6 February, 2015
Volume 20 No. 6
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In This Issue

Solutions: 2015 Mathematics Game

Symbolab: My Notebook

The Mathematics of Presidents Washington and Jefferson


Online PD

Orientation Sessions

Problem Based Learning Courses

Graduate Credit:
Mathematics Teaching and Learning Certificate

Master's Degree


Solutions: 2015 Mathematics Game


This past Sunday, we posted solutions to the 2015 Mathematics Game. Students have sent us their arithmetic from every region of the US, plus England, Germany, and beyond.

... but we still need answers! Eighty-three and 93 have so far defied expressions made from

  • the digits in 2015
  • standard operations
  • grouping symbols

Several other nearby numbers, toward the bottom of the pull-down menu of solutions, have garnered only a few answers apiece. So whether you've blazed a new arithmetic path, or just taken a commutative detour, come share your basic ops wizardry here:


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

"I plan to use what I know about algebraic equations and make one accordingly to this problem. Also, I plan to make a dog and label the parts to understand the lengths.... Looking back, the part of this problem I found challenging was ..."
- Alexis, highlighted in the Pre-Algebra PoW's Latest Solution

Symbolab: My Notebook


On Monday, Symbolab rolled out a new feature that lets you save, annotate, rank, and share the results from its semantic search engine's step-by-step online solver.

Output now shows up with a "Save" button in the lower right corner. Clicking it opens a notepad with your problem, which you can then rank by difficulty and share with friends:


Symbolab first appeared in these pages the week it launched, over two years ago — and shortly thereafter, went on to index the 11,000+ questions and answers from the Forum's own ask-an-expert service, Ask Dr. Math. More recently, Symbolab released its first apps:

Now taking place: math education conversation of the day

"Welcome to how the middle school math teachers have been feeling about these new tests. We get some 'magic' teacher grade that is impossible to know how it was determined."
- Cathy, posted to the general discussion group of the Association of Math Teachers of New York State

The Mathematics of Presidents Washington and Jefferson

What did the President know, and when did he know it?

The Library of Congress has the answers, as far as the mathematics learned by the nation's original Commander in Chief. It has scanned the school copy books that George Washington penned with quill and ink as a teenager.

These two volumes handwritten in 1745 by the future first U.S. President reveal geometrical definitions and problems, surveying, mensuration, multiplication and division, simple interest, foreign currency conversion, and other mathematics from pre-colonial times:



The Library's digitization of these volumes has revealed some omissions, spurring subsequent "detective work" to track down and correctly situate omitted pages. It has also inspired fresh primary source research, such as "George Washington's Use of Trigonometry and Logarithms," published in the 2013 Proceedings of the Canadian Society for History and Philosophy of Mathematics (CSHPM):


For his part, the third President of the United States once wrote, "When I was young, mathematics was the passion of my life." This insight appears in a new book about Thomas Jefferson's metrication efforts that came out last month — conveniently in time for Presidents' Day, Monday, 16 February.

According to publishers Springer, Thomas Jefferson and his Decimals 1775-1810 reveals "how the United States' decision to adopt a fully decimalized, carefully conceived national currency ultimately had a profound effect on U.S. school mathematics curricula."

Subtitled "Neglected Years in the History of U.S. School Mathematics," the work draws on a large set of arithmetic textbooks and an even larger set of handwritten cyphering books. Freely download the front matter and back matter, and preview sample pages from chapters such as

  • 1776: Dawn of a New Day in School Mathematics in North America
  • Thomas Jefferson and an Arithmetic for the People
  • Decimal Fractions and Curriculum Change in School Arithmetic in North America in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries



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