Making math easier for Palo Alto students!

Do we really need Pi in trigonometry?

Do geometry and trigonometry confuse you? Perhaps you should blame pi, the universal unit of radians, the basis of trigonometry that many students dread. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Math can be fun and intuitive, if you think about radians in terms of tau.

Vi Hart, a Youtuber devoted to math, argues that perhaps math would make more sense if we used Tau, which is 2*Pi, or 6.28. Vi actually bakes a pie, and then defines the pie as having a circumference of two pi radians, which doesn’t seem to make sense. After all, shouldn’t a pie have a circumference of one pi? Vi uses a different mathematical constant, Tau, that represents the entire circumference of one pie. She uses tau in a variety of mathematical contexts, showing how one can make a sine graph exclusively with tau, and calculate various simple trig problems using tau.

Photo by Schnäggli, via Wikimedia

This video shows us that there is an alternative that can simplify seemingly tricky math! However, as confusing as pi can be, it’s necessary to learn the current properties in order to master the mathematical conventions. Vi’s video shows that math can be interactive, fun, and thought-provoking. Many students at Mathnasium and schools around Palo Alto and Menlo Park tend to get frustrated by this seemingly arbitrary unit of trig. If you want to grasp a deeper understanding of pi and its place in trig, view Vi’s video on youtube!

For more fun ways to learn math, visit Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park.

TV Math for Stanford

For students in the Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and Stanford area, summer is a time of relaxation, and lots of TV-watching! While it’s fine to become a couch potato once in a while, be sure to keep everything in moderation! Here are some TV-themed math problems to keep your Stanford area student occupied over the summer!

1. You eat 3 bags of chips for every 2 episodes of “Glee”. How many episodes will you have watched if you have eaten 15 bags of chips?

2. A TV show season has 23 episodes in it. All of the episodes are 23 minutes long, on average. How long (in minutes) is the entire TV show season?

3. You invite some of your Stanford area friends over to binge watch Grey’s Anatomy. If you start at 9:12am, and watch 6 episodes (each episode is 45 minutes long) without any breaks, what time will you finish?

4. For each episode of “House” you watch, you burn 30 calories. If you go out jogging for the same amount of time as one episode, you burn 100 calories. How many more calories would you burn from jogging than from watching “House” if you watch 5 episodes of “House”?

Remember not to watch too much TV over the summer! Do some math enrichment to keep your brain sharp at the Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park, near the Stanford area.

Greek Math for Menlo Park

Students learning math in Menlo Park or Palo Alto schools often don’t learn about the history behind mathematical discoveries, which may sometimes be as interesting as the mathematical discoveries themselves! In this installment of the series where we explore the contributions of ancient civilizations to math, we survey the Ancient Greeks and their awesome abilities in mathematics, especially geometry, which is still learned in Menlo Park schools today!

Menlo Park students may recall that the Ancient Greeks came after the Mesopotamian and Ancient Egyptian empire. As a result, the Greeks borrowed many of the most basic math concepts from these civilizations. However, the Greeks’ single greatest feat was streamlining the mathematical process, creating a procedure from which to derive more complex math. For example, the Greeks were the ones who initiated the use of theorems and postulates to create proofs.

This process proved extremely effective especially for geometry. Menlo Park geometry students today may learn about the Pythagorean Theorem, which was, of course, derived by Pythagorus using the Greek method of logical derivation. The Greeks were able to apply many of their geometrical concepts to other fields such as astronomy.

Menlo Park students may be surprised to see how truly foundational the ancient Greeks were for modern math. The process of logically proving complex theorems from basic postulates is, in itself, inherently ancient Greek.

For more fun ways to learn math, visit Mathnasium’s website.

Multiplying for Children in the Silicon Valley

Book Recommendation for Silicon Valley Kids

What would you get when a jar continues to expand whatever is inside of it? A fantastic magical multiplication problem! Anno’s Mysterious Multiplying Jar by Masaichiro and Mitsumasa Anno is one incredibly long multiplication problem compiled in a story form. It is important to solve this book step by step so that it does not become too difficult for your child to solve. By the end, the numbers become gigantic and much more difficult, so you should have your Silicon Valley child start slowly and work their way up. If you need to, use a multiplication chart or dots to make a counting table. Factorials are a difficult concept to grasp so be patient with your child as they learn and explore the world of multiplication. Anno’s Mysterious Multiplying Jar by Masaichiro and Mitsumasa Anno. This book is not for everyone, however: I would recommend it to those who enjoy math and want to practice their multiplication in a nontraditional manner with story math problems. The book also uses larger words than most children are used to so they will learn a few vocabulary words as well. I recommend this book to children in the Stanford and Silicon Valley area who are at an advanced level of mathematics and would be excited to solve long multiplication problems.

Image from amazon.com

If you want to learn about more math book recommendations, check out the website for Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park.