I Spy With My Little Eye: Math around us

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 41 seconds

You won’t need funny glasses to spot the math around you. (Photo courtesy of NASA Headquarters)

As you know, this is the first week of Math Awareness Month. But what you may not have realized yet is that I am hosting a contest on the Math for Grownups Facebook page. Each day I give a Math Treasure Hunt clue. The object is to notice that math-related something or concept and then post about it under the clue. At the end of the week, I’ll randomly select one winner from all of the entries. That person will get either a copy of Math for Grownups or a gift card. The details are here.

There were some really cool entries, so I thought I’d share them here.

Monday: A prism — This clue turned out to be a bit tougher than I expected, and that’s because I didn’t consider the different definitions of prism. I meant a polyhedron made up of polygons; in other words, a cube or a box. But the entries really focused on a solid that refracts light. This is often a triangular prism or a polyhedron made up of two triangles and three quadrilaterals. But sometimes these prisms are not geometric prisms at all but may be pyramids.

Tuesday: A percent — Much easier! Here are a few examples that you gave:

I ate 2% of my Daily Total Fat with my shredded wheat this morning.

My daughter is in virtual school and she has completed 77% of her math curriculum for the 2011-2012 school year. We are counting the percent points until summer.

‎0% chance of precipitation this afternoon means we might get to go to the playground!

Wednesday: A bar graph

Checked out a review of “Mirror, Mirror” online and found the reviews listed as a bar graph by A,B,C,D,F grades. Made it easy to see that the reviews so far give it a pretty average grade. Went to see it and would have given it a B.

I’m teaching about gender work and family in my intro sociology class this month. Here is a link to a bar graph and story that explains class differences in access to parental leave

Thursday: An improper fraction — Yep, this is a toughie. No entries yet — want to be first? In an improper fraction the numerator (the number on top) is larger than the denominator (the number on the bottom). Now can you find one?

Friday (today): Multiplication by a two-digit number — Be the first to enter today!

This week’s chance to win ends at midnight tonight. FAQ:

1. Can you go back and answer questions from earlier in the week? Yes!

2. Can you respond more than once to one clue? Yes!

3. Can you tell everyone you know about the contest? Why yes!

4. Can you make this a project for your home-schooled or classroom kids? Yep! (Just be sure that anyone entering is allowed to be on Facebook.)

Have fun with this contest. Notice the math around you. Learn a couple of things. And share these with everyone.

Do you have ideas for this contest? Drop me a line or share them in the comments section.