tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-4227811469912372962Tue, 25 Apr 2017 02:39:52 +0000geometrydigressionbrainstormingmath club ideasPythagorean Theoremgeneral philosophypuzzles ciphersgamesmanagementvirtual math clubworksheet homeworkbook reviewcontestknights of pinumber theorypi daytriangle numbersalgebradistributive propertymoemspurple cometCombinatoricsdecodingdivisibilitydreamboxmath club math circleolympiadKaprekar's operationamcarthur benjaminchesscontinuing fractionseuler characcteristicexponentsfactorizationfibonaccifive trianglesfractionsgraph theoryjulia robinsonlecturemagic squaremath nightmiddle schoolmomathnotice wonderpair and shareproblempythagorean triplequarticrecruitingsangakuseriessoftware reviewstatisticstilingtopologyulam's spiralvarignonvoronoiRunning a Math Club: My ExperiencesDiary of the process of running a math club for fourth and fifth graders.
This is part my planning process, part documentation and part a how to guide.http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/noreply@blogger.com (Benjamin Leis)Blogger152125tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-4227811469912372962.post-9203652816812438960Wed, 19 Apr 2017 19:10:00 +00002017-04-19T12:10:45.202-07:004/18 the series "Infinite Series"<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Spring break really flew by and yesterday to my surprise Math Club was already resuming. Things started with small snafu, the door to our room was locked. While we were waiting in the hall for the custodian I went over some administrative items. I'm still looking for a few kids to round out the group going to the upcoming WSMC Olympiad, I wanted to acknowledge the high participation in the problem of the week and that I'd bring candy in next week. Finally, I also started laying the groundwork for the talk next month and asked the kids to start thinking about questions to ask our guest mathematician. </div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">If only there was a whiteboard in the hall I would have gone over the previous problems of the week but sadly we waited a few extra minutes instead.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/udxwP26gTwA/0.jpg" frameborder="0" height="266" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/udxwP26gTwA?feature=player_embedded" width="320"></iframe></div><br />For this week I wanted to try out the Infinite Series youtube webcasts with the kids. I thought the above video on proofs was a good first choice since one of my priorities is to emphasize understanding why things work and how it will become increasingly important (and computation less) for the kids as they move forward. In fact, I'm trying as much as possible to add in comments about the math progression whenever appropriate. This is one of those areas I feel is not well understood in 5th grade. Most of the kids know they're working towards algebra, geometry and probably Calculus. They don't necessarily know what Calculus is about even in the most broadest sense and they don't often think what happens after they finish that sequence. I also think they take it for granted that Math topics are all a roughly linear sequence which is not truly the case beyond school math.<br /><br />What's also nice about the video is it structured around several problems and even has breaks where you're supposed to try them out first.<br /><br />I took full advantage of that format and stopped 3 times:<br /><br />1. The chessboard / domino coverage question was the easiest and one of the boys came up with the standard reasoning in a few minutes.<br />2. Probability of sticks forming a triangle. I wasn't sure if the kids had been exposed to the triangle inequality so I played that part before pausing. Interestingly everyone said "Oh yeah" even if they didn't recognize it by name. No one came up with he answer but there was a lot of good discussion before I resumed.<br />3. Sum of odds formula: Again no-one fully came up with an answer but I was satisfied with the thinking along the way.<br /><br />In general this was a bit of a balancing act on how long to let the kids grapple with each problem, knowing they would probably not crack them. I wanted enough time so that the explanations really resonated afterwards but still allowed me to finish the video. In the end I had about 10 minutes of the session left. I thought the quality of discussion was particularly good even though everyone reasoned at their group of tables. Perhaps this was a residue of our work on the whiteboards the last few weeks.<br /><br />Finally, to round things out I brought two sample Sudoku puzzles and an older purple comet problem set: <a href="http://purplecomet.org/welcome/practice">http://purplecomet.org/welcome/practice</a>. I thought most kids would prefer the Sudoku but I was pleasantly surprised that many asked for both so they could try them out. This represents a shift in my organizational thinking. I'm tactical about this but especially with new activities I'm not sure the length of, I'm jumping right in and saving my old warm-up ideas for the end instead. I see more benefit from having a light weight activity for those whose focus is used up than a transitional one at the beginning and it means I'm shorting my main focus much less often. If the activity takes the whole time and everyone is engaged I'll just save the extra puzzle for another week.<br /><br />P.O.T.W:<br />I went with an infinite series conceptual riddle. My hope is to have a group debate next week.<br /><br /><span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 11pt; white-space: pre-wrap;">You’re a venal king who’s considering bribes from two different courtiers.</span><br /><span id="docs-internal-guid-fcca7c31-8792-afd2-6ab5-3f391cb3da10"><br /></span><ul style="margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-fcca7c31-8792-afd2-6ab5-3f391cb3da10"><li dir="ltr" style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 11pt; list-style-type: disc; vertical-align: baseline;"><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Courtier A gives you an infinite number of envelopes. The first envelope contains 1 dollar, the second contains 2 dollars, the third contains 3, and so on: The nth envelope contains n dollars.</span></div></li></span></ul><span id="docs-internal-guid-fcca7c31-8792-afd2-6ab5-3f391cb3da10"><br /><ul style="margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><li dir="ltr" style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 11pt; list-style-type: disc; vertical-align: baseline;"><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Courtier B also gives you an infinite number of envelopes. The first envelope contains 2 dollars, the second contains 4 dollars, the third contains 6, and so on: The nth envelope contains 2n dollars.</span></div></li></ul><br /><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 11pt; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Now, who’s been more generous? </span></div><br /><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Courtier B argues that he’s given you twice as much as A — after all, for any n, B’s nth envelope contains twice as much money as A’s.</span></div><br /><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 11pt; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">But Courtier A argues that he’s given you twice as much as B — A’s offerings include a gift of every integer size, but the odd dollar amounts are missing from B’s.</span></div><br /><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="font-family: "arial"; font-size: 11pt; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">So who has given you more money?</span></div></span><br /><br /><br />http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2017/04/418-series-infinite-series.htmlnoreply@blogger.com (Benjamin Leis)0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-4227811469912372962.post-910596908376598474Fri, 07 Apr 2017 23:00:00 +00002017-04-18T20:36:37.595-07:00Spring Break Geometry<script type="text/x-mathjax-config"> MathJax.Hub.Config({tex2jax: {inlineMath: [['$','$'], ['\\(','\\)']]}}); </script><script src="https://cdn.mathjax.org/mathjax/latest/MathJax.js?config=TeX-AMS-MML_HTMLorMML" type="text/javascript"></script>[In exciting real news, I almost have a guest speaker from the UW Math department lined up for May. My hope is that this will be helpful in showing the kids that Math is a living field where research is still going on. My goal is to collect some questions ahead of time to prime the pump.]<br /><br /><br />In the meantime while we're on break, here is one of the latest problems I've looked at from @go_geometry. This is a good example of the power of cyclic quadrilaterals and approaches to more difficult ratio problems. <a href="https://t.co/ATyROmm5Rj">(original problem)</a><br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-dUcpk6Ux6YY/WOgTjuNaI5I/AAAAAAAAI1M/YIeUkblrq3QcSrmLVj8JeamCL1vCPHRQgCLcB/s1600/gogeom.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="361" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-dUcpk6Ux6YY/WOgTjuNaI5I/AAAAAAAAI1M/YIeUkblrq3QcSrmLVj8JeamCL1vCPHRQgCLcB/s640/gogeom.jpg" width="640" /></a></div><br /><br />My first thought was that all segments in the ratio were on the same line. That's a problem because we only have a few tools to use that create ratios and they all need polygons.<br /><br />1. Combinations of well known triangles.<br />2. Similar triangles.<br />3. Cyclic quadrilateral diagonals (which really are just similar triangles).<br />4. The angle bisector theorem (although I didn't initially think much of this one.)<br /><br /><ul><li>My second thought was that BC is congruent to every other side of the square so that could at least give sides to one triangle CD and CG for instance but FG still looked hard.</li><li>Triangle EFG is similar to ADE which does generate some ratios involving FG and AD but I wasn't sure I could do much with them. The algebra looked fairly complex when playing with such ratios.</li><li>It looked clear from everything so far that it would be a combination of ratios to produce the result.</li><li>I then <i>noticed</i> ABEC was a cyclic quadrilateral since angle ABC = angle AEC = 90 degrees. That's useful for angle chasing and produces a set of similar triangle including ABF and CEF.</li></ul><div>From those triangles one gets:</div><div><br /></div><div>\(\frac{BF}{AB} = \frac{EF}{EC}\) Since AB = BC that converts to \(\frac{BF}{BC} = \frac{EF}{EC}\)<br /><br />That's about half way to the desired ratio \(\frac{BF}{FG} = \frac{BC}{CG}\) so I rearranged the goal to the same form on the left side:<br /><br />\(\frac{BF}{BC} = \frac{FG}{CG}\) which meant I still had to show \(\frac{EF}{EC} = \frac{FG}{CG}\) </div><div><br /></div><ul><li>My next observation was that angle DEB sure looked like a right angle also. I then stopped to measure and check in geogebra. That appeared correct so I looked around some more for reasons why this was the case. I started angle chasing and found BECD was also a cyclic quadrilateral since angle DBC = DEC = 45 degrees. This could be used to show that the original intuition DEB was in fact a right angle.</li></ul><div><br /></div><div>At this point I stopped and had a "duh" moment. If you add in the diagonals of the square and the circle that circumscribes it ABECD are all on it. The diagonals of the square are the diameters of the circle and meet at its origin and its obvious why DEB had to be a right angle since its a triangle made of the diameter and a point on the circle.</div><div><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-8cCU5XP1Wg0/WOgYOXRr2rI/AAAAAAAAI1Y/3AUCY9zkfuI4CEx4lSweZVxM0WWEKIlDQCLcB/s1600/geom484.png" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="313" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-8cCU5XP1Wg0/WOgYOXRr2rI/AAAAAAAAI1Y/3AUCY9zkfuI4CEx4lSweZVxM0WWEKIlDQCLcB/s400/geom484.png" width="400" /></a></div><div><br /></div><br />This gives a lot of underlying structure for angle chasing. I could find all the angles at the top in my triangle of interest CEF including that CEG = FEG = 45 degrees. (FEG inscribes the same arc as ABD which is a 45 degree angle in the square, then its simple angle subtraction)<br /><br />I then stared at \(\frac{EF}{EC} = \frac{FG}{CG}\) and realized the form looked familiar. This is a slightly rearranged version of the angle bisector theorem and EG does bisect angle FEC! So<br />\(\frac{EF}{FG} = \frac{EC}{CG}\) and when everything's combined you're done. Looking back this flowed fairly quickly from intuitions and observed patterns. The whole process was actually a bit chunky and done during various points in the morning when I had a moment.<br /><br />http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2017/04/spring-break-geometry.htmlnoreply@blogger.com (Benjamin Leis)0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-4227811469912372962.post-3533430394861652942Wed, 05 Apr 2017 06:08:00 +00002017-04-07T09:39:00.342-07:004/4 Spring Quarter BeginsThis quarter began with a seamless transition the week after the old one ended However, I had a little bit of turnover with 2 kids leaving and 2 new boys and 1 girl joining. I always want a math club session to be compelling but knowing its the first time for some of the audience adds a bit of pressure to get the balance right. So this week, I spent a lot of my planning time work deciding on what to do as an icebreaker and where to focus our main activity. I actually made several adjustments along the way until I settled on what occurred and still hope that I tuned the difficulty level correctly.<br /><div><br /></div><div><b style="background-color: white; color: #444444; font-family: "lucida grande", verdana, arial, sans-serif; font-size: 10.8px; text-align: justify;">Intros</b></div><div><br /></div>To start off, I had all the kids gather on the rug in the front of row and introduce themselves. As usual I had everyone state their name, homeroom teacher and either their favorite activity from last quarter if they were returning or why they decided to join if they were new. Interestingly, there was a strong consensus that <a href="http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2017/03/314-pi-day.html">Pi Day</a> was the favorite. I'm hoping that it wasn't just the literal pie I served that influenced everyone.<br /><div><b style="background-color: white; color: #444444; font-family: "Lucida Grande", Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 10.8px; text-align: justify;"><br /></b><b style="background-color: white; color: #444444; font-family: "Lucida Grande", Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 10.8px; text-align: justify;">Human Knot</b><br /><b style="background-color: white; color: #444444; font-family: "Lucida Grande", Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 10.8px; text-align: justify;"><br /></b>I really wanted to do something physical at the start and I had used up most of my ideas already in previous quarters. After looking around I didn't find anything new that was really satisfactory. There's a lot of ideas that revolve around Simon Says or Duck Duck Goose that just don't feel very authentic to me. So I went with a short team building exercise I used in cub scouts. <a href="http://www.group-games.com/ice-breakers/human-knot-icebreaker.html">http://www.group-games.com/ice-breakers/human-knot-icebreaker.html</a> Basically, you have the kids stand in circle grasp hands and then cooperate to untangle the resulting knot., If you're being generous you could say this relates to topology or knot theory but really its about having the kids interact together and practice cooperating. I found that my initial knot was too difficult so I split the group in half (6-7 kids per knot) which worked better. [I'd actually like to come back to knots from a mathematical perspective at some future point in time.]