Twaddle-Free Math Handouts

For anyone who can’t make it to Peoria this weekend but is still interested in my math workshops — and just in case we run out of handouts at said workshop — I am posting my math handouts here. These are pdf files, so if you have a sluggish dial-up connection like ours (ah, the joys of rural life!), you can right-click and save each file as a download.

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Bill Gates Proportions II

[Feature photo above by Remy Steinegger via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0).]

Another look at the Bill Gates proportion… Even though I couldn’t find any data on his real income, I did discover that the median American family’s net worth was $93,100 in 2004 (most of that is home equity) and that the figure has gone up a bit since then. This gives me another chance to play around with proportions.

So I wrote a sample problem for my Advanced Math Monsters workshop at the APACHE homeschool conference:

The median American family has a net worth of about $100 thousand. Bill Gates has a net worth of $56 billion. If Average Jane Homeschooler spends $100 in the vendor hall, what would be the equivalent expense for Gates?

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Putting Bill Gates in Proportion

[Feature photo above by Baluart.net.]

A friend gave me permission to turn our email discussion into an article…

Can you help us figure out how to figure out this problem? I think we have all the information we need, but I’m not sure:

The average household income in the United States is $60,000/year. And a man’s annual income is $56 billion. Is there a way to figure out what this man’s value of $1mil is, compared to the person who earns $60,000/year? In other words, I would like to say — $1,000,000 to us is like 10 cents to Bill Gates.

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Two Fathoms Deep and Stuck in Muck

“I suppose you are two fathoms deep in mathematics, and if you are, then God help you. For so am I, only with this difference: I stick fast in the mud at the bottom, and there I shall remain.”

— Charles Darwin
quoted in the Platonic Realms collection

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Mathematics and Imagination

Comments by W. W. Sawyer, in his wonderful, little book, Mathematician’s Delight:

Earlier we considered the argument, ‘Twice two must be four, because we cannot imagine it otherwise.’ This argument brings out clearly the connexion between reason and imagination: reason is in fact neither more nor less than an experiment carried out in the imagination.

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Workshop Prep

[Rescued from my old blog.]

Well, here I am in the sickly, wee hours of the pre-dawn, wishing I was asleep but too hyped with stress (or caffeine) to go to bed. I’m speaking at the big state conference in just a few days, so I’m down to crunch time: tweaking explanations, adding transitions, printing out overheads, and still trying to cram in an extra topic or two.

I think I try to pack these workshops way too full of information. The un-written rule for speakers is supposed to be KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid!), isn’t it? I should know that I can’t teach everything I know about a topic in a one-hour workshop, but I find myself thinking, “Oh, I almost forgot about this. They’ll need to know that; it’s important. I wonder where I can fit it in?”

I guess this puts me squarely in the “stupid” category.

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