Courting controversy

Haideh Moghissi, a professor in the Atkinson School of Social Sciences who specializes in fundamentalism and women’s rights in the Middle East, says Muslim clerics in India who condemn tennis star Sania Mirza for her skimpy tennis attire aren’t true guardians of Islam but opportunists who are intent on making political hay, reported the Toronto Star Oct. 25. “This is very, very opportunistic, and we have these people both inside and outside the Islamic world,” Moghissi said. “They are manipulating the grievances of Muslims to basically present themselves as guardians of Islamic moral institutions,” she said. “I don’t think the issue is the issue of sport and Islam.”

NASA scientist launches a new math program

Ellis Whiting, a National Aeronautics and Space Administration scientist who grew up in North Platte, Nebraska, has developed a flash-card system to teach kids math skills, reported the North Platte Telegraph Oct. 23. Whiting received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado and become a navy carrier pilot. After three years of naval service, Whiting accepted a position as research engineer at Ames Research Center. He would subsequently go on to obtain a master’s degree in aeronautics from Stanford University and a doctorate in physics from York University in 1972. His thesis of examining how atoms and molecules react in high-speed entry conditions paved the way for his later work in helping design safer heat shields for vehicles going into space. After some 40 years at Ames, Whiting launched his newest missile: a fun way for kids to master math skills. After volunteering to assist in third- and fourth-grade classrooms in low-income Oakland elementary schools near his home in Saratoga, California, Whiting discovered the power of one-on-one tutoring with flash cards. “Kids would stay behind at recess to play with the cards,” said Whiting, who believes children must master the basic math facts such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division no later than the fourth grade.