Christopher Danielson (@trianglemancsd) started a cool thing. It’s called “Talk Math with your Kids“. There’s a hashtag (#tmwyk) that is pretty cool to check out, too. According to Dr. Danielson “We know we need to read with our children every day, but what should we do for math? Answer: Talk about math with them as we and they encounter numbers and shapes in our everyday lives.”
I try to do this as much as I can. I have an 8-year-old, a 5-year-old, and a 2-year-old. And shapes, numbers, sorting, more, less, etc. are all things that I try to talk about with them when I can. Mostly because it is interesting to me, as a former math teacher.
Recently, I recorded one such conversation with my 5-year-old as we prepared breakfast (listen for the crackling of delicious bacon in the background.) I am submitting it as a model of how these types of conversations can look and feel.
What do you do to talk math with your kids?
So I was at Kroger and I was thirsty.
I went to the cooler to pick out a 20 oz. Coke. $1.69. Reasonable. About what you’ll pay most places, at least around these parts.
But I had some more shopping to do. So, I kept walking. Gathering the items on my list.
Then I saw some 2-liter Cokes. (Remind me. Which is a bigger amount of Coke? 2 Liters? or 20 ounces?)
The 2-Liter Coke was priced at “2/$3.00”. (Which, I’m pretty sure is less than $1.69.)
(Oh! And you don’t have to buy 2 to get that price. Kroger is awesome like that.)
I get pricing a little bit. I worked concessions at a college football stadium for a while (true story, by the way). I know the shtick. It’s upselling.
“For an extra quarter, you get almost double the pop!”
But this isn’t like that.
You have to buy 4 twenty-ouncers to fill a 2-liter. 4! You include the 10-cent bottle deposit here in the great state of Michigan, and that’s over $7.00!
This isn’t even close.
Kids, THAT’S why you learn math.
Quoctrung Bui from NPR says that there are at least 74476 reasons that you should always get the bigger pizza. (The article has an awesome interactive graph, too!)
If we could mix the article with a math exploration, we could provide an awesome opportunity for a math-literacy activity that can combine reasoning, reading, writing, and some number-crunching all in the same experience. That’s a nice combination. Also I suspect the content hits close to home for most students. (The leadership in our district is often looking for opportunities to increase authentic reading and writing in math classes. This seems to fit the bill quite well.)
Here’s an activity:
Although without fail, the menus from a variety of local pizza joints will probably be a bit more engaging. (Look for an update coming soon…)
But the big question is why?
According to Bui: “The math of why bigger pizzas are such a good deal is simple: A pizza is a circle, and the area of a circle increases with the square of the radius.”
Yup… that’s pretty much it.
Almost three years ago, I highlighted the Coke vs. Sprite video that @ddmeyer made. It is a very intriguing question (which glass contains a greater amount of its original pop) without a clear answer.
Today, I let a class give it a go and here’s what they came up with.
First, they chose to model it with integers. Said one student: “I pretended it was a jar with 10,000 marbles.”
Then they assigned “a dropper-full” to be 100 marbles. So, the first dropper took 100 red marbles and placed them into the jar with the 10,000 green marbles.
Now we assumed the stirring made the mixture homogeneous which meant that there was a consistent 100:1 green-to-red marble ratio in the right jar. So, when we pull another 100 marbles to put back, (with a little bit of rounding) we pull 99 green marbles and a single red marble back into the left jar.
A little number crunching reveals (at least in this model) that there would be 9901 original-colored marbles and 99 other-colored marbles in each jar.
My original assumption matches their investigation. It seems (at least by this model) that at the end of the video, each glass is containing equal amounts of their original soda.
Another teacher Chris Hunter (@ChrisHunter36) also battled with this video and created an excellent read about his experiences. Check them out.
I have another wonderful story about the power of the wider math community to support its own. Earlier in March I presented at MACUL 2014 in Grand Rapids, MI. During that presentation, I led the group through an experience with the Wedding Cake Problem, which ended up being a wonderfully energetic interaction.
Sitting in that meeting was a gentleman named Jeff who teaches at a school in Michigan. He wrote me an email some time later that included a message and the following photos:
“I’m planning on using the cake problem this week as review in my Trigonometry class, as well as later in the year with my Geometry students. Well, here are a few improvements, well, really just pictures. See attached.
Pans are 5″, 7″ and 9″. I think I’m just going to give my class the actual pans without the pictures.”
Now, these photos change the dynamic a bit, don’t they? Let’s do pros and cons… What do you like better about giving the problem with these pictures? What do you prefer about the original problem?
I would love some feedback (especially if you have tried either one with your class).