</div><div><b style="background-color: white; color: #444444; font-family: "Lucida Grande", Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 10.8px; text-align: justify;"><br /></b><b style="background-color: white; color: #444444; font-family: "Lucida Grande", Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 10.8px; text-align: justify;">Charter</b><br /><br />Afterwards I went over the the serious part of the day, the basic rules for the club. This time I boiled it down to the 3 core values:</div><div><br /></div><div><ol><li>Respect - As guests in the classroom, towards each other etc.</li><li>Listening - To me and to each other when they are sharing, <b>I like to stress this is both hard and really important.</b></li><li>Perseverance -The only section where I solicited opinions this time. I went around and had the kids talk about how they handled getting stuck. As I remember I went off on a short tangent about how long it took to solve Fermat's Last Theorem for my real life example.</li></ol><div style="text-align: justify;"><b>Math Carnival</b></div><br />For the main activity, I decided to explore using the whiteboard more this week. I went back and forth on leveling and finally settled on the following 3 problems which I wrote on three different sections of the board. After explaining each problem, I handed out markers and told the kids to pick which problems they wanted to work on.<br /><br />Cue Ball<br /><a href="http://mathforlove.com/lesson/billiard-ball-problem/"> http://mathforlove.com/lesson/billiard-ball-problem/</a> This one flowed really well so I spent most of my time asking questions like "I see you have a pattern for even numbers, what about the odds" or "What happens when you grow or shrink this row by 1?" I also worked a little on emphasizing charting results to look for patterns. Kids in the group tended to stay put the entire time in contrast to the other 2 problems which were a bit quicker to crack.<br /><b style="background-color: white; color: #444444; font-family: "Lucida Grande", Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 10.8px; text-align: justify;"><br /></b><b style="background-color: white; color: #444444; font-family: "Lucida Grande", Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 10.8px; text-align: justify;"><br /></b><b style="background-color: white; color: #444444; font-family: "Lucida Grande", Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 10.8px; text-align: justify;">Letter Magnets.</b><span style="background-color: white; color: #444444; font-family: "lucida grande" , "verdana" , "arial" , sans-serif; font-size: 10.8px; text-align: justify;"> A store sells letter magnets. The same letters cost the same and different letters might not cost the same. The word ONE costs 1 dollar, the word TWO costs 2 dollars, and the word ELEVEN costs 11 dollars. What is the cost of TWELVE?</span><br /><span style="background-color: white; color: #444444; font-family: "lucida grande" , "verdana" , "arial" , sans-serif; font-size: 10.8px; text-align: justify;"><br /></span>Interestingly, most kids found the solution to this through a combination of guess and check rather than equations. This was actually easier to do than I realized. So where algebraic approaches sprang up I tried to encourage the kids to go down that avenue.<span style="background-color: white; color: #444444; font-family: "lucida grande" , "verdana" , "arial" , sans-serif; font-size: 10.8px; text-align: justify;"><br /></span><span style="background-color: white; color: #444444; font-family: "lucida grande" , "verdana" , "arial" , sans-serif; font-size: 10.8px; text-align: justify;"><img src="https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C778ciEXgAApH9X.jpg" /></span><br />The geometry here was a bit harder than I expected for everyone. I ended up scaffolding a bit and ran into some issues with knowledge about calculating the area of obtuse triangles. I was pleased that one group came up with the idea to split the shaded shape in half on its own. On the downside this one in particular was a bit susceptible to encouraging answer seeking. Next time, I need to remember to tell the kids to check their answer with another group when they think they have a solution.<br /><br /><div style="text-align: start;"><br /></div>Once again I was pretty happy with overall group engagement and thinking during this process. The whiteboards proved superior to paper in keeping the group fully involved. Also I noticed that they make it a bit easier for me to drop in as I walk between groups and absorb where they're at. The larger format is easier to access.<br /><h4><span style="background-color: white; color: #444444; font-family: "lucida grande" , "verdana" , "arial" , sans-serif; font-size: 10.8px; text-align: justify;"><br /></span><span style="background-color: white; color: #444444; font-family: "lucida grande" , "verdana" , "arial" , sans-serif; font-size: 10.8px; text-align: justify;">POTW</span></h4>I couldn't decide between the following 2 problems so I gave them both out. We have a week of Spring break before the next meeting so that seemed reasonable.<br /><br />From AOPS:<br /><span style="background-color: white; color: #444444; font-family: "lucida grande" , "verdana" , "arial" , sans-serif; font-size: 10.8px; text-align: justify;">Buses from Dallas to Houston leave every hour on the hour. Buses from Houston to Dallas leave every hour on the half hour. Te trip from one city to the other takes 5 hours. Assuming the buses travel on the same highway, how many Dallas-bound buses does a Houston-Bound bus pass on the highway (not in the station).</span><br /><span style="background-color: white; color: #444444; font-family: "lucida grande" , "verdana" , "arial" , sans-serif; font-size: 10.8px; text-align: justify;"><br /></span><span style="background-color: white; color: #444444; font-family: "lucida grande" , "verdana" , "arial" , sans-serif; font-size: 10.8px; text-align: justify;"><br /></span><span style="background-color: white; color: #444444; font-family: "lucida grande" , "verdana" , "arial" , sans-serif; font-size: 10.8px; text-align: justify;">From Blaine:</span><br /><span style="background-color: white; color: #444444; font-family: "lucida grande" , "verdana" , "arial" , sans-serif; font-size: 10.8px; text-align: justify;">Suppose that N is an integer such that when it is divided by 3, it leaves a remainder of 2, and when it is divided by 7, it leaves a remainder of 5. How many such possible values of N are there such that 0 < N ≤ 2017?</span><br /><span style="background-color: white; color: #444444; font-family: "lucida grande" , "verdana" , "arial" , sans-serif; font-size: 10.8px; text-align: justify;"><br /></span><span style="background-color: white; color: #444444; font-family: "lucida grande" , "verdana" , "arial" , sans-serif; font-size: 10.8px; text-align: justify;"><br /></span></div>http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2017/04/44-spring-quarter-begins.htmlnoreply@blogger.com (Benjamin Leis)0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-4227811469912372962.post-6123048514559252338Fri, 31 Mar 2017 21:46:00 +00002017-03-31T14:46:03.274-07:00digressionfactorizationquarticNot so Innocuous Quartic<script type="text/x-mathjax-config"> MathJax.Hub.Config({tex2jax: {inlineMath: [['$','$'], ['\\(','\\)']]}}); </script><script src="https://cdn.mathjax.org/mathjax/latest/MathJax.js?config=TeX-AMS-MML_HTMLorMML" type="text/javascript"></script> <br /><div style="text-align: center;">\(x^2 - 16\sqrt{x} = 12\)</div><div style="text-align: center;"><br /></div><div style="text-align: center;">What is \(x - 2\sqrt{x}\)?</div><br />The above problem showed up on my feed and my first thought was <span id="goog_476970039"></span><span id="goog_476970040"></span><a href="https://www.blogger.com/"></a>that doesn't look too hard it's either a factoring problem or you need to complete the square. That's the same reaction my son had too when I showed it to him.<br /><br />But a little substitution (\(z = x^2)\) shows that its actual a quartic equation in disguise:<br /><br />$$z^4 - 16z - 12 = 0$$<br /><br />The wording strongly suggests that \(z^2 - 2z\) or some variant is a factor which is a useful shortcut but that led me down the following path on how to generally factor a quartic. The good news here is that the equation is already in depressed format with no cubic terms.<br /><br />Some links for the procedure:<br /><br /><a href="http://www.maa.org/sites/default/files/Brookfield2007-103574.pdf">http://www.maa.org/sites/default/files/Brookfield2007-103574.pdf</a><br /><br />A little easier to read:<br /><br /><a href="http://www.sosmath.com/algebra/factor/fac12/fac12.html">http://www.sosmath.com/algebra/factor/fac12/fac12.html</a><br /><br /><br />How it works:<br />1. First we need to find the resolvent cubic polynomial for \(z^4 - 16z - 12 = 0\).<br />That works out to \(R(y) = y^3 + 48y - 256\).<br /><br />2. Using the rational roots test we only have to look at \(\pm2^0\) ... \(2^8\) for possible roots but since we only can use roots that are square we only have to test \(\pm2^0, \pm2^2, \pm2^4, \pm2^6\) and \(\pm2^8\). Plugging them in we find \(2^2=4\) is indeed a root. So there is a rational coefficient factorization for our original quartic.<br /><br />3. Now we can use the square root of the resolvent root i.e. 2 and its inverse to get the following factorization (they are the coefficients of the z term): $$(z^2 - 2z - 2)(z^2 + 2z + 6) = z^4 - 16z - 12 = 0$$<br /><br />4. At this point we could factor the 2 quadratics and plug the solutions back in to find <span style="text-align: center;">\(x - 2\sqrt{x}\) which in terms of z is \(z^2 - 2z\). But we can shortcut slightly for one of the solutions </span><span style="text-align: center;">since the if the first factor is the root then \(z^2 - 2z - 2 = 0\) which implies \(z^2 - 2z = 2\)</span><br /><br />5. Interestingly for \(z^2 + 2z + 6 = 0\) we have the two roots \(1 \pm i\sqrt{5}\) Plugging either<br />one into \(z^2 - 2z\) and you get -6 anyway!<br /><br /><br /><br />http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2017/03/not-so-innocuous-quartic.htmlnoreply@blogger.com (Benjamin Leis)0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-4227811469912372962.post-3807612932432782710Wed, 29 Mar 2017 03:40:00 +00002017-03-28T20:45:07.938-07:00general philosophymanagement3/28 #VNPSToday was a fascinating learning experiment for me. I recently watched the following lecture:<br /><br /><a href="https://www.bigmarker.com/GlobalMathDept/Building-Thinking-Classrooms">https://www.bigmarker.com/GlobalMathDept/Building-Thinking-Classrooms</a> by Peter Liljedahl.<br /><br />Several of the ideas seemed relevant but I was particularly interested in his talk about the value of whiteboards or VNPS (Vertical Non-Permanent Surfaces in his parlance) for working problems. I've talked previously about how I've been learning to more effectively use the double whiteboards in the room this year. Like previous years, I always have the kids demonstrate the solutions to problems on them like the Problem of the Week and after Olympiads I've taken to writing the problems across all the boards and doing a review by moving among them rather than erasing and I'm more mindful of switching orientation and moving between the front and back ones for various transitions. But for the most part most group work I give out is done at the desk pods in groups with paper and pencil. Liljedahl's research suggests you can get much more effective engagement having kids work standing up on the boards. This is something I hadn't considered although I have always noticed the kids are irresistibly drawn to try and write with the markers.<br /><br />So I decided to dive right in and try out an experiment. I looked through some of the suggested problems on his website: <a href="http://www.peterliljedahl.com/teachers/good-problem">http://www.peterliljedahl.com/teachers/good-problem</a> and noticed the four 4's one. I use the game of 24 cards from time to time and actually had tried this exact exercise 2 years ago: <a href="http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2015/06/62-pentagrams-and-some-inspirational.html">http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2015/06/62-pentagrams-and-some-inspirational.html</a>. The problem involves using four fours and any operations you'd like to derive the numbers 1 .. 30. For example: (4 / 4) + (4 - 4) = 1 and ( 4 / 4 ) + ( 4 / 4 ) = 2. Last time, I wasn't entirely happy with how things went. That gave me a baseline to compare today with. So after a quick review of the problem of the week I decided to dive in. First I gave out a blue marker to everyone and told them to form into group on the board and then I talked through the challenge.<br /><br /><h3>Results</h3><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Rag7UqVm394/WNspkU7uQ_I/AAAAAAAAIww/Zy8tjR_ouMA7iO22Bn6Nfuh6x6TKG4qHACKgB/s1600/20170328_161302.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="180" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Rag7UqVm394/WNspkU7uQ_I/AAAAAAAAIww/Zy8tjR_ouMA7iO22Bn6Nfuh6x6TKG4qHACKgB/s320/20170328_161302.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ltt0Rnxw2DM/WNspkc4TX9I/AAAAAAAAIww/LSZLnQ7KhR8pEut6KqwRyAjeztKH73j5gCKgB/s1600/20170328_161259.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="180" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ltt0Rnxw2DM/WNspkc4TX9I/AAAAAAAAIww/LSZLnQ7KhR8pEut6KqwRyAjeztKH73j5gCKgB/s320/20170328_161259.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-kGHJDvCSvW4/WNspkXU5NrI/AAAAAAAAIww/9MUoif0KLUUW6EmVrsUUpDu3IH4ez7BjwCKgB/s1600/20170328_163022.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="225" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-kGHJDvCSvW4/WNspkXU5NrI/AAAAAAAAIww/9MUoif0KLUUW6EmVrsUUpDu3IH4ez7BjwCKgB/s400/20170328_163022.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Wu887jwd5gU/WNspkY8qHzI/AAAAAAAAIww/PXADTfta9Wk-FAyX6omXVKd29m3aRDq5wCKgB/s1600/20170328_163002.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="225" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Wu887jwd5gU/WNspkY8qHzI/AAAAAAAAIww/PXADTfta9Wk-FAyX6omXVKd29m3aRDq5wCKgB/s400/20170328_163002.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><div><br /></div>In the end, I thought this was a total success. All the kids worked excitedly at the boards this time versus two years ago. There was a fair amount of cross communication between the sides of the room as answers were discovered, A few times. I thought a kid was sitting down in a char to disengage, but in each case they were only thinking and then got up and went back to the board to write down a new idea. Afterwards even though I had brought boards games for an end of the quarter celebration some of them even continued to work on the problem looking for solutions to 31, 32 etc. <b>I'm definitely going to keep playing with this format. Perhaps this is also part of the answer for middle school next year.</b><br /><b><br /></b>I actually had my end of quarter / game day activities planned as well for the day. Since the kids had seen all the materials (pente, prime climb, terzetto, rush hour,tiny polka dots) and were excited to play with them the previous experiment was even more impressive. There was very little attempts to break out during the 20 minutes or so. In addition to the above mentioned games I also had <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sprouts_(game)">https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sprouts_(game)</a> in hand to try out on the board. This game was new to the group I thought this would dove-tail well with the previous activity.