Mathematics education consists in the practice of teaching and learning mathematics, along with the associated research. Research in mathematics education concerns the tools, methods and approaches that facilitate the practice of mathematics or the study of this practice.

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Motivations for Prime Factorizaton

I'm at the beginning of some middle school math sessions on divisors, gcd, lcm, and prime numbers. It's the first place in the curriculum that the students encounter the three latter concepts ...
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476 views

Is $\tan\theta\cos\theta=\sin\theta$ an identity?

A friend of mine, who is a high school teacher, called me today and asked the question above in the title. In an abstract setting, this boils down to asking whether an expression like "$f=g$" is ...
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2answers
899 views

Explaining Hypercomplex numbers to Children.

Imagine a highschool freshman walks up to you and asks you what hypercomplex numbers are. Explain to her, in a fair amount of detail, the different types of hypercomplex numbers in a way that any ...
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2answers
173 views

How important are tests in math study?

I'm currently trying to teach myself math through reading. I've made a schedule to keep my pace and to make sure I finish enough problems. Should I add to my routine a timed test now and then?
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286 views

What are some good ideas in teaching combinations and permutations

I am a student teacher trying to brainstorm some effective lesson plans for combinations and permutations for a high school statistics course. My master teacher has decided that he will introduce ...
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0answers
57 views

Why do we need primitive roots?

What is the most motivating way to introduce the order of a modulo n? Apart from simplifying powers of residues is there any other use of the order? Are there any examples which have a real impact on ...
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1answer
269 views

Parabola & Area Proving (Integral)

This is not a homework question. I am a new teacher (just graduated) and a student asked me this question. The points $A(3,9)$ and $B(-2,4)$ lie on the parabola $y=x^2.$ The line $y=x+6$ joins $A$ ...
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20answers
2k views

Good math bed-time stories for children?

What are some good references/books/articles from which to derive some good bed-time math stories to pique a child's interest in math? I am fascinated by math (used to hate it as a kid) and want my ...
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3answers
49 views

Commutativity or Distributivity - Which One to Use to DEFINE Multiplication of Negative Numbers?

It's easy to calculate $3 \times (-4)$, using the meaning of multiplication: $3 \times (-4)=(-4)+(-4)+(-4)=-12$. But it's not the case about $(-4)\times 3$! To DEFINE $(-4)\times 3$ we can choose ...
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22answers
6k views

Is math built on assumptions?

I just came across this statement when I was lecturing a student on math and strictly speaking I used: Assuming that the value of $x$ equals <something>, ... One of my students just rose ...
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2answers
103 views

A Good Example of an Argument That Cannot Be Reversed

My students are having a hard time with assuming what they must prove. A good example of what they are doing is when one wishes to show that $\lim_{x\to 3}(2x+1)=7$. They will assume that ...
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1answer
232 views

Are Base Ten Logarithms Relics?

Just interested in your thoughts regarding the contention that the pre-eminence of base ten logarithms is a relic from pre-calculator days. Firstly I understand that finding the (base-10) ...
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158 views

Gauss' Summation Trick; Applications and Generalizations

I'm going to write an article about the summation trick attributed to Guass and its applications and generalizations. I'm sure you know what is the trick I mean: $1+2+\cdots+100=101+101+\cdots+101$ ...
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56 views

Evaluating elementary school math textbook

My daughter's elementary school is currently using Saxon curriculum, and I'd like to figure out what other sources, if any, should be age appropriate for elementary school children to enhance their ...
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3answers
211 views

What is the best way to solve this high school exercise?

Can you share with me how would you best solve this exersise to a high school student? Show that $f(x)=x^2-6x+2$ , $x\in(-\infty,3]$ is $1-1$ and find its inverse.
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0answers
128 views

Why to Use the Same Sign for Minus and Negative?

Using the same symbol for two different concepts may cause confusion. So if one decides to do so, they should justify this choice by showing its advantages over other choices. What about the minus ...
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1answer
178 views

Is the computer changing the way we teach and learn math in schools?

