Posted tagged ‘Mathematics’

How big is big?

February 15, 2010

The metric system is a very useful way of having a common system of relation between units of different sizes. The metric system was originally proposed by an Englishman, but didn’t catch on. It was later introduced in France and has since spread across almost the entire world (see the history of the metric system), except for the U.S.A and Myanmar (but scientists across the world all use metric). The advantage of the metric system is common conversion rates – every unit is related in multiples of 10, which makes it easy to convert between different sizes. It wasn’t always so easy:


12 lines = 1 inch (in.)
12 inches = 1 foot (ft.)
3 feet (ft.) = 1 yard (yd.)
7.92 inches = 1 link
25 links = 1 rod, pole or perch
16½ feet = 1 rod, pole or perch
yards = 1 rod, pole or perch
4 poles .. = 1 chain
100 links = 1 chain
22 yards = 1 chain
40 poles .. = 1 furlong
220 yards = 1 furlong
8 furlongs = 1 statute mile
5280 feet = 1 mile
1760 yards = 1 mile
2240 yards = 1 Irish mile
3 miles = 1 league

Now that’s confusing! All the different conversion factors makes for such a mess – trying to remember what you multiply by to convert one unit to another is just messy! It makes it much more easy if you can just move the decimal point in order to change between relative sizes by multiplying or dividing by ten.


You can’t dodge this…

February 13, 2010

Matrices are a core part of Mathematical Methods – there is no way to avoid (dodge) this! You must learn the basics of matrix arithmetic (adding, multiplying by a constant, multiplying by another matrix, finding the determinant and inverse) and matrix algebra (solving for an unknown using inverses, managing transformations through matrices)

So what do you have to do to “Enter the Matrix” and make it your plaything? Well, the basic arithmetic and algebra are fairly simple – but you do need to practice – you familiarity with matrices should be the same as your skill with basic timetables – they are the same. Just like junior mathematics was based of simple timestable and basic algebra, Mathematical methods is based on the skills you develop through familiarity with matrices.  So get cracking!

Here are two powerpoints that will help you get a handle on working with matrices. Watch all of the first one, but the second one goes further than you need to understand (don’t worry about shear transformations, rotations or the applications at the end) (unless you want to…) (in which case, please consider arranging for an appointment with the school nurse).


Outclassing your ClassPad

February 10, 2010


So you’ve got this new calculator. It’s not like the one you were used to…

It’s bigger. It’s got *less* buttons. It’s got a touchscreen. It’s weirder than an Iphone with every single app installed.

And you have to use it…

Well, around about now, you may be considering one of the following options:

  1. losing it
  2. breaking it
  3. leaving it in your locker
  4. Quitting mathematics and running away to join the circus

Well, there are other options – namely beating it at it’s own game, and making it do maths until it squeals. Making it do the maths you don’t want to…

That sounds more like it. How many times have you had to do things like solving equations (or even… shudder… simultaneous equations)? Fractions? Surds? Finding the equations of lines? Force your calculator to do it so that you don’t have to!

Get your game face on, and check out the following links to learn how to use you ClassPad:

  1. ClassPad Videos : This is the *best* – do these and you’ll have that calculator begging for mercy
  2. ClassPad Downloads: Lots of useful stuff here – including “Canyon’s Corner” a helpful question and answer section
  3. ClassPad Lesson: Lots of stepped through instructions to show you how to do things. Worth printing off and storing for future refernce
  4. ClassPad Software: Additional programs to make your calculator do even more than it already does
  5. ClassPad Solution: Links and information for even more
  6. ClassPad Instructions: Even more worked ways to learn how to torture your classpad into submission
  7. ClassPad E-activities: You can make you classpad helpful in other subjects too…

Have lots of fun, and I expect to see those ClassPads in every class

Get Inspired by your Calculator!

February 8, 2010

So you have this calculator. It’s got lots of buttons, and does a ton of stuff, at least it does according to the manual…

Somehow, it seems more difficult to use for you than everyone else – perhaps an old calculator, like the one on the left would be easier to use…

No – there is a better way – you’ve got to go to TI BOOT CAMP!

Make that calculator work – learn how to make it work for you! VCAA will design exams that assume that you have particular calculator skills – and if you don’t have them – you can’t make your calculator work for you – you are at a disadvantage!

Fortunately, there are some really good websites that will help you become a TI black belt. You should complete one of these videos each night from the Introduction to Graphing, Introduction to Calculator and CAS and Activities using CAS: Systems of Equations sections. You can also use the Atomic Video Tutorials to brush up on some of the basic skills you will need.

Here are some additional notes (1,2,3,4,5,6,8,9 – yes, there is no “7”) to support your learning of this content.

Good luck, and remember to use your Math responsibly – Don’t Drink & Derive!

Add a comment to this post immediately if you are in my class – with your real first name so I know it is you!