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Browse Elementary Number Sense/About Numbers
Stars indicate particularly interesting answers or good places to begin browsing.

Selected answers to common questions:
    About zero.
    Multiplying by zero.
    Casting out nines.
    Classifying numbers.
    Googol, googolplex.
    Number facts from the Web.



Using Integers [01/05/1999]
I need some real-life examples of integers to show my students that they need to be able to use them in math class.

What is 0? [5/21/1996]
Is 0 a positive or a negative integer, or neither?

What is a Number Base? [04/19/2003]
The base eight number 7n3 is equal to the base 7 number 1n35. What digit does n stand for?

What is a Parenthesis? [07/17/2000]
What does the mathematical term "parenthesis" mean?

What is Expanded Notation? [08/22/2001]
My daughter was asked to rewrite each number as expanded notation. What is expanded notation?

What is Number Sense and How Can You Improve It? [08/29/2007]
What does the term 'number sense' refer to on standardized math test results? Is there any way to increase your number sense?

When in Rome, Know Your Place — Less a Written Notation for It [01/27/2015]
An adult wonders how Romans could have developed their rules for subtraction absent place value. Citing their use of the abacus, Doctor Peterson distinguishes between operating with the concept and representing it.

Where Does Pi Come From? [11/04/1996]
If pi is a ratio of lengths that can be measured only so accurately, how can we know the value of pi so exactly?

Who Invented Integers? [11/29/2001]
And when were integers invented?

Whole Numbers and Multiples [09/11/2001]
My students and I have been trying to figure out what numbers are in the set of "Whole Numbers." Is zero a whole number?

Why Casting Out Nines Works [10/13/2008]
Can you explain in simple terms why the Casting Out Nines method works?

Why Commas after Every Three Places? [07/10/2001]
Why do we put commas after every three places in a number like 200,000?

Why Estimate? [08/16/2002]
Estimate to the nearest thousand a solution to Dave's subtraction problem. The numbers are: 6,107 - 2,980 = 4,127.

Why Rules? [08/15/2001]
Why do we need to have rules for order of operations?

Why Study Prime and Composite Numbers? [01/25/2001]
My husband and I wonder why this is taught in school at all. Who uses this in the real world? Why does someone need to know whether a number is a prime number or not?

Why Two Odds Always Sum to an Even [03/21/2002]
Why do two odd numbers always equal an even number but two even numbers never equal an odd number?

Why Zero is neither Positive nor Negative [10/5/1995]
My class and I are wondering if 0 is a negative or a positive number and why.

Word for a 225th Birthday [07/10/2001]
This year America is celebrating its 225th birthday. As we celebrated the bicentennial in 1976, is there a term for 225 years?

Working in Base 7 [08/02/2007]
How do I add, subtract, multiply and divide in base 7?

Writing Numbers [11/24/2002]
Which words are okay to capitalize and when are hyphens used between words?

Writing Numbers in Words [09/15/1997]
Write each number in words: 1) 73.78007 2) 2.900087 (3) 34.4939.

Zero and Negative Infinity [06/02/2003]
What is the smallest number? Zero or negative infinity? Explaining concepts to a four-year-old.

Zero Before the Decimal Point? [10/06/2000]
What is the merit of writing the zero before the decimal point in numbers less than one, for example 0.25?

Zero for Children [03/16/2002]
When you are teaching children to count (1-10), do you include zero? Why or why not? How do you explain to a child (K-2) what the value of zero is, and is zero just a place holder?

Zero in the Denominator [8/14/1996]
What is the value of 4/0 * 0/4?

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