Who is the REAL star of “Friends”?

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A data scientist studied the transcripts for every episode of the hit TV show Friends to try and determine who the real “star” of the show is.  Which Friend is the show really about? Read the article to find out more.

BADGING:

Assuming you are familiar with the show Friends (why are you doing this badge otherwise?!  There are plenty of others that might interest you more!), write a short paragraph explaining which Friend you think is the main character of the show.  Explain your reasons for making that choice.

Then read the article linked above.

In a second paragraph, explain the data scientist’s reasoning for making his choice.  Include the five categories (graph headings) that he studied and how they helped him to arrive at his conclusion.

Then, in a final paragraph, state a data point that you think the data scientist should have also included to help make his decision.  What other information do you think could help decide who the most important character is on Friends?  Do you think including this information would change the results of the study?

Thanks to Jason Kissel for suggesting this badge!

 

Women are better than men at free throws

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The results of a 30-year study show that women NCAA basketball players shoot free throws more consistently than male NCAA basketball players.  See the findings here.

BADGING:

Before reading the article, make at least three hypotheses that you think might be the reason women tend to be “better” at free throws than men in the NCAA.

Then read the article linked above.

Below your hypotheses, write a paragraph explaining what the study found.  What appears to be the major factor in the women’s free throw consistency?  Compare this finding to your hypotheses.

Write a second paragraph stating another athletic comparison that you would like to see studied (for example, “Who makes free throws more consistently, left-handers or right-handers?”).  It doesn’t have to be a basketball comparison.  Explain why you think this comparison could be valuable to athletes and coaches.

Thanks to Bradley Warfield for suggesting this badge!

W.E.B. DuBois at the World’s Fair

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W.E.B. DuBois, the first African American to earn a doctorate from Harvard University, attended the World’s Fair in 1900 in Paris with some amazingly beautiful graphs (“Data Visualizations”) that showed what life was like for black folks in America at the end of the 1800’s.  Read about them and see the striking images by clicking here.

BADGING:

Read the article linked above.

Pick any three of the graphs from below the article that DuBois displayed at the World’s Fair.  For each of the three graphs you choose, answer these questions:

  1. What is the title of the graph?
  2. What aesthetic or artistic choices (colors, layout, design, etc.) did DuBois make in creating this graph?
  3. How did those choices from the previous question add to the visual appeal of the data?  Why is this graph more effective than just listing the data as a table or a list of numbers?

Then, write a single paragraph that summarizes what you learned about what life was like for African Americans in the USA at the end of the 1800s (especially in the South).  What was DuBois trying to show the world by bringing these graphs to the World Fair?

Thanks to Jason Kissel via Chris Nho for suggesting this badging opportunity!

The Mathematics of the Black Panther

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As part of Chalkdust Magazine‘s celebration of Black Mathematician Month 2018, Dr. Nira Chamberlain discusses one of Shuri’s creations in Marvel’s Black Panther movie; T’challa’s suit, which supposedly disperses energy from impact blows and absorbs the shock to minimize damage.  Is this mathematically possible?  Read on to find out!

BADGING:

Read the article linked above.

In a paragraph, describe what would have to be true about a suit that disperses kinetic energy in the way that Black Panther’s suit does in the movie.  A suit like that hasn’t been invented yet, but a mathematical model has been made.  Describe in your own words what characteristics that suit would have in order to make the energy dispersal possible.

In a second paragraph, think of some movie tech that doesn’t yet exist (choose a favorite movie that contains some sci-fi or futuristic element to it).  If you were to make a theoretical model of that tech, what type of mathematical and scientific questions would you have to address before attempting to build a prototype?  For T’challa’s suit, mathematicians had to determine how to disperse the shock of impact.  What would have to be mathematically feasible for different movie tech?  Be sure to tell me what movie and what tech you’re discussing!

Number Gossip

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“Can you believe what 56 did?  It’s just so…odious!”

“Oh I know.  And 43 is so lucky, I can’t even stand it.”

You probably know a lot of properties of numbers like “even”, “odd”, “prime”, “square”…but there are so many more that you might have never heard of!  Head on over to Number Gossip to get the scoop!

BADGING:

Pick a favorite or interesting whole number.  It might be your uniform/jersey number for a sport you play, or your home address, or your lucky number, or something else entirely.  Enter it into the search field at Number Gossip.

