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**They take their maths seriously in Germany. They have monuments to mathematicians. They name streets after mathematicians. They take maths into shopping malls.**

**They think maths is so important they even put maths on stairs. Here is some times tables art from Germany.**

**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.

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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** 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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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?

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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.

**Maths involved: **

***length of xylphone keys. These will be accurately measured to produce the correct note. Ditto width and thickness.**

***rate of rotation of gears, wheels**

***parabolic path of marble falling on xylophone keys**

***ratios of gear wheels**

***statistics. The marbles do not always bounce indentically off the keys. So the cup needs to be big enough to capture – what?- 99.99% of the bouncing marbles. I think less. You can count the number of marbles – ball bearings – that have escaped. You can see them on the floor at the end of the video. So you can calculate the % that escape.**

***timing (Each element of the machine has to be timed to create the musical effect. Not chaos.)**

***Engineering Maths: Strength of laminate. This will have been tested by the manufacturer. Laminates have a much greater tensile strength than one piece of wood. **

***Computer Cutting: A program exists to accurately cut out those wheels from a laminate.**

***Cost**

***How do you buy 2,000 marbles (ball bearings)? Do you count them? You would buy them by weight.**

***Any more suggestions?**

The challenge is to make CGI hair look real. This isn’t easy. Some CGI hair doesn’t need maths because it doesn’t move. Some CGI is just ugly. Eg.

More from the worst video game hair cuts ever here and here.

In the world of CGI hair, curly hair is the challenge. It is difficult to model.

According to Pixar animators:

Hair curls due to the way it is grown. Curly hair is almost like a ribbon, while straight hair is more tubular.

(Mike Seymour,Brave New Hair Fxguide)

You will find detailed maths used by Pixar to model Merida’s hair here.

So straight hair swishes and curly hair springs or bobs.

Ariel, the Little Mermaid, was meant to have curly hair, but animators stuck with a ‘flowing block’ of hair. Before Ariel Disney Princess often had up-dos.

Progress was made with Merida’s hair in the Disney/Pixar animation BRAVE. See BRAVE NEW HAIR WIRED and fxguide.

According to Rachel Gross of Wired Magazine in 2009 Chung’s team designed a new simulator named Taz, after the wild Looney Tunes character. It forms individual coils around computer-generated cylinders of varying lengths and diameters. The resulting locks stretch out when Merida runs but snap back into place as soon as she stops. Add a little randomness, some gravity, and more than 1,500 hand-placed corkscrews and flyaway wisps and voilà: hair with depth and texture viewers have never seen before. The result may look wild, but it’s not. “It’s very stylized, very controlled,” Chung says. No hair spray required.

Rachel Newar explained last year in the Scientific American that physicists have modeled the movement of a single curly hair.

But, co-author Pedro Reis, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and of civil and environmental engineering at MIT noted. “ the geometry of a curly hair is highly nonlinear— a word we often use for something complicated.”

The model could also calculate curvature of steel pipes or other spooled material. “We were engineers trying to solve practical, useful problems from the start,” Reis says. “I’m not a professional hairstylist—I’m bald, actually.”

More @ Mashable Video here.

And, from Stanford, if you’ve ever been curious this is what a curly hair algorithm looks like ie. It is a computer program for curling graphic hair.

In the 1980’s American restaurant chain A&W were going to kick Mcdonald’s marketing butt. How? Instead of a quarter pounder burger they brought out and promoted a third pounder!!!! The promo failed. Why? Americans didn’t get fractions. More frightening, in Why do Americans stink at maths?, Elizabeth Green, The New York Times ( 23 JUL 2014) was the US study that found 17 percent of medication errors were caused by maths mistakes made by doctors or pharmacists.

Meanwhile students in Australia, USA and the UK are dropping out of maths like flies.

**Something is seriously wrong with the way we teach maths.**

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Politicians around the world use education to win votes. We will raise numeracy standards they promise. Of course, this may not help your child, just the state averages.

Nevertheless, Back to Basics concepts are being pushed in the UK, USA and Australia by politicians.

In 2009 Obama backed “common standards” and “common core” curriculum in maths supported by $USA 4 Billion in grants. (Why do Americans stink at maths?, Elizabeth Green, The New York Times, 23 JUL 2014).

