Sunday, October 25, 2009

An algebra tutorial on sets

Remember, math provides an important tool for science. Science literacy needs scientists that can read mathematical equations and use them to analyze data and solve global problems. While the above tutorial is geared to older students, I want to share my own experience as a 9 year old studying the same material. Perhaps your students would like to learn this math.

As an elementary school child, my classmates and I had set theory in 4th grade (age 9). Here, the tutorial is a preparation for graduate students. The fourth graders in my class understood set theory enough to do related set theory problems. That elementary school preparation was a big help in writing technical manuals for an engineering company that made wave and tide recorders that helped prevent deaths from tsunamis. When I studied this math as a nine year old in, "modern math," I didn't know it would save so many lives. When I hear people knocking, "Modern Math," I think they don't know what they mean. When I compare myself to others my age that did not have, "Modern Math," it sometimes appears they just don't keep up as well on computers and other new technologies. (That hypothesis might warrant a research study.)

Here is a commentary on set theory as relates to my own experience with, "Modern Math," and a thank you to my teachers. Perhaps we don't convert among bases regularly, nor use set theory every day, as we learned in Modern Math (Thank you, Mrs. Degnan!!!), but our brains understand the underlying concepts of how computers, and, wave and tide recorders, among many other devices of today and of the future.

I, for one, was greatly helped by, "Modern Math." I will add that I had to teach myself to do the base 10 multiplication tables faster. When I took, "Teaching Algebra," at Harvard, Dr. Boller could follow exactly how my brain "thought math." (Thank you, Dr. John Boller. You also taught me how all the different types of math are interrelated.) The graduate student that graded papers, however, struggled to follow the kind of thinking that, Mrs Degnan taught us in, "Modern Math." I think he would have benefited from such study. He was excellent in math, though, and also taught us how he did the math.

I am happy that the wave and tide recorders, produced by Sea Data Corporation (now defunct) saved lives, and glad that I was able to write the manual to using the instruments from only the schematic because of my "Modern Math" classes. Thank you Mrs. Degnan, you saved lives and taught us well!

You and your student can decide if this math is for your student at this point in time. But, as for me, I loved it as a child.

More mathematics information for your benefit
Advanced notice for pi day March, 14th: How will you celebrate?

Magic Math link:

"Web site "Set Theory" offers educational tools and resources to help you learn fundaments of mathematics. You can take full advantage of the "Internet style of learning."

María J. Frápolli, 1991, "Is Cantorian set theory an iterative conception of set?". Modern Logic, v. 1 n. 4, 1991, 302–318.

No comments: