Monday, January 15, 2007

Math Fun

I really like doing math problems, but I realize that most kids, even the ones in my advanced placement class do not share my excitement so I try to come up with ways to interject fun into the lessons. I try to do this by taking everyday stuff, music, television, commercials or movies and try to convince my class that the foundations for these things began with math. Here are a few examples:

Draw a picture--Where do you think Kodak came up with the expression "A picture is worth a thousand words"?

Glade--Plug it in, plug it in, when it is necessary to replace a variable with a different variable or a number.

Jeopardy--When we are curve sketching and we start with the clues from the derivatives and second derivatives and end up with the function.

Related Rates--The Song "One Moment in Time"

Reimann Sums--Beyonce's new hit "To The Left, to the Left"

Removable Discontinuities--Jerry McGuire's "You Complete Me"

The creators of CSI thought of the show by looking for clues in math problems.

I tell my students to save money on movies, go to McDonald's with their friends on a Saturday night. Order from the $1 menu. Take extra place mats and bring plenty of writing utensils. Entertain can be had by figuring out "exciting" problems on the back of the place mat.

I also try to interject real math topics. For example, I tell them how L'Hopital actually stole his rule from the Bournoulli brothers. Of course I embellish it a little, but the idea is still there.

I know this stuff is corny, but it seems to keep the kids entertained and working at the same time.


Jonathan said...

Great stuff.

"You had paper and pencil. How could you have been bored?"

When course II had simple group theory, I used to do a little biography of Galois (the stupidest mathematician who ever lived, I claim)

And of course at the beginning of geometry, when I explain why I constantly say "in the plane" I introduce spherical angles and do the background bit on Lobachevsky and Bolyai. Do you know the Tom Lehrer song?

Pissed Off said...

don't know that one

Jonathan said...

Well, who invented "Lobachevskian" geometry is still debated. The name of the Lehrer song is "Plagiarize"

Something like:
Don't let anyone else's work evade your eyes,
So don't shade your eyes,
But plagiarize
(but remember to call it, "Research")

Jonathan said...

oops, I found the real lyrics. I was close, but the real words are better:
Lobachevsky Lyrics

Pissed Off said...

that was great--thanks

Anonymous said...

I enjoy the Beyonce mneumonic device....that was great...