Back in school, what I got taught during school was labeled 'math', but it was actually 'rote arithmetics.' This seems to also be the case of many other people. Some came to hate it and never came ...
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1answer
123 views

What are the big ideas needed to develop conceptual understanding of fractions?

In order to be able to perform arithmetic on fractions, students need to understand what fractions are and how they operate. Just teaching rules (e.g. "to add fractions you must have common ...
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3answers
117 views

Derivative in interesting way

I am supposed to give a 15-20 minutes math lecture, where I am expecting around 20-30 people. The lecture is about derivative. Since this would be my first "class", I would appreciate any suggestions ...
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1answer
242 views

What is the use of Euler Totient or Phi Function?

What is most motivating way of introducing this function? Does it in itself have any real life applications that have an impact. I can only think of a^phi(n)=1 (mod n) which is powerful result but ...
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2answers
2k views

Number of Lines Passing Through a Given Point in the Plane

How can one prove that infinite number of lines pass through a given point in plane, using Euclid's axioms (or Hilbert's, if necessary)?
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5answers
279 views

Why $\sqrt {-1}\cdot \sqrt{-1}=-1$ rather than $\sqrt {-1}\cdot \sqrt{-1}=1$. Pre-definition reason!

It is for years that I teach complex numbers following a historical route. I start with the famous problem of Cardano: Find two numbers whose sum is equal to 10 and whose product is equal to ...
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1answer
101 views

interactive training in mathematics olympiad competition for 8th Grade: Ages 13–14.

I'll enjoy your kindness to ask this question, despite that it seems it'snt the right destination. Please show me an url, for training in mathematics olympiad competition for 6th Grade: Ages 11–12. ...
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2answers
78 views

What are some good games for teaching maths to children?

I am due to teach maths to a ten-year-old. I'd like to try out some games such as Nim and Conway's Soldiers. I've found this list on Wikipedia but Googling for more just gives me a load of Flash ...
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0answers
197 views

Is there an elementary introduction to higher order functions?

I am teaching a pre-calculus course (using the textbook by Michael Sullivan if it helps), and I realized that higher order functions seem to show up in with some frequency in pre-calculus and ...
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4answers
328 views

How to explain Fractional and Negative Exponents

My classmates doesn't understand Fractional and Negative exponents, since I was the top of my class, so they all came to me... Is there any way to explain it clearly to them?
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2answers
82 views

An Integral With an Odd Function That Isn't Contrived

When ever I teach calculus, single or multivariable, there is always the point in the text when the author covers odd functions and then gives an example of an integral to evaluates to $0$ because the ...
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1answer
574 views

What is the use of the Chinese Remainder Theorem

What is the most tangible way to introduce the Chinese Remainder Theorem? What are the practical and really interesting examples of this theorem. I am looking for examples which have a real impact on ...
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2answers
415 views

What's an induction problem that will be hard to answer with “backwards reasoning?”

I'm currently the teaching assistant for a course that serves as an introduction to rigorous proofs, and I've noticed some of my students have a tendency to try and use a sort of "backwards reasoning" ...
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1answer
314 views

Best applications-oriented introductory calculus textbooks?

Note: I've edited this question on October 9th, after establishing a bounty on it. What are the best introductory calculus textbooks that explain why calculus is important in a broad intellectual ...
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2answers
132 views

Trying to teach supremum and infimum.

I'm helping out my former calculus teacher as a volunteer calculus advisor, and I have under my supervision 5 students. They've already had an exam and... well, they failed. I read their exams and I ...
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6answers
2k views

Cool mathematics I can show to calculus students.

I am a TA for theoretical linear algebra and calculus course this semester. This is an advanced course for strong freshmen. Every discussion section I am trying to show my students (give them as a ...
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5answers
384 views

How to explain infinty to a $3^{rd}$ grader?

