Jan 09 2016

Fractions Made Visible – and Fun

Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons The aptly named website, “Visual Fractions,” shows fraction concepts and operations the way I teach them – from a visual basis. Although it is standard for math curricula to introduce fractions visually, most of them drop the visualization too early. Worse, when many children are just starting to grasp these concepts, they are expected to move onto the next ones before they have practiced and explored enough to feel confident and remember what they need to do. The “Visual Fractions” website not only… Read more

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Sep 16 2014

Cash Gifting Systems Exploit Math Illiteracy

Category: MathematicsAdmin @ 8:17 pm

Math-phobic children often grow up to be math-phobic adults. Math-phobic adults are sometimes exploited for their money, even if they do not have much of it. Although Spark a Playful Mind is mostly about children and learning, I want discuss one of the many “get-rich-quick” schemes my friend recently introduced me to, because it shows the value of playing with mathematics in grown-up life. This one falls into the category of a “cash gifting system” (known also by similar names, such as the “cash tracking system”). It is a variation on… Read more

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Sep 16 2014

A Simplistic Mathematical Model of a Cash Gifting System

Category: MathematicsAdmin @ 1:58 pm

Introduction A gifting system, in its purist form, sells no goods or services, but promises to make you money through the people you recruit to sign up. Below is a simple mathematical model showing how, in principle, such a system cannot go on forever. There will always be people who lose money. On the other hand, there will also be people who make money (so why not you?) The model below is unrealistic because it does not concentrate money in the hands of the few the way real-world gifting systems operate. My model is the best one could… Read more

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Aug 04 2012

New Discoveries in Oobleck Science

Category: ScienceAdmin @ 9:51 am

If you have not ever seen anyone jog on a mixture of corn starch and water – “oobleck” – check out the video from the Spanish TV show, "El Hormiguero," included in Wired Magazine’s July 11, 2012 online article, "Defying Gravity: When Strange Liquids Act Like Solids." Water and cornstarch combine to form what in scientific circles is called a non-Newtonian fluid – a viscous fluid (sticky, slow-flowing) that doesn’t always act like we usually expect liquids to behave. When you apply sudden pressure to oobleck, the stuff… Read more

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