We are good at graphs in maths, even funny graphs, but we often forget the power of story telling. Here’s a story about HOW NOT TO DO your MATHS HOMEWORK*.
*NOTE: Homework has never been recorded as the cause of death of a 13 year old.
Read longer version of Hugo Does His Homework here.
I started my maths workshop in Hamburg by stirring up some friendly rivalry. And what better way to do this than by using statistics.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
Here’s the ANSWER:
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.
You will find the background pattern here.
The absolute delight of Spurious Correlations is its craziness. Tyler Vigen is studying law at Harvard Law School, but he puts together the most ridiculous data you can imagine to show the correlation between eg. Per capita cheese consumption AND the number of people who died by getting tangled in their bed sheets, people who drowned after falling out of a fishing boat AND the marriage ration Kentucky. Of course, what Tyler is demonstrating is the basic maths principle, mathspiggies, that correlation is not causation. Here is one of his fabulous graphs:
Here is one graph from Spurious Correlati0ns (above) and the cover of Tyler’s New Book (below).
Math with Bad Drawings is run by Ben Orlin. He describes himself as ‘a math maths teacher in Birmingham, England. Before that, I taught in Oakland, California. I’ve taught (or am currently teaching!) every level of mathematics from ages 12 to 18.’
Not only is Ben’s humorous and fascinating take on maths interesting, his philosophy of life is worth a read too. e.g. We are all simultaneously experts and beginners, flaunting our talents while trying to cover our shortcomings the way an animal hides a wound.’
Here are two delightful examples of his maths with bad drawings:
Randall Munroe is a pro web cartoonist, maths nut and maths guru who answers crazy hypothetical questions using maths. His home website is xkcd.
His TED lecture is here.
Randall offers this warning to his KXCD blog: this comic occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors). Of course, this makes his blog even more interesting. Maths, profanity and silly humour. Bring it on.
How What if? blog asks and answers interesting questions:
What would happen if I dug straight down, at a speed of 1 foot per second? What would kill me first?
Could a bird deliver a standard 20″ New York-style cheese pizza in a box? And if so, what kind of bird would it take?
Here is one example:
And his book What if? Can be found here.
The joy of Yan’s One Minute Math blog is his eclectic collection of topics from . Kow-Cheong Yan is a Singapore-based teacher, math consultant, math blogger and maths book author (Grade 1- 6).
The Lighter Side of Innumeracy gives an insight into maths incompetence and superstition in Singapore. It shows that charlatans can still prey on the innumerate. And Yan’s critique of Drill-and-Kill texts promoted in Singapore is refreshing in an age where politicians are forever calling for Back-to-basics teaching methods for maths.
But my favourite post on Yan’s blog is;
Mathematical Fiction is not optional. The number of novels using maths as a theme is inspiring especially with Yan adding a comment like this:
If you’re looking for math, women, sex, and back-stabbing, The Wild Numbers (Philibert Schogt) is a math melodrama unlikely to disappoint.
Mathjokes4mathyfolks is run by my good math(s) friend Patrick Vennebush, who lives in Virginia with his wife, twin boys and his Golden Retriever Remy. He loves math(s), laughing and telling jokes. He also runs online projects for National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
Patrick believes math(s) should be fun and his blog includes jokes, problems and real-life challenges. His collection of jokes is published in a book and cover the gamete from cool to Dad-style jokes. Here’s an example:
Here are some examples from his blog:
Angle of Opportunity looks at the angle a boy should pee in the toilet bowl without splatter fallout!!!!
Here is Math Fail on Facebook. And here is the Math Fail blog run by Self proclaimed Math Geek Mike, who explains that in addition to math fails, you will find a huge collection of geeky math jokes, interesting math facts, dumb math news, puzzles, speed math advice, math related comics, funny math pictures and more!! (It is not a Cheeseburger Fail blog.)
It is just a fun blog to explore. Here are some examples.
Who can be offended? They’re just numbers!!!!
Debbie O’Sullivan’s pinterest stream Math Puns/Jokes is worth a visit or two.
The Math Cartoons & Humor is pinterest run by Jiji the penguin. Actually, the penguin didn’t do it. Jiji the penguin is the mascot of STMath, a commercial education system that teaches math visually, and with minimum language, in the USA. Here are some examples of the humor:
Mashup Math is mind blowing from its math philosophy to its eclectic approach. Anthony Persico runs MashUp Math. He has taught in NY, VA, and CO and runs a YouTube channel. He believes in inclusive math education,that all students learn math differently and that the one-size-fits-all approach is ineffective. The worksheets, teacher resources supplied via mathmashup are FREE!
Here is the Facebook link to Mathmashup:
This is a screen shot of his roller coaster youtube clip on gradient or slope!!!
