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Ask Dr. Math: The Math Doctors' Newsletter

by Stacey Bearden
with an additional message from Ken Williams

November, 1998


Date: Tue, 5 Dec 1998 14:54:21 -0500 (EST)
From: Stacey Bearden  stacey@mathforum.org
To: All Dr. Math doctors
Subject: Dr. Math in November


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Ask Dr. Math Newsletter
November, 1998
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Greetings Math Doctors!  I want to start out this month's newsletter with 
a big 'ol thank you to all of you for all of your great work:

TTTTT  H   H    A    N   N  K   K       Y   Y    O    U   U
  T    H   H   A A   NN  N  K  K         Y Y    O O   U   U
  T    HHHHH  AAAAA  N N N  KK            Y    O   O  U   U
  T    H   H  A   A  N  NN  K  K          Y     O O   U   U
  T    H   H  A   A  N   N  K   K         Y      O     UUU

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That being said, let's take a look at this month's statistics:

5581 -- incoming questions
1813 -- answered questions
32.5 -- percent answered

Well, we answered fewer questions this month, so our percentages are a 
bit down from usual. We also received more questions, which isn't a 
surprise, since our numbers have been rising each month. Take a look at 
the past few months:

2230 -- July
4147 -- August
4478 -- September
5525 -- October
5581 -- November

That's a lot of questions!

*************************************

Now for some NEWS...

A big welcome to our new math doctors this month:
Dr. Darlene
Dr. Dianna
Dr. Maryanthe
Dr. Rebecca
Dr. Ron

-------------------------------------------------------------------------
I wonder if our twin brother math doctors, Dr. Peterson and Dr. Rick, are 
competing with one another. One of them answered 195 questions, the 
other 194. Great job guys! But sorry, I'm not going to tell who won.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Another note for our doc's: 

Please check out our Problem of the Week each week; it's accessible from 
the triage page. We shouldn't be giving clues to any of the kids who ask 
about these questions - please just politely let them know, and suggest 
the archives. (They are allowed and encouraged to look for themselves in 
the archives.) We hope to have a POW canned response soon - keep an 
eye out!

And one more bit of news - our archivists made 112 new entries in the 
archives this month. 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

And now some information:

A few of you have asked about the rigidity of our K-12 policy.  Here's 
the official word: Yes, we are technically a service for K-12 (up 
through about age 18) students. We are also a service that relies heavily
on the efforts of our volunteers. If you like to answer more advanced 
questions, it's okay to answer them. If you have no preference, please try to 
concentrate on the K-12 ones. It is perfectly acceptable to use the "not 
K-12" canned response if you come across an advanced question. If you 
have any more questions about this, please feel free to ask me.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

And now, the section you've all been waiting for, THE PRAISE! I'll try to 
keep it compact since this month's newsletter is a bit long.

******************************
For Dr. Anthony--
THANK YOU THANK YOU!   Armed with your reply I re-examined my old Diff EQ
book and the lights finally came on. I see (for the first time ever)
what the partial fraction expansion does. You have helped a gray-haired -
slide rule wielding - hands-on  engineer more than you know.

******************************
For Dr. Peterson--
your answer about the order of operations in algebra was BRILLIANT!! best 
way to explain it to my class :)
Thanks a million!
S.R. Berger

******************************
For Dr. Rick--
Thank you soooooooo very much for your help! That was very considerate and
very helpful! I truly truly appreciate it! Keep up the awesome work and

******************************
For Dr. Pat--
Thank you so much, that info helped me a lot and thanks to you this could
mean the difference of me passing and failing.
Thanks, Jennifer

******************************
For Dr. Floor--
Thanks sooooooo much, I appreciate it soooo much.

******************************
For Dr. Barrus--
Thanks so much!
I figured out that the GCF of 24 and 56 is 6, now my work is perfect!

******************************

Well that's it for this month. I hope everyone has a great Channukah, 
Christmas, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, and beginning of winter (and any other 
holiday I missed - let me know if I forgot one).  And most of all, Happy 
December!

Dr. Stacey
Doctor Math Administrator
The Math Forum

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Date: Sat,  5 Dec 1998 14:37:16 -0600
From: Ken Williams  ken@mathforum.org
Subject: Re: Dr. Math in November
To: All Dr. Math Doctors

Hi Math Doctors,

I thought I'd take this opportunity to expand and elaborate on something that
Stacey wrote in this month's Dr. Math Newsletter:


>A few of you have asked about the rigidity of our K-12 policy.  Here's 
>the official word: Yes, we are technically a service for K-12 (up 
>through about age 18) students. We are also a service that relies heavily
>on the efforts of our volunteers. If you like to answer more advanced 
>questions, it's okay to answer them. If you have no preference, please try to 
>concentrate on the K-12 ones. It is perfectly acceptable to use the "not 
>K-12" canned response if you come across an advanced question. If you 
>have any more questions about this, please feel free to ask me.


One of our most important goals, perhaps the most important goal, is to keep
our group of volunteers happy. We realize that you are volunteering your time
because you like to help students, you like the stream of new mathematical and
expositional challenges, and you like the recognition and sense of community. 
We know that if you had to answer the same questions over and over again, you
would quickly become tired of volunteering. That's one reason we don't
discourage you from answering whatever questions may interest you the most,
even if they fall outside our advertised K-12 realm. We realize that while
some of our excellent volunteers can be challenged by K-12 problems, others of
you require more difficult problems to remain challenged. Both groups of
people serve vital roles in our project, and we want to do whatever we need to
do to make sure you are happy.

Why the emphasis on happiness? Besides the obvious reasons of just wanting
people in general to be happy,there are immediate tangible benefits for the
project: 

  - Enthusiastic volunteers tend to write enthusiastic responses, and this 
    enthusiasm is always perceived by the students. It's a welcome break 
    from a dull textbook or an often monotonous classroom.
  
  - Enthusiastic volunteers participate more often.
  
  - Enthusiastic volunteers often find ways we can improve and expand our 
    service. Most noticeably, Drs. Rob and Ceeks have taken more active roles
    in the leadership and development of our project, and others of you have 
    taken leadership roles too.

Ask Dr. Math is much more than a collection of correct answers to mathematical
questions. It is a network of talented people. It is a collection of different
mathematical points of view. It is an opportunity to find new ways of
explaining things. It is an experiment in educational collaboration.

Again, let me extend my thanks, and the thanks of the entire Math Forum, for
your excellent and continued work. We hope this project is as much fun for 
you as it is for us to have created.

Ken Williams
The Math Forum
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