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Math Education Television Science Technology

Sesame Street Begins Teaching Math and Science 271

An anonymous reader sends in this excerpt from ABC News: "This season of 'Sesame Street,' which premiered today, has added a few new things to its usual mix of song, dance and educational lessons. In its 42nd season, the preschool educational series is tackling math, science, technology, and engineering — all problem areas for America's students — in hopes of helping kids measure up. ... This season, 'Sesame Street' will include age-appropriate experimentation — even the orange monster Murray will conduct science experiments in a recurring feature."
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Sesame Street Begins Teaching Math and Science

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  • Re:Combustion (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Phizital1ty ( 1755648 ) on Tuesday September 27, 2011 @08:00PM (#37533946)
    St. Elmos Fire?
  • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Tuesday September 27, 2011 @09:21PM (#37534632) Homepage Journal

    There's an alarming amount of pro-liberal, pro-government and pro-business propaganda on Sesame Street in addition to the lessons of childhood. I wouldn't trust it any more than late Soviet propaganda.

    No there isn't. I'm fairly well attuned to these things and watch Sesame Street with my kids.

    Prove me wrong with five examples.

  • by jasomill ( 186436 ) on Tuesday September 27, 2011 @11:33PM (#37535590)

    I still don't understand math. I can manipulate the symbols but I don't understand what the symbols represent.

    Spoken like a true algebraist! "The symbols" represent anything you want them to, subject only to whatever "ground rules" the desired algebraic manipulations require.

    I believe that as a student in any discipline, understanding the things that the symbols represent is far more essential than being able to decode the symbols without comprehension.

    I'd go further and question what it means in the first place to "learn" something without understanding it. In this sense, what one needs to "understand" is that the value of algebra is precisely that the symbols are "meaningless." This extends directly to C.S., and, for that matter, bookkeeping — using one set of symbols and procedures to enumerate, say, sheep, and another for, I don't know, ice cream cones, would be a major PITA.

    Sure I have basic concepts down such as whole numbers, but more complex functions are completely lost on me.

    If you take a nonzero complex number to be a positive "scale factor" and an angle (i.e., taking "polar coordinates"), you can think of them as geometric transformations, namely, rotation and uniform scaling about some fixed point in the plane. Then "complex multiplication" is simply "composition of transformations," which, as you can easily see from the geometry, happens to be commutative. Incidentally, quaternions are heavily used in computer graphics for similar reasons in three dimensions.

    And addition of complex numbers is just "vector addition" in the plane, a.k.a. "adding arrows," a.k.a., adding pairs of numbers "componentwise." But you can do that in exactly the same way for triples, quadruples, quintuples, . . ., n-tuples of numbers; what's special about complex numbers is that they also have multiplication that follows the exact same rules as "ordinary" multiplication. And again, what they "represent" is entirely up to you — they're often used in physics and engineering to represent a great variety of phenomena. What do these phenomena have in common? The simple and seemingly bone-headed, but nevertheless true answer really does seem to be, "similar equations." This is no different, conceptually, than what counting sheep and counting ice cream cones have in common, namely, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, . . . whatever these "mean."

    I would be ever grateful to a math educator who could teach understandable concepts first, followed distantly by symbolic notation. Now that you understand what I'm taking about, I'll give this concept a name: "numbers vs numerals"

    Highly recommended reading. [caltech.edu]

    While I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiments, I tend to feel the problem is less one of "notation" per se and a more fundamental one of poor communication — funny symbols are just shorthand for (lots and lots of typically tedious and quite repetitive) words, after all. The main purpose of mathematical speech, including, without limitation, the sort used in the classroom, is communication. While this is no different than any other subject, I'm amazed at the number of students and teachers, "good" and "bad" alike, who seem to think it is.

    In an unrelated nod to the article, how is this "news"? I'm 33 years old, and the Count [wikipedia.org] has been around for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 years longer than me! (cue laughter and lightning)

Lend money to a bad debtor and he will hate you.