Menlo Park Students Apply Math Skills in Le Boulanger

Le Boulanger, Menlo Park

If you love visiting the shops, cafe’s and restaurants along Santa Cruz Avenue in Menlo Park as much as I do, you have probably heard of Le Boulanger. Bakeries such as Le Boulanger are great places to go enjoy a delicious meal and encourage your children to apply their mathematical knowledge. Practice probability and proportions with the exercise ideas below.

by Mathin’ Catherin, March 25, 2013

Soups, Sandwiches, and Probability

MenuI visited Le Boulanger the other day and came up with some great math problems your math-crazed kid can do to apply their knowledge to the real world. Le Boulanger has great sandwiches, soups, and salads. Look at the menu and see what proportion of the salads have chicken in them. Alternatively, if you get a sandwich, cut it into quarters and ask your child how much is left after you have each had a quarter.  Speaking of sandwiches, look at the menu and see how many sandwiches have cheese in them, and how many different types of cheeses does Le Boulanger offer in their sandwiches. Ask your child what the probability of randomly choosing a sandwich with cheese in it. Follow that idea even further and explore what the probability of randomly choosing a sandwich with jack cheese. The possibilities are endless!

Time for Dessert

If you love dessert, you will love these problem ideas. If one chocolate croissant costs $2.65, how much would two cost? Or, if I wanted 1 bear claw ($2.65 each) and 2 chocolate croissants, how much, to the nearest dollar, would it cost. When you are looking in the display of pastries, getting ready to order, count how many pastries have fruit in them, how many have chocolate? Take those numbers and create a proportion of pastries with chocolate, and the proportion of pastries that have fruit in them. Make sure to taste all the pastries you are calculating the proportions for — yummy!SAMSUNG



Hey Palo Alto! Fun Math Games for 2nd Graders and Up: Addition & “PIG”


Math Tutoring Game Dice

If you don’t have some tricks up your sleeve, teaching addition to your child can be a challenge! Using math games can be a fun and easy way to help your kid become comfortable with adding and doing math in a casual setting!

Kids at Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park love playing the math game “PIG.” PIG requires only two dice and a sheet of paper and pencil to keep score, so it can be easily played anywhere, whether it be at home, at the park, or even while waiting in the doctor’s office! Here’s how the game works:

How to play PIG:

  1. Roll both dice, and find the sum of the two numbers. This is the number of points you can collect!
  2. If you roll a ONE, you get zero points for your turn. If you roll two ONES, all your points are wiped out!
  3. If you roll both dice without rolling a ONE, you can keep your current score or roll again and chance losing all your points!
  4. Once you start a turn, you can keep rolling the dice until you decide to stop and stay with your current number of points, or you roll a ONE.
  5. Record your score, and add the points you collected to your previous turn.
  6. First player who gets to 100 (or any number you choose) wins!

Fun Math Game for Palo Alto

Once you’ve played PIG a few times, each kid can develop a “winning strategy” and compare their strategy with others. It’s especially a great math game for 2nd graders and up, and it’s a great way to keep your child engaged and interested in math, while giving them some math help in the process! All ages can enjoy this game, so have fun and don’t be a greedy “pig!”

by Mathin’ Catherin, March 19, 2013

> Learn more about Fun Math Events in Palo Alto / Menlo Park


Palo Alto– Math Fun at Yogurtland!

Heading to Palo Alto’s Yogurtland  on University Avenue anytime soon? Buying yogurt can be a great opportunity to give your kids some extra math practice, and make math fun at the same time! Here are some questions you can ask your math loving kids to make them earn their yogurt!

If you want to find some more fun problems to do with your Bay Area kid for some extra math help, check out our website:

by ohsarahrose on flickr

by ohsarahrose on flickr

2nd-3rd Graders:

  • If each ounce of yogurt costs 37 cents, and you buy 2 ounces of yogurt, how much will your yogurt cost? What if you buy 3 ounces? Or 4?
  • How many flavors are offered at the Palo Alto Yogurtland? How many of those flavors are fruit flavored? Do you know how to write this as a fraction?
  • If your parents say you can have a 5 ounce yogurt with toppings, and your yogurt weighs 3.5 ounces, how many ounces of toppings can you get?

