Playing with Math and more

Early summer is a great time of year in Seattle and Eastern WA, where we’re splitting our time right now. We’ve been pouring energy into a few projects: launching our new game, Prime Climb; supporting Seattle Summer School with curriculum and professional development support; piloting a Math for Love summer camp, which just wrapped up after an excellent week; and …

Twin Prime Hero

I just read this wonderful interview with Tom Zhang, who made recent, important progress on the Twin Prime conjecture. It’s a strange, quiet interview, and a lovely departure from the world of the fame-obsessed. Another thing I like: he emphasizes the love and the persistence. Here’s how the interview ends: What would you say to a young student who wants …

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Doubling Algebra? Or making it work?

I’d call this article, about how doubling the time students spent studying algebra led them to do better in math and also reading and writing(!) a case of burying the lead. Why? Before anyone rushes to double the lengths of all algebra classes, make sure you read into the article, where Cortes, a researcher following the kids in the “doubled …

Math and the Drug War

The drug war is one issue that tends to be too hot for presidential politics. You won’t hear any questions at the debates about it, and you can be sure the candidates won’t be talking about it. But there’s a proposal in front of voters here in Washington State this November that has some pretty big implications for the drug …

Bill Clinton Teaches Arithmetic, Plus Exciting News on abc

Last week was a very big week for mathematics. First of all, Bill Clinton made arithmetic the centerpiece of his speech at the DNC. While it may not be new to let arithmetic affect policy, it has been absent from politics for some time. John Stewart hailed its return saying I never thought I’d say this but I have missed …

A Mathematician Profiled in Playboy

When we’re talking about a cultural interest in mathematics and mathematicians, this seems like a sign of a sea change: the reclusive Russian mathematician Grigory Perelman profiled in none other than Playboy magazine. Not a lot on the math, and it’s held out as something only a few hundred people in the world can understand, and Perelman is weird, of …

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What if?

Take note: Randall Munroe, the genius behind xkcd.com, has launched a new public service: people ask questions, and he answers on Tuesday. You have to see it to understand how amazing this is: his answers are funny, illuminating, and totally unexpected, even as they are absolutely true. Here’s an example, where he determines how many Yodas it would take to …

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Bedtime Math

At some point in the last several decades, people began to realize that reading to their children was a great way to help their children learn to read. “Read to your kids at bedtime!” experts and educators exhorted, and still exhort. And it works. Kids who are read to at home have more success in school, and higher literacy rates. …

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Nine Dangerous Things & Math Isn’t Necessary

I like this little writeup on Nine Dangerous Things You Were Taught In School from Forbes. It pithily gets into the consequences of having a system that’s so standardized that is responsible for educating–a fundamentally intimate and nonstandard task, if you do it right. I find myself in a place of tension on this topic. I believe in public education, …

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Forgot Algebra

Things are crazy busy, and haven’t posted in too long. I’m not going to change that in any serious way at the moment, but when xkcd throws up something this topical, I have a duty to pass it along here.