The Talking Stick Blog

News, Updates, Program Recaps, and Homeschooling Information

Algorithms, Algebra, and College Admissions

(October 19 and 26, 2017) “Today we’re going to do something we’ve never done in a math circle here. We’re going to take a quiz.” Stricken looks on faces. “We’ll do it together, it’s just 2 questions, and I think it will be fun.” Relief. “I’m always on the lookout for things related to algorithms to share with you, and…

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Spotify and Random Number Generators

(October 12, 2017) “Everybody get a partner. Take a piece of paper. Take a pencil. Number your paper 1-30. You’re all going to flip a coin 30 times. In each partnership, decide which person will flip a real coin and which person will flip an imaginary coin.” That got their attention! I needed to harness their attention because many of…

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Stable Marriage, part 2

(October 5, 2017) We continued work on the Stable Marriage Problem today. After a discussion of the field of mathematics known as game theory, I put on the board the Jane Austen example that Emily Rhiel used in her Numberphile video. Six students used this example to teach the Gale Shapley algorithm to two students who had not been in…

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The Stable Marriage Problem (Gale Shapley Algorithm)

(October 2, 2017) I discovered this problem and was so excited – my students would love it, it directly tied in to the topic of our course, and it was a good example of a mathematical algorithm that all of the students would have sufficient math background to work. I wanted to do it right away, so I discarded my…

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Exploring the Google Page Rank Algorithm

(September 14, 2017) This week we talked about the Google PageRank algorithm. I facilitated it in the same way that Dr. Emile Davie Lawrence did at the recent National Math Festival in DC. I was fortunate to be in the audience during her presentation, which was recorded and available for viewing here: http://nationalmathfestival.org/photos-videos/. In Dr. Lawrence’s session, she remarkably interacted…

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Introducing Algorithms

(September 7, 2017) Today was the first session of our teen course “Our Algorithmic Culture.” My goals for today were to stimulate people’s imagination and curiosity, give students a sense of what an algorithm is, and provide some baseline cases and examples to keep returning to. I’d like to fill you in on the questions I asked that guided our…

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New Math Circle Courses for 2017-18

Here are our unofficial course schedules for the upcoming year. Once they become official (after some possible extremely minor tweaking), registration info will be posted on the Talking Stick website.   Our Algorithmic Culture Dates: Thursdays, 3:30-4:45pm, 9/7-10/26 (8 weeks, 75-minute sessions, 10 hours total) Suggested Ages: 13+ What are algorithms and how do they drive our culture? We’ll examine…

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Functions: Crescendoing to Proof

(May 16 and 23, 2017) I thought that this course was about functions. We did a great exploration of them for the first four weeks. But in the last two weeks, something magical happened. Our math circle transcended a single topic to arrive at an exploration of the essence of mathematics, a near-visceral experience of true mathematical thinking. I’m so…

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USING MAPPING DIAGRAMS TO DEFINE FUNCTIONS

(April 18 and 25, 2017) We spent most of our third session creating mapping diagrams, which are a visual way to present and evaluate functions. The students were surprised, after several weeks of numerical function machines, that functions do not have to involve words. They can involve words and more. We mapped students to their drivers, students to their ages,…

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Bill Cipher, Racamán, and Lightning (Functions 1)

(April 18, 2017) The goal of today’s session was to get everyone familiar with what typical functions look like. Over the weeks we’ll be ramping this up. Today, though, was the first session of a six-week “Picnie Math” course on functions designed for students approximately age 10-13. We had a circle of 13 students ages 9-14 picnicking on the grounds…

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