Math that Makes Sense

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On Pi Day, a fellow blogger shared Vi Hart's "Pi Is (still) Wrong" video. It had been a while since I'd swung by Ms. Hart's blog, so I did so last night. I was pleased to discover her story about Wind and Mr. Ug. I think it would be great to gather the childrens 'round and watch it. Sure, it's 7:15 long... but well worth it.

In just over 7 minutes, Ms. Hart gives a fantastic example of story-based math education. What's more, you get to experience the thrill of "getting it" as the story unfolds. So many of my high school math classes involved the painful process of me trying to catch up with the idea. "What are the factors of 2x2 - 5x + 9? To solve this, first you need to..."

Umm... how's that again?

As Wind goes about her day, I began to smile. I knew what was coming. And that made me feel smart! Math made sense. What's more, there's a reason to figure the problem out. As Dr. Sax points out in Why Gender Matters: Boys are sometimes happy to just tackle the numbers, but girls get far more excited about math when they see examples of it in nature. We tend to enjoy learning more if we see there's a connection between life and the subject at hand. So what is math?

Without looking up a formal definition, how about: Mathematics is the study of how values, matter and energy fit together, often notated by abstract symbols. That's why topics like color, money, shapes, speed, cooking and music are so easily mixed in with addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

This is also why math can become so unbelievably understandable when we use real life to demonstrate a concept. we do in MathTacular.

When we are able to pull math out of the world of equations and numbers and reconnect it with values and matter and energy, math makes sense. What's more, the numbers and equations become a means of playing with what we've learned. And that is cool.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester

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