14 September, 2012
Volume 17 No. 37
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In This Issue

Macalester Problem of the Week

What's Your Wolfram|Alpha Story?

Mathematical Moment Friends Facebook


Online PD

Orientation Sessions

Problem Based Learning Courses

Graduate Credit:
Mathematics Teaching and Learning Certificate

Master's Degree


Macalester Problem of the Week


MacPOW is back! After a semester's hiatus, Stan Wagon, of Macalester College, has resumed posting a mathematics problem to his students every week. The Math Forum posts these problems and keeps an archive of past problems. Over 365 challenging, undergraduate math problems are available in our archive, dating back seventeen years.

Problem previews announced to the macpow mailing list of more than 800 subscribers have led to the publication of several research papers. For subscription instructions, see:


Macalester's Problem of the Week tradition was started in 1968 by the late Professor Joe Konhauser. Professor Wagon took over in 1993. Since the problems are meant to be accessible to first-year college students, very little background is needed to understand or solve them.

PoW taking place: math problem-solving moment of the week
"This problem was easier than most on the Math Forum, but it still made you think. I enjoyed this problem, because it included a challenging problem, but not so hard it made you frusterated like some do. This problem was fun, and I would like to do more like this. To help another student solve this problem, I would say to think it through. If you rush through a problem like this, you might mi! scalculate and miss something important. I would also remind the student to remember that there are 2 pairs of jeans."
- Natalie, reflecting on solving the
Pre-Algebra Problem of the Week: Back-to-School Shopping

What's Your Wolfram|Alpha Story?


Tell Wolfram how you use its computational knowledge engine in the classroom for a chance to win an iPa! d and a slew of Wolfram|Alpha-powered apps -- plus a year's subscription to W|A Pro.

Just email teachercontest@wolframalpha.com with the details requested on the blog post, above, and your responses to these three questions:

  • What's your Wolfram|Alpha story?
  • What "wows" your students when using Wolfram|Alpha?
  • What's your favorite use of Wolfram|Alpha, whether inside or outside of your field?

For complete rules of W|A's Teacher Story Contest, consult


Now taking place: math education conversation of the day

"I see you revised your answer David! Thank you! We will use Math Forum a lot, so I think you will see your communication and problem solving skills improving! Don't forget that the first 'box' is ONLY for the answer. You don't need to explain how in that box. You only have to say, 'The jeans were $21.32' You have had a great start to the school year. I am so proud of you!"
- teacher, responding to a student's submission to
Pre-Algebra Problem of the Week: Back-to-School Shopping

Mathematical Moment Friends Facebook


The American Mathematical Society (AMS) recently released a new Mathematical Moment -- and it's about Facebook.

Among other insights, "Finding Friends" states: "The average distance between Facebook users -- the number of friend-links to connect people -- is less than five."

Each of these free one-page PDFs describes how mathematics helps solve a problem in science, nature, technology, or human culture. The AMS web portal of more than 100 Mathematical Moments also offers podcast interviews with experts in these applied mathematical topics, some of which are translated into Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, Hebrew, Greek, and Russian.



This newsletter is provided as a service of The Math Forum, an online educational community for mathematics hosted by Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA.

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The Math Forum is also home to Ask Dr. Math, Problems of the Week, MathTools, Teacher2Teacher, the Internet Math Library, math discussion groups, and over 1,000,000 pages of mathematics information and discussions.

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the Math Forum

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