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-3WtAGm4KPMM/WNsrcNTJ7qI/AAAAAAAAIw8/W3PgoyRI28woJOvHaIgjPxKMOiXGSicDgCKgB/s1600/20170328_164500.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="180" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-3WtAGm4KPMM/WNsrcNTJ7qI/AAAAAAAAIw8/W3PgoyRI28woJOvHaIgjPxKMOiXGSicDgCKgB/s320/20170328_164500.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-eyuUk51MAh8/WNsrcEHIJyI/AAAAAAAAIw8/YDbHMTtNNvUIcd7b7MyqxpWDFYD9-jQzgCKgB/s1600/20170328_164404.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="180" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-eyuUk51MAh8/WNsrcEHIJyI/AAAAAAAAIw8/YDbHMTtNNvUIcd7b7MyqxpWDFYD9-jQzgCKgB/s320/20170328_164404.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><br />We were a bit short on time due to being temporarily locked out of the room in the beginning so rather than having the entire group play, I strategically pulled pairs of kids out showed them the rules and had them try it out. In the end I probably drew about half of the Math Club in. We will be looking at Sprouts more in the future to look for patterns and strategy.<br /><br />http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2017/03/328-vnps.htmlnoreply@blogger.com (Benjamin Leis)1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-4227811469912372962.post-2559977980264357218Thu, 23 Mar 2017 04:28:00 +00002017-03-22T21:28:43.172-07:00graph theory3/21 Graph PebblingThis week I went back to a pure math circle format with my favorite activity from the recent Julia Robinson Festival: Graph Pebbling. Based on my experiences at the festival I thought it would occupy 30-40 minutes so I decided to do a warm up puzzle as well. Initially I had considering doing a battleship puzzle (see: <a href="https://www.brainbashers.com/battleships.asp">https://www.brainbashers.com/battleships.asp</a>) but I found a tweet from Sarah Carter that looked interesting about slant puzzles: <a href="https://mathequalslove.blogspot.com/2017/03/slants-puzzles-from-brainbasherscom.html">https://mathequalslove.blogspot.com/2017/03/slants-puzzles-from-brainbasherscom.html</a>. These have a fairly simple set of rules: put a line through every cross and make sure to have the requested number of lines connecting to each square with a number. Unmarked square are free and can have any number of connections.<br /><br /><br /><img src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-mF5rwP9M76s/WMtFghyjqBI/AAAAAAAA6zw/SgfErTAo0McOGNeVeg3RSSsJtmZGulgDQCLcB/s1600/Slants%2BPg%2B2.PNG" /><br /><br /><br />Simple is often good though. All the kids really liked them:<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-UFfE-xuP5mY/WNNNnfULq8I/AAAAAAAAIuA/ct3JHUZakwYRWHSvnWtzVO_TS3b83GHbACKgB/s1600/20170321_161047.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="360" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-UFfE-xuP5mY/WNNNnfULq8I/AAAAAAAAIuA/ct3JHUZakwYRWHSvnWtzVO_TS3b83GHbACKgB/s640/20170321_161047.jpg" width="640" /></a></div><br /><br />We then transitioned to graph pebbling: The full rules are here: <a href="https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B6oYedIeLTUKc1hWSWtHMi1vbHM">https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B6oYedIeLTUKc1hWSWtHMi1vbHM</a> A series of graphs are included as well as 5 variations. For Math Club I used lima beans again as "knights"<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Jo6Zk_T3paM/WNNN9ilMZRI/AAAAAAAAIuE/GJDEjt6aznYVfi9sK2X6EzcRq0chMpaKwCKgB/s1600/20170321_161831.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="225" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Jo6Zk_T3paM/WNNN9ilMZRI/AAAAAAAAIuE/GJDEjt6aznYVfi9sK2X6EzcRq0chMpaKwCKgB/s400/20170321_161831.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><br />My only issue was I have one table of boys that are harder to keep on task. I tried separating them a bit this time which didn't quite work but I may do it again next week but from the start. They're not disruptive per. se but they are distracting each other and only stay on task when I come over and work with them.<br /><br />P.O.T.W<br /><br />A fun factoring / number theory problem for this week:<br /><br /><a href="https://drive.google.com/open?id=1v9i-1YP9OeAjI7i0lZd5BcMUXi3B8OSavtzS-riEHEY">https://drive.google.com/open?id=1v9i-1YP9OeAjI7i0lZd5BcMUXi3B8OSavtzS-riEHEY</a><br /><br /><br />http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2017/03/321-graph-pebbling.htmlnoreply@blogger.com (Benjamin Leis)0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-4227811469912372962.post-2167838108400703253Wed, 15 Mar 2017 18:06:00 +00002017-04-07T09:04:59.240-07:00pi day3/14 Pi Day<span id="goog_103889912"></span><span id="goog_103889913"></span><a href="https://www.blogger.com/"></a><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-QIBImhNY4NA/WMl9aVbe0wI/AAAAAAAAIrE/THWUbCYphH8m4Inv6-xcEYY5H6LHYafCACLcB/s1600/piday.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="222" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-QIBImhNY4NA/WMl9aVbe0wI/AAAAAAAAIrE/THWUbCYphH8m4Inv6-xcEYY5H6LHYafCACLcB/s320/piday.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><br /><br />Every 7 years or so accounting for leap years, Pi day actually occurs on a Tuesday. Yesterday was the first time that occurred while I've been running the Math Club. Because most of the kids were here last year I did not go over my usual conceptual question "Why is the circumference of a circle in a constant ratio with its radius, and why such a funny value?"<br /><br /><b>Recap</b><br /><br /><ul><li>2016 <a href="http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2016/03/315-pi-day-2016-more-or-less.html">http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2016/03/315-pi-day-2016-more-or-less.html</a></li><li>2015 <a href="http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2015/03/310-pi-day-approximately.html">http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2015/03/310-pi-day-approximately.html</a></li></ul><br />I fall into the camp that its fun to celebrate as long as something mathematically meaningful occurs during the party. I also try to de-emphasize anything to do with memorizing digits. So due to all the apple pies being taken this year I picked up a strawberry rhubarb pie at the local super market which I served as everyone arrived in the cafeteria. This kept the mess to a containable minimum and as expected the kids were all very excited by the treat.<br /><br />Like last year I decided to also do a pi day themed video after the following one showed up in one of my feeds:<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/RZBhSi_PwHU/0.jpg" frameborder="0" height="266" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/RZBhSi_PwHU?feature=player_embedded" width="320"></iframe></div><br /><br />After we were done I had another NASA packet to try out:<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-G5_iugIbe_A/WMmAqyEty1I/AAAAAAAAIrQ/ijAD16yDkMkplWTdj8WNECiP-pL1n4g3QCLcB/s1600/11011.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-G5_iugIbe_A/WMmAqyEty1I/AAAAAAAAIrQ/ijAD16yDkMkplWTdj8WNECiP-pL1n4g3QCLcB/s320/11011.jpg" width="170" /></a></div><br /><br /><a href="https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/teach/activity/pi-in-the-sky-3/?linkId=22251075">https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/teach/activity/pi-in-the-sky-3/?linkId=22251075</a><br />I tried this type material once before (<a href="http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2016/02/22-space-math.html">space map session</a>). Since some of the kids liked it before, I thought 20-25 minutes would be about the right amount of time to try a similar activity again. I'm not completely keen on the formula plugging involved but in watching the kids, its actually useful every once in a while to use real, messy physical values and reason a bit how to apply basic geometry.<br /><br />Overall everything went smoothly including setting up the video (cabling + wifi). The setup time did mean the kids fooled around for the 2 minutes before I could start but that just took a little extra talk to get the room's attention and settle in.<br /><div id="potw"><br />P.O.T.W.<br />A not too hard but perhaps counter-intuitive circle property from brilliant.org<br /><br /><a href="https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Mk0TI47IyBdvebbEZM_5Z-j1_83Hoaa14xMqvJIgE3I">https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Mk0TI47IyBdvebbEZM_5Z-j1_83Hoaa14xMqvJIgE3I</a><br /><br /></div>http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2017/03/314-pi-day.htmlnoreply@blogger.com (Benjamin Leis)0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-4227811469912372962.post-7954728070559870900Wed, 08 Mar 2017 18:30:00 +00002017-03-08T10:30:03.850-08:003/7 Olympiad #5<script type="text/x-mathjax-config"> MathJax.Hub.Config({tex2jax: {inlineMath: [['$','$'], ['\\(','\\)']]}}); </script><script src="https://cdn.mathjax.org/mathjax/latest/MathJax.js?config=TeX-AMS-MML_HTMLorMML" type="text/javascript"></script>Today started with a small mix-up. A boy I recruited at the Julia Robinson Festival to join Math Club showed up. But the next quarter doesn't start for 3 weeks. I offered to let him join us anyway but I think he was too embarrassed. Hopefully, he'll still come on the real first day. The whole incident is a reminder that even though I assume I know most of the "mathy" kids in the grade, hidden depths are out there.<br /><br />After that, the rest of the day went more smoothly and had several small rewarding moments. We started by running down the <a href="http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2017/03/228-infinite-series.html#POTW">Problem of the week</a> as a group. I only had one student demonstrate how to divide the boards (its a stair like cut) and unfortunately this didn't generate as much problem solving discussion as I prefer. From there, we completed the last MOEMs Olympiad for the year. Looking this one over, I thought it was among the trickiest of the series. We'll see how the scores go but several of the problems had fairly complex instructions to deduce the answers and I think the general trend will be a bit lower than the last one. I did have a good group problem solving session afterwards and had the kids show solutions for all the problems. One small tweak I've implemented is to write the problems on all the whiteboards while the kids are working so we're set to go for the group discussion. Kids were well focused through the entire time with the only extra chatting being about how to solve the problems differently. The one future topic I noticed among the problems was to work a bit on explaining how choosing unordered sets work i..e \(\binom{n}{k} = \frac{n!}{k!(n-k)!}\) This pairs well with a dive into Pascal's triangle. I'm going to take a look at Arthur Benjamin's book to see if he has an approach that is adaptable for a group.<br /><br />For the light activity I had all the kids who finished early working on an Euler path exercise from "This is not a Maths Book"<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-AVBdM0LWwng/WMBJ71ZFMkI/AAAAAAAAIno/xenH5yZ9AJgHdK3M3aTMBB6OHUoewXWMwCKgB/s1600/20170308_090352.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="640" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-AVBdM0LWwng/WMBJ71ZFMkI/AAAAAAAAIno/xenH5yZ9AJgHdK3M3aTMBB6OHUoewXWMwCKgB/s640/20170308_090352.jpg" width="360" /></a></div><br /><br />The kids found this very interesting and it again could be a topic for a whole session.<br /><br /><br />Other Ideas from around the web I'm thinking about for future meetings:<br /><ul><li>Fractal activities: <a href="https://t.co/SPafiqvnhD">https://t.co/SPafiqvnhD</a></li><li>Graph coloring: <a href="http://jdh.hamkins.org/math-for-seven-year-olds-graph-coloring-chromatic-numbers-eulerian-paths/">http://jdh.hamkins.org/math-for-seven-year-olds-graph-coloring-chromatic-numbers-eulerian-paths/</a></li><li>Pick's Theorem: <a href="https://t.co/fTS6P99D3m">https://t.co/fTS6P99D3m</a></li></ul><h4 id="POTW">Problem of the Week</h4><div>A logic puzzle: <a href="http://cemc.uwaterloo.ca/resources/potw/2016-17/English/POTWC-16-NN-21-P.pdf">http://cemc.uwaterloo.ca/resources/potw/2016-17/English/POTWC-16-NN-21-P.pdf</a></div><br /><br />http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2017/03/37-olympiad-5.htmlnoreply@blogger.com (Benjamin Leis)0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-4227811469912372962.post-1702495227816081394Thu, 02 Mar 2017 00:52:00 +00002017-03-08T10:19:38.275-08:00fractionsseries2/28 Infinite SeriesFor this session of Math Club I wanted to revisit one of the ideas from the "free the clones" games: (See: <a href="http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2017/01/131-chessboard-problems-or.html">http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2017/01/131-chessboard-problems-or.html</a>)<br /><br />What is the sum of the infinite series 1 + 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 ...<br /><br />On reflection, I decided this would make a nice connection with converting repeating decimals back to fractions. I had actually tried this 2 years ago and it went okay. Most kids can convert fractions to decimals but can only handle non repeating decimals in the other direction. But in the intervening time I had lost the worksheet I used back then. This time, I wanted to risk it and just work on the whiteboard, have the kids go off and experiment and come back and discuss what they found.<br /><br /><h4>Planned Questions</h4>1. What is .999999... equal to and why?<br /><br />2. How can we represent .99999.... as a series of fractions.<br /><br />3. Warm up with some easier ones.<br /><br />S = 1 + 1/2 +1/4 ....<br />S = 2/1<br /><br />S = 1 + 1/3 + 1/9 ....<br />S = 3/2<br /><br />S = 1 + 1/4 + 1/16<br />S = 4/3<br /><br />4. Find the pattern and then come up with the general case:<br /><br />S = 1 + 1/n + 1/n^2 .....<br />S = n/n-1<br /><br />5. Ok let's go back to decimals<br /><br />S = 1/10 + 1/100 + 1/1000 just like above. Can you use the same technique?<br /><br />How about if the digits differ<br /><br />S = 12/100 + 12/10000 + 12/100000<br /><br />Final Conundrum<br /><br />1 = 2 / 3 - 1 vs 2 = 2 / 3 -2 as continued fractions.<br /><br /><h4>Reality</h4><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-QaIiVBGkCvg/WLdrHslvMXI/AAAAAAAAIkg/Qns6QrUVFjcND2vIFTxCgoRAeTbBuv_LQCLcB/s1600/Klein_bottle.svg.png" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-QaIiVBGkCvg/WLdrHslvMXI/AAAAAAAAIkg/Qns6QrUVFjcND2vIFTxCgoRAeTbBuv_LQCLcB/s320/Klein_bottle.svg.png" width="166" /></a></div><div><br /></div><div><br /></div><div>I actually started by having everyone talk about the Julia Robinson festival. A couple kids mentioned the final flatland talk and this was of sufficient interest that I ended up spontaneously repeating a huge section of it for those who weren't there. My retelling was accurate except I didn't have any klein bottle pictures on hand other than one on my phone. This ended up taking at least 10 minutes and I would repeat and make a day of it based on how it well it was received.</div><div><br /><br /></div><div>Basically you have a town in a 2 dimensional world and the inhabitants assume they live in an infinite plane but have never explored it. Then finally one tries it out and discovers if he goes north and leaves a trail he arrives back in the town from the south side etc. Given the behavior when the inhabitants go N, E and then NE you conjecture the existence of a sphere, torus and then klein bottle. </div><div><br /></div><div>As I result I ended up skipping my planned kenken warm up. We made it through about question 5 from above but by this time I had exhausted the focus of the group, it was getting harder to keep everyone on task. So I made the executive decision to pull out the kenken puzzles after all and "cool off". Fortunately, that pulled everything together again. My take away from this is:</div><div><br /></div><div><ul><li>Kids were aware that .9999 = 1 but the explanation was a bit fuzzy (no numbers between 9 and one) but I didn't have enough time to circle back at the end and show why this must be the case.