes.

When we turn the world into symbols, it’s much easier to understand it and share knowledge. But it also reveals another world–a world of knowledge–that is much different than our normal everyday reality.


Mr. Heimbuck

18 October 2016

sunrisesunset10-18Dear Trackers,

You can learn a lot by simply keeping track of things. The universe is full of patterns for humans to discover. The best way to discover these patterns is to pay attention to one thing (like where and when the sun rises and sets) and see how it changes over time.

Big ideas grow out of small pieces of data and observation. From tracking the sun and the stars, scholars could imagine a solar system in which the Earth revolved around the Sun. By watching the moon, scholars could know a lot about it long before we ever stepped foot on it.


Mr. Heimbuck

17 October 2016

sydney10-17Dear Moderns,

For much of human history, individuals didn’t know what was going on beyond their own tribes. They spent their time thinking about surviving in their own world.

Today we know what time the sun rose in Sydney, Australia. And we also know the weather, the population, and the annual rainfall. But do we know more about the lives of Sydneysiders? What do we do with all of this knowledge? Do we use it to make the world a better place for all people or is it just something else we possess?

What are you going to do with all of the knowledge that’s right at your fingertips?


Mr. Heimbuck

11 October 2016

edison10-11Dear Makers,

Our first rule: make it work. That’s a good code to live by. It doesn’t matter what it looks like or what it’s made of. All that matter is that you got it to work. It doesn’t matter that it didn’t work the first time or the tenth time or the ten thousandth time. And it doesn’t matter that it doesn’t quite work as well as you want it to. All that matters is that you got it to work.

And then you make it work better.


Mr. Heimbuck

10 October 2016

books10-10Dear Readers,

Today we’ll talk to one another. We’ll disagree, and we’ll disagree intensely, but we’ll do it with respect and courtesy because we know that both sides want to uncover some central truth about the book we’re reading. We’re not just trying to “win” an argument.

But we’ll also hold each other accountable. We’ll insist that the other person provide evidence, use sound reasoning, and support their case. Our job is to make one another better thinkers and readers, not just ourselves.


Mr. Heimbuck

7 October 2016

pablo10-7Dear Readers,

You have to have big ideas about books. We don’t just read books to read books and hear fun little stories. We read books to grow big ideas about the world. Even though some books aren’t “true” in a literal sense, they tell us something “True” about the world and the people who live in it.

Discover those Truths. Read lots of books. Grow lots of big ideas.


Mr. Heimbuck


6 October 2016

rubybridges10-6Dear Humans,

I hate when people think they know everything about me based on what I’ve done in the past. I’m a complex individual who can change. And it would be even worse if they thought they knew everything about me based only on what I looked like or where my family came from or the way I was born.

Give people a chance to surprise you. Give them the opportunity to change. They might disappoint you, but way more problems in the world have been caused by closed-mindedness than open-mindedness.


Mr. Heimbuck


5 October 2016

byron10-5Dear Reasoners,

In all you do, be slaves to reason. It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing stories that you want to be true. But to use your mind well, you have to investigate everything you hold dear to see if it really is true. Let the facts guide you.

Facts are tricky things. They can hide. They can be doctored. They can be used to trick you. In school we practice weighing evidence, looking closely at proof, and drawing our own conclusions. Those skills will serve you better than any others in your life.


Mr. Heimbuck