The World Is Maths


December 2015

Maclaurin & Taylor Series (Desmos)

Nothing original, but this model demonstrates how increasing the number of terms in a Taylor or Maclaurin series improves the approximation.  You can hide/reveal the graph of appropriate series and change the value of the pivot in the Taylor series.


The Normal Distribution (Desmos)

Last year I made a couple of models on Desmos to demonstrate aspects of the normal distribution to my statistics students.

1.  Standardising

In this first one, you can set a normal distribution with any mean and standard deviation and then show what happens when you subtract μ and divide by σ to standardise the distribution (to do this, simply move the sliders).  It’s great because students can now visualise the procedure they are carrying out. Continue reading “The Normal Distribution (Desmos)”

Good Vibrations

It was King Solomon who lamented that “there is nothing new under the sun”.  This is borne out again and again: story plots, terrorism, facial hair, blog posts, popular music.  Let me demonstrate the latter to you, or rather, let Axis of Awesome demonstrate it:

Next time you listen to the radio, you’ll hear those chords.  In fact, you’ll notice it a lot now you’re aware of it.  This is called the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, like when you settle on which new car to buy, and suddenly it’s everywhere. Continue reading “Good Vibrations”

Happy Christmas!

I love Desmos, in the classroom and for fun!

This picture uses lists, a parametric equation, circles, some sine graphs, some straight lines, and inequalities for shading.

Here is the original so you can see the equations for yourself.

Power-ful Computing

We’re generally familiar with the term exponential growth:

“Her business has been growing exponentially since its start 6 months ago.”

“My number of followers on Twitter has been growing exponentially since I started sharing cat memes.”

It’s doubtful how often the use of the term is mathematically correct, it seems to have slipped into common parlance.  What does it actually mean?  Well, it’s really quite simple.   Continue reading “Power-ful Computing”

‘Maths is Everywhere’ Posters

I had to create a set of posters for school under the banner of Numeracy Across the Curriculum.  Rather than try and provide tenuous examples of how students might use maths in every subject, I focused on where maths is (or can be) used in those fields more generally.  We have them laminated on A4 and up in every relevant classroom.

Please feel free to use these posters in your own school if you like them.

Maths is Everywhere Posters

When am I ever going to use this?

I’m a teacher, and one of the most frustrating questions I ever get asked is some variant of, “But when am I ever going to use this?”.  And that, right there, is a problem.  Do they ever say to the history teacher, “But when I’ve got a job I won’t need to know about the complex web of events that preceded the Second World War”?  Do they ever say to the geography teacher, “But when I’m doing my shopping I won’t need to know about an oxbow lake”? (I do like a good oxbow lake, by the way. The one pictured is in Sarawak, Malaysia).  And do they ever say to the English teacher, “But I don’t need to have read Great Expectations in order to write a good CV”?  Probably not, but they sure as heck say to the maths teacher, “But when will I ever use a quadratic equation once I leave school?” Continue reading “When am I ever going to use this?”

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