4th-6th Graders:

  • If 66.66% of your 9 ounce frozen yogurt is yogurt, how many ounces of toppings do you have?
  • Each ounce of frozen yogurt costs 37 cents. If your yogurt totaled to $2.59, how many ounces of yogurt did you buy? Round your answer to the nearest thousandth.
  • Challenge: Every day, I go to downtown Palo Alto to get myself frozen yogurt. The first day, I go to Yogurtland, but don’t buy anything (0 ounces).  I choose how many ounces I buy according to the Fibbonaci Sequence (0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13…). . How many ounces of frozen yogurt will I buy on the 14th day? (A: 233) How many will I buy on the 21st day? (A: 6765)

Some creative math fun like this will make a trip like this not only tasty, but also educational! Enjoy your yogurt, and enjoy learning math in Palo Alto!

> Learn more about Math Tutoring in Palo Alto / Menlo Park

~ Mathin’ Catherine

History of Pi from Silicon Valley: Never-Ending Fun with a Never-Ending Number

For math enthusiasts around the world, Pi is far more than a useful constant for equations that’s something close to 3.14. Pi, which never ends or repeats, continues to become more and more significant in advanced math and science, and embodies the simplicity and mystery that mathematicians strive for. Such lovers of Pi are abound in the high-tech firms of Silicon Valley and around Stanford University in Palo Alto, and as such, Mathnasium’s tutors attempt to convey enthusiasm about Pi when giving math help. However, great feats involving Pi have been accomplished across the world.

Taking Pi to the Extreme: World Records

Silicon Valley Pi

Mathematicians have become extremely competitive about pi, even from ancient history. In Ancient Greece, the creators of math worked to find more precise values of Pi using different methods. Archimedes used a method of circumscribed and inscribed polygons to eventually work out a value of 3.1418, an error of only .008%!

Originally posted to Flickr as Blue Gene/P From Argonne National Laboratory

Originally posted to Flickr as Blue Gene/P
From Argonne National Laboratory

Of course, the invention of calculators and computers (including those developed in Silicon Valley) and the study of calculus elevated the calculation of pi to a whole different level. The current record is 10 trillion digits (10,000,000,000,000), calculated by Shigeru Kondo of the University of Illinois.

The competition now has moved to memorization. While most normal Palo Alto high-school math student would be hard-pressed to name more than two decimals off the top of their head, the verified world record stands at 67,890 digits by Chao Lu of China. However, Ukranian neurosurgeon, mathematician, and hypnotist Andriy Slyusarchuk claims to have memorized 30 million digits, and has been consistently able to recite random sequences within this range at command.

Here at Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park, we’re having our own Pi recitation contest for the students we tutor in math, as well as anyone else who is interested. Prizes will be awarded throughout Pi week for contestants!

> Learn more about Math Tutoring in Palo Alto / Menlo Park

An Irrational Idea: The Indiana Pi Bill

A record pi mishap occurred in 1897, when the Indiana State Assembly attempted to pass a bill that erroneously explains a method for finding the area of a circle. The bill, developed by teacher and amateur mathematician Edwin J. Goodman, stated that the ratio of a circle’s diameter to its circumference (Pi) was exactly equal to  4.2. The bill was almost passed, but thankfully math professor from Purdue University came to Indianapolis to fight the bill. Since then, the Indiana Pi Bill has been a symbol of the disconnect between government and technical education, as well as a source of good laughs for math lovers everywhere.

Thankfully, no such ridiculous legislation has ever been proposed in California or around the San Francisco Bay Area, but it never hurts to continue to educate others about the importance of mathematics, and there is no greater opportunity for this than on Pi Day, March 14!

~ Mathin’ Catherine, 3/5/2013

Bay Area Math Lovers: Looking for a cute math video? Share this story with your kids

In Mathnasium of Palo Alto – Menlo Park, we love to discover new books and math videos to share with each other and make math tutoring more fun for the kids. Looking at my favorite stories from when I was a child, I found a book I used to read over and over again: The Dot and the Line. When I discovered this classic math love story on YouTube, I had to share with my fellow Bay Area bloggers!