</li><li>This was still too much material, I need to break it up with something "lighter" if I try again. I think I want either a visual interlude (color in one of these infinite series?) or to gameify the middle somehow.</li></ul><div id="POTW"><h4>P.O.T.W:</h4></div></div><div>I went with this puzzle from The Guardian:</div><div><br /></div><div><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/feb/27/did-you-solve-it-this-carpentry-puzzle-will-saw-your-brain-in-half">https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/feb/27/did-you-solve-it-this-carpentry-puzzle-will-saw-your-brain-in-half</a></div><div><br /></div><div><br /></div>http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2017/03/228-infinite-series.htmlnoreply@blogger.com (Benjamin Leis)0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-4227811469912372962.post-7138200167717216060Thu, 02 Mar 2017 00:34:00 +00002017-03-01T16:34:47.135-08:00julia robinsonJulia Robinson Festival<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-aObn59LDmbo/WLR1JdiXKSI/AAAAAAAAIjQ/PQJEDBX56ZU1QheNXPHYd093NYZn3nlewCKgB/s1600/20170225_153053.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="360" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-aObn59LDmbo/WLR1JdiXKSI/AAAAAAAAIjQ/PQJEDBX56ZU1QheNXPHYd093NYZn3nlewCKgB/s640/20170225_153053.jpg" width="640" /></a></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-OdxMj6FsSFk/WLR1JSaUbnI/AAAAAAAAIjQ/zEDAC8L242wm6hAtOvCsawYmyUnNrLGHACKgB/s1600/20170225_154911.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="360" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-OdxMj6FsSFk/WLR1JSaUbnI/AAAAAAAAIjQ/zEDAC8L242wm6hAtOvCsawYmyUnNrLGHACKgB/s640/20170225_154911.jpg" width="640" /></a></div><br />(The flatland talk at the end of the afternoon.)<br /><br />For the second year in a row, I volunteered at the Julia Robinson Math Festival over the weekend. This is among my favorite mathematical activities to do for the whole year. This time around I went to the training session before hand. That was useful, since I had a chance to look at the problems I would be facilitating prior to actually jumping in.<br /><br />My first one was a bit daunting from the perspective of maintaining interest. The first part was to figure out the brain teaser: <i>What comes next in this sequence?</i><br /><i><br /></i><i> 1</i><br /><i> 1 1</i><br /><i> 2 1</i><br /><i> 1 1 12</i><br /> 3 1 1 2<br />2 1 1 2 1 3<br />3 1 1 2 1 3<br /><br />This took me almost 25 minutes to see by myself and I worked through a bunch of different ideas. My goal was document all my wrong approaches so I could anticipate what students my do. I also knew it involved some lateral thinking. As I remember my main thought was "Gosh I hope this isn't something silly like number of curves and lines in the numbers."<br /><br />At any rate, I was pleasantly surprised during the actual Festival. Based on the prep work I managed to keep multiple students occupied for 30+ minutes in the productively stuck state. The main thing I did was to have folks work together, keep close tabs on everyone and ask about what they were trying. I also tried to emphasize regrouping the pyramid as a triangle and looking for patterns.<br /><br />My second table was a really cool graph theory game. <a href="https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B6oYedIeLTUKc1hWSWtHMi1vbHM">https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B6oYedIeLTUKc1hWSWtHMi1vbHM</a>. I'm going to use this in Math Club and I will talk about it more then.<br /><br />http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2017/03/julia-robinson-festival.htmlnoreply@blogger.com (Benjamin Leis)0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-4227811469912372962.post-612241398497791712Wed, 22 Feb 2017 02:42:00 +00002017-02-21T18:42:55.805-08:00geometryproblemvirtual math clubMy own Geometry Puzzle<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ykXtnBHLZ0g/WKz6HTnPmiI/AAAAAAAAIgY/EF0R5jkKA0oVkOAssFs0i1VJIXWTna5aQCLcB/s1600/5squares.png" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="528" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ykXtnBHLZ0g/WKz6HTnPmiI/AAAAAAAAIgY/EF0R5jkKA0oVkOAssFs0i1VJIXWTna5aQCLcB/s640/5squares.png" width="640" /></a></div>(This is based on my previous explorations of the @solvemymaths problems. As far as I know its a new so I'm very happy with it. Usually I just collate problems.)http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2017/02/my-own-geometry-puzzle.htmlnoreply@blogger.com (Benjamin Leis)0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-4227811469912372962.post-2581275959878300529Mon, 20 Feb 2017 22:49:00 +00002017-03-15T13:15:54.403-07:00digressiongeometrysangakuMid-Winter break Geometry<script type="text/x-mathjax-config"> MathJax.Hub.Config({tex2jax: {inlineMath: [['$','$'], ['\\(','\\)']]}}); </script><script src="https://cdn.mathjax.org/mathjax/latest/MathJax.js?config=TeX-AMS-MML_HTMLorMML" type="text/javascript"></script><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">By tradition, I'm going off on some problem solving walk-throughs:</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-giqZET2ID54/WKdAvloGvhI/AAAAAAAAIdQ/ijES6wVxWlsnxre0Wf9Me8oaOD_11tW-gCLcB/s1600/sangaku.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="476" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-giqZET2ID54/WKdAvloGvhI/AAAAAAAAIdQ/ijES6wVxWlsnxre0Wf9Me8oaOD_11tW-gCLcB/s640/sangaku.jpg" width="640" /></a></div><br />- Courtesy of @solvemymaths<br /><br />This problem is a good example of the power of working backwards.<br /><br />To start off with like all of these type problems, I draw the center of the circles in and connect all the tangent points to find the inner structure and look for triangles.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-kpXSDys58Ng/WKdGd-Brw6I/AAAAAAAAIdc/YV6e0K6apgodnIaOiby9CUVCRj8aRal_gCLcB/s1600/sangaku.png" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="304" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-kpXSDys58Ng/WKdGd-Brw6I/AAAAAAAAIdc/YV6e0K6apgodnIaOiby9CUVCRj8aRal_gCLcB/s640/sangaku.png" width="640" /></a></div>One immediate simplification is to only find the ratio of BI to BK since its the same as the larger rectangle (1:2 scaling). Secondly the inner right triangle EGJ is ripe for the Pythagorean theorem.<br /><br />Before going any farther I noted some expressions:<br /><br /><ul><li>BI = 2R + T </li><li>BK = 2S + T</li></ul><div>The required ratio to prove is \(BI= \sqrt{5}BK\) so squaring each side to get rid of the radical you get \(BI^2= 5BK^2\) or \(4R^2 + 4RT + T^2 = 5(4S^2 + 4ST + T^2) \) This simplifies to \(R^2 + RT = 5S^2 + 5ST + T^2\)</div><div><br /></div><div>For the rest of the exercise I kept this in mind as the target (although as you'll see I adjusted as I noticed more).</div><div><br /></div><div>The second thing to immediately try was what fell out of the Pythagorean relationship in the triangle EGJ. Using \((R + S)^2 = (S+T)^2 + (R+T)^2\) That simplifies to: \(RS = ST + RT + 2T^2\). Which unfortunately doesn't look much like the target. For one there is no R^2 or S^2 term and there is an extra RS and none of the coefficients are near yet.</div><div><br /></div><div>I then munged around a bit and tried algebraically manipulating this expression to get it closer with no luck. So I looked back the drawing and noticed something I had missed initially BK = 2S + T but it also is the radius of the large circle in other words 2S + T = R. This immediately simplifies the target of \(BI^2= 5BK^2\) to \((2R + T)^2 = 5R^2\) or \(R^2 = 4RT + T^2\) which already looks closer to the Pythagorean expansion. But what's nice is you can also rewrite that as well with the segment GJ = R - S rather than S + T. </div><div><br /></div><div>So I redid the Pythagorean relationship and found \((R + S)^2 = (R-S)^2 + (R+T)^2\) which simplifies to \(4RS = (R+T)^2\) Again this looks more regular than our starting point but still not exactly the same. Then since our target is only in terms of R and T we need to substitute out the S which we can do given 2S + T = R so 2S = R - T and applying that you now have \(2R(R-T) = (R+T)^2 \) or \(2R^2 -2RT = R^2 + 2RT + T^2\). Combining like terms you get \(R^2 = 4RT + T^2\) which is what we needed to show!</div><div><br /></div><div>However what i actually did for the last step was the exact opposite of that explanation. Instead I took the target and put it into a form closer to what we had to see what was missing i.e. </div><div>$$R^2 = 4RT + T^2$$</div><div>$$R^2 = (R + T)^2 + 2RT$$ (Completing the square)</div><div>$$R^2 - 2RT = (R+T)^2$$</div><div>It was this final form that reminded me to substitute back in for S since it was so close. And note how it was much easier to match the two expression after simplifying both of them rather than just going with the Pythagorean relation and trying to end at the initial goal.</div><br /><br /><h3>5 Squares</h3><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-c3-fK8LDUB0/WKtshF_TcuI/AAAAAAAAIeo/KNdpaNDEd2goL8BzEOlO0bTqBxONz8CiACLcB/s1600/5squres.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-c3-fK8LDUB0/WKtshF_TcuI/AAAAAAAAIeo/KNdpaNDEd2goL8BzEOlO0bTqBxONz8CiACLcB/s1600/5squres.jpg" /></a></div><div>Also from @solvemymaths. Prove the area of the square is equal to the triangle.</div><div><br /></div><div>This one was is closely related to <a href="http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2015/05/cool-geometry-problem.html">http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2015/05/cool-geometry-1problem.html</a> and both rely on the fact that the triangles formed between touching squares have equal areas. See the previous link for the proof. </div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div></div><div>The 4 key observations here are the</div><div><br /></div><div>1) bottom two triangles around the square are congruent. This is the start of a Pythagorean Theorem proof in fact. (See below if KH = a and JL = b then each of the triangles is an a x b and FI = c where \(a^2 + b^2 = c^2\).</div><div><br /></div><div>2) Each of the lower and middle triangles pairs have the same area because they are formed between squares. (i.e. CDF and FHI)</div><div><br /></div><div>3) So all the lower and middle triangles have the same area (1/2 ab)!<br /><br />4) You can create a new triangle with the same area as ABC that's easier to work out.</div><div><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-vMsAdgY8rsQ/WKtuEdIoCLI/AAAAAAAAIew/6qmfD7YV0vc4TO1RZIDrVAxBExQ9o7-ZwCLcB/s1600/5square2.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="506" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-vMsAdgY8rsQ/WKtuEdIoCLI/AAAAAAAAIew/6qmfD7YV0vc4TO1RZIDrVAxBExQ9o7-ZwCLcB/s640/5square2.jpg" width="640" /></a></div><div><br /></div><div>That's pretty nifty but I noticed something interesting when modelling a bit in Geogebra. If you let the 3 generator squares be a Pythagorean triple i.e. a = 3, b = 4, c = 5 all of the points in the model and all the areas are also integral. That didn't look like a coincidence. In fact I could roughly see the upper 2 squares had areas \(2(a^2 + c^2) - b^2\) and \(2(b^2 + c^2) - a^2\). But why was this happening?</div><div><br /></div><div>The key idea I first came up with was squaring or boxing off the figure and finding the new triangles.</div><div><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-2fUUhdoROus/WKtwD8Y_5NI/AAAAAAAAIe8/W7UAhputvCMgp1bLJm17FOxMd4kDeRupwCLcB/s1600/Selection_003.png" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="460" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-2fUUhdoROus/WKtwD8Y_5NI/AAAAAAAAIe8/W7UAhputvCMgp1bLJm17FOxMd4kDeRupwCLcB/s640/Selection_003.png" width="640" /></a></div><div><br />1. First I found the base of the new triangle and then the height.</div><div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><br /></div><div><br /></div><div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-1nCd8rjwXPA/WKtxknun0sI/AAAAAAAAIfc/MTw5A3eiSXU1m4yeR8IBWSiJy8gWB9Y7QCKgB/s1600/20170220_144313.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="640" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-1nCd8rjwXPA/WKtxknun0sI/AAAAAAAAIfc/MTw5A3eiSXU1m4yeR8IBWSiJy8gWB9Y7QCKgB/s640/20170220_144313.jpg" width="458" /></a></div><br /></div><div><br /></div><div><h3><br />[More variations on square boxing problems]</h3></div><div>These all revolve around boxing or squaring off a square with 4 congruent right triangles.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://jwilson.coe.uga.edu/EMT668/EMAT6680.2002/Rouhani/Essay1/Image27.gif" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://jwilson.coe.uga.edu/EMT668/EMAT6680.2002/Rouhani/Essay1/Image27.gif" height="269" width="320" /></a></div><br /><br /><br />1. <br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C61E0jEWYAACjBJ.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="456" src="https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C61E0jEWYAACjBJ.jpg" width="640" /></a></div><br />Most elegant solution comes through boxing the large square.<br /><br />2. <a href="http://www.sineofthetimes.org/a-geometry-challenge-from-japan/">http://www.sineofthetimes.org/a-geometry-challenge-from-japan/</a><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.sineofthetimes.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Parallelograms-768x576.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://www.sineofthetimes.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Parallelograms-768x576.jpg" height="240" width="320" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">All the triangles are isosceles and all the quadrilaterals are rhombi. Find the area of the square at the top. </div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><br /></div><div><br /></div><div><br /></div><div><br /></div><div><br /></div><div><br /></div><div><br /></div><br /><br />http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2017/02/mid-winter-break-geometry.htmlnoreply@blogger.com (Benjamin Leis)0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-4227811469912372962.post-7675283199574143072Wed, 15 Feb 2017 19:15:00 +00002017-02-17T20:20:46.781-08:00moems2/14 Valentine's Day Math Olympiad #4<script type="text/x-mathjax-config"> MathJax.Hub.Config({tex2jax: {inlineMath: [['$','$'], ['\\(','\\)']]}}); </script><script src="https://cdn.mathjax.org/mathjax/latest/MathJax.js?config=TeX-AMS-MML_HTMLorMML" type="text/javascript"></script> By the luck of the draw (well really modular arithmetic), this year Valentine's day fell on a Math Club Tuesday. I don't really go in for holiday themed activities much but I was in the drugstore and in a fit of whimsy bought a bag of heart shaped gummies. So I ended up handing them out to the kids as they arrived yesterday which always makes the start of the session more exciting. As I was going around the table, the thought crossed my mind "Gosh I hope they didn't eat a ton of candy already from their various class parties. If so some of the kids are going to bounce off the walls." That was fortunately not the case.