LEaRning can bE fUn!

1/24/2006 10:45:00 pm

Bud Hunt wrote (Lost) a post that got me thinking. (Y'know what they call a mathematician who goes south for the winter? .... a Tan Gent. ;-))

We're planning our next Pi Day (March 14, 3.14) celebration (we eat pie at 1:59 and 26 seconds; 3.1415926.... and tell bad math jokes -- like the one up there^) around the Mystery Coin Hunt. I got the idea from MIT last year. We've got 6 students on the committee already, one of whom helped out last year. This year we'll run two hunts concurrently; one for students and one for teachers and alumni. (Last year a teacher team won and the students felt cheated.)

I've been tossing around another idea based on Dan Brown's website. The idea would be to have a group of students design a web hunt similar to Dan Brown's where the solver has to solve a problem from each unit we've studied in the course. Each solution would lead to the next problem until the entire course had been reviewed.

I've also been quietly lurking on this blog. I hope to one day find the time to figure out a way to apply to my math classes the kind of educational gaming that Jean-Claude Bradley does with his Chemistry classes at the University of Drexel. (Drexel is fairly well known in math circles.)

Just yesterday I stumbled across Bill Kerr's (a colleague from nonscholae.org) website where he's posted resources that he uses to teach computer programming in the context of game design. Something else for me to explore when I have the time.

I've been blogging with my classes for about a year now. A Difference went online about 11 months ago. This is my 100th post at A Difference so I thought I'd do something special.

The title is a puzzle. I will send something "nice" to the first person who emails me the correct solution.

Your challenge:

How is the title tangentially related to π Day?

Happy hunting! ;-)

The name of one of my mathematical heros has "the end in the beginning and the beginning in the end." (There's a spoiler in the comments below.) How is my hero connected to π?

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  1. I would be happy to work with you to create a math application for EduFrag. The game is designed in a modular way so that the content creators do not have to know anything about map building in Unreal Tournament. All you have to do is create 256x256 pixel bitmaps (256 colors) that are either true or false. Paint is a very convenient program for doing this. I think this would work extremely well with math because, like organic chemistry, it is easily represented graphically.

  2. Darren,

    Here's something I found trying to solve your question. It's from the Missourri Council of Math Teachers.

    "The First Use of PI" Did you ever have a student ask Where did p come from? I often answered with a little history back to the Babylonians. But another spin to the question might be that of who first used the symbol p for the all-familiar value of pi. Asking math students to do a little historical research can easily result in more than a few moans. You can motivate their interest by examining The Pi Trivia Game by Eve Anderson at http://www.eveandersson.com/trivia/to create a competitive classroom challenge, and knowing your pi
    history is a helpful edge in this trivia game. High school students will find that this website challenges their knowledge of pi. You will certainly want to add this website to your activities on March 14, Pi Day. The sixteenth letter of the Greek alphabet, p, was first used for the familiar value 3.1415� in the publication �Synopsis Palmariorium Mathesios�, authored by William Jones in 1706. The selection of p was from the Greek word perimetrog meaning surrounding perimeter. Synopsis Palmariorium Mathesios was a text that included some lessons related to Newton�s fluxions among several other mathematical topics. William Jones was born on a small farm in Wales in 1675. Little is known of his formal education. However, it
    is known that he taught mathematics on a British ship in
    the Indies, and later tutored the future President of the Royal Society, Thomas Parker.Jones also published Newtons De Analysis (ananalysis of Newton's work), A New Compendium of the Whole Art of Navigation, and Introduction to the
    Mathematics. He was a friend to Newton, and it is believed that he reviewed and edited some of Newton's manuscripts. After being elected Vice-president of the
    Royal Society, he was instrumental in settling the dispute between Sir Isaac Newton and Baron Gottfried von Leibnitz regarding the property claims to the authorship of calculus.Ee need to move beyond the formal curriculum with our joy of mathematics in as many different pedagogical venues as possible. Pi Day is one such opportunity that allowed me to see my students in a different light. If the spark goes out, then what?"

    It's from their pdf version of their journal

    The link in the article above had changed so I have updated it.

    Will follow your efforts till I get an answer to your question.

  3. Anonymous25/1/06 12:08

    Jean-Claude: Thank you! I will definitely take you up on that offer as soon as this semester ends, in about a week or two.

    Mr. J. Evans: Thanks for the pointers! Pi has a long and storied history. It even makes an appearance in the bible. Another fellow pre-dates Jones' use of the symbol π by about 60 years. ;-)

    The first step to solving the puzzle is decoding the title of the post. If no one figures it out I'll post a hint at the end of the day. ;-)


  4. Anonymous25/1/06 19:03

    ********S P O I L E R********

    An excellent beginning!

    Euler is one of my mathematical heros. He had 13 children, only 5 of whom survived infancy. My favourite quote:

    "I have made some of my greatest mathematical discoveries holding a baby in my arms while the other children played round my feet."

    Now, on to the rest of the puzzle.....


  5. Pi day -- I love it!

    I passed it on to our math department!

    Every time you engage more senses, students learn more. It is great to have things to be excited about!