Remember the Math Adventurer’s Rule: Figure it out for yourself! Whenever I give a problem in an Alexandria Jones story, I will try to post the answer soon afterward. But don’t peek! If I tell you the answer, you miss out on the fun of solving the puzzle. So if you haven’t worked these problems yet, go back to the original post. Figure them out for yourself — and then check the answers just to prove that you got them right.
Picture from MacTutor Archives.
After the Pythagorean crisis with the square root of two, Greek mathematicians tried to avoid working with numbers. Instead, the Greeks used geometry to demonstrate mathematical concepts. A line can be drawn any length, so straight lines became a sort of non-algebraic variable.
You can see an example of this in The Pythagorean Proof, where Alexandria Jones represented the sides of her triangle by the letters a and b. These sides may be any length. The sizes of the squares will change with the triangle sides, but the relationship is always true for every right triangle.
[Image from the MacTutor Archive.]
The story of mathematics is the story of interesting people. What a shame it is that our children see only the dry remains of these people’s passion. By learning math history, our students will see how men and women wrestled with concepts, made mistakes, argued with each other, and gradually developed the knowledge we today take for granted.
In a previous article, I recommended books that you may find at your local library or be able to order through inter-library loan. Now, let me introduce you to the wealth of math history resources on the Internet.
Sitting at home with a cold, tired of watching TV and playing video games, stumbled upon…
A great theorem from math history
Math concepts: subtraction within 100, number patterns, mental math
Number of players: 2 or 3
Equipment: printed hundred chart (also called a hundred board), and highlighter or translucent disks to mark numbers — or use this online hundred chart
Place the hundred chart and highlighter where all players can reach them.
How to Play
- Allow the youngest player choice of moving first or second; in future games, allow the loser of the last game to choose.
- The first player chooses a number from 1 to 100 and marks that square on the hundred chart.
- The second player chooses and marks any other number.
- On each succeeding turn, the player subtracts any two marked numbers to find and mark a difference that has not yet been taken.
- Play alternates until no more numbers can be marked.
More quotations especially for teachers:
There is no Royal Road to Geometry.
Teaching is the royal road to learning.
The title which I most covet is that of teacher. The writing of a research paper and the teaching of freshman calculus, and everything in between, falls under this rubric. Happy is the person who comes to understand something and then gets to explain it.
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