## 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."*
## Re:Combustion (Score:3, Interesting)

## Re:Alarming amount of propaganda (Score:4, Interesting)

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.

## Re:Maybe it can help me (Score:4, Interesting)

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'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

preciselythat the symbolsare"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.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 .,

additionof 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 dothatin exactly the same way for triples, quadruples, quintuples, . .n-tuples of numbers; what's special about complex numbers is that they also havemultiplicationthat 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."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, iscommunication. While this isno differentthan 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)