Hey Bay Area parents, here’s a math love story video to show in your home!

The Dot and the Line YouTube Video (10 min)

The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics is an adorable children’s math story written by Norton Juster in 1963. It

Photo from Google Books

Photo from Google Books

quickly gained popularity and was adapted to a short animated film in 1965. The math video was well received — so much so that it won the Academy Award for Animated Short Film the year it was produced! You and your children are sure to love this sweet romance between the Dot and the Line, and it may even help your children to like math a little more.

Like the math video? Pick up a copy of the book in a local Palo Alto or Menlo Park book store!

At Mathnasium of Palo Alto – Menlo Park, we love supporting local businesses! We always recommend Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park and Know Knew Books in Palo Alto. The Dot and the Line is a great children’s book to have in your collection at home.

Let us know about your favorite math-related children’s books! We’d love to hear what our Palo Alto locals read with their kids so we can spread the love and make math tutoring even more fun.

by Mathin’ Catherin, March 12, 2013

> Learn more about Math Fun in Palo Alto / Menlo Park


Palo Alto – Menlo Park Cupcake Word Problem Answers 3/3/13


If your kids love sweets and are learning math, encourage them to do the weekly word problems for a tasty treat. Each week, print out and do the grade appropriate problem(s), bring it in and you will be entered in a weekly drawing for a free SusieCakes cupcake! Winner’s will be posted on the website each Sunday.

If you want a copy of the math word problems without answers for your Menlo Park cupcake-craving kid, go to the Mathnasium site listed below and click print!

Check us out on our website:

Here are the Answers to 3/3/13 Word Problems!

Lower Elementary:
Question: How many legs do 2 dogs, 3 birds, and 4 fish have altogether?
Answer: 14 legs
Solution: Dogs have 4 legs. 4 doubled is 8. Birds have 2 legs. 3 doubled is 6. Fish have no legs. Add them together; you get 8 + 6 + 0 = 14.

Upper Elementary
Question: Michael ate 8/9 of a pie. Sue ate 4/5 of a pie. Who ate more pie?
Answer: Michael
Solution: Computation:
Find the common denominator (or same name) for each fraction. The smallest number that 9 and 5 both go into is 45. 8/9 = 40/45 and 4/5 = 36/45. Michael ate 40/45 of a pie and Sue ate 36/45 of a pie. So Michael ate more pie.
Number Sense:
Compare how much of the pie each did not eat. Michael did not eat 1/9 of a pie. Sue did not eat 1/5 of a pie. 1/5 is larger than 1/9, which means Sue has more pie left over. So Michael ate more pie.

Middle School:
Question: Jessica spent a total of $200 on her doll collection. 30% was spent on accessories like cars and furniture, 25% was spent on the doll house, and the rest was spent on toy dolls. How much money did Jessica spend on toy dolls?
Answer: $90
Solution: Method 1: one part is equal to the total minus the sum of the other parts. So we need to find how much each part of the collection costs. Accessories are $60 (percent means for each hundred, so 30% of 200 is 30 + 30 = 60). The doll house is $50 (25% of 200 is 25 + 25 = 50). So far, Jessica spent $60 + $50 = $110. To see how much the toy dolls cost, subtract the amount she spent on the house and accessories from the total. $200 – $110 = $90
Method 2: Find the percent of the collection that was spent on toy dolls.
The total percent spent on accessories and the house is:
30% + 25 % = 55%.
Subtract that from 100% to get the percent spent on toy dolls.
100% – 55% = 45%.
45% of the $200 was spent on toy dolls. 45% of 200 is 90 (percent means for each hundred, so 45% of 200 is 45 + 45 = 90), so Jessica spent $90 on toy dolls.

