6 September, 2013
Volume 18 No. 36
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In This Issue

The Radix Endeavor

Grandma Got STEM

Travelling Salesman Movie Available for Pre-Order


Online PD

Orientation Sessions

Problem Based Learning Courses

Graduate Credit:
Mathematics Teaching and Learning Certificate

Master's Degree


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The Radix Endeavor


On Tuesday, the Education Arcade of The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) released the beta version of a massively multiplayer online (MMO) game for high school students to learn geometry, algebra, probability, statistics, and biology.

The Radix Endeavor, aligned with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Next Generation Science Standards, takes place in an earth-like world during a Renaissance-like era. Students play characters who take on quests, each tied to a particular content area. Through exploration and MMO collaboration, teens conduct their own experiments to develop hypotheses and figure out how the mathematical and biological systems function in Radix's virtual world, while taking advantage of the game-based environment to, for example, speed up time to see the outcome of a decision that — in a real-world experiment — would take months.

Start your own adventure on the island of Ysola by creating a temporary account (feel free to use a fake email address), selecting a "teacher" account, entering "MIT" as your school, and choosing it from the drop-down menu, too:


The Education Arcade seeks high school math and biology teachers to enroll their high schoolers in a large-scale pilot test this semester. To join the pilot, see other ways to get involved, and receive updates, visit


Radix is funded by the Gates Foundation, and under development at the MIT Education Arcade in collaboration with Filament Games. Learn more, including how to participate in professional development at MIT, by checking out


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

"I knew that was the key piece of information because nothing else paved the way. I thought that 4 multiplied by an unknown number added to 3 (4 and 3 being the numbers in the ratio) multiplied by the same number would be 154. A more efficient way of saying that is 4a + 3a = 154. I am not so good at algebra so I tried dividing 154 by 7.... At first, I had accidentally erased the top of the 9 in 297 and mistook it for a 4. Later I saw my mistake and had an 'aha!' moment.... I was stuck at that part for quite some time. Then I remembered that a percent is just a different form of a fraction...."
- Siena, highlighted in the Pre-Algebra PoW's Latest Solution

Grandma Got STEM


This Sunday may be Grandparents' Day, but a math professor began blogging earlier this year about public awareness and art projects that use grandmothers' pictures, names, and connections to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

With "Grandma Got STEM," Harvey Mudd College's Rachel Levy "counters the implication that grannies (gender + maternity + age) might not easily pick up on technical/theoretical ideas." Levy has already posted over a hundred times, each named in honor of a "STEM-ma" (with that 100th post recalling one of her own, especially endearing, STEM-related memories: "the windshield factor"). Along the way, she has featured dozens of mathematicians, such as

  • Karyn Traphagen, Executive Director of ScienceOnline2013
  • Carol Jo Crannell, solar astrophysicist at Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Shakuntala Devi, a "human computer" and Guinness World Record holder for lightning-speed calculations
  • Maud Menten, of the Michaelis-Menten equation
  • "We'll just call her Dorothy," a computer programmer at Sandia National Laboratory and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory with security clearances that gave her access to nuclear secrets


Levy, whose research interests include the hydrodynamics of whale flukeprints, hopes to involve more school-aged children in the project. She has worked with teachers to create school assignments, and has started to make contact with leaders of after school clubs. Grandma Got STEM has already featured student submissions from preschoolers to high schoolers, who have interviewed their own grandmothers or scientists in their communities.


Now taking place: math education conversation of the day

"There have been great discussions on the listserv and it would be wonderful to continue them in person. On a more personal note, I will be at the fall conference and would love to speak and brainstorm with other Algebra teachers. I plan to modify some of the lessons in the modules."
- Caryl, posted to the middle school (grades 5-8) discussion group of the Association of Math Teachers of New York State

Travelling Salesman Movie Available for Pre-Order


Starting Tuesday, you can download the intellectual thriller about four mathematicians that swept best feature film, best actor, and best editor honors at the 2012 Silicon Valley Film Festival.

First featured in these pages last June, "Travelling Salesman" focuses on the ethical implications of four fictional mathematicians' breakthrough discovery about the most vexing open question in computer science. To learn more about the mathematics of traveling salesman problems, check out the Ask Dr. Math conversations

Traveling Salesman Problem: Is there an easy solution to the "Traveling Salesman Problem"?
A Quick Overview of P vs. NP Problems: Can you explain what P and NP problems are at a level that a high school student can understand?

Purchase the digital version of the movie — with instant streaming and HD, DRM-free downloads for iPads, Xbox, and any device that plays MP4s — directly from the filmmakers or via iTunes.


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