  1.  List all of the “common properties” of your number that Number Gossip lists.  If any of those properties are unfamiliar to you, you should be able to click for an explanation.   Explain in a sentence next to each property why your number belongs to that property (Where applicable, give a specific reason for *your* number, not just a definition of the property).
  2. Pick one “rare property” (if your number has one; not all do) and do the same thing as in step 1.
  3. Pick one “unique property” (if your number has one; not all do) and do the same thing as in step 1.
  4. Search Number Gossip for the whole number directly before and after the number you chose.  How are the search results different?  How are they similar?  Write a few sentences comparing and contrasting, as well as your thoughts as to why they compare the way they do.

 

 

 

A Song of Pi

A mathematician/musician has taken the infinite decimal digits of Pi and composed a song based on them.  Take a look and listen to the song here:

 

BADGING:

(This badge will likely go much smoother for you if you’re musically inclined or have some basic training in reading music.)

Watch the video above.

  1.  First, reflect on what you think of the song.  Do you like it?  Is it pleasant to listen to?  In general, what are your feelings on using mathematics to help create a song?  Answer in a few sentences.
  2. Pause the video at the 9 second mark and look at the scale he used to compose his song (A Harmonic Minor Scale).  Hypothesize in a sentence or two why he used this scale to compose his song rather than a “simpler” one (like, for example G Major).
  3. Pick another irrational number besides Pi (Phi, e, the square root of two, etc.) Using the same scale and time signature (4/4) as the song above*, compose at least 8 bars of a song based on this irrational number.  You may print off sheet music here.
  4. I need to hear this song.  You can record it, you can bring in an instrument and play it, or you can bring in the sheet music and I can play it on guitar (just give me a heads up so I can bring in a guitar that day).
  5. Reflect on your new song in a couple of sentences. Do you like it?  Is it better or worse than the Pi song?  Has it changed the way you feel about math being used to create music?

 

* use a different scale and time signature if you really want to, but that seems more complicated and difficult than I am intending this to be.  But go for it if you want!  Likewise, you don’t have to worry about harmonies like you can hear in the original video, but if you’re capable and interested you are welcome to try!

This badge was suggested by USN Class of 2023 Colette.  Thanks, Colette!

 

For Teachers: #TMC18 Morning Session Wrap-Up & Reflections

I want to reflect publicly on the amazing experience that was #TMC18.  This was my third Twitter Math Camp, and I get more out of the experience every time I attend.  I am grateful to Dave Sabol, St. Ignatius High School, Lisa Henry, and the entire TMC planning committee for their hard work and dedication.  Thank you all.

Continue reading

Mayan Mathematics

Certain schools on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico are teaching native students the mathematics that was done by their ancient ancestors in the Mayan civilization.  Check it out in the video above.

BADGING:

Watch the video and pay attention to how the Mayans write their numbers and conduct simple arithmetic.  Answer the following questions.

  1.  How would you express the number 19 using the Mayan notation?
  2. In the video, the news reporter shows how to do the arithmetic 16 + 7.  Replicate that arithmetic using drawings.
  3. Now create a drawing/notation using the Mayan method to conduct the arithmetic 18 + 6.
  4. Explain at least three reasons why it is important for these children to be taught this method of arithmetic alongside the “typical” methods (like the way you learned to do addition, for example).

 

Lindsey Vonn Wants To Race Against The Men. Should the Olympics Allow It?

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With the 2018 Winter Olympics in full swing, 538 has published an analysis of Men’s vs. Women’s skiing statistics.  In the history of the Olympics, men and women have always raced separately and received separate medals.  American Olympian Lindsey Vonn wants to be able to race against the men.  What do the numbers say about this?

BADGING:

Read the article linked above.  Answer the following questions in a couple of sentences each.

  1.  In what skiing event(s), if any, do men appear to be consistently faster?  In what skiing event(s), if any, do women appear to be consistently faster?  In what skiing event(s), if any, does there not appear to be any discernible difference between men’s and women’s speed?
  2. What other factor(s) do we need to take into account about the men’s and women’s skiing events besides their average speed?
  3. Using the data provided in the article, write a short paragraph making an argument either FOR or AGAINST women racing against men in alpine skiing events.  (There is no correct stance to take on this issue, but you must use the data to support your claim.  Don’t just state your opinion.)
  4. Does Lindsey Vonn think she would win against the men?  What do you think is her motivation for wanting to race against the men?