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IntMath Newsletter: Interactive ellipses, Wolfram Education Portal

By Murray Bourne, 17 Feb 2012

17 February 2012

In this Newsletter:

1. Interactive ellipse graphs
2. Wolfram's Education Portal
3. Puzzle
4. IntMath Poll: Feelings about math
5. Friday math movies
6. Final thought - moving slowly

1. Interactive ellipse graphs

interactive ellipse graphs

New on!

Here are some graphs that help you understand basic concepts of ellipses. It doesn't matter if you haven't studied this topic yet - it will still be useful. Go to:

Interactive ellipse graphs

2. Wolfram's Education Portal

This is a new offering (free for now) from Worlfram, the makers of Mathematica, Wolfram|Alpha and the Demonstrations Project.

They have developed a series of math courses using their new CDF (Computable Document Format) technology, which are basically interactive text books.

Here's the link: Wolfram Education Portal

The courses available at the bottom of that page so far include several algebra topics like:

  • Equations and Functions
  • Graphs of Equations and Functions
  • Graphing Linear Inequalities
  • Introduction to Probability
  • Solving Systems of Equations and Inequalities
  • Exponential Functions
  • Quadratic Equations and Functions

Coming soon is calculus, and a math question practice feature.

You'll need to download the (free) CDF player (it's easy and quick) and sign up (also painless). In tiny font, it says:

"Wolfram Education Portal is now is avaliable for free, but it might be paid after the official release."

Certainly worth checking out while it's free! Wolfram Education Portal

3. Puzzle

I had many requests to bring back the puzzle feature. So here we go.

Question: The Egyptians used only unit fractions (that is, the numerator was 1). So they would write 3/5 as 1/2 + 1/10. How would they write 11/13?

You can only use addition (not minus) and use as few fractions as possible. You can submit your answer here.

4. IntMath poll: Feelings about Math

The recent IntMath Poll asked readers how they feel about math. Here are the results.

The best way to describe how I feel about math is:

I enjoy math

It’s OK but I find it hard

I hate math

No strong opinion

It's sad that 1/4 of the respondents answered with a negative view about math. Hopefully IntMath has helped some of them to like it some more!

Current poll: The current poll asks if you think the math you are studying will be useful for your future job.

You can answer on any page in

5. Friday math movies

Ken Robinson animated

(a) Ken Robinson animated

How can we fix education? This is a clever animation of Ken Robinson's ideas, talking about why education often doesn't work as intended.

Friday math movie: Ken Robinson animated

Jill Bolte Taylor's Stroke of Insight

(b) How it feels to have a stroke

Here's a story about a brain scientist who had a massive stroke at age 37 - and who lived to tell the fascinating tale.

Friday math movie: How it feels to have a stroke

6. Final thought: moving slowly

For many students, math class goes very slowly. Here's a Chinese saying that's worth thinking about.

Don't worry about moving slowly, worry about standing still. [Chinese proverb]

Until next time, enjoy whatever you learn.

See the 25 Comments below.

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  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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