<br /><br />Thematically, I was in a bind again this week. We lost last week to the snow, next week is Winter Break and I had to give another MOEMS Olympiad to stay on schedule. This made for a little too few free form sessions since the last one. Looking forward, I'm going to try to fit in some kind of circle geometry oriented activity to build up to Pi Day. I have also been excited by some reading on function machines and am thinking if there is a fun game or activity inplicit in them. That said, I appreciate the structure the MOEMS contest enforces. Done properly, this results in a lot of intense focus on the part of the kids on 5 problems over a half hour. Providing this exposure to more challenging material is part of my over arching goals.<br /><br />To start off the day, we went over the P.O.T.W (see: <a href="http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2017/01/131-chessboard-problems-or.html">http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2017/01/131-chessboard-problems-or.html</a>) The kids came up with two different approaches. The first leveraged guess and check and the fact that the overall perimeter was supplied to narrow down on the boxes dimensions. I wouldn't have thought to go this way, in fact I had considered removing the given perimeter since its not needed, but with it in hand this strategy works fairly efficiently. The second was a more traditional completely Pythagorean Theorem based approach.<br /><br />Moving on, I proctored the MOEMS contest. Exponents reared there head again which seems to be a recurring theme for this year. From what I can tell so far, there was less conceptual issues with what does the notation mean. But my work is not done. Most kids given something like:<br /><br />$$\sqrt{4^6}$$ will compute \(4^6\) first and then search for a root manually rather than notice that this is the same as \(\sqrt{(4^3)^2}\) and thus the same as \(4^3\). I'm hoping calling these problems out on the whiteboard afterwards will lead to growth over time.<br /><br />On the positive side, I had one student who usually has not talked much this year raising his hand frequently and volunteering to demonstrate solutions during our followup whiteboard session. Noticing that trend was my favorite part of the day.<br /><br />I went with 2 KenKen puzzles of differing degrees of difficulty for the kids to work on if they finished early. These worked well, but I'll bring 3 next time since 1 student actually managed to finish them both before I was ready to move on.<br /><br />P.O.T.W:<br /><br />(This is a slightly modified version of a twitter problem I found from @five_triangles)<br /><br /><span id="docs-internal-guid-c5d233fd-432e-1fc4-23b9-944a6a724390"></span><br /><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: "arial"; font-size: 11pt; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><i>2/3 of the kids in one classroom exchanged cards with 3/5 of the kids in a second classroom. What fraction of the total kids didn’t participate? </i></span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: "arial"; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><br /></span></div><h4 style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: "arial"; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Planning</span></h4><div>I'm still brainstorming about next year. I'm not sure if its going to be easier or harder to keep 6th-8th graders on task. One of my thought experiments, is whether I could present circle activities at different levels on different weeks and have the kids who found it either too hard or too easy due to the age gap work on practice MathCounts based activities. Its also quite possible to use the pre-canned MathCounts curriculum which I'll definitely experiment with and see how I and the kids find it.</div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: "arial"; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><br /></span></div><div dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-bottom: 0pt; margin-top: 0pt;"><span style="background-color: transparent; color: black; font-family: "arial"; font-size: 11pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: 400; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><br /></span></div><br /><br />http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2017/02/214-valentines-day-math-olympiad-4.htmlnoreply@blogger.com (Benjamin Leis)1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-4227811469912372962.post-435990408601855503Tue, 07 Feb 2017 18:55:00 +00002017-02-07T11:39:08.181-08:00brainstormingdigressionMaking Explorations SuccessfulIn a fit of perhaps excessive caution, the district cancelled all after school activities today despite the snow being almost completely melted. So I'm tabling my plans for Math club for this week. I really look forward to working with the kids so I'll have to work some of that energy out with my own children instead. I'm particularly fond of watching Numberphile videos as a family.<br /><br />In the meantime, I saw a quote that I wanted to bounce around:<br /><br /><span style="background-color: #f5f8fa; color: #292f33; font-family: "helvetica neue" , "helvetica" , "arial" , sans-serif; font-size: 26px; letter-spacing: 0.26px; white-space: pre-wrap;">"If you group kids by "ability", those who are struggling may never see the pattern. Groups need to be mixed"</span><br /><span style="background-color: #f5f8fa; color: #292f33; font-family: "helvetica neue" , "helvetica" , "arial" , sans-serif; font-size: 26px; letter-spacing: 0.26px; white-space: pre-wrap;"><br /></span>My first reaction to this idea was contrarian. For one, if you don't really believe in ability i.e. quote the word to signal skepticism, then why does it make a difference if you mix the kids or not? If ability doesn't matter groups are basically random already. Kids should succeed anyway based on their own potential regardless of which peers they are with. If it does matter, then what kind of learning is happening exactly in these situations? My fear would be that basically you end up with a set of kids forging ahead and a second set copying what the others have learned. For me this is a poor man's version of direct instruction. Rather than having an adult who has specialized in instruction showing the way, you devolve to peer to peer tutoring. And having a reasonable amount of experience, I can safely say even kids who really get a concept are usually not nearly as good at communicating it.<br /><br />So how does this relate to my Math Club? First, I do have semi-random groups since I let the kids self select who they work with. The clusters tend to be gendered as a result and split along lines of friendship not necessarily skill. The kids obviously have volunteered to join the club which correlates mostly to some passion for math but in practice there are differences among them that are still probably comparable to a classroom. When we do non-trivial explorations or tasks which is most of the time, kids discover concepts at vastly different rates. This is one of the great weaknesses of this structure. In a one on one setup, I could slow down and scaffold just the right amount to let each individual "get it". In a group, I'm always balancing the needs of the many against each other.<br /><br />I try to compensate for this by having group discussions where everyone shares and by working individually with clusters during any activity. I also work really hard to focus on having everyone participate. Those mitigate to some extent, but I still don't achieve a truly even amount of learning. Some kids still regularly have more breakthroughs than others. In a way, I think this shows the need for individual tasks. There needs to be a space, where everyone can struggle with a problem without having it short-circuited by a peer finding the answer. I'm sensitive when giving advice to not do all the work. Friends on the other hand jump right to the answer.<br /><br />But in the end of the day, group inquiry based learning works best for me the more level the playing field to start off with and I'm not sure I've found an entirely satisfying way to resolve the issues that arise when it really isn't. And in thinking about this more, to me this is the crux of why teaching is non-trivial in general.http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2017/02/making-explorations-successful.htmlnoreply@blogger.com (Benjamin Leis)2tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-4227811469912372962.post-3434159077401831609Wed, 01 Feb 2017 04:02:00 +00002017-02-01T21:27:12.098-08:00brainstormingchess1/31 Chessboard Problems or manipulatives on the cheapThis week's planning revolved around my desire to pivot away from the more conventional topics of last week. I needed to give the kids more exposure to exponents but that being accomplished I wanted a lot more whimsy this week. I was casting around in some of my more Math Circle oriented resources but then I ended up watching a lecture by Maria Droujkova @ <a href="https://www.bigmarker.com/GlobalMathDept/Avoid-Hard-Work-Natural-Math-Adventures?show_register_box=true">https://www.bigmarker.com/GlobalMathDept/Avoid-Hard-Work-Natural-Math-Adventures?show_register_box=true</a>. Among the discussion, one particular problem caught my eye: the knight's tour which is done on a chessboard. I then independently found a different chessboard problem that I liked featured in a numberphile video. I also remembered a chess station I manned last year in the Julia Robinson Festival. All told, that was more than enough material and I thought it would make a fun themed day. The final problem was producing enough pieces for 12 kids to use.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Ocz81R-G6tk/WJFa4dtxqAI/AAAAAAAAIZI/dT9PVFj-umgV54zNt0Ki1heUPx5BCwMNACKgB/s1600/20170129_163346.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Ocz81R-G6tk/WJFa4dtxqAI/AAAAAAAAIZI/dT9PVFj-umgV54zNt0Ki1heUPx5BCwMNACKgB/s320/20170129_163346.jpg" width="180" /></a></div><br />Inspiration struck at the grocery store. For only a few dollars I purchased hundreds of dry lima beans. They worked perfectly on some printed out chessboards and the only issue was making sure they didn't end up all over the floor.<br /><br />As you can see from above, I also bought some candy to reward the kids for reaching our problem of week point goal. The last few weeks, participation has been edging up again and I'm feeling good again about its function.<br /><br />I also ended up borrowing a video projector so I could show the following video:<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/lFQGSGsXbXE/0.jpg" frameborder="0" height="266" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/lFQGSGsXbXE?feature=player_embedded" width="320"></iframe></div><br />I played the first 5 minutes or so and then broke out the lima beans and had the kids work on solutions to the problem for the next 10 minutes. At the very end, I started to get questions about whether this was impossible. My response was can you come up with reasons for why that seems to be the case. We then reconvened for the back of the video. As usual media makes for very easy to manage Math Club sessions. I could very easily see running a permanent format where one did a 10 minute video every week. I particularly like the focus on math practices and proofs embedded within this clip. Its almost perfect for the kids at this stage in their math careers. Two immediately on point moments occurred first when the video asked whether it was possible to prove something impossible. I heard a lot of "yes' murmurs from the room. Then later on when the video started talking about the infinite geometric series 1 + 1/2 + 1/4 ... I stopped to ask the kids what they thought that ended up summing to. Sure enough as the video would call out most answers were a fractional bit less than 2.<br /><br /><br />For the last 20 minutes or so we then turned to the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knight's_tour">Knight's Tour Problem</a>. I explained the basic rules in a huddle, promised everyone this puzzle was solvable and then everyone was off.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-_Ybp4grkBvQ/WJFcvd-I9DI/AAAAAAAAIZQ/POARPoHU7cEeuBujZZO4eVFKZu_rKjQ6QCKgB/s1600/20170131_161735.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-_Ybp4grkBvQ/WJFcvd-I9DI/AAAAAAAAIZQ/POARPoHU7cEeuBujZZO4eVFKZu_rKjQ6QCKgB/s320/20170131_161735.jpg" width="180" /></a><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-XtBx_elW2Zc/WJFc0jqy7FI/AAAAAAAAIZU/E2O03lBjhJY-vzyWlcAg7uiKjzPQpTzhQCKgB/s1600/20170131_161729.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="225" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-XtBx_elW2Zc/WJFc0jqy7FI/AAAAAAAAIZU/E2O03lBjhJY-vzyWlcAg7uiKjzPQpTzhQCKgB/s400/20170131_161729.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />All told, I was very satisfied with the engagement again this week. I have another Olympiad coming up in a few weeks but I hope to repeat another "pure" Math Circle session before then.<br /><br />Bonus: <a href="http://www.msri.org/attachments/jrmf/activities/ChessCovers.pdf">http://www.msri.org/attachments/jrmf/activities/ChessCovers.pdf</a><br /><br /><br />P.O.T.W:<br />a pythagorean puzzle from @solvemymaths.<br /><br /><img src="https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C3XM_DwWAAIreIT.jpg:large" /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2017/01/131-chessboard-problems-or.htmlnoreply@blogger.com (Benjamin Leis)0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-4227811469912372962.post-3259912183923296329Thu, 26 Jan 2017 05:47:00 +00002017-01-27T08:12:19.326-08:00exponents1/24 Curve Ball <script type="text/x-mathjax-config"> MathJax.Hub.Config({tex2jax: {inlineMath: [['$','$'], ['\\(','\\)']]}}); </script><script src="https://cdn.mathjax.org/mathjax/latest/MathJax.js?config=TeX-AMS-MML_HTMLorMML" type="text/javascript"></script> Sometimes random events complicate the best of planning. I was on my way to work when I received an email from my co-coach Kristie that her plane was delayed and she was not going to make it back to town in time. So I ended up taking both the fourth and fifth graders for Math club but I didn't have enough time to really modify what I had setup for the afternoon. Off the bat, I knew there wouldn't be enough desk space for all the kids, the fourth graders hadn't done the problem of the week but I needed to review it since the fifth graders had and I also had picked a fairly formal main activity. Despite these concerns and fretting that it wouldn't be as fun for everyone, the day worked out generally well and the kids maintained their focus belying my worries.<br /><br />P.O.T.W.<br /><br />See: <a href="http://cemc.uwaterloo.ca/resources/potw/2016-17/English/POTWC-16-NN-PA-14-P.pdf">http://cemc.uwaterloo.ca/resources/potw/2016-17/English/POTWC-16-NN-PA-14-P.pdf</a> Once again, about half the kids completed the sheet which is a success in my book. That allowed me to pre-choose one boy to demo that doesn't talk as much. (That's a persistent goal of mine: get everyone talking in front of their peers as much as possible.) His solution was a good example of using a targeted guess and check algorithm to quickly solve a linear equation. This is the kind of informal algebraic reasoning that most of the kids have already developed. Next, I had one of those moments. After asking for any different strategies one of the girls came up and proceeded to write down a system of linear equations and very competently solve them via substitution. This was both awesome and hard. I was fairly sure most of the fourth graders didn't follow this let alone the rest of the fifth graders. But developing the groundwork for substitution was clearly not going to happen. So I made a strategic choice. I asked if anyone had any followup questions about the algebra, gave a quick talk about multiple strategies and how over time everyone would gain more tools and then moved on.