Algebra and Up:
Question: One pint of paint can cover 25 square feet. How many pints of paint are needed to paint the outside of an opened top rectangular box with a length of 10 feet, a width of 5 feet, and a height of 5 feet?
Answer: 8 pints of paint
Solution: First we need to find the surface area of the box. The surface area is the area of all the sides. The formula for a rectangular box is SA = 2×length×width + 2×length×height + 2×width×height. However, this is an opened top box, so that means the top does not count towards the surface area. So now our formula becomes SA = length×width + 2×length×height + 2×width×height. Plugging it in we get:
SA = (10)(5) + 2(10)(5) + 2(5)(5) = 50 + 100 + 50 = 200 square feet.
Each pint of paint can cover 25 square feet, so divide be 25 to get the number of pints needed. 200 ÷ 25 = 8 pints of paint are needed.

The Math Game is On, Palo Alto! Here’s a Fun Math Game for Kids: Multiplication War!

You don’t have to spend hours running around outside to spend time with your kids. (Although there are many opportunities to practice math in sports!) For those of us with less free time after work and less, shall we say, fitness expertise, it’s just as exciting to spend an evening in playing cards. One of my favorite games is Multiplication War.

If you’ve ever heard of the card game War, it’s played as follows: the players divide up the deck evenly, and face down their cards. They then throw down one card each at the same time, and the person with the highest value card keeps both of the cards. The player that ends up with all the cards wins!

At Mathnasium of Palo Alto – Menlo Park, we took classic War and put a spin on it. When the players throw down their cards, instead of the highest card taking the win, it’s given to the person that calls out the product of the two values first. (We figured out pretty quickly to take out the face cards – Jack times 4 didn’t fly.)

Simple Steps for Multiplication War, as a Math Game

Math Games in Palo Alto, California

Game Setup…

  1. Remove face cards from deck
  2. Divide cards evenly between players
  3. Places piles face down

Game Action!

  1. Players count to three and each throw down their top card
  2. First one to call out the product wins both cards
  3. If both people say answer at the same time, each player keeps their own card
  4. Recycle cards to bottom of pile and repeat
  5. Player with all cards at end of game wins!

This game is especially great for 3rd – 5th graders. You’ll be surprised how fast your kids can get at times tables! And how crazy and fun  this game can get. I encourage you try this game a few times at home – you might hear your kids asking to practice multiplication more often!

by Mathin’ Catherin, March 2, 2013

> Learn more about Math Games in Palo Alto / Menlo Park

Math Enrichment and Math Skills, a Bay Area Blog Post

Perhaps more than with any other subject, math builds on previous knowledge. Without a solid understanding of addition, it’s hard to understand multiplication, and without a solid understanding of multiplication, it’s even harder to understand exponents. In some sense, then, the findings of a recent National Institute of Health study were unsurprising: students who do perform below average in first grade math are much more likely to also struggle in seventh grade, unless they get intervention.

You can read the full report on the study here.

Confidence in Math Early Pays for Later Life, Especially in the Hypercompetitive San Francisco Bay Area

Approximately 20% of adults in the United States lack the basic math skills required to for every day life, or numeracy. Obviously the

First Grade Math Help and Math Enrichment

required math for the high-paying, competitive technology jobs found around Palo Alto and Menlo Park, making the importance of building early mathematics skills even greater. Those children who are above average in math skills in first grade are the most likely to also be above average in seventh grade and in high school, when the harder math concepts such as functions, algebra, and geometry are introduced. However, if a child is below average in first grade, the gap between their skills and the skills of other students by middle school is likely to be even greater. A child simply cannot afford to fall behind at an early age if they wish to be successful in math. And because a solid understanding of math is the basis of science, a deficiency will make other subjects more difficult as well.

Math Tutoring Can Make All the Difference for Your Bay Area Child

Although many of the schools near Palo Alto and Menlo Park, both public and private, are some of the best in the state, a child can still suffer from a lack of personal attention during early grades, causing them to fall behind in math. Special math instruction, such as a tutoring program, can help to make up this gap and even put a child ahead of grade level, making future success far more likely. The NIH study cited number relationships, representations of real situations with numbers, and breaking numbers into their component parts as especially crucial for building a solid math foundation, and each of these is a major focus in math help for young students here at Mathnasium. In addition, special math instruction can help an older child make up a gap from earlier years before it significantly affects their performance, as it has for many students at Mathnasium from Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Redwood City, and more.

> Learn more about Math Tutoring in Palo Alto / Menlo Park

~ Mathin’ Catherine, 2/27/2013