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IntMath Newsletter: Google Science Fair, e Day, math products

By Murray Bourne, 31 Jan 2012

31 January 2012

In this Newsletter:

1. Google International Science Fair
2. "e" day next week (2/7)
3. The Versa Ruler
4. Answerify - a new forum
5. AutoGraph software review
6. Friday math movies
7. Final thought - make it creative

1. Google International Science Fair

Google is holding an International Science Fair. This can involve math, too, especially in the data collection and processing parts!

There are good prizes involved (a $50,000 scholarship for the winner, and $25,000 each for the 2 runners-up). As Google says:

Google is looking for the brightest young scientists from around the world to submit interesting, creative projects that are relevant to the world today.

Note: The competition closes 1st April 2012. It's for 13 to 18 year-olds (any country) and you can submit as an individual or in a small group.

Here's a video of last year's impressive winners: Award winning teenage science in action.

I encourage you to give this a go. It's a good chance to do something meaningful and learn a lot.

2. "e" Day next week (Feb 7th)

e Day Feb 7th

The number "e" crops up in many areas of mathematics, and has many real-life applications.

This article gives some background about "e". You'll also learn about infinite sums.

"e" day (Feb 7th)

3. The Versa Ruler

The inventor of a new kind of geometry ruler wrote to me recently to tell me about a new ruler he invented.

versa ruler

My first reaction was to wonder why we'd want such a thing in this age of computers, where constructing angles, parallel lines and trapezoids is trivial if we use software like GeoGebra.

Anyway, this is what he had to say:

My invention is the Versa Ruler, the world’s first shape-making ruler. It’s a connectable system of rulers and protractors capable of forming and locking an unlimited number of 2-D rectilinear shapes. Please take a look at our video, and I would welcome any comments.

Here's a short video about it: Video: Shape-making Versa Ruler

He anticipated my thoughts about computer-based solutions with this:

With so many of our tactile experiences going digital, our mission is to nurture both creativity and productivity at a visceral level. And as our education becomes more visual, the honing of our aesthetic senses will play an increasingly vital role in how well we learn. 

What do you think? Would this ruler be useful for you in your math classes? Please respond in the comments.

4. Answerify - a new forum

Update: This site no longer works properly. I have removed the links from this section.

There are many forums for getting math help, and I summarized them earlier in Top 10 Math Help Sites.

Here's a new one, Answerify where you can "get answers to all your questions on problems in mathematics along with facts and information about various science subjects".

It's free to join. Probably one of the best opportunities with such forums is in answering others' questions. Remember, "to teach is to learn twice".

5. Autograph 2-D and 3-D graph plotter: a review

Autograph plotter

Autograph is a well-designed 2-D and 3-D plotting application for education. Here's my review.

Autograph 2-D and 3-D graph plotter: a review

6. Friday math movies

spirals Fibonacci

(a) Spirals, Fibonacci, and Being a Plant

Vi Hart presents an enthusiastic rendering of spirals and Fibonacci, as relating to plants.

Friday math movie: Spirals, Fibonacci, and Being a Plant

data feedback

(b) Carlo Ratti: Architecture that senses and responds

This video shows how we can improve our lives using sensing data.

Friday math movie: Carlo Ratti Architecture that senses and responds

7. Final thought - make it creative

Often, math class is boring because it lacks creativity. John Updike, 20th century novelist and short story writer, had this to say about how seemingly mundane tasks can be made more creative:

An activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or better. [John Updike]

There is planty of scope for making math more creative. Start with the many connections with art, music and sports, and aim to do it better!

Until next time, enjoy whatever you learn.

See the 3 Comments below.

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HTML: You can use simple tags like <b>, <a href="...">, etc.

To enter math, you can can either:

  1. Use simple calculator-like input in the following format (surround your math in backticks, or qq on tablet or phone):
    `a^2 = sqrt(b^2 + c^2)`
    (See more on ASCIIMath syntax); or
  2. Use simple LaTeX in the following format. Surround your math with \( and \).
    \( \int g dx = \sqrt{\frac{a}{b}} \)
    (This is standard simple LaTeX.)

NOTE: You can mix both types of math entry in your comment.


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