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]

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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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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