In my country in $3^{rd}$ grade in math kids learn the four basic arithmetic operation (addition, subtraction, multiplication and divison) up to $10 000$. My sister this year goes to $3^{rd}$ grade ...
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1answer
285 views

Workshop on Pascal's Triangle for Middle School Students

We're going to hold a three-hour math workshop for some middle school students. It'll about the Pascal's triangle. Well, we can ask the students to find patterns in the triangle, or try to prove some ...
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6answers
391 views

“$n$ is even iff $n^2$ is even” and other simple statements to teach proof-writing

I am supposed to teach undergraduate students who do not major in mathematics and I would like to give them a short introduction to mathematical reasoning and to the concept of proof. I am looking for ...
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0answers
114 views

Variation on the Sobolev space $H^1_0$

Let $\Omega\subset\mathbb{R}^n$ be a bounded open set, let $$ C^1_0(\overline\Omega) = \{u\in C^1(\Omega)\cap C(\overline\Omega):u|_{\partial\Omega}=0\}, $$ and let $C^1_c(\Omega)$ be the space of ...
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24answers
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Why is there no “remainder” in multiplication

With division, you can have a remainder (such as $5/2=2$ remainder $1$). Now my six year old son has asked me "Why is there no remainder with multiplication"? The obvious answer is "because it ...
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2answers
155 views

Can abstract nonsense be helpful here?

Here a question for those among you, who teach Homotopics/Algebraic Topology at university. I encountered some questions that were in my view quite easier to solve in category hTop instead of Top ...
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1answer
44 views

Proofs as games?

A long time ago (but I can't remember when), I was introduced to the (pedagogical) concept of writing a proof as giving a winning strategy for a game. Basically, given a statement $\forall x\exists y ...
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10answers
1k views

Puzzles or short exercises illustrating mathematical problem solving to freshman students

At high school, the solution method to almost all mathematical exercises is to apply some technique or algorithm you have learned before. At the university, the situation is fundamentally different. ...
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5answers
115 views

Motivation for Studying Combinatorics (Middle School Version!)

I'm going to teach very elementary combinatorics (limited to basic enumeration) during two weeks to middle school students. At the beginning, I want to demonstrate the importance of counting in real ...
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1answer
37 views

Identify the derivative of a distribution

When someone wants to identify the derivative of a distribution $T\in \mathcal{D}'(\mathbb{R})$, we usually write, for $\varphi\in\mathcal{D}(\mathbb{R})$ , $$<T',\varphi> = -<T,\varphi'> ...
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4answers
273 views

A Handwaving Proof of a Specific Existence and Uniqueness Theorem

My problem is as follows: Given the second order homogeneous linear differential equation with constant coefficients $$a\frac{d^2y}{dx^2}+b\frac{dy}{dx}+c\,y(x)=0,$$ is there a good heuristic ...
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3answers
147 views

abstract algebra example book

It's very exciting when you can use the theory to solve "lower level" problems. For example, I'm looking forward to understanding why the quintic equation is not solvable. In the undergraduate ...
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0answers
30 views

The role of a uniqueness theorem for IVPs in a lower-division ODEs class

Please tell me your thoughts about this, and if you agree or disagree. I'll describe my current viewpoint, which is subject to change. Note that I've never taught a lower-division ODEs course. It ...
4
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2answers
152 views

What is the most motivating way to introduce modular arithmetic?

What the best way to introduce congruences in a number theory course? I am looking for something which will have an impact. What are the really interesting applications of congruent mathematics?
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1answer
67 views

Rates of Change Question with Mixed Units

I have come across the following question in a past exam paper of a module that I will be teaching this semester. The volume $V$ of m$^3$ of earth removed from a pit after $t$ hours is given by ...
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1answer
411 views

About game theory for high school students

I am a mathematician with a background in analysis who is teaching at a local high school in his spare time. There is some room for extra curricular math subjects and I want to use it for game ...
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1answer
52 views

Where are the resources on the prime number theorem?

I am looking for resources which explain the prime number theorem to 18 year old students. I am not seeking a proof of the result but something which will have an impact and motivate a student to ...
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4answers
298 views

How to Make an Introductory Class in Set Theory and Logic Exciting

I am teaching a "proof techniques" class for sophomore math majors. We start out defining sets and what you can do with them (intersection, union, cartesian product, etc.). We then move on to ...