9 May, 2014
Volume 19 No. 19
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In This Issue

Ignite Talks

Math Girls Talk About...

Really Big Numbers


Online PD

Orientation Sessions

Problem Based Learning Courses

Graduate Credit:
Mathematics Teaching and Learning Certificate

Master's Degree


Ignite Talks


What makes us passionate about math education?

What IGNITES us?

Earlier this week, we began releasing daily a new five minute-long clip of a different Math Forum staffer or colleague, each speaking breathlessly about our passion for math education while 20 PowerPoint slides advanced every 15 seconds — ready or not!

The fourth of these videos came out today, with more yet to come down the pipeline (release date in parentheses):

  • Andrew Stadel: "Number Sense: I Don't Like This Game Anymore" (Monday, 12 May)
  • Gail Burrill: "Why Statistics is Important in Education" (Tuesday, 13 May)
  • Kyndall Brown: "Cooking with Data for Access and Equity" (Wednesday, 14 May)
  • Peg Cagle: "Transformational Geometry" (Thursday, 15 May)
  • Dan Meyer: "Teaching the Boring Bits" (Friday, 16 May)
  • Annie Fetter: "Who Cares? (About What?)" (Monday, 19 May)

Check back daily for the next in this series of Ignite talks from the 2013 conference of the California Mathematics Council - Northern Section (CMC-North).

Don't want to wait? Click a talk's title to download its corresponding PowerPoint slides — or tune in to the complete, unedited video of the whole session, which features commentary by Steve Rasmussen, minus the slides:


CMC-North gave the Forum the oppportunity to carry on the Ignite tradition started by Key Curriculum Press. For more fast, fired-up fun, watch our other Ignite talks from earlier conferences:


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

"We decided to put our reflection first because we each learned something a little different from this problem, as our explanations will show. (Kira writes) I'd like you to know that I made A LOT of mistakes. I had the right idea — making a chart — but my first mistake was that I did not start off with the same number of small and large cups. Also, I didn't read the question right...."
- Kira, Logan, and Teryn, highlighted in the Pre-Algebra PoW's Latest Solution

Math Girls Talk About...


This past Sunday, Bento Books published the first volume in a new Math Girls spinoff series, Math Girls Talk About...

The story in Math Girls Talk About Equations & Graphs unfolds as dialogue among four teenage characters. Subtitled "Fundamental Skills for Advanced Mathematics," this latest translation by Bento Books introduces equations and graphs to middle- and high-school students who have learned basic algebra.

Freely download the front matter, first chapter, index, and table of contents, which lists these chapters, each with problems for the reader to solve:

  • Letters and Identities
  • The Appeal of Simultaneous Equations
  • Equations and Silhouettes
  • Proportions and Inverse Proportions
  • Intersections and Tangents


Bento Books first appeared in these pages two and half years ago, when they translated and published the young adult novel Mathematical Girls — also by author Hiroshi Yuki — the Japanese language version of which has already gone through some twenty printings.

Now taking place: math education conversation of the day

"You know what is crazy? My mentor and head of our math department met with the writer of the Common Core State Standards and had no intention of there being any simplifying of radicals. It is unnecessary with the modern use of the calculator. New York State decided to go against that and add it back in."
- Vivian, posted to the secondary (grades 9-12) discussion group of the Association of Math Teachers of New York State

Really Big Numbers


This coming Monday, 12 May, the first book written for kids published by the American Mathematical Society (AMS) will hit the shelves.

In Really Big Numbers, mathematician Richard Evan Schwartz leads math lovers of all ages on an illustrated journey through the infinite number system. The book begins with small, easily observable numbers before building up to truly gigantic ones, like a nonillion, a tredecillion, a googol — even ones "too huge for names" — all presented in fresh and relatable ways.

Preview Really Big Numbers by downloading a colorful seven-page PDF bursting with fun figure facts such as

  • a monkey has about 100,000 hairs on its head
  • if everyone joined together in a giant chain and lifted off the earth, on the right day they would reach about a quarter of the way to Mars
  • you could cram about 20 billion grains of very fine sand into a basketball
  • a googol atoms would fill the observable universe about 100 quadrillion times over


Really Big Numbers may be a first for AMS, but it's the second book for children by Schwartz, Chancellor's Professor of Mathematics and Director of Undergraduate Studies at Brown University. In 2010, A. K. Peters/CRC Press published his book about prime numbers and factoring, entitled You Can Count on Monsters:



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