Back to School Shopping in Palo Alto

With the beginning of the new school year in Palo Alto, stores all over Palo Alto are stocked up on supplies for students! They have pencils, backpacks, notebooks, and all kinds of other supplies to help you prepare for the upcoming year in Palo Alto. Here are some fun math problems to do after a fun day of shopping!

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1. If a pencil costs $0.50 and an eraser costs $0.30, how much does 3 pencils and 2 erasers cost?

2. If Joe spent $15.75 on a backpack and $3.50 on a pack of pencils, how much did he spend in all?

3. There are 25 students in Ms. Smith’s class at Palo Alto High School. She requires each of them to buy 10 pencils. Pencils cost 12 cents each at the local Palo Alto safeway, and the local tax is 8 percent. How much do the students in Ms. Smith’s class spend on pencils?

4. 11th graders at Palo Alto High School do 26% more homework than 10th graders. If the average 10th grader uses up 167 sheets of paper a month, how many sheets of paper will an 11th grader use.

5. The local Palo Alto Safeway is hosting a back-to-school sale, with 30% off all items. If Sammy purchases 3 erasers for 50 cents each, how much does he save during the sale?

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

Summer in San Francisco

With all the free time that you’re going to have this summer, you should go on an adventure in San Francisco! All our students come from the Peninsula/South Bay Area, meaning that San Francisco is just a short, 30-40 minute drive away! During the summer, San Francisco is known for its cool weather, making it an ideal place to escape the summer heat! Below, we’ve listed some ideas for activities you could do in the city!

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1) Go jogging in Golden Gate Park! Take advantage of the cool summer weather to exercise in arguably most beautiful park on the West Coast! Once you’re in the neighborhood, you can also explore De Anza Art Museum and the California Academy of Sciences!

2) Watch the sunset on Ocean Beach in the Sunset District! This beach faces the Pacific Ocean, and is located on the western border of the city! This beach usually isn’t very busy, making it an ideal place to watch those perfect summer sunsets!

3) Go explore Mission! The Mission District is located near the center of the city, and is known for its beautiful public art, vibrant atmosphere, and amazing Latin American food. Grab a burrito at a taqueria, enjoy the murals, and duck into any of the bookstores in the area!

4) If you’re in Mission, you might as well visit Castro as well! Summer is an especially optimal time to visit this gay-friendly neighborhood, especially since San Francisco’s Gay Pride Parade happens in June! Throughout history, the Castro has been considered one of the world’s most diverse and open-minded neighborhoods!

We hope that this blog post inspired you to travel up to San Francisco this summer! For more ideas to spend this coming summer, visit The Mathnasium of Palo Alto/Menlo Park.

Summer Ice Cream Math Problems

With summer coming up so soon, students in Palo Alto/Menlo Park are already looking forward to long, lazy days free of schoolwork. To indulge in these summer fantasies, we at Mathnasium have been publishing summer themed math problems! One thing that sets summer apart from the other seasons is that it’s always warm enough outside to eat ice cream! With that in mind, here are some ice cream themed math problems.

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1) At Millie’s Ice Cream Shop, customers can buy a triple-special during the summer. A triple-special consists of 3 of the following flavors: chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, mango, mint chocolate chip, and green tea (where flavors can be repeated). How many possible combinations are there for the summer triple-special?

2) For every dollar that a customer spends on ice cream over the summer, 11 cents in tips are paid (on average, made up statistic). How much would customers need to spend on ice cream for there to be $100 in tips?

3) During your summer job at Long’s Ice Cream Shop, you scoop out ice cream with a spherical scooper. If that diameter of the scooper is 2.5 inches, what’s the volume of ice cream that it can scoop up? (Imagine that the ice cream that can be scooped out is perfectly spherical in shape).

4) During the summer, sales rise 52%, compared with spring sales. If Melissa’s Ice Cream Parlour served 9,321 customers over the spring season, how many customers did they serve over the summer?

We hope you enjoyed these ice-cream themed problems, to prepare you for the summer! For more fun ways to learn math, visit The Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park.

