17 February, 2012
Volume 17 No. 7
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In This Issue

Dr. Math FAQ: What Are Leap Years?

Math Teachers' Circle Workshops

Lipson's Lego Sculptures


Online PD

Orientation Sessions

Problem Based Learning Courses

Graduate Credit:
Mathematics Teaching and Learning Certificate

Master's Degree


Dr. Math FAQ: What Are Leap Years?


2012 is a leap year, so this month ends on Wednesday, February 29th.

In the leap year of 1996, the Forum began a free ask-an-expert service for math students and their teachers. Since then, Ask Dr. Math has helped millions understand why some years have 366 days, plus lots more mathematics about calendars, including

  • how to take leap years into account when reasoning the day of the week one year forward from any given date
  • how to determine the day of the week for any date
  • the surprising commonality of Friday the 13ths (2012 has the maximum number, with two more to go)

PoW taking place: math problem-solving moment of the week

"The other thing I loved about this PoW was that when I was reading the solutions I was really surprised by how many ways there were to think about the problem. Silly me, I thought my way was the obvious and only way... but of course I was wrong. I loved reading all of the ways you thought of the problem, and was really impressed that Student fourteen from Caughlin Ranch Elementary School shared two different ways to solve the problem!"
- Max, commenting on the Pre-Algebra PoW's Latest Solution

Math Teachers' Circle Workshops


Apply now for the summer workshops "How to Run a Math Teachers' Circle" and "Math Teachers' Circle Immersion."

Math teachers' circles put middle school math teachers in regular contact with mathematicians to work collaboratively on mathematical problem solving in the context of rich problems.

The deadline for these professional development opportunities, run by the American Institute of Mathematics (AIM), is Friday, 16 March, 2012.

AIM recently posted some classroom-ready problem-solving lessons:

  • The Handshake Problem
  • All Possible Diagonals
  • Triangular Numbers
  • Dots and Boxes
  • Weird Multiplication

Freely download these PDFs, developed by James Tanton and other master teachers, from here:


Now taking place: math education conversation of the hour

"I feel very lucky to have gotten a great educator in high school mathematics. In addition to teaching us the concepts, formulas, and rules of mathematics, she listened to us in the hallways and in class and even in the lunchrooms, and picked up on some problems we experienced in our daily lives. She would then utilize that in class, and mathematically model some of the problems we experienced. In doing this, she even managed to slip in some math that was not on the exams, which stuck with me for the past 12 years."
- John, posted to the math-teach discussion

Lipson's Lego Sculptures


Self-described "professional nerd" Andrew Lipson has constructed M.C. Escher drawings and other mathematical forms — out of Legos®.

Lipson's Lego Sculptures is the latest Mathematical Imagery album of the American Mathematical Society (AMS), which lets you send images of his creations as e-postcards.

Have you constructed a mathematical form using Legos? The AMS invites you to share a photo of it on Facebook:


Other Mathematical Imagery albums of the AMS include

  • shapes and tilings by Edmund Harriss
  • simulated snowflakes by David Griffeath and Janko Gravner
  • woven beads by Gwen L. Fisher
  • origami by Robert J. Lang

For more of Lipson's brick-by-brick creations, check out his site:



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