In Episode 56 of Wrong, But Useful, we’re joined by @zoelgriffiths (Zoe Griffiths), maths communicator from Think Maths.
As our editing window draws to a close, we estimate we’ve increased the proportion of quotes from women on Wikiquote: Mathematics from 4/158 (~2.5%) to 31/185 (~16.7%). Still plenty of work to do if you want to carry on!
— The Aperiodical (@aperiodical) May 12, 2018
@icecolbeveridge @reflectivemaths I told my husband about your noughts and crosses puzzle and now he’s made this. He’s promised to make a 4d version as soon as I find him a 4d printer… pic.twitter.com/RX3YRL6JF7
— Sam Hartburn (@SamHartburn) May 9, 2018
I’ve got to admit: I am proud of this cake. pic.twitter.com/CIeFMgeS9S
— Zoe Griffiths (@ZoeLGriffiths) May 13, 2018
I was catching up on Wrong But Useful, and had some thoughts on the discussion of maths in school in episode 51.
The thing which always sticks in my mind about school maths was the word “simplify”, which cropped up everywhere but didn’t seem to have any consistent meaning. One question might ask to “simplify” x^2 + 8x + 15, expecting the answer (x + 5)(x + 3), whilst another might ask to “simplify” (x + 5)(x + 3) and expect the answer x^2 + 8x + 15 (or at least it seemed that way to me at the time).
I get that questioners don’t want to give too much away (e.g. by saying “multiply out” or “factorise”), but as maths teachers/tutors do you know if the curriculum uses the word “simplify” to mean anything other than “rewrite this expression in some non-trivial way that you’ve been taught”?
Tangentially, in computer science we often say ‘simplify’ as a synonym for ‘run’, when the expression is a piece of code. That works since the equations in a program are usually ‘directed’, e.g. “x + 0 = x” will cause occurrences of “+ 0” to be eliminated, but it doesn’t cause “+ 0” to get introduced anywhere. This makes “simplifying” unambiguous. In algebra the equations ‘go both ways’, so it’s ambiguous as to what “simplify” actually means.
Materials: 2 dice, graph paper, a colored pencil or crayon for each player, scratch paper (for totaling scores)
Object: Cover the largest area by placing
rectangles on graph paper
How to Play: Alternate turns. On a turn, a player rolls
two dice and draws a rectangle using the numbers rolled
as the length and width on graph paper. For example, if
the numbers rolled are 2 and 3, the player draws a 2 by 3
Play continues until a player can’t place a rectangle. Both
players add the areas of all of their rectangles, and the
highest score wins.
What fraction is shaded? pic.twitter.com/f4kAjoX4C7
— Ed Southall (@solvemymaths) April 23, 2018