Engaging students: Adding, subtracting, and multiplying matrices

In my capstone class for future secondary math teachers, I ask my students to come up with ideas for engaging their students with different topics in the secondary mathematics curriculum. In other words, the point of the assignment was not to devise a full-blown lesson plan on this topic. Instead, I asked my students to think about three different ways of getting their students interested in the topic in the first place.

I plan to share some of the best of these ideas on this blog (after asking my students’ permission, of course).

This student submission again comes from my former student Diana Calderon. Her topic, from Algebra: adding, subtracting, and multiplying matrices.

green line

How could you as a teacher creates an activity or project that involves your topic?

As a teacher I would do a foldable activity in which the students will have to fill in the blank in the front of the foldable that would allow them to discover how addition, multiplication and subtraction work for matrices. Once they open the foldable, they would have to do different examples and get to also create one. Out of the problems that the students create, as a teacher, I would choose one of each and allow them to go up to the board and explain how they did it and address any misconceptions that may have happened when they were discovering how the concepts work. I plan on doing my foldable with color coding so that the students can see where the numbers in the columns and rows changed when the matrices were added, multiplied, or subtracted, I will most likely limit the matrices to vary from 2×1,2×2,2×3,3×2,and 3×3.

green line

How does this topic extend what your students should have learned in previous courses?

– The topic of adding, subtracting and multiplying matrices allows students to extend their knowledge when it comes to adding, multiplying or subtracting polynomials. I can show the students how a polynomial is similar to a 1×1 matrix. Another subject that they may see something similar to matrices would be in Biology with the punnett squares, it can be as basic as doing it for one generation or two and then go from there on. As said in the article “Use of Matrices to Determine Genetic Probability” by Andrew Almendarez, “Through prescribed manipulations and interpretations matrices can be used to represent and solve physical problems. One such problem is finding the probability of a certain genotype within a population over multiple generations.”, this also ties into probability which they most likely learned the previous year. It would be good to tell them that if they are interested in the medical lab field for example, “trying to breed cows that produce the most milk. If cows of a certain genotype were known to produce more milk than others it is useful to know how many cows of that genotype there will be after a number of generations, and what will maximize the proportion of that genotype in the future. This is where the Punnett is used in conjunction with matrices”.

green line


How has this topic appeared in pop culture (movies, TV, music, video games, etc.)?

The topic of matrix multiplication came up when I looked in the news. Recently, apple has been one of the most popular brands when it comes to computers, cellular devices, TV, ear phones, etc. With that being said, every year or so they release a new “it” item. This month they are releasing the new iPhone 11, which overall in my opinion is the best cellular device one can get, it has a sleek professional design, great camera, a huge amount of storage embedded within itself and many other useful resources that one utilizes in their everyday life. In the article “iPhone 11: Apple’s A13 Bionic Chip Enables More Than Just Faster Speed” it mentions matrices and how “The A13 Bionic has a whopping 8.5 billion second-generation seven-nanometer transistors, up from 6.9 billion in the previous generation. It can perform one trillion operations per second, thanks in part to new machine learning accelerators that can run matrix multiplication six times faster.”. For me it is amazing to know just how fast these devices can calculate anything and everything one wants to find out instead of doing it by hand.

• Use of Matrices to Determine Genetic Probability

• iPhone 11: Apple’s A13 Bionic Chip Enables More Than Just Faster Speed


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.