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The Simpsons ala Mode

Blend two we things we enjoy.....mathematics and The Simpsons television show...and perhaps you can motivate more students (intrinsic and extrinsic). How you ask? Start with the web site simpsonsmath.com.

The web site was created jointly by Sarah Greenwald and Andrew Nestler, mathematics professors at Appalachian State University ( Boone, NC) and Santa Monica College (Santa Monica, CA) respectively. They have given many conference talks on the subject of mathematics and The Simpsons.

As explained on the web site: "The Simpsons also contains over a hundred instances of mathematics ranging from arithmetic to geometry to calculus, many designed to expose and poke fun at innumeracy.....Several episodes of The Simpsons contain significant mathematics that relates to material we normally cover in our classes. For these reasons, this program is an ideal source of fun ways to introduce important concepts to students, and to reduce math anxiety and motivate students in courses for non-majors."

The web site simpsonsmath.com offers teacher-friendly ideas for classroom use. Examples are:

  • Guide to mathematics on The Simpsons, show-by-show, season-by-season
  • Overview of the mathematical backgrounds of the writers and producers for The Simpsons
  • Sample classroom activity sheets
  • Snippets of transcripts that involve mathematical discussions on The Simpsons
And once you have exhausted the mathematics on The Simpsons, the web site provides a link to a similar web site discussing the mathematics on the television show Futurama. As Sarah Greenwald explains, "Futurama is a rare exception in broadcast television - a satirical science fiction cartoon that aims its jokes squarely at the top of the brow. Futurama is especially fun to watch because math, science, or programming references seem to appear in almost every episode."