<br /><br />Warm-up<br /><br />Fortunately I had already decided to repeat the game of Median from last week: <a href="http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2017/01/117-3rd-olympiad.html">http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2017/01/117-3rd-olympiad.html</a> This required re describing the rules for everyone who was seeing it for the first time. We then did a communal set of rounds as a group with three volunteers. Finally, I broke everyone up into trios and had them play with the guidance that they should look for strategies. This time around, many of the kids noticed that ties were the most common outcome. The general idea that if you were ahead then you should aim to lose rounds also was brought out. I ended with asking a take home question "Is Median like tic-tac-toe where three experienced will always end up in a draw?"<br /><br /><br />Task<br /><br />For the main task for the club I chose some work on exponents which I structured around a whiteboard discussion, small group investigation and problem set. First I wrote some sample numeric exponents like 2^3 on the board and asked for definitions of what an exponent means. Fortunately, one girl almost immediately put out the idea it was a shorthand for multiplication. That let me expand the sample exponents on the whiteboard a few times. I also demo'ed with variables like x^4 to show they were no different. My main message was that exponents are just repeated multiplication and that you can usually expand them out if you're unsure of the semantics. We then went over some common cases which I used the expansions to show how they worked.<br /><br />1. What happens when you multiply two exponents.<br />2. What happens when you divide two exponents.<br /><br />In each case I asked for hypotheses first and then had the kids give me the answer once I expanded on the board.<br /><br />Next: I asked what they thought the 0th power would equal i.e. 2^0. Again, I received the correct answer. But this time, I asked for reasons why this was true which was a little harder. After waiting a while, one of the kids came up with idea that it fit the pattern which I emphasized on the whiteboard. I then introduced the formal argument using the rules for exponent division.<br /><br />Next up was negative exponents. Again I asked for ideas from the room. This proved more confusing. Many kids believed they would probably produce a negative number. So I went back to the pattern chart and asked if negative exponents followed the pattern what should they be using the example of 2^-1. I then demonstrated the formal argument using division again.<br /><br />For the last portion I asked if we had tried all the integers was their anything else we could use as the power? There were a few jokes but no ideas so I threw out what's \(9^\frac{1}{2} \)? For this one I decided we would do an extended brainstorming session in groups. So I wrote some more rational exponent examples on the board and asked the kids to work in a group and use what they knew about exponent rules so far to come up with ideas. When they came back to share, I got a lot of interesting but not quite correct ideas. Many found patterns that worked for the sample exponents but were not generally true. So to close this section off I guided everyone through this type logic:<br /><br />\(2^\frac{1}{2} \cdot 2^\frac{1}{2} = 2^1 \) using the general exponent multiplication laws. This implies if \(x = 2^\frac{1}{2} \) that \(x^2 = 2\) and therefore x is \(\sqrt{2}\).<br /><br />Problem set:<br /><br />Finally for the last 15 minutes of this session I had photocopied the review problems from the exponent chapter in the AoPS pre-algebra book. I had everyone work on these and floated around the room helping out and correcting any misconceptions I saw. As usual I'm never quite satisfied with this format. I assume that since the kids like to work together they will mostly catch each other's errors and raise their hand if they need help. But I still worry about errors creeping through. However, I don't want to bring an answer sheet because that quickly degenerates into a line of kids asking me to check their work which is not scalable. So this is still one area for me to think about improving.<br /><br />P.O.T.W:<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C2tgsccUQAE4Bzd.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="480" src="https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C2tgsccUQAE4Bzd.jpg" width="640" /></a></div><br /><br />Looking forward<br /><br />After this week I want to switch tacks again and work on something more free-form. I'm leaning towards trying out the knight's tour problem after watching a program from Natural Math.<br /><br /><br /><br />http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2017/01/124-curve-ball.htmlnoreply@blogger.com (Benjamin Leis)0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-4227811469912372962.post-4161027971824148080Thu, 19 Jan 2017 04:57:00 +00002017-01-19T08:31:38.059-08:00moems1/17 3rd OlympiadWe started this week with the pdf from further maths that I gave out as a problem of the week: <a href="http://furthermaths.org.uk/docs/FMSP%20Problem%20Poster%201.pdf">http://furthermaths.org.uk/docs/FMSP%20Problem%20Poster%201.pdf</a>. To my satisfaction half the kids worked the problem so I had a lot of choices on whom to choose to show their work on the whiteboard. Thus I had a kid demoing who usually doesn't volunteer. This problem is a clever riff on the Pythagorean theorem. Along the way I interrupted several times to draw out a few key ideas from the group via questions i.e. how the Pythagorean theorem worked, the formula for a triangle's area, and the formula for the area of a half circle. My only idea for improvement would be to draw out the area arithmetic at the end on top of the student explaining it to make sure the logic was clear.<br /><br />MOEMS<br /><br />Despite it being only the second Math club meeting for the quarter MOEMS released the third Olympiad for us to take. This was a bit too early for some of the kids' tastes and I elicited a few groans when I told everyone what we would be doing. I would also have preferred at least one more week before taking this on. I have several topics I'd like to broach including exponents and I also want to throw in some more recreational math activities. But once we started, everyone worked very diligently on the contest and it appeared on a quick glance that many of the kids found solutions to most of the questions. So the experiment with the middle school level after a rocky start seems to be going well.<br /><br />Some general notes:<br /><br /><ul><li>The first problem was rather clumsy and included the expansion for (a + b)^2 and then asked the kids to evaluate it for 2 specific values. I thought this was a failure on two scores. It was most likely to result in blind plugging in of numbers and the phrasing actually ended up confusing some of the kids. Interestingly some of them skipped using the formula entirely and just tried grinding through the calculations in the expanded form. In general, I'd save this one for Algebra when everyone has more background context.</li><li>The last problem involved some combinatorics which even I missed in my quick try out. Basically there was some normal combinations to sum but then you had to recognize one case was double-counted. As expected almost everyone missed the hitch,</li><li>Embarrassingly this was the first time I could properly have the group go over the solutions together on the whiteboard at the end. As usual, the kids were enthusiastic about showing off their work and finding out if they had the correct solutions. (Never wait or delay talking about problems as a group if you have the time).</li></ul><br />Games<br />To make up for jumping into the contest, I picked some really fun activities for everyone to try out while they waited finishing. First up: Median <a href="https://gilkalai.wordpress.com/2017/01/14/the-median-game/">https://gilkalai.wordpress.com/2017/01/14/the-median-game/</a> was awesome. This game needs no more than a pencil and paper to keep score and yet has some really interesting game theory embedded within it. It was a bit tricky accumulating groups of 3 as the kids finished the contest. But beyond that the rules were simple enough for them to get going and soon you started hearing a steady 1,2,3 countdown coming from the clusters. A few kids didn't initially realize the scores were cumulative and asked why you'd ever want to choose an 8 or 1. I replied that sometimes you want to lose in order to keep your overall score in the middle which highlighted that point. So I think I'm going to reuse the game at the start of the next session and do a group play once so we can have a formal discussion about what strategies everyone came up with. This one is highly recommended.<br /><br />I also finally got around to trying out tiny polka dot from Math4Love: <a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/343941773/tiny-polka-dot-the-colorful-math-game-for-young-ki">https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/343941773/tiny-polka-dot-the-colorful-math-game-for-young-ki</a>. This is really multiple games in one. Many of them are leveled for slightly younger children so I wasn't sure how it would go over. While the memory style variants and simple arithmetic weren't very interesting, the kids reported the pyramid variation of tiny polka dots was difficult and fun to try.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-wjjOQk4MPuU/WIA-cgQWJOI/AAAAAAAAISs/ODI1Fvl5ac80hlPMrmrdR5BVjyf5DmLmACKgB/s1600/20170118_183738.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="225" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-wjjOQk4MPuU/WIA-cgQWJOI/AAAAAAAAISs/ODI1Fvl5ac80hlPMrmrdR5BVjyf5DmLmACKgB/s400/20170118_183738.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><br />In this version you need to form a pyramid of 4 - 3 - 2- 1 cards where each layer of 2 cards when subracted is the next one above. Note: you can try this out without any cards. The goal is to use some of the blue and orange numbers cards (each between 0-10) to produce this arrangement. <br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-zHG9IGZM1SE/WIDpuXfV1zI/AAAAAAAAITE/oVj3xXJ6I2Y-8QwjIk8-zT-xAMCwZmlcgCKgB/s1600/20170119_082939.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-zHG9IGZM1SE/WIDpuXfV1zI/AAAAAAAAITE/oVj3xXJ6I2Y-8QwjIk8-zT-xAMCwZmlcgCKgB/s320/20170119_082939.jpg" width="180" /></a></div><br />(Solution completed at home by the beta tester who found this interesting enough to keep working on his own.)<br /><br />This all made me think of a tweet I read reflecting how the teacher didn't regret not using "competitive games" anymore. In my experience, games including competitive ones are always popular so I wondered "Why the lack of love?" It turns out some some games are just not very game like. What was being described here was a timed relay that pitted teams of students against each other. These type activities are really still just math exercises where the only way to win is to go faster. They succeed or not based on the strength of the problems chosen and suffer from the serious drawback that often most of the kids are just waiting their turn to go. Generally, I try to never let kids wait around because mine at least will always find some other way to entertain themselves. (It generally involves crumpling up paper and throwing it at each other.) Math Club or a regular class for that matter is too short to intentionally miss using ever minute anyway. For me a successful Math game involves strategy or logic of its own and must always focus on play. The Mathematics is embedded in the rules and not ancillary Preferably everyone is involved as much as possible of the time. You win by figuring out the game works and developing better strategies. These type games can be competitive or cooperative and still usually everyone has fun.<br /><br />P.O.T.W:<br /><a href="http://cemc.uwaterloo.ca/resources/potw/2016-17/English/POTWC-16-NN-PA-14-P.pdf">http://cemc.uwaterloo.ca/resources/potw/2016-17/English/POTWC-16-NN-PA-14-P.pdf</a>http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2017/01/117-3rd-olympiad.htmlnoreply@blogger.com (Benjamin Leis)2tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-4227811469912372962.post-6932564167889312482Wed, 11 Jan 2017 04:46:00 +00002017-01-10T20:46:34.377-08:001/10 New Year's CelebrationIts gratifying when you plan a Math Club session where your time estimates work out and you achieve really good engagement. I had a few goals for this time since we're starting up.<br /><br />1. Redo introductions and talk about club principles for the new kid.<br />2. To celebrate the new year with some work on factoring.<br />3. Try out a cool puzzle I'd seen online.<br /><br />Having worked out a sequence in my mind, I started to worry that I'd need a little more filler activities. I have a new game from Math4Love: Tiny polka dots that I brought with me just in case. But in the end my instincts were correct. This worked to out to a good hour long session.<br /><br />First, I had everyone assemble on the carpet. I'm trying to use that more often since being closer seems to sharpen focus for everyone. We went around and everyone introduced themselves, named their homeroom teacher and their favorite activity from last quarter or why they joined this time. As usual candy for Problem of the Week celebrations was often mentioned. I chuckled when someone asked if they could use Pi day from last year. This seemed like a good time to promise we'd have pie again this year.<br /><br />I also had the kids debrief about the last Math Competition. Overall, everyone seemed to be fairly upbeat about it.<br /><br />With that out of the way I went over my core principles for this quarter.<br />1. Respect the room and leave it as we found it.<br />2. Listen to me and each other.<br />3. Work on perseverance or "What to do when you're stuck" . For this one I asked several kids for real examples of their thinking during the last MOEMS test and gave a bit of talk about how real math problems aren't always solved in a few seconds. The one strategy I talked up the most was moving on and coming back to something you couldn't get. My example was some geometry problems I've worked on. For the kids, I mentioned that they should try this out with a problem of the week.<br /><br />This was a natural bridge to talk about one of the problems from last contest which was given 2016 = 2^a * 3^b * 7^c find a,b, and c. First I asked about the exponential notation and we quickly went over what it means. (This is a subgoal of mine for the quarter, work a bit on exponents) Then I asked what kind of problem was this? After a few false starts one of the girls came up with the idea it was factoring.<br /><br />Next I asked for ideas from the room on how to factor. Most kids know about factor trees but have a weak idea of the entire process. For example, there was a lot of "start by dividing 2". When I asked what if you can't see any obvious factors there was a long pause. So I decided to switch things up and ask everyone how can we factor 2017? (which is prime and doesn't have any easy factors.)<br /><br />Eventually I started them off with the statement "I can try dividing 2017 by every integer between 2 and 2017 and I'll find the factors but gosh that will take a while, are there any ideas you can come up with to speed this up?"