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Later this year a new ‘**Back to Basics’** Curriculum will be rolled out in the UK with an emphasis on times tables and mental maths. (Schools must go back to basics to raise maths standards, Graeme Paton, The Telegraph, UK, 18 FEB 2014)

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Australia has introduced a National Curriculum and National Testing (NAPLAN) in numeracy and literacy in recent years. The current government just put up $22 million to back **Direct Instruction** in Indigenous Schools across Qld, NT and WA (Noel Pearson’s learning engine, Jamie Walker, The Australia, 5 JUL 2014) **Direct Instruction** is a commercial product involving very rigid and proscriptive Back to Basics curriculum and testing program from National Institute of Direct Instruction based in Eugene, Oregon.

Teachers use strict guidelines and must keep within the program. Eg:

Maybe. It depends on what you are measuring. Students can improve some maths skills. The work sheets are very clear and that is to be applauded. And so, in time, standards may rise on paper.

But there are still two huge problems.

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Firstly, there is the McMath Element. Do you want Pythagoras with that quarter pounder? Repetitive, pre-packaged, parrot-style learning is easily forgotten. According to Professor Roediger professor of psychology at Washington Uni ‘effortful, varied practice builds mastery’. (How tests make us smarter, New York Times, 18 Jul 2014).

Secondly, rigid drilling is boring. Students grind through the exercise after exercise being constantly reminded that maths is dry, dull and boring on a coma-inducing scale. Students will, as is the current trend, drop maths as soon as they can.

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According to Peter Sullivan, Professor of Mathematics Edu at Monash University students drop maths because it is:

But it is not just students who find maths boring. Teachers who are forced to adopt rigid, repetitive and monotonous prepackaged courses also become disillusioned.

I’m sitting in a Grade 3 classroom in a remote Indigenous School on Elcho Island off the coast of NT. (Last week I ran some fun/creative workshops for staff.) The young enthusiastic teacher (with the help of two indigenous interpreters) was teaching the students to count to 10 and write the numbers from 1 – 10.

Students arrive at school speaking only the local Indigenous language. They must acquire literacy skills in their own language before they are taught English in Grade 4. There is a good deal of catching up to be achieved in numeracy skills. Many Indigenous languages only name the numbers 1, 2, 3 and many. The teachers on the island are familiar with the difficulties facing their students and work hard with empathy and enthusiasm to overcome multiple disadvantages of their students.

Teachers on the island have developed extraordinary resources and creative programs to engage their students in learning maths. Imposing a rigid curriculum regeme like Direct Instruction on Elcho Island schools will further disadvantage the students and also demoralize the dedicated staff.

Here are two teaching methods that are not only flexible and fun, they have been proven to work in the classroom.

Kathy Walker is an Australian educator, author and early years curriculum expert. Her books include What’s the Hurry? and Play Matters. The Walker Learning Approach, which is used in many schools around Australia including Elcho Island, is an evidence-based strategy that encourages play-based discovery and learning as well as explicit instruction in numeracy and literature (K – Year 8). More here.

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Magdalene Lampert, until recently professor of education at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and author of “Teaching Problems and the Problems of Teaching , has replaced ‘answer-getting’ with ‘sense-making’.(Why do Americans stink at maths?, Elizabeth Green, The New York Times, 23 JUL 2014)

She advocates incorporating communication in maths as ‘being able to explain your thinking so that someone else grasps your ideas’ improves your undestanding ( as any teacher knows from their own experiences in front of the classroom.)

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Yeah! MATHS: Guaranteed to be boring one day and scary the next but always a complete waste of time – there’s a product that’s not going to sell.

Let teachers teach. This should be a campaign slogan to put maths teaching back into the hands of the people, who know what is going on in the classroom. Imposing rigid regimes on teachers is counter productive as the teachers become as bored, as angry and as disenfranchised as their students. I mean ‘why bother?’ We need teachers with passion, enthusiasm and creativity to teach maths, not Mathsbots pre-programmed by politicans to win votes.

Politicians do not teach your children. Teachers do. If politicians and the bureaucracy make teachers lives miserable, this misery will be passed onto their students … Your children. There must be checks and balances – and cliches, I guess – but it is the teacher who passes on their love or hatred of maths to your children. If the community gives teachers the chance to teach maths creatively and with humour, they will take up the challenge and your child will benefit.

I was taught by a young and enthusiastic Maths teacher at a small rural hgh school in the sixties. That’s almost 50 years ago – OMG! Don’t do the maths. His name was Barry Underhill.