> Hi all. > > I am currently tutoring at a community college and one of my students > is a sixth grade teacher going back to school because > she needs a calculus credit to complete her certification or > something, but that is beside the point. > > She asked me if I could give her a way to explain > what a mathematical function is to a sixth grader other than the standard > explanation about it being a machine that you put one number into > and receive another out of. She said that this does not work. > > I tried explaining how I learned long ago: As a map > where the equation is the directions or something like that. > She was also dissatisfied with that. > > Any thoughts? > > Patrick
My first thought is that this is too sophisticated an idea for sixth graders. Why should anyone in sixth grade need to master such a concept?? I doubt that they are even ready for algebra. Giving concepts to those who are unprepared to absorb them is a terrible idea.
"A map where the equation is the directions" doesn't make any sense to me.
When I lecture college freshmen trying to understand functions (most of them have incomplete notions of it) I use four or five analogies, one of which is the machine with input and output, as you mention.