|Hello! I'm Camilla Barry. I founded Barry Scientific when my husband and I created our Barry Scientific Protractor. Besides producing our protractor, I spend most of my time teaching special science classes in a number of elementary and pre-schools in Marin and San Francisco counties. I have also begun traveling to Afghanistan to teach science and train teachers. Barry Scientific partners with my nonprofit, Classrooms Across Cultures, to help bring science and classroom supplies to the recovering Afghan school system. (Read more about this below).|
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David volunteered to teach an afterschool math program at Nick’s elementary school, Edna Maguire. He had developed a great treasure hunt map. The students would use a protractor to find the buried treasure. But no one could use the protractor. He came home very frustrated. He sat at his desk and puttered around until he came up with a model that looked like a pair of scissors or clamps. It was similar to the final version but not as easy to use. He showed me how it worked and it immediately struck me as a big improvement on plain half-moon protractors. Over the next several weeks, I made changes to the basic model, including making it circular, and putting degrees on the back side to measure reflex angles. One of the most important ideas I contributed was the ruled edges. I had discovered on my own that I could use our protractor to make polygons and circle constructions and I was doing this on the first plastic version by marking the edges with pencil to establish equal radii. When we reprinted the next version, we included the ruled edges. I first discovered that when I was using our protractor to create spinning color circles. My students were unable to use a regular protractor to create these circles, but could do so with our protractor.
Every time we used the protractor, students were able to figure it out right away. I used it in my Brownie troop to make spinners for an healthy-exercise game. The first-grade girls were able to make their own spinners.
We had lots of difficulty finding a manufacturer (printer and dye cutter; two different steps) that would take on our project, especially with the back side. They said they couldn't guarantee the accuracy we demanded. Finally we found a pair of manufacturers that could do it. I would visit the dye-cutters before they completed their run to check their work. One of the machine operators asked me what they were making. He didn't know what a protractor was. I found one lying around in their office, which I showed him the old style. Then he remembered, because he remembered how difficult they were to use. He was impressed with how easy ours was to use.
Classrooms Across Cultures (CAC) is a nonprofit that focuses on helping students in areas with poor education opportunities. Currently most of its effort is focused on Afghanistan, where I travel every year to teach science and train teachers there.
I try to create lesson plans that use only locally available materials, both so that the teachers will be able to repeat them once I have gone, and so that I can support the Afghan economy. I do sometimes have to take supplies over, as some items are too difficult to procure in Afghanistan, but are too important not to use. These are items like thermometers, or containers of sodium hydroxide (for making soap), and will usually last the teachers a long time.
I pay for all materials, purchased here or in Afghanistan, with personal funds, plus donations. Donations are necessary to keep my trips going, and all donations (including donations of classroom items) are tax-deductible. Please visit our CAC donations page to see what we need.
To learn more about CAC, please visit our homepage!
David is an attorney, and spends most of his time on contract litigation. He has recently begun a start-up called TrustMLS, and a partner nonprofit, the Open MLS Institute. These two organizations have the goal of creating an open MLS. You can read more about this on their websites.
David is an artisan and enjoys making furniture out of wood and stained glass.
Nicholas is a graduate of UC Davis (March 2007), and is currently employed by the California State Senate, and works for Senator Darrell Steinberg, of Sacramento.
Nicholas, not to be outdone by either of us in terms of hobbies, also has a number of side projects, which also have respectable websites. The two which have received the most effort are University Court Community (universitycourt.wikidot.com), an intentional community at Nick's apartment complex, and Nicksights (nicksights.wikidot.com), a collection of insights from different sources.