The Baltimore Ravens may have kicked off the year with a bitter finale after Sunday’s loss to the Bengals, but the 2017 offseason is off to a brilliant start for their starting left guard and noted math wiz John Urschel.
How do plants respond to their environment? Sunflowers track the sun; morning glories close up at night, and Venus flytraps sense and trap prey. Can you recreate these feats of botany and biology with circuitry?
From February 1 through February 5, the fourth and fifth-grade students at Garrison Forest School will engineer their own plants that react to external stimuli in GFS’s second annual STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art/design and math) week.
This week the Brookings Institution released a report, “The Hidden STEM Economy,” a review of the concentration of jobs that require knowledge in science, technology, engineering or math by metropolitan area.
The San Jose metro area topped the list with roughly a third of its workforce in STEM. The Washington, D.C.-area was second, followed by Palm Ba, Fla. Boston placed sixth while Baltimore came in eighth.
In 2008, a three-month, million-dollar trial in Australia was nullified when it was revealed that five jurors had been playing Sudoku instead of listening to evidence. This is shocking, unless you’ve ever tried to tear yourself away from a puzzle-in-progress.
Today marks the celebration of the mathematical constant, Pi, which is used to calculate the circumference of a circle.
The Maryland Science Center celebrated everything Pi, from eating pie to reciting pi, to exposing the secrets of Pi. Dangerously Delicious Pies even donated pies for a party there. Pi(e) Day gets even sweeter because it’s also Albert Einstein’s birthday, who would be 133 years old today.
How will you celebrate pi?
Everyone’s got a theory about how to close the education gap, and they range from the lofty to the simple. Starting this year, some members of the University of Maryland College of Education will try to change one small thing: putting well-trained, quality math teachers in high-needs schools.
“We’ve known for years that there are not enough well-trained, quality mathematics teachers to meet the staffing needs of schools,” says UM assistant professor Lawrence Clark. The reasons are many — one big one being that those of a mathematic or scientific bent have the potential to earn way more in the private sector. In an attempt to fill the gap, some schools are recruiting teachers from the Philippines, while some teaching programs offer alternative pathways to certification. This is working to a certain extent, but the lack is still there — and high-needs schools are the hardest hit.
Enter the National Science Foundation, which is teaming up with the university to fund 42 $14,000 scholarships to juniors and seniors interested in teaching math in high-needs middle or high schools. The chosen Noyce Scholars (named after Robert Noyce, who co-founded Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel) will have to commit to two years of service for every one year of scholarship support. The program will also provide support for its students during those tough early years of teaching.
Clark says he hopes that the project will “dispel myths about high needs schools and show students that high needs schools can also be good schools with great teachers, supportive parents, and amazing kids.” The first group of Noyce Scholars will be chosen this spring.
There’s the calculating, multiplying, complex side of math, sure — but that’s only one small part of how our brain handles numbers. There’s also a deeper, intuitive feeling for numbers, and according to Johns Hopkins developmental psychologist Melissa Libertus, that number sense is present in infancy, long before we’re taught how to count.
Intuitive number sense is something akin to the ability to estimate how many jelly beans are in the jar, or how many people are in the room. And here’s the bad news: some of us are just better at it than others, from a very young age. Dr. Libertus’s work with toddlers showed that intuitive math sense — something as simple as saying whether there were more blue or yellow dots flashed on a screen — correlates to higher scores on standardized tests.
If you dare, take a test here to contribute to research, and to see how well you measure up. My Weber fraction (w) was .13; take the test and see if you “get” numbers better than I do.
Bored? At least moderately nerdy? If trolling YouTube for videos of solo-guitar renditions of classic video game theme music has lost its luster, you could waste a couple minutes determining if your 10-digit telephone number is prime.
(For those of us who had social lives in high school and may have missed this unit, a positive whole number is said to be prime if it can be divided evenly only by itself and 1. In order of appearance, the primes are 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, and so on.)
Primes hold a special place in the hearts of the mathematically obsessed. On the one hand, there are an infinite number of primes, which means there are always some yet waiting to be discovered. On the other hand, they become increasingly rare as you travel along the number line, which makes large prime numbers especially precious. A 10-digit telephone number, for example, has a little less than a 1-in-20 chance of being prime. Let’s cut the chit-chat and see if you’ve won the prime telephone number lottery:
First, examine the last digit. If it’s an even digit (0, 2, 4, 6, or 8), you’ve already been eliminated because your telephone number is divisible by 2 at the very least. If it’s a 5, same sad story—it’s definitely divisible by 5. (My telephone number ends in a 7, so I was fairly hopeful at this point.)
If you’ve made it this far, your chances have increased to better than 1-in-10. If you’ve already been cut, take heart—you’re in good company.
Next, add the digits of your telephone number together. If what you get is divisible by 3, then so is your telephone number, and you’re out. (The sum of the digits of my phone number is 41. So far, so good.)
If your number is still a contender, visit this simple prime number test devised by the good folks at the University of Southern Indiana. Input your telephone number and click on the “Check My Number” button. (At this step I was grieved to discover that my telephone number is not prime, but is in fact the product of two rather large prime numbers, 14,629 and 280,583. Call me.)
If you won the prime telephone number lottery, congratulations… I guess. If your number didn’t make the cut, you can always test your Social Security number, your birth year, your BGE account number, the list goes on and on.
And remember, if you cheat and skip to the last step, then the whole exercise doesn’t really waste enough time, which is, of course, its primary purpose.