Archive for the ‘Senior School’ Category

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5. It’s Too Hard

September 29, 2017

The Complaint:  

It’s too hard!………………

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The Cause:

This response often results when students face some new topic – often beyond numbers – that students can’t handle on auto pilot. Instead of working through the problem, they crash and burn.

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The Solution: 

I’m going to tell you a story. Bear with me for a minute. You did maths from Grade 1 to 6. You’re cool. No major dramas. Then something happens. A new topic, perhaps. Or a new teacher and a new topic. You don’t get it. You sit there looking confused. And then you do this. You say ‘I can’t do maths’( See post here) or ‘It’s too hard’.

In my maths teacher days terror topics were:

Long division

Algebra

Dividing Fractions

Geometry (because so few students listen to what the teacher is saying.)

Trigonometry (Lot of, you know, things to learn. Equations and stuff.)

So you stop doing maths. You retire at the age of, maybe, 13 years.

If you hit the MATHS WALL, here’s what you have to do. Back up a bit. Do some warm up maths on the topic. It’s out there.

eg. The Kahn Academy. I’m not saying it is easy. (See THE MATHS SPEECH here) I’m telling you it is doable. Practise.

Maths is always TOO HARD when you give up. But when you try amazing things can happen.

Besides, if a raccoon can do it.

Here is an exercise that you didn’t think you could do. But it is entirley doable by Middle School students with patience.

Karate Maths of OUCH! That hurts!


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Pi in the Movies

March 8, 2017

Pi Day … 14th March ….. 3.14

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.

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Pi Day Challenge:

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

 

 

 

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Pi on TV

March 8, 2017

1.  The Simpsons

When Marge is accused of stealing from Apu’s Quickie Mart his memory is tested. He says his memory is very good. He can recite pi to 40,000 places!!! Also on Numberphile: A Mile of Pi.

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2.  The Late Show with David Letterman

Maths savant Daniel Tammet explains that he can recite Pi to 22,000 places. But wait until you hear how long it takes. Amaaaazing!!!!!

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3.  Star Trek

Spock sorts out a computer with the command to calculate Pi. Cool!!!!

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4.  Mathletics

Look for the second maths blooper in this clip. The folks at Mathletics get Pi wrong!!!!! Great spotting Mathologer.

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5.  MTV Kate Bush

Some may prefer to listen to Apu reciting Pi to 40,000 decimal places. Nevertheless, here is Kate Bush singing about Pi.

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Crazy Ways to Make Middle School Maths Cool

November 11, 2016

mathspig-crazy-ways-to-make-maths-cool

mathspig-australia-vs-germany

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:

area-of-australia-vs-germany-in-schnauzers

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:

Here are some amazing ways to make middle school maths AMAZING:

1. Defronting the Maths Classroom

2. Amazing German Maths Blog

3. m&ms and Exponential functions

4. Take a Mandelbrot Set Selfie

5. Best Fun with Algebra Ever

6. The Multi-legged Beast that Walks

7. Maths You Hold in Your Hand

8. Are you Maths Blind?

9. Real World Maths Selfies 

10. Magical Music Machine built with Maths

And don’t forget:

Maths News from around the World

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

October 19, 2016

funky-fab-2

Funky, Fab and Fantastic INTRO

IMAGINARY

IMAGINARY is a German website where ART and MATHS combine. It is AMAZING.

Schools, museums, students, anyone can download interactive Computer Programs like MORENAMENTS (below) to create art, maths demonstrations and public exhibitions. IMAGINARY also contains maths/art films, an art gallery, programs for printing 3D-sculptures, maths texts and exercises, and more.

morenaments-interactive-program

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It is FREE.

It is written in ENGLISH.

Here are a few highlights picked by Mathspig, but you have to explore the website yourself.

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SURFER

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 SURFER is a program that allows you to put in any equation and test the resulting 3D image. There is a brief video explaining how it works and you can download the program here.

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WORKSHEETS

You can download worksheets for every school level, but get ready. Here is a worksheet for 5-7 year olds. But why not? Five year olds can look at sheet music without running away screaming, why not show them ALGEBRA too?

imaginary-worksheet-5-7-year-old

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Mathematicians Just Wanna Have Fun

The following videos show mathematicians having fun! If your middle-school students think maths is ‘boring’ show them just one of these videos.

 

Explore IMAGINARY. Enjoy.

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

October 10, 2016

3-funky-fab-and-fantastic

Funky, Fab and Fantastic INTRO

mathspig-at-icme-hamburg-2016Mathspig 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.

The Great m+m ALGEBRA CHALLENGE

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:

mm-equation

Did it work? Check it out below.

www-gifcreator-me_qjuoel

Who knew one family packet had 366 m+ms?

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

mm-table

Here’s the ANSWER:

mm-algebra-challenge-answers

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.

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

August 26, 2016

Mathspig Funky, fab & Fantastic 8

Funky, Fab and Fantastic INTRO

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.

maths-blind-logo

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.