Here is his Mathsmashup You Tube channel (above), which is designed to help visual learners.
Here are some amazing sports stats (above) from the LA Times. Basketball Legend Kobe Bryant’s 30,699th and final field goal came from 19 feet with 31 seconds left against the Utah Jazz. This picture below shows every one of the 30,699 goals he scored. AMAAAAAAZING!
Math Antics Youtube Channel is run by, Rob and Jeremy, who are both funny and clear in their maths clips, which are directed mainly at Middle school. The youtube lessons are free, but Rob and Jeremy do charge teachers US$20 for a year of worksheets.
Their Math Antics website is here.
Base 10 video screen grab.
Order of Operations Screen grab.
Background pattern found here.
Botanica Mathematica is a Mathematical knitting blog with patterns included run by Dr Julia Collins and Haggis the Sheep.
The Mathematician’s Shirts! is a creative maths blog run by Julia Collins and Madeleine Shepherd. Yes! The same Julia Collins as above. It is a small collection of shirts but Big on imagination and this project is something middle school students could tackle using an old shirt. More on Flikr here.
The Division by Zero blog is very mathsy. Seriously mathsy. It is run by David Richeson, Professor of Mathematics at Dickinson College. Even though it involves tertiary level maths it is full of curiosities about maths such as this gem below:
I particularly loved the post about Gabriel’s Horn:
And pictures of Gabriel’s horn made out of paper cones. Gabriel’s horn is the surface obtained by revolving the curve y = 1/x for x> or = 1/2 about the -axis. Mathematics professors ‘wow’ introductory calculus students by sharing its paradoxical properties: it has finite volume, but infinite surface area. As they say, “you can fill it with paint, but you can’t paint it.”
The Golden Arches get a working over as well. Are they based on a parabola, Catenary (strung up chain hanging under it’s own weight) or other. It turns out it is other … the Golden Arches fit an ellipse.
Visualising Math is a terrific Tumblr feed run by Monica Anuforo and Casey M. both college maths students from Minnesota, USA. I think Monic’a comments on the blog tell us all how important it is to engage Middle School students.
Monica Anuforo: Hello! I’m an 19 year old Nigerian-American female. Obviously, I’m a fan of mathematics. I was one of those people who were lucky enough to find out that MATH IS AWESOME as early as middle school as opposed to later in life.
The Tumblr feed is a fabulous collection of mathematical images including fractals, gifs and jokes. Some of these images (See below) could be drawn, coloured or constructed by Middle School students so they too can discover that maths is awesome!!!
Math for Lovers is an anonymous Tumblr feed run by Kcmr. It is an eclectic collection of maths art, gifs and jokes. While it hasn’t been updated for awhile the images are still worth exploring. Here are just two:
Faig Ahmed is an internationally recognized artist from Baku, Azerbaijan, who represented Azerbaijan at the Venice Biennale in 2007. He is well known for his conceptual works that utilize traditional decorative craft and the visual language of carpets into contemporary sculptural works of art.
Cut and paste novel wall art at etsy.
You have to love a maths blog that announces:
This is why geometry is important kids. It can blow your mind.
This is a brilliant clip of Klemens Torggler’s kinetic art door based on rotating squares. The special invention makes it possible to move the object sideways without the use of tracks.
Math is Beautiful,a maths tumblr stream, is oldish and seriously mathsy but some of the stunning visual images and interesting gifs would intrigue Middle school students. e.g. The image below is a screen grab of a circle of dots that rolls around the circumference inside a bigger circle …. but … but .. but … the gif shows that the dots actually only move along the diameters marked. Fas-kin-ating!
Here is another screen shot (above) of a gif tagged ‘I cannot stop staring at this. Try it. Your mind will be taken over by a higher power.
The Advanced Geometry Tumblr stream is a stunning visual feast combining art, geometry and design. By art I mean … could be arty but naked bodies. But exploring the imagery is simply inspiring.
Randomly Generated Polygonal Insects by ‘Istvan’ for NeonMob
Susan Lombardo created the Math and Fiber blog for students in an upper division college geometry course. The beauty of this blog it gives step by step instructions on how to create a crocheted coral reef, adds the maths behind the project and many interesting links.
CONSERVATION CROCHET Project at the University of Washington
Also check out Hyperbolic Crochet Blog of a Palestinian Maths teacher. Daina Taimina combines math education, knitting and crochet and her love of art in her book Crocheting Adventures with the Hyperbolic Planes. This blog also provides a fascinating looking at math taught in a different language and script!!!!!!
The Virtual Math Museum links you to some of the most fabulous maths artists in the world including:
Brian Johnston and his Hydrogen Orbital (above)
and Luc Bernard and his Kuen’s Surface:
A Meditation on Euclid, Lobachevsky, and Quantum Fields.
And more ….