Blog Archives

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A Beautiful Mind

A wonderfully inspiring true story about a brilliant mathematician who didn’t let childhood blindness stand in her way.

“As a young girl, Dr Yeo Sze Ling fell in love with mathematics, solving maths problems like little puzzles in her head.

The fact that she had glaucoma and lost her sight at age four did not stop her from pursuing her love for the subject, winning an A*Star scholarship in 2002 to do her PhD in maths.

Her grit earned her a mention in Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s National Day Rally speech last week.

Dr Yeo, 35, now a research scientist at A*Star, spends her days at its infocomm security department doing cryptography, a field which protects data as it transfers from one computer system to another.”

I find it also very heart-warming how Dr Yeo always helps others who face similar challenges.

“Helping younger, blind students is what Dr Yeo calls her “greatest satisfaction”. She says: “So many people in my life have helped me along – my teachers, peers and even just random strangers on the street, so I want to pass it on by helping others.”

Paying it forward at work transforming lives. Love it.

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How Grit leads to Success

Leaving a high-flying job in consulting, Angela Lee Duckworth took a job teaching math to seventh graders in a New York public school. She quickly realized that IQ wasn’t the only thing separating the successful students from those who struggled. Here, she explains her theory of “grit” as a predictor of success.

At the University of Pennsylvania, Angela Lee Duckworth studies intangible concepts such as self-control and grit to determine how they might predict both academic and professional success”

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Learning math, learning reading and writing, learning music

This blog from Kumon North America got me thinking, because I have a very deep love for music, and both sing and play the flute (though not at the same time!), and have also been an advocate of Kumon instruction over 18 years.

music keys

Certainly the points made in the blog are very true of music as well as learning math and English – I have a practice room so I can work on my singing without distraction; there has always been a large component of basics, like scales and warm-ups in my musical learning over the past decades; awareness of time, whether practice time or tempo, is indeed important in music; and constant practice as well as long-term commitment are essential to excellence in music.

music and math(Terrible at math? Maybe you just haven’t practised it as much as you have music?)

Thinking about other connections between music and math and English, there are many. We have all heard how learning to play a musical instrument helps develop a child’s brain – for example see this article from Science Daily in 2006.

Also, people who are strong in math and often strong in music and vice versa – this Wikipedia article may offer some insights.

The connection between reading words and reading music? This is a fascinating blog by a mom about connections between the way we read stories and read music.

piano flow

But beyond all these, and I’m sure many more connections, is the sheer beauty that can be found in books, in math, and in music. The love affair we have as musicians with listening to and producing/composing/directing music is not so different perhaps than the love affair with words, as readers or writers of stories, or the joy of math in its more intriguing and creative aspects.

beauty-of-music_large(Beauty in all its complexity – reflections from famous composer Benjamin Britten)

What connections have you noticed between music and math and languages?

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connections“Suspended coffee” takes off in Bulgaria

I found this a very inspiring example of “paying it forward” (a concept encapsulated in the beautiful, deeply touching 2000 movie Pay It Forward).

“Can’t afford coffee? No matter. In Bulgaria, an old Italian tradition that sees good souls buying hot drinks for those who struggle to make ends meet has taken hold after weeks of tensions over deepening poverty.

More than 150 cafes across Bulgaria have joined a goodwill initiative modelled on the Italian “caffe sospeso” tradition, which literally means “suspended coffee”, according to a Facebook page devoted to the movement.

The tradition — born in the cafes of Italy’s southern city of Naples — sees people pay in advance for one or several coffees without drinking them…” Read the whole story here

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How to Help Your Child Want to Succeed

“Without inspiration the best powers of the mind remain dormant. There is a fuel in us which needs to be ignited with sparks.” -Johann Gottfried Von Herder

When children are motivated to succeed, they can do anything. But sometimes children need some extra help from their parents in order to create that desire to succeed academically. They may need some extra motivation in order to achieve specific goals such as making the honor roll, or general ones such as building critical thinking skills or improving overall math skills. Below are ways that can motivate your children to succeed and how Kumon Math and Reading Programs can help your children as well…

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pi digitsHappy Pi Day!

Yes, it is that time of year once again! 3.141…. March 14th is World Pi Day, when math geeks everywhere celebrate this amazing entity we call pi.

“Pi Day is celebrated on March 14th (3/14) around the world. Pi (Greek letter “π”) is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159.

“Pi has been calculated to over one trillion digits beyond its decimal point. As an irrational and transcendental number, it will continue infinitely without repetition or pattern. While only a handful of digits are needed for typical calculations, Pi’s infinite nature makes it a fun challenge to memorize, and to computationally calculate more and more digits.” (piday.org home page)

Are you ready for the Mathematical Pi Song? (Based loosely on that famous song by Jim Croce, American Pie)

Or how about this – this is lovely… Pi(ano) Song

Finally, here’s a List of things to do for pi day

Enjoy!

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division of fractionsBut why do we flip and multiply when dividing fractions?

I stumbled upon this blog today, and am pleased that someone out there in cyberspace has tackled this thorny issue.

The blogger says, “What is this sitution (sic) describing? This seems the one most difficult for teachers and students alike. We all know what it means to divide a length into (by?) two pieces, but what sense does it make to divide it into 1/2 a piece.”

The conclusion is: “dividing fractions is simply fractions which have fractions instead of integers in the numerator and denominator.”

Other ways of tackling this include those found at

http://www.mff.org/mmc/div_fractions.pdf

Do these approaches make it clearer for you?