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.

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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.

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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”.

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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.

Citations:
• Use of Matrices to Determine Genetic Probability
https://www.academia.edu/20442574/Use_of_Matrices_to_Determine_Genetic_Probability

• iPhone 11: Apple’s A13 Bionic Chip Enables More Than Just Faster Speed
https://www.inverse.com/article/59239-a13-chip-faster-more-efficient

 

Composition of Functions, Visually

Source: https://www.facebook.com/IloveMathematics91/photos/a.601527433214764/2777236075643878/?type=3&theater

Visualizing Vectors

From the Math Values blog of the Mathematical Association of America:

Anyone who has taught linear algebra knows how easy it is for students to get absorbed in performing matrix computations and memorizing theorems, losing the beauty of the structures in this foundational subject. James Factor and Susan Pustejovsky of Alverno College in Milwaukee, WI, bring back the visual beauty of linear algebra through their NSF-funded project Transforming Linear Algebra Education with GeoGebra Applets.

The applets are freely available in the GeoGebra book Transforming Linear Algebra Education https://www.geogebra.org/m/XnfUWvvp. Each topic is packaged with a video to show how the applets work, the applet, and learning activities.

Read more about it here: https://www.mathvalues.org/masterblog/visualizing-vectors

Left-Hand Rule?

Misleading pictures in math textbooks always send 10,000 volts of electricity down my spine. Thanks to the right-hand rule, the cross product should be pointing down, not up. This comes from the 2007 edition of Glencoe’s “Advanced Mathematical Topics,” a high-school Precalculus book.

For what it’s worth, this is the same line of textbooks that, in a supplementary publication, said that the rational numbers are not countable.

Once upon a time in algebra class…

Side note: Yes, there’s only one true exponential curve on the graph. Yes, the spread of COVID-19 is best modeled with a logistic growth curve or an SEIR model. Nevertheless, this comic absolutely rings true.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10219301871391874&set=a.1147301637049&type=3&theater

Slightly Incorrect Ugly Mathematical Christmas T-Shirts: Index

I’m doing something that I should have done a long time ago: collecting a series of posts into one single post. The following links comprised my series on slightly incorrect ugly mathematical Christmas T-shirts.

Part 1: Missing digits in the expansion of \pi.

Part 2: Incorrect computation of Pascal’s triangle.

Part 3: Incorrect name of Pascal’s triangle.

 

The IRS Uses Geometric Series?

I recently read the delightful article “The IRS Uses Geometric Series?” by Michelle Ghrist in the August/September 2019 issue of MAA FOCUS. The article concerns a church raffle for a $4000 ATV in which the church would pay for the tax bill of the winner. This turned out to be an unexpected real-world application of an infinite geometric series. A few key quotes: According to the IRS rules at the time,

…winnings below a certain level [were] subject to a 25% regular gambling withholding tax…

My initial thought was that the church would need to pay 0.25 \times \$4000 = \$1000 to the IRS. However, I then wondered if this extra \$1000 payment would then be considered part of the prize and therefore also subject to 25% withholding, requiring the church to give 0.25 \times \$1000 = \$250 more to the IRS. But then this \$250 would also be part of the prize and subject to withholding, with this process continuing forever.

I got quite excited about the possibility of an infinite geometric series being necessary to implement IRS tax code. By my calculations… [gave] an effective tax rate of 33-1/3%.

I then read more of the instructions, which clarified if the payer pays the withholding tax rate for the payee, “the withholding is 33.33% of the FMV [Fair Market Value] of the noncash payment minus the amount of the wager.” It was satisfying to discover the behind-the-scenes math leading to that number…

In any event, I am glad to know that the IRS can properly apply geometric series.”

Here’s a link to the whole article: http://digitaleditions.walsworthprintgroup.com/publication/?m=7656&l=1#{%22issue_id%22:606088,%22page%22:%2214%22}

Note: The authors notes that, in January 2018, the IRS dropped the two above rates to 24% and 31.58%.

Decimal Approximations of Logarithms: Index

I’m doing something that I should have done a long time ago: collecting a series of posts into one single post. The following links comprised my series on the decimal expansions of logarithms.

Part 1: Pedagogical motivation: how can students develop a better understanding for the apparently random jumble of digits in irrational logarithms?

Part 2: Idea: use large powers.

Part 3: Further idea: use very large powers.

Part 4: Connect to continued fractions and convergents.

Part 5: Tips