Q&A #3893

Dividing by zero

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From: Gail (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: May 11, 2000 at 06:22:04
Subject: Re: Dividing by zero

Well, it is way past 2pm, and I am an elementary teacher, so I won't comment
on the "null set" portion of the question, but I do want to add what I tell
my students about division by 0.

I usually encounter it when we are first dealing with fractions (I teach 5th
grade).  If  student suggests it, I ask the class to draw a picture of the
fraction.  They are able to draw other fractions like 1/2 ,  3/5   or even
6/1  by drawing a shape, subdividing it into equal pieces according to the
denominator and shading the amount the numerator shows, but when they try to
draw 2/0, for example, there is no way to draw a shape and then divide it
into "zero" pieces.   The least number of pieces they can show is "one" piece.
 If they erase the line, then they have no shape anymore.

I remember a high school algebra teacher sharing this with my class one day,
so it must have made an impression.  :-)  just my 2cents worth!

 -Gail, for the Teacher2Teacher service

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