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Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Dividing by zero

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From: Marie Siobhan Boland

To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 2001011918:24:52
Subject: Dividing by zero

An explanation I have used that has satisfied the mystified algebra-learner is that if I have 5 things, I can represent that as 5/1 or 5 things in one place. I can split that into two places, and give half to you, thus we have 5/2 and each of us has 2.5. However, if there are 5 things nowhere, that's 5/0, they don't exist! Where are they if they aren't somewhere, ither in 1, 2, 3 or more places??? This sometimes becomes a short philosophical discussion, but always interesting, and most students seem to get the idea. best, Marie Siobhan

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