# Category archives for math

I see that Doug at Nanoscale Views has fond memories of the hit show The Mechanical Universe. If you have never seen this show, it is quite excellent (even if old). Perhaps the best thing about The Mechanical Universe is that it might be the best that traditional lecturing can provide. Oh, I know it…

# An estimation problem for math teachers

You thought I was going to talk about a problem that math teachers could use, didn’t you? Well, maybe math teachers can use this. (note: when I say “teachers” I really mean “learning facilitators”) It all started when I read this valedictorian speech from Erica Goldson. Here is part of it: “I am now accomplishing…

# “I hate math”

I don’t hate math, that is just the title of the post – notice that I put it in quotes. As you may know, I teach this physics course for elementary education majors (using Physics and Everyday Thinking – which is awesome). The curriculum has very little math in it. That is not necessarily a…

# Maxima can be useful

The other day I found myself faced with six equations that needed to be solved algebraically. Just so you know, I am a big fan of paper for most of these cases – but this was out of control. I was making silly mistakes and causing all sorts of problems. What to do? My first…

# Right Hand Rule: Don’t hurt yourself

It is that part of the semester where the Right Hand Rule (RHR) comes out. Really, the best part is the students taking the tests. They make all these funny motions with their hands. That makes tests more entertaining (for me) than they usually are. What is the RHR? Suppose I have two numbers. Maybe…

# Where is the Maths Department?

I was having a discussion with my father about the budgetpocalypse for universities. I don’t know how it came up, but he asked: “What college is the department of Math in?” At Southeastern Louisiana University, the Department of Math is in the College of Science and Technology. Here is a paraphrase of our conversation. Me:…

# Experimental Rope Logarithms

Sue from Math Mama Writes… sent me an email about wrapping a rope around a pole. In that post, Sue thinks about rope looped around a post. When you wrap a rope around a post, the friction between the rope and the post can help you hold something (like a horse) that is much stronger…

# Does everyone need math?

This is a question that comes up every now in then. But I would like to ask a few similar questions with my first order approximation answers. I would love to hear some other ideas on these questions. Do people need a functional understanding of math to function in this world? I say no. Maybe…

# Greater is Greater

I gave the following question on my last physical science (physical science for non-science majors) test: Block A has a mass of 10 kg and volume of 100 cm3. Block B has a mass of 1 kg and a volume of 1 cm3. Which block has the greater density? Which block has the greater volume?…

# Activities for Pi Day

Oh, I know you missed it. Really, it wasn’t your fault. Pi day fell on a Sunday, so how are you supposed to have pi-day activities in class? Don’t let it stop you. You are better than that. Do the activity anyway. What to do? Here are some suggestions. (Suggestions aimed mostly at the high…