March 8, 2017

# Pi Day celebrates an AMERICAN Pi because:

## 1. AUSTRALIA and UK:

Australia and UK write their dates DD/MM/YY and the 14th March or 14.3 is nothing to get excited about.

## 2. EUROPE

Pi in Europe is pronounced Pee. So 14th March Would be

# Pee Day.

And Pee Day would not be something to encourage in Middle School. Also the perfume below is hilarious in Europe.

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Nevertheless, here are 2 interesting appearances by Pi in the movies plus a middle school challenge to count the Pi’s in the movie clip.

# 1. A Beautiful Mind

In this movie where Russell Crowe plays Mathematician Nobel Laureate John Nash, there is a maths  blooper involving Pi. Watch for pi on the window at 43 seconds.

You should have seen 0<π<1. But we all know π = 3.1415 etc.  For those mathematically fastidious an argument can be put that π can be used as a variable, which would make the statement true. But π is a universal constant so using π as a variable is just STUPID.

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# 2. Pi: The Movie

This 1998 psychological thriller promo clip is also the coolest maths promo you will ever see. It is only 1.42 mins long and it is big on π. But be warned the full lenght moive (SPOILER ALERT) involves madness, π and self-lobotomising with a power drill with a ‘happy’ ending.

# Pi Day Challenge:

How many times do you see π in this clip? Watch carefully!!!!!

## Crazy Ways to Make Middle School Maths Cool

November 11, 2016

I started my maths workshop in Hamburg by stirring up some friendly rivalry.  And what better way to do this than by using statistics.

# Which is the biggest country?

Australia is 21.5 times the area of Germany. So I counted off 22 workshop participants and pointed to one saying ‘Your’re Germany! Ha!’ Here’s another way to compare areas:

# Which country has the largest population?

Germany has 3.5 times the population of Australia.

But the really interesting questions are:

Who drinks more beer?

Who eats more meat?

Here are the answers to these and other interesting questions from the introduction to my workshop with apologies to Brisbane and Perth:

# Maths News from around the World

## 3. Funky, Fab and Fantastic. Yeah! That’s Middle School Maths

October 10, 2016

Mathspig tried the m&m Algebra Challenge in her ICME 13 Workshop in Hamburg.

BUT … I bought PEANUT m&ms. OH Nooooooooo!

They were the WRONG SHAPE. Deformed m&ms bounced everywhere. All I could do was collect the m&ms in my gloved hands and hand them out to the workshop participants. They seemed to enjoy the failure.

But Mathspig does not give up that easily.

Here is the m&m ALGEBRA CHALLENGE with PLAIN m&ms.

# Method:

1. Open a packet of PLAIN m&ms. (Wear white Gloves like the m+ms)

2. TIP onto table. (Put a few books around the edge to define an area.)

3. Sort the m&ms into:

m -UP pile.

m-DOWN pile.

4. REMOVE the m-UP pile.

5. PICK up m-DOWN pile and TIP again.

6. REPEAT until only 1 m+m is left.

The pattern should follow the exponential equation here:

Did it work? Check it out below.

Who knew one family packet had 366 m+ms?

You’ll find a worked ‘theoretical’ example here.

Try it. Middle school students have to see

that applying maths in the real world can be tricky but logical.

And a lot of FUN too.

## 8. Funky, Fab and Fantastic. Yeah! That’s Middle School Maths.

August 26, 2016

One reason why students think maths is a waste of time is because they do not see it in their world. It’s not just middle school students. We are all maths blind.

Here is the challenge. At the beginning of your next maths class:

Ask your students what ‘mathsy’ thing they have on them and see what happens. Mathspig started her ICME 13 Workshop with that question and maths teachers from around the world struggled to answer. Here is what happened.

More ideas below.

Note: I missed the significance of ‘Standing on the Shoulders of Giants’ Quote. It was from the great mathematician Sir Isaac Newton, 1776.

More Maths on or around you:

*food snacks: nutrition information, calories, cost.

*medication: recommended dose, concentration eg. 5 mg, quantity, cost.

*room temperature: weather forecast.

*Light Bulbs: Watts, brightness (lumens, inverse quadratic function)

*Flooring: Wood (parallel lines), carpet (tessellations), coefficient of friction (Don’t want people to slip in the wet).

*Windows, doors: Hinges (Fulcrum, Effort as a Hyperbolic function), opening/closing door is an equation of a circle, angles, fly screens (pattern), windows (pulleys sometimes), handles (knob or lever impacts on effort)

Table/desk/chair: Based on statistics to fit majority of students.

Leaning back on chair: Centre of Gravity. Watch out.

Sharpening pencil: Circular motion, sharpness of blade reduces force needed. Why?

Pens, books dropping on floor: Good old gravity. Works every time. Quadratic fn.

Fonts: Size. Based on statistics for readability. Watch the small print.

Jewellery: Geometric shapes & patterns, but also symmetry of diamond facets, weight of diamonds in carats, purity of gold in carats (different carat).

Zips: Interlocking pattern hopefully not interlocking with your skin.

Heating: Flow rate, cost, vent locations.

Architecture: Of building involves length, height, area and cost.

External Noise: Wall thickness. Sound proofing.

Rubbish: Recycling. Why do it?

Tights: You buy them using a height weight graph on the back of the packet.

## 9. Funky, Fab and Fantastic. Yeah! That’s Middle School Maths.

August 26, 2016

Here is a fabulous idea for prompting students to ‘see’ maths in the world. This activity was designed by Axelle Person Faughn, North Carolina University (Below).

The idea is simple.

Ask students to take pictures of maths they see in their lives. The photos below were taken by Axelle’s students.

Alternatively, you can give students an equation and ask them to find a picture representing that equation. Axelle gave Mathspig a slip of paper with the words ‘Demonstrate limits’. I sent back a picture of curly hair and a link to the equation of a helix.

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Is that pasta really a Sine Curve?