Why estimating should be an important part of every math class

“How long does it take you to drive to work” is a very common question asked, have you ever noticed that the answers we get to this question is almost always a range and never a precise single number?  As in “About 15 – 20 minutes” as opposed to “18 minutes”. When it comes to answering questions dealing with quantity (like how long it takes to drive to work) we seem to be incapable of giving a precise single number as answer.  When asked how “How many people showed up to the Christmas party?” we answer “about 100, 150”.  When…

The Man Who Hated Math

Former British Prime Minister Willian Gladstone hated math.  He hated math so much that when he was in university he wrote a letter to his father asking to be transferred to a University that did not offer any classes in math.  As a member of Parliament Gladstone’s father could have easily arranged for a transfer to a “no math” university for his son, but instead he replied “You say that you dislike math, but there is a supreme pleasure to be found in putting all your efforts into a subject that you dislike.  You may be faced with a time…

Subway Map that makes Studying for Advanced Functions Easier!

Studying for an exam in mathematics is not fun for many students.  The biggest complaint I get about studying for a math exam is the amount of concepts that have to be reviewed in order to prepare. I always feel disappointed when I hear students tell me how much anxiety preparing for a math exam is causing them.  As a mathematics teacher I always hope students can see how the concepts we work on over the semester connect with each other (wishful thinking on my part I know!) .  Ideally by the time exams come around they understand the concepts so well (because they see the connection between…

Unnecessary division limiting progress in mathematical education

When I was in school, mathematics was the king of the education world.  Few questioned its importance. Students who excelled at the subject were perceived to be “smart”, and were often praised for their work ethic as they practiced math problems from a textbook or worksheet on a daily basis . Even if many students did not fully understand why it was so highly regarded ,  they accepted the fact that math was THE academic subject. Fast forward to 2016, math is now struggling to hang on to its identity of being one of the most important subjects we learn in school. These days many students seem to ask why…

Do the statistics prove that Stephen Curry is a three point shooting genius?

It was one of the best highlights of the 2015 – 2016 NBA season.  February 27 2016, Golden State vs Oklahoma, 4 seconds left in the overtime … game tied, 118 – 118.  Golden State guard and league MVP Stephen Curry dribbles the ball up court along the left side.  Three point three seconds left … Curry reaches half court.     Two point nine seconds … Curry has taken about two steps past the half court line (about 10 feet behind the three-point line and about 33 feet from the basket) and decides he is close enough to the basket to…

How the Pythagorean Theorem says the Blue Jays will win the American League East Division!

I’ll bet you might still remember the Pythagorean Theorem from grade 9 math class.  You know the one that related the sides of the any right angle triangle with a2 + b2 = c2, where c is the “hypotenuse” while a & b are the lengths of the other two sides.  You’ve probably even know how to use it to solve “find the length of the missing side” problems.  What you may not know is that it is actually able to help you make remarkably accurate predictions about how many games a baseball team will win based on how many…