Without zero

What would the world be like without zero?

This reminds me of the movie “Gravity” and how the Japanese title was “Zero Gravity”. Did you see it? Did you enjoy it?

What was the movie called in the other language you’re studying this year?

Gravity in other languages



Goat, ram or sheep?

2015 is the Year of the … Goat? Ram? Sheep?

In Hong Kong, the Beijing-supported political leader is getting a lot of flak for telling citizens to behave like sheep (“mild and gentle” he says, but what he means is obedient and docile). And depending on the country, this year’s Chinese zodiac sign is called sheep, goat or ram.

In Japanese, it’s easier to distinguish. Sheep 羊, Goat 山羊, Ram 雄羊. But when you say the word “ram,” some people in Japan might think you’re saying “lamb” (子羊) because the pronunciation in Japanese (ラム) is the same. (But then so is rum (ラム酒). Japanese is hard!

Regardless, it’s a good time to learn a little more about Chinese New Year. Here’s a collection of TED-Ed videos to learn about fireworks, dragons, the color red and the moon (because it’s the lunar new year). This one, “How to defeat dragons with math” is cute:

After using your brain so much, you need some food. Here is a collection of recipes for different ways to eat dumplings.

It’s the process that counts

“It was never really about the answer. It was about the process.”

Here’s Part 1:

I went to a high school (and college) like this. Everything was about asking questions and discovery and cooperating to find answers. If more math (and language!) classes were like this, I think fewer people would hate math (and English!).


____ is fun! (fill in the blank)

Not many of my students are into math, and frankly neither am I, but watching this very cool video does pique my interest. How about you?

You can find out more about what Platonic solids are here, and why there are only five here, and you can find templates to make your own here. I like the name of that site: Math is Fun!

This reminds me of the Multiple Intelligences quiz I give every year to the students studying to be teachers (here’s one). These quizzes ask you what things you think you’re good at and what things you enjoy doing. The first time I did one of these, I was in graduate school, and my results haven’t changed much since: relatively round and wide. In my experience, most students (undergrad 3rd and 4th year students) who do this have smaller, more uneven results.

I like to tell them that learning to be curious about — and maybe even enjoy —  things (like math maybe) that you don’t enjoy or think you aren’t good at is one way to make life  … and your conversations and research projects … more interesting.