Things To Do This Summer

Palo Alto and Menlo Park schools are well into second semester, with summer just over the horizon. It’s never too early to start planning for the summer! Although the summer is inarguably a time to relax and spend with friends and family, it’s always a good idea to get ahead academically during this period of no-school!

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Here are some Mathnasium tips for you to have fun this summer!

1. Go on a road trip with your friends and family! Drive to Los Angeles, Portland, or if you’re feeling adventurous, a city on the East Coast! While you’re driving, you’ll invariably bond with the other people in your car. Make sure to enjoy the famous landmarks and the diverse landscapes that the United States offers. And of course, don’t forget to play the license plate game! See how many states you can spot!

2. Read some books! Go to your local library or bookstore, and find books that relate with things that you’re genuinely interested in. Since this reading is strictly for leisure, and not for school, you have the power to choose your own reading material! Over the summer, try to read lots of books in different genres. My personal favorite is “Les Miserables” by Victor Hugo!

3. Go to summer camp! There’s nothing more American than sitting around a campfire with your buddies, unwinding after a long day of hiking and swimming! Although many of us think of nature camps, there are also camps for many different activities and interests! Think about programming camp or debate camp!

4. Spend some time at Mathnasium! We’ll have plenty of fun math activities and events planned for you this summer! By spending some time at Mathnasium, you’ll be well-prepared for the coming academic year!

Have fun this summer!

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”?

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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.

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

Mayan Math for Palo Alto

Students of Palo Alto and Menlo Park are often taught the basic mechanics of mathematics, but are often ignorant of mathematics in history. This is the first article of a new series where we explore the achievements of various ancient civilizations in the noble field of mathematics. In this article, we will be examining the role of mathematics in the Mayan civilization of Central America. Here, we’ve compiled some facts that will hopefully pique the interest of your Palo Alto student.

The Mayans were most well known for their mathematical achievements in astronomy. The Mayans famously created an extremely accurate calendar based on planetary movements, in which math played a key component. Palo Alto students, go up to Rancho San Antonio or some nearby hills, and look up into the night sky! You’ll be seeing the same sky that the Mayans based their math off of.

The Mayans used a number system with base 20. As a result, much of their computational work would look much different from our modern-day Arabic-numeric system, with base 10. In other words, Mayan math students had to memorize a greater base (20 different numbers per base), double of any Palo Alto student!

The Mayans also developed the concept of zero, and there’s evidence that they worked with extremely large sums (up to hundreds of millions). Also, while there is no evidence that the Mayans used fractions, they were still able to determine extremely accurate astronomical calculations. These same calculations would undoubtedly send any Palo Alto student to a calculator!

We hope that Palo Alto students, upon reading about the Mayans, have been inspired to continue learning math!

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For more ways to learn about math, visit Mathnasium’s website!

Edible Math in Menlo Park

The wait is over! We know you have been anticipating this for a long time…. alas, you can now enjoy the glorious pleasures felt with math during meal times. It’s called edible math. Here at Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park, we take every chance we get to enlighten a regular sandwich into a “tanwich”. What is a tanwich? According to Bedtime Math, a math blog, a tanwich is a tangram sandwich, a new venture in combining the realms of math with food.

How does one create a Tanwich?

Tangrams are Chinese geometric puzzles involving seven different shapes all creating a square and rearranging them to assemble a completely new design. Tangrams are great for learning about different shapes and improving students’ thinking techniques.

Here are the steps:

  1. Make a regular sandwich

  2. Cut the crusts off in order to make your sandwich a perfect square

  3. Cut the sandwich into 7 different pieces. The pieces should be two large triangles, one medium triangle, two small triangles, a square, and a parallelogram. You can cut the sandwich into any design you want.

Once you have your tanwich, you can start rearranging your edible design into a variety of geometric patterns. Need inspiration? Check out this awesome blog with their own tanwich designs. However don’t stop with just sandwiches, try to turn as many foods as you can into tangram designs.

For more fun math activites and to learn more about math tutoring in Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park go to

Edible Math Menlo Park

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