<br /><br />From there there were a lot of suggestions about individual divisibility tests for various numbers. I was able to tease out what made the numbers interesting was that they were prime after several rounds of questions and observations from the class. So finally, I was able to get to the key question do I have to try all the primes less than 2017? This was a bit less satisfying. One kid finally volunteered we need only go to the square root but didn't have a reason why. So for the final part, I gave an informal discussion of why this is true on the whiteboard. If I repeat this again I might have the kids try out a sample and look for patterns first. I was then easily able to get some estimates from the room that the square root of 2017 lay between 40 and 50. I finally had everyone go back to there tables and try the process out on 2017. My main suggestion was to be orderly and assign the different primes to different table members to avoid repeated work.<br /><br />While everyone was computing I went around the whiteboards and put up some more 2017 number trivia I'd been collecting off various sites. Sara VanDerWerf has a great summary here: <a href="https://saravanderwerf.com/2017/01/02/geekin-out-on-2017/">https://saravanderwerf.com/2017/01/02/geekin-out-on-2017/</a>. After all 4 tables had confirmed 2017 was prime I pointed each one out. I didn't stress these much but left them up for inspiration for the rest of the afternoon.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-UnFfpSAMzK0/WHW2NQU-UcI/AAAAAAAAILA/assp5tVLfEMqMFld11CyKUiZnI2e1jfuACKgB/s1600/20170110_163325.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="225" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-UnFfpSAMzK0/WHW2NQU-UcI/AAAAAAAAILA/assp5tVLfEMqMFld11CyKUiZnI2e1jfuACKgB/s400/20170110_163325.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><br />Finally from there we transitioned to an awesome geometry puzzle I found from Sarah Carter:<br /><a href="https://app.box.com/s/fq1in313xoeklzfi12tqh2kvnbg7h4bd/1/14475537579/112039820856/1">https://app.box.com/s/fq1in313xoeklzfi12tqh2kvnbg7h4bd/1/14475537579/112039820856/1</a><br /><br />The Zukei puzzles involve finding a given shape on a coordinate plane from among a set of potential vertices. These were highly engaging and kept the entire room's focus for the rest of the day. Interestingly, I was able to work a bit on geometry definitions along the way as questions about what is an isosceles triangle or rhombus came up. I love that this flowed naturally from the problems rather than just being a giant exercise in taxonomy.<br /><br />Finally I chose another one of the "favourite problem" posters for the P.O.T.W:<br /><a href="http://furthermaths.org.uk/docs/FMSP%20Problem%20Poster%201.pdf">http://furthermaths.org.uk/docs/FMSP%20Problem%20Poster%201.pdf</a><br /><br />Bonus: I'm trying my hand at T-shirt design for the club. Here's my version for this year.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-2YUtHVc7hNc/WHW4XLF6TyI/AAAAAAAAILU/jO4kh7rBwCYQFSu3QjY3ru861gWgXlP3ACLcB/s1600/back.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="305" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-2YUtHVc7hNc/WHW4XLF6TyI/AAAAAAAAILU/jO4kh7rBwCYQFSu3QjY3ru861gWgXlP3ACLcB/s320/back.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-G7ekdm92H8s/WHW4X00tkaI/AAAAAAAAILY/44OU1NWrpxQU67sezJ7pVSf7ORSiMDcPACLcB/s1600/front.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="305" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-G7ekdm92H8s/WHW4X00tkaI/AAAAAAAAILY/44OU1NWrpxQU67sezJ7pVSf7ORSiMDcPACLcB/s320/front.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><br />http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2017/01/110-new-years-celebration.htmlnoreply@blogger.com (Benjamin Leis)0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-4227811469912372962.post-340799974445288035Mon, 09 Jan 2017 04:12:00 +00002017-01-11T10:24:23.858-08:00knights of piKnight's of Pi 2017<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-j8oH7PsHMX8/WHMIRAUhMwI/AAAAAAAAIKA/A1Zy80xiDxQ4QqhSwIcS8nbDI9JDb61gQCKgB/s1600/20170107_144128.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="360" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-j8oH7PsHMX8/WHMIRAUhMwI/AAAAAAAAIKA/A1Zy80xiDxQ4QqhSwIcS8nbDI9JDb61gQCKgB/s640/20170107_144128.jpg" width="640" /></a></div><br />High School full of mathy kids assembling for a Math competition.<br /><br />This weekend was my third time back at the Knight's of Pi math competition and I brought 2 teams of fifth graders this year. I've written about my complex relationship with this one before: <a href="http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2014/12/knights-of-pi-math-competion.html">http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2014/12/knights-of-pi-math-competion.html</a>. <br /><br />How I handle this now:<br /><br />1. I'm upfront with the parents about expectations and leveling.<br />2. I stress focusing on the problems with the kids. This year I gave everyone the task to remember their favorite one so we could talk about it over the dinner pizza.<br />3. I try to encourage everyone to bring games and books so the waiting periods are more fun. I think this part was really successful this year. The kids always like pizza and a minecraft design book was the surprise hit. We also had some good rounds of pente and smashup.<br />4. I also tend to encourage everyone to skip the awards ceremony. This year it ran especially late and we endured 40 minutes of kids reciting digits of pi before the awards were handed out.<br />5. I'm making a more concerted effort to scan the questions and answers so I can email them out. I'm hoping some of the kids will be motivated to go over problems they missed and dig into them at home.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-4inQ35GjxVo/WHMKdIr6iTI/AAAAAAAAIKM/7-Pe_G_4Mw8J3mzeHsNom3ntF70vLRLqwCKgB/s1600/20170107_200040.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="180" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-4inQ35GjxVo/WHMKdIr6iTI/AAAAAAAAIKM/7-Pe_G_4Mw8J3mzeHsNom3ntF70vLRLqwCKgB/s320/20170107_200040.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-YdvJg8oPBeo/WHMKdLR2u2I/AAAAAAAAIKM/aZ9Qf2ko5JURZddGgPnmaU3qkD9BRLrPgCKgB/s1600/20170107_200038.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="180" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-YdvJg8oPBeo/WHMKdLR2u2I/AAAAAAAAIKM/aZ9Qf2ko5JURZddGgPnmaU3qkD9BRLrPgCKgB/s320/20170107_200038.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><br />The ceremony at the end.<br /><br />Overall looking through the questions, the quality varied quite a bit.<br /><br />The good:<br />Some classic algebraic age problems. "In 3 years John's father will be 3 times as aold as John but 2 years earlier John's father was 4 times as old. How old is John now?" While solvable with algebra this can also be attacked via various intelligent guess and check strategies, bar charts etc. Given as a group problem with (barely) enough time I think this worked pretty well.<br /><br />"What is 2017 base 8 expressed in base 5?" Several kids thought this was their favorite one from the individual section.<br /><br />The bad:<br />Calculate the probability of drawing 4 of kind from a deck of cards. Too far out of scope for this age level. A rather large hand calculated fraction anyway.<br /><br />The ugly:<br />Find all the zeroes of y = x^2 - 7x + 10. Definitely out of scope for 5th grade (maybe even the vocabulary) and solving it via a guess and check strategy seems too expensive given the time limits per question. Full disclosure: at least one of my teams figured this out anyway.<br /><br />Final Irony:<br />The first winter session of Math Club is coming up this week. One of the fun topics I was planning to talk about were number facts about 2017. I was toying with having the kids factorize it to discover that its prime (and practice factoring) Of course, this was one of the questions. So I may modify my plans a bit now. Fortunately there are 3 or 4 fun observations that I still have in my back pocket. I love that its part of a Pythagorean triple.<br /><b><br /></b><b>OK so what would you do to improve things?</b><br />I've thought about this a lot in the last few days. For a start there a few practical changes that would be helpful.<br /><br /><ul><li>Pair schools and seat them together in the beginning to encourage interactions between students. Keep them in the same room for the entire contest.</li><li>Build in a social math oriented activity in the middle ala a Julia Robinson Festival type question.</li><li>Use extra time to talk about solutions rather than pi. Kids are never as excited to talk about how they solved problems than right after doing a contest. If this was formalized I think you could do a lot of learning and shift the focus back towards the problems.</li><li>Standards based awards. Define a threshold for "honors" and give everyone who reaches it a recognition.</li><li>Less problems that take more time. A typical MOEMS contest will have 5 complex problems in 30 minutes vs. 40 problems in 45 minutes here.</li></ul><br /><br /><br /><br />http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2017/01/knights-of-pi-2017.htmlnoreply@blogger.com (Benjamin Leis)0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-4227811469912372962.post-3515148724842944896Mon, 26 Dec 2016 19:36:00 +00002016-12-26T11:36:34.429-08:00brainstormingdigressionmath club ideasTechnologyI saw a funny ignite talk "Algebra Inferno" the other day comparing disliked teaching practices to the various circles of hell a la Dante.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/cV7sBFHhM9A/0.jpg" frameborder="0" height="266" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/cV7sBFHhM9A?feature=player_embedded" width="320"></iframe></div><br /><br />Among the sinners list were the survivalists: those who refused to ever allow the use of technology in their classes. While I chuckled at the clever pun, I don't really totally agree with this point. My contrarian instinct is that there is a huge body of math out there that doesn't need calculators that one need never stray from and quite successfully conduct a lesson. And on the converse most of the math lessons that try to use them often turn out to be more about practice punching buttons than thinking mathematically.<br /><br />There's some larger existential questions wrapped in this debate. In the era of ubiquitous cellphones and Wolfram Alpha what parts of elementary school mathematics are relevant and can you skip them without throwing away the ladder to higher level skills?<br /><br />Leaving that question aside, in practice, as often is the case I'm more pragmatic than my initial instincts. The other day my son was working on a problem and asked if he could use Desmos to plot the graphs of some inequalities. That seemed like a very reasonable usage and I'm happy how much he is excited by desmos having only been recently introduced to it. So feeling like another hand plot wasn't needed, I said "of course."<br /><br />I don't have that luxury during Math Club where there are neither calculators or computers around. But were that the case these are just a few of the uses I think really are worthwhile:<br /><br /><ul><li>Investigating the patterns of digits in repeating decimal numbers is vastly sped up by just trying them out.</li><li>In the age of infinite precision calculators its now possible to check all those modular arithmetic stumpers like which is bigger 63^45 or 33^54 directly in python.</li><li>I love the use of 2-d and 3-d graphs as long as they are a natural extension of a larger problem.</li><li>Geogebra makes a nicer version of pen and compass constructions and is very useful in exploring more complex geometry proofs.</li><li>We were recently doing a comparison problem at home between 2^1/2, 3^1/3 and 5^1/5. Visualizing the graph of x^1/x in desmos made this much richer. </li><li>If you want to practice finding factors for larger numbers like say 2017, calculators help speed things up quite a bit.</li></ul><br />http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2016/12/technology.htmlnoreply@blogger.com (Benjamin Leis)0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-4227811469912372962.post-4194956430661177645Wed, 21 Dec 2016 01:52:00 +00002016-12-20T17:52:21.624-08:00decodingvirtual math clubVirtual Math Club for Winter<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://ilord.com/images/enigma/open-lid-1000.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://ilord.com/images/enigma/open-lid-1000.jpg" height="240" width="320" /></a></div><br /><br />Here's the cipher I sent of for the kids to decode while they are on break. I'm offering double homework points towards candy for solutions so hopefully some will give it a shot.<br /><br /><blockquote class="tr_bq">"oifi'y r trgo dcit rme ucji gc chhkdl lckf gzti xiscfi trgo hpkx ygrfgy kd rbrzm. z'ni imhceie zg wzgo r ykxygzgkgzcm hzdoif gc trji gozmby tcfi skm:<br /><br />z<br />wfcgi<br />r dcit<br />cm r drbi<br />xkg goim irho pzmi bfiw<br />gc goi goi wcfe ykt cs goi dfinzcky gwc<br />kmgzp z ygrfgie gc wcffl rxckg rpp gocyi wcfey hctzmb wzgo ykho sfiakimhl<br />xihrkyi ry lck hrm yii, zg hrm xi iryl gc fkm ckg cs ydrhi woim r dcit bigy rpp zxcmrhhz yiakimhl."<br /><div><br /></div><div></div></blockquote>http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2016/12/virtual-math-club-for-winter.htmlnoreply@blogger.com (Benjamin Leis)1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-4227811469912372962.post-336258974428913317Mon, 19 Dec 2016 21:09:00 +00002017-01-02T15:23:18.432-08:00digressiongeometryWinter break cyclic 3-4-5<script type="text/x-mathjax-config"> MathJax.Hub.Config({tex2jax: {inlineMath: [['$','$'], ['\\(','\\)']]}}); </script><script src="https://cdn.mathjax.org/mathjax/latest/MathJax.js?config=TeX-AMS-MML_HTMLorMML" type="text/javascript"></script><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">This is another exercise in documenting geometry problem solving. I chose this problem because again it has a 3-4-5 triangle within it and the overall setup is very simple. It also shows how one can circle around the correct solution, as it were, before coming to it. </div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><b><br /></b></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><b>Given cyclic quadrilateral ABCD where ABC is a right triangle and AB = BC = 5 and </b></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><b>the diagonal BD = 7 find the area of ADC.</b></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-3dU29eiSwTs/WFg4qslVcDI/AAAAAAAAICo/D6YOcXwdM2Q96mfC9J8MuKLba9LGK6DiwCLcB/s1600/2tricircle.png" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="616" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-3dU29eiSwTs/WFg4qslVcDI/AAAAAAAAICo/D6YOcXwdM2Q96mfC9J8MuKLba9LGK6DiwCLcB/s640/2tricircle.png" width="640" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><h4 style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></h4><h4 style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-weight: normal;">Thought process</span></h4><br />1. Angle chasing: \(\triangle{ABC}\) is right isosceleses. Since ABCD is a cyclic quadrilateral, that means we can angle chase a bunch i.e. \(\angle{BDC} = \angle{BAC} =45^\circ\). <br />2. Cyclic also means that the product of diagonal portions is equal i.e. \(AE \cdot EC = DE \cdot BE\)<br />3. Also there are a bunch of similar triangles: \( \triangle{AED} \sim \triangle{BCE} \) and \( \triangle{CDE} \sim \triangle{ABE} \)<br />4. Realize 2 and 3 are the same basically saying the same thing.<br />5. At this point I had a general idea that I'd need to use the length of both diagonals as well as the similarity of the triangles to find the area.<br />5. I started the algebra with the Pythagorean theorem and similar triangles to find the lengths of AE and ED. This looked fairly messy even going in although generally solvable.<br />6. So I stopped and checked with the angle bisector theorem around \( \angle{ADC} \) and realized that produced nothing new.<br />7. I already strongly suspected just on visual inspection that the missing part was a 3-4-5 triangle. So once again I paused and checked in geogebra that my hunch was correct. (it was).