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Note From a Foreign Correspondent

I showed my classes your recent "Math Lint" section regarding Jeopardy. All of my 8th graders were able to answer all of the questions correctly within a fair time frame. Interesting, huh?

It brought up some "bad math" stories. Remember when Burger King (or maybe it was McDonalds) had burgers advertised for 1.98 cents instead of $1.98? Or A&W Root beer offering floats for .89 cents instead of $.89? What about baseball listing a pitcher who throws for 6 innings and 2 outs as 6.2 and not 6 and 2/3 ? My students, who all travel regularly, also mentioned how many times adults have a difficult time with simple currency conversion. So here’s an idea—have students at all levels (MS, HS, college) hunt for bad math stories or examples and find a way for them to be shared on line? My students are on the hunt; I can’t wait to see what they dig up.

My current favorite is a recent Durian fruit stand right outside the 7-11 store near my house (yes, we have 7-11 stores here........) Durian (looks like a pineapple) is a famous local fruit that is a delicacy (although I don’t care for it personally) but smells like a garbage can without the lid on (I’m not exaggerating). The Durian was priced as follows: "1 for $5, 2 for $10, and 3 for $20." No joke! And Singapore is consistently rated near the top of the world for their math scores (if not #1). Food for thought (no pun intended).

Many of the teachers here are really enjoying your site and are using it more regularly now that we have LCD projectors in most rooms.

The single best thing that I do in my mathematics classroom that embraces the newest standards is to give POW’s regularly—I would strongly encourage math teachers everywhere to give them. Once a good rubric is written they don’t take that long to grade (the usual excuse to NOT give them). Having them write a linear equation for the cost of a taxi or taking the train, etc....

I gave the stats teacher the recent "Wal Mart for every American" problem to do with his AP stats classes (we have 5 sections here in addition to the 5 AP Calculus and 1 AP Calculus II classes). Great stuff!....

Andy L. Donahue
Singapore American School