Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Great New York Times link

If you are interested in math but always found it daunting, follow the new series starting today in the New York Times. It sounds like a great introduction to math. Check it out. If it delivers on its promise, it will be well worth your time. It might even be a good read for young students in grade seven or eight. Click the link.

From Fish to Infinity --- NYT

I've always had a certain love for numbers. I can still vividly recall getting scolded in grade one for not memorizing all my multiplication tables. I was asked, "What is five times ten?" I thought for a moment and said, "50." I took a bit too long to answer and so was asked another question from the five times table. This time I took even longer as I answered the question, "What is five times nine?" "45."

The teacher quizzed me, a little boy in grade one, and discovered that I knew how to multiply by ten, just add a zero to the number. I also understood division by two. And I could subtract ones.

To multiply an even number by five I was dividing by two and adding a zero. To multiply an odd number by five I was subtracting one, dividing by two, and finally adding a five as one added a zero when working with ten. Why I thought this was a better approach than simply memorizing the five times multiplication table I'm not sure.

Maybe I thought I had enough math tools. I didn't need anymore. I was just showing an early conservationist bent.
Tomorrow, I am running Part Three: Killing ourselves with an unhealthy lifestyle.

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