April 20th, 2004

buzzed, B&W

(no subject)

So, I've been helping a family friend with her geometry homework every now and then. Note that this is a bit complicated since she lives in the Chicago area, and I'm in Ohio. She faxes her stuff to me, and then we usually IM and talk about things, and I try to do guided questions so I'm not doing it for her, but instead helping her. (Though in one time crunch I did fax her the problem worked, so all she had to do was copy. I was optimistic and hoped she'd take the time to understand it.)

Anyway, so tonight we've got a problem that's simplified to r^2 + Rr - R^2 =0. At which point we're supposed to apply the quadratic formula (the directions tell us to do this). So I ask "what's a?" I give her a few examples with x, like 2x^2 + 3x + 5 = 0, and things like that. Anyway, we're really stumbling through this and she's struggling with the idea that the quadratic formula starts from an equation of the form ax^2 + bx + c = 0. I eventually tell her what a, b, and c are (1, R, and -R^2), to which she responds "i never knew how to find a, b, and c for the quad. formula until now . . . i think i partially get it" While I'm thinking "holy shit, how'd she get through algebra," I respond "oh wow, how'd you get through algebra w/o being able to do the quad. formula?" and her response is "well, i knew how to do the quad. formula, not just...not the* equation that helps you find a, b, and c"

*sighs* One has to wonder just what kind of teaching is going on sometimes . . . .
buzzed, B&W

(no subject)

Oh my . . . so the coefficient to the R in that last problem works out to be 0.61803399, or the inverse of the golden ratio. The homework says the number should be familiar, find the decimal, and find the inverse if you need a hint. So one will get 0.61803399 and 1.61803399. This didn't click right away for me as the golden ratio, but I did recognize that the decimal parts were the same, and then it clicked. (My excuse is we never talked about this, and the only time I'd been exposed to the golden ratio was in Donald in Mathmagic Land.)

Anyway, I start asking her some more questions like "so did you talk about the greeks and architecture maybe?" (Since that's where the golden ratio is usually seen, and that's how most people introduce it in the classroom.) And she responds "we talked about the parthenon a bit" and I'm thinking "YES! We're on the right track" and ask the follow up question "did you talk about how the sides were spaced or anything?" and she says no. :( Anyway, in the end, I mention the Mathmagic land video, which she vaguely remembers seeing in sixth grade, but she can't remember the golden ratio. I at least guide her to the point where one realizes the decimal parts of the number are equivalent, and then she says she'll ask her teacher about it (since that's what the worksheet says.)

So the question is, did her teacher mention the golden ratio when talking about the Parthenon and she just missed it? Or did the teacher ramble about the Parthenon and never mention the golden ratio (though one wonders why else a math teacher would talk about the Parthenon.)

Anyway, the homework I've been helping her with is pretty decent - some of the directions are written at a bit of a high level, but it's obvious that the teacher enjoys the math, and the wonder of numbers (i.e. the golden ratio) but I'm not sure that the problems he assigns are accomplishing showing this wonder to the students. He had another sheet that I liked that was just exploring the area of regular polygons, using triangles, and showing how eventually you get to pi*r^2 as n gets larger and larger. Again, the concept was kind of neat, but the way he works them, and the hints he gives probably doesn't work for most students.
buzzed, B&W

Highest Paid Athletes

So, Dan and I were having lunch today, and we started talking about athletes and I pointed out that I thought Beckham was the highest paid athlete in the world. Dan replied no way, that it had to be A-Rod who recently signed for $252 million for 10 years, or an average of $25 million a year. Apparently that's chump change compared to some of the highest paid athletes. Micheal Schumacher, the F1 driver is paid $36 million by Ferrari. That's not including purses from the races, nor any endorsements. Some estimates but his yearly income at close to $100 million a year. He denies that he makes that much money though. Perhaps some of the more realistic estimates are those provided by Forbes, where they cite Schumacher at $49 million, Jordan at $40, and Woods at $47

Of course, I was way off about Beckham. I think where I got the idea that he was the highest paid was from this article, which states he makes $17 million a year, before endorsements, $35 with endorsements. That article has Woods leading the back, with Schumacher in second.

So, it looks like most places have Woods and Schumacher as the top paid athletes in the world, at close to 50 million each . . . wow.