<br />8. Then I started grinding through my first approach: let a = BE and b = CE then:<br />\( \frac{BE}{EC} = \frac{AE}{ED}\) or \( \frac{a}{b}=\frac{5 \sqrt{2} - b}{7-a} \)<br /><br />Which simplifies to \( 7a - a^2 = 5\sqrt{2}b - b^2 \)<br />In addition using the Pythagorean theorem: \( \overline{AD}^2 + \overline{CD}^2 = 50 \)<br />Then applying triangle proportionality \( \overline{AD} = \frac{5}{a} * (5\sqrt(2) - b)) \) and \( \overline{CD} = \frac{5}{a} * b \)<br />When combined you finally end up with:<br />$$ 50 = \frac{25}{a^2}((5\sqrt(2) - b)^2 + b^2)$$<br />$$ 2a^2 = 50 - 10\sqrt{2}b + 2b^2$$<br />$$ a^2 = 25 - (5\sqrt{2}b - b^2)$$<br />$$ a^2 = 25 - 7a + a^2$$<br />$$ a = \frac{25}{7}$$<br /><br />9. I started to solve for b after which point I could find AD and CD. But this was even messier looking than above and was heading towards an ugly quadratic equation. <br /><br />$$ \frac{25 \cdot 24}{49} = (5\sqrt{2} -b) \cdot b $$<br /><br />10. That looked super messy but I realized what I really wanted was \( 1/2 * AD * DC \) which<br />comes out to \( 1/2 \cdot \frac{25}{a^2} (5\sqrt{2} - b) \cdot b \) and you can substitute with the two derived results above to find the answer.<br /><br />11. I was dissatisfied with the opaqueness and algebra of this method plus it never showed the 3-4-5 clearly so I started from scratch.<br />12. This time I played with the \(\angle{ADC}\). First I stated thinking about breaking up the 3-4-5 into a square and the various 1:2 and 1:3 triangles. But then I realized that I had two 45 degree angles that could be extended and we know the lengths of the sides of those triangle and from there the drawing below immediately fell out. Framed this way the problem was much simpler.<br /><br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;">*<a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-MnPRu_tpjL4/WFYkjwlHC5I/AAAAAAAAH_g/kFvLmdMzncQcP9EMgekZfrbv91hIVgh9gCKgB/s1600/20161217_202907.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em; text-align: center;"><img border="0" height="640" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-MnPRu_tpjL4/WFYkjwlHC5I/AAAAAAAAH_g/kFvLmdMzncQcP9EMgekZfrbv91hIVgh9gCKgB/s640/20161217_202907.jpg" width="360" /></a></div><br />http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2016/12/winter-break-cyclic-3-4-5.htmlnoreply@blogger.com (Benjamin Leis)0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-4227811469912372962.post-7269658662280224179Fri, 16 Dec 2016 18:15:00 +00002016-12-23T12:35:53.759-08:00amcAMC 8 Results<div class="tr_bq">The wait is finally over. We received the results for the 2016 AMC 8. Now comes my least favorite part sending them out to the parents. This is the message I ended up with this year:</div><br /><br /><blockquote style="background-color: white; color: #222222; font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8px;"><span style="background-color: white; color: #222222; font-family: "arial" , sans-serif; font-size: 12.8px;">The results for the AMC 8 contest finally arrived. First thanks for participating. I'm proud of how everyone did and this is just the beginning, hopefully, of AMC contests for everyone. I want to stress again also to treat this like a baseline on an above-level test. The contest is meant for Middle Schoolers. Since its nationally normed, keep these scores for future years. I'm hoping everyone will generally see growth over time.</span><span style="background-color: transparent;"> </span></blockquote><blockquote style="background-color: white; color: #222222; font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8px;">Some Resources:<br /><a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&q=https://www.artofproblemsolving.com/wiki/index.php/2016_AMC_8&source=gmail&ust=1481998338246000&usg=AFQjCNEjPn_jLy4ikNPMPghzakKMADQaTw" href="https://www.artofproblemsolving.com/wiki/index.php/2016_AMC_8" style="color: #1155cc;" target="_blank">https://www.<wbr></wbr>artofproblemsolving.com/wiki/<wbr></wbr>index.php/2016_AMC_8</a><br />This has all the problems and solutions for them. If your child is still interested, it can be valuable to go over the problems. Feel free to email me if you have any questions about the questions.<span style="background-color: transparent;"> </span></blockquote><blockquote style="background-color: white; color: #222222; font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8px;">MAA will eventually publish national statistics when they're done scoring all of the entries. These will be found here: <a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&q=https://amc-reg.maa.org/reports/generalreports.aspx&source=gmail&ust=1481998338246000&usg=AFQjCNE9xTfsR6B3gXlnQZdub6r--8NZ3A" href="https://amc-reg.maa.org/reports/generalreports.aspx" style="color: #1155cc;" target="_blank">https://amc-reg.maa.org/<wbr></wbr>reports/generalreports.aspx</a> I don't<br />generally think these are too useful in our case since the data is normed for 6-8th grade.</blockquote> <br /><br />Overall I'm very happy we participated. Hopefully most of the kids will take this again in future years. As an aside, the opportunity to participate is very site dependent here. I wish there was a more district wide policy so that all middle schools always offered the chance.<br /><br />Moving forward I'm feeling like some encoded message fun over the break:<br /><a href="http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2016/12/virtual-math-club-for-winter.html">http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2016/12/virtual-math-club-for-winter.html</a><br /><br /><br />[Update]: the overall statistics were just published. One thing that stuck out at me was WA state is a bit of a math powerhouse although sadly not much of this is coming from our district. Overall the state had highest mean score, median score and was the only one where you needed a perfect score to be in the top 1%.<br /><br /><br /><br />http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2016/12/amc-8-results.htmlnoreply@blogger.com (Benjamin Leis)0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-4227811469912372962.post-119025310160029030Thu, 15 Dec 2016 18:39:00 +00002016-12-28T12:21:51.785-08:0012/13 End of the QuarterAnd just like that, another quarter has wound down. I'm always amazed how fast time flies. Its a lot of work planning and running the sessions of Math Club and yet I'm still always torn wishing I had more time with the kids. This day was more crowded than usual. I had to fit the second MOEMS Olympiad in, go over the problem of the week and there was the end of the quarter game day to run. Clearly, something had to give and I ended up planning to sacrifice part of the time I normally would allot to game day. I'm considering running another one on the first meeting in January after we go over all the house-keeping to make up for cutting it short.<br /><br />As of yesterday I also finally received the updated rosters. I sadly lost 2 kids to scheduling conflicts but I have one new one joining and the overall numbers are still at 13 which is a good size. Almost every time a student leaves I still feel a little bad though. There was one enthusiastic boy in this group who often wanted to mention something one on one whom I really think would have had fun if he could have continued and a girl I lost to a conflicting choir practice last year that I ending up thinking of while I looked over the roster.<br /><br />The problem of the week was only lightly participated in and I'm going to need to invigorate it a bit. So again I had kids work on it on the board: sketching out numbers and connecting the factors to see how far they could get. Since I'm finally getting used to the room, I took full advantage of the whiteboards on both sides and had 4 kids working at once. That works great and sometimes a few extra kids come over and form a group which I like watching. What I didn't do but I will in the future was explicitly hand out paper to have everyone else working at the tables. Otherwise, some number kids don't watch or start working on their own and sadly don't volunteer that they are missing the paper needed for scratch work. This is one of the areas where I think you just need to bridge the gap. Once I imagined the group of kids always having a notebook and diligently bringing it. Maybe that works in Middle School but in fifth grade you have to do more to keep everyone on track.<br /><br />There were a few behaviors I noticed during the Olympiad that I'm hoping to keep working on. The first was 2 or 3 kids got stuck on one of the problems and basically gave up and turned the contest in with time still remaining. In each case, I encouraged them to take advantage of the time and keep working on the problems but it was a hard sell. (I also had a larger group that didn't figure out the solution to everything but kept working the whole time possible.) Persistence is one of those key attributes that I'm really trying to emphasize. I'll probably talk about it again in January but I'm still thinking about what the best way to handle this is. My first idea is to ask some of those who kept going to talk about what their thinking/strategies were when stuck. Despite my skepticism sometimes of the value of most of the growth mindset theory that's really what's at play here. How do you get kids to buy into continually thinking about a solution (which they may not arrive at) and not shutting down? It's this uncomfortable space where I think the most learning occurs.<br /><br />My favorite moment of the day actually happened right after the contest was done. There was one problem that involved figuring the missing numbers in a consecutive sequence of number given the sum of some of them. Listening to two boys discuss it one of them said "I solved it using try and fail (guess and check)" and the other replied "I solved it with algebra." One its always cool to examine the structure of a problem through different strategies. But more importantly this represents the inflection point many of them are at between informal methods and algebraic thinking. I find this transition to be fascinating. There comes a point when you see problems and you immediately model them using linear equations and formally solve. Often this comes at a trade-off where the previous conceptual / informal reasoning takes a back seat for a while. I find this analogous to how standard algorithms usually supplant informal computation strategies after they are initially learned.<br /><br />Finally, I brought pente, prime climb, trezetto and pentago as well as a deck of "24 cards". These were all great hits and the kids immediately settled in once they had finished the contest.<br /><br /><br />http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2016/12/1213-end-of-quarter.htmlnoreply@blogger.com (Benjamin Leis)2tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-4227811469912372962.post-4930034425152640702Wed, 07 Dec 2016 19:41:00 +00002016-12-07T11:41:42.461-08:0012/6 Catching UpAs I alluded to in my <a href="http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2016/12/grab-bag-of-problems.html">last post</a> I had to miss last week's Math club meeting. This was one of those times when expanding to two instructors really paid off. Thanks to the other parent, I was able to have the kids do a joint session and didn't have to cancel the day. This was also made a bit easier by the fact that we were scheduled to do the first MOEMs Olympiad. So for the most part the kids were working by themselves on the problems in a proctored setting.<br /><br />Nevertheless, that meant I had a lot of items to catch up on when I rejoined everyone this week. To start off I had all the kids talk about their recent experiences with the AMC 8 test and with the first Olympiad. The general consensus was that the first Olympiad was pretty hard. This was our first time trying out the middle school division so I was unsure what to expect. I always do the contests myself before hand to gauge their difficulty and form ideas about what I expect the kids to have trouble with. I also thought this was going to present a high degree of challenge. Interestingly, I've now looked at the second in the series and its doesn't appear as hard. So I'm going to continue on with the experiment and not switch back to the elementary division for now.<br /><br />Because they hadn't gone over the solutions as a group I decided we would do so now even though they had been handed out. My general observation is that most kids don't reflect on problems unless you setup the structure to encourage it (even with a solution set). The drawback was that this was a week later and so there was less excitement than there would have been in the moment but I think it was critical to draw out the discussion and have everyone think more about the problems they hadn't been able to solve. <br /><br />I'm unable to directly discuss the problems but several observations I did have were:<br /><br /><br /><ul><li>Comprehension is a bit of a problem. For instance there was one problem that asked the kids to find only cubed numbers. Many of them totally misunderstood and just looked for all the numbers. I'm going to have a discussion about careful reading before the next version and see if that's enough otherwise we may need to do some group practice parsing.</li><li>Many of the kids are unfamiliar with cubes and exponents in general. That's not completely unexpected given the scope and sequence for the year and I don't usually pick problems that hinge on them. But I may need to make an exception to facilitate with the contest and plan a day around exponents to give the kids the tools they need. The key idea I'd like them to understand is how an exponent is just notation that can always be expanded out into multiplication.</li></ul><br /><br />By this point we had used up more than half of the time and I wanted to switch tacks and do some group work. So I went with the factoring puzzle I had previously found:<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-hasqkq_AUaI/WD3JShOpXAI/AAAAAAAAH2M/7clHZN9kuto1g4-2Gu1z7KO2W9sS8VRmQCPcB/s1600/IMG_20161123_133316.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-hasqkq_AUaI/WD3JShOpXAI/AAAAAAAAH2M/7clHZN9kuto1g4-2Gu1z7KO2W9sS8VRmQCPcB/s400/IMG_20161123_133316.jpg" width="348" /></a></div><br />As I expected this was compelling and accessible. As I worked my way around the groups, most of my discussion were around which numbers can you see most immediately i.e. the 5 sticks out first for most kids (and then the 2's) and how do you go forward from there. I needed to ask a series of leading questions to get some of the kids to think about factoring and structure. I.e. since all these numbers share factors once you've factored one you're only missing one factor in any of the other ones. So it also makes a lot of sense to factor the easiest one 6160 first. My favorite observation, was one students noticing that once you did have the factors and ordered them, the smallest factor belonged behind the largest value, the second smallest factor belonged behind the second largest value and so on.<br /><br />By this point I ran a few minutes over schedule. That meant I ended up skipping past the previous problem of the week and the other items I had assembled for the day. If only we could have kept going for another 30 minutes ... On the bright side, we're well setup for our normal routine next week which will be the last session for this quarter.<br /><br />P.O.T.W<br /><a href="http://furthermaths.org.uk/docs/FMSP%20Problem%20Poster%203.pdf">http://furthermaths.org.uk/docs/FMSP%20Problem%20Poster%203.pdf</a><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />http://mymathclub.blogspot.com/2016/12/126-catching-up.htmlnoreply@blogger.com (Benjamin Leis)0