24 January, 2014
Volume 19 No. 4
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In This Issue

Science of the Winter Olympic Games

Practice PARCC Sample Test Questions Online

MATHCOUNTS Math Video Challenge


Online PD

Orientation Sessions

Problem Based Learning Courses

Graduate Credit:
Mathematics Teaching and Learning Certificate

Master's Degree


Science of the Winter Olympic Games


The XXII Olympic Winter Games begin in two weeks, so get ready for the trumpet fanfare — and the math!

The National Science Foundation (NSF) and NBC Learn have partnered to release a 10-part video collection that delves into the mathematics, physics, engineering, chemistry, and design behind the world's foremost sporting event.

Running about five minutes in length, each video features a university scientist explaining a selected scientific principle, while current Olympians describe how these principles apply to their events.

Videos cover slopestyle skiing — one of the twelve new winter sports in these Olympics — as well as

  • half pipe snowboarding, with Shaun White
  • figure skating, with Meryl Davis, Gracie Gold, Evan Lysacek, Ashley Wagner, and Charlie White
  • bobsledding, with Steve Holcomb and Steve Langton

Relevant highlight clips of the world's top athletes and record holders enliven every video, along with slow-motion, high-speed camerawork that allows for frame-by-frame illustration.

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

"Carlisle's explanation is nicely written and very easy to follow.... Erik's solution is organized by statements that say what he wants to find with each step, and then a calculation that accompanies the statement. It's a lot like Agnes's solution, though she wrote her statements in the form of questions.... Anna A. of Great Neck uses a table.... Phew! You might be wondering how it is that different starting points resulted in the same answer. How is it that you can change the order of the steps? Well, this is because...."
- Annie, commenting on the FunPoW's Latest Solution

Practice PARCC Sample Test Questions Online


The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) has posted sample test items on the testing platform that it anticipates some 1.2 million students in 14 states — roughly 10 percent of third through eleventh graders across the consortium — will begin taking in late March as part of an effort to develop their states' future assessments.

Want to give it a go now? First, choose a device compatible with the hardware and software requirements of PARCC's test:


Take the tutorial, and then click the "sample items" tab to freely engage the math items using computer-based tools such as

  • an equation editor that handles mixed numbers, interval notation, Greek symbols, and more
  • an "answer eliminator," which eliminates choices from multiple choice questions
  • a ruler and a protractor that can be dragged and rotated into position
  • a flag to make it easier to come back to an item later


Now taking place: math education conversation of the day

"In my experience, the easiest way to tell if a calculator is 'legal' is to type something like the square root of 20, and if it gives you 2 radical 5, then it is NOT legal."
- Peggy, posted to the secondary (grades 9-12) discussion group of the Association of Math Teachers of New York State

MATHCOUNTS Math Video Challenge


Formerly the Reel Math Challenge, the Math Video Challenge invites teams of U.S. sixth, seventh, or eighth graders to make five minute-long clips that teach the solution to — and demonstrate the real-world application of — one of the 300 problems from the 2013-2014 MATHCOUNTS School Handbook, freely downloadable here:


Difficulty ratings and alignments to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) appear in the Problem Index, which begins on page 82 of the handbook.

Submit your students' videos to this free competition, courtesy of MATHCOUNTS and lead sponsor the Department of Defense, before voting starts on Tuesday, 4 February.

For Frequently Asked Questions and a link to the official rules, visit



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