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Fermi Fun this Fall
Do your math students enjoy playing around with big ideas and
doing projects together? Then enroll them in the Fermi
Off-the-Wall Math League!
Now in its fifteenth year, this Internet-based math
competition welcomes students in grades 1-9 from around the
world who seek enrichment, small group work, and creative,
A Fermi question is posed with limited information given.
How many water balloons would it take to fill
How many cockroaches will fill the trunk of a VW Beetle?
How much fabric would it take to make a camo-suit for
How many eggs would fit in the Trojan Horse's body?
The six-week Fall '13 season of Fermi Math starts Tuesday,
Coincidentally, just last week an undergraduate posted about
the new Fermi problem-solving functionality that he spent his
summer internship at Wolfram adding to its computational
knowledge engine. Thanks to physics major Andrew Steinacher,
Wolfram|Alpha now solves order-of-magnitude estimation
problems such as
How many ping pong balls could fit in a Boeing 747?
How many apples could you fit on a football field?
How many snowflakes could you put in the Sun?
PoW taking place: math problem-solving moment of the week
"I really enjoyed reading everyone's submissions this week,
because I got to read so many different strategies. I love it
when that happens! The strategies I saw this week were: Make a
Table; Use Algebra; Use Logical Reasoning; Guess and Check;
and Make a Graph. And then, in case five strategies wasn't
enough for you, there were variations within some of
- Max, commenting on the Pre-Algebra PoW's Latest Solution
Common Core State Standards Support
Do your students' guardians have questions about the Common
Core State Standards (CCSS)? The Council of the Great City
Schools has produced "parent roadmaps" that provide guidance
about what children will be learning and how family can support
that learning in grades K-8.
Running six to eight pages in length, each freely downloadable
guide includes examples; sections such as "Partnering with your
child's teacher" and "Helping your child learn outside of
school"; and three-year snapshots showing how selected
standards progress from year to year.
They're also available in Spanish:
For more CCSS resources, check out the Forum's Internet
Mathematics Library, which has a whole category dedicated
Now taking place: math education conversation of the day
"I am also glad to see that you are both in the exact place as
I am. I did not quite understand the reasoning behind the '4
number game,' as well. But I wasn't quite sure about the first
5 lessons either, and the kids seem to be doing well. So there
must be a method to this madness."
- Betty, posted to the secondary (grades 9-12) discussion
group of the Association of Math Teachers of New York State
Khan Speaks Spanish
Khan Academy last week announced that it spent "the past year
making it possible for our entire website experience to be
translated into any written world language" — and it started
with Spanish. Check out their "mapa del conocimiento":
Using the learning dashboard mentioned in these pages last
month, Spanish-speaking learners can now receive personalized
recommendations on what to work on next, have access to over
100,000 math practice problems, and track their progress.
Registered users of Khan Academy who want to change their
language settings to Spanish need just select "Español" as
their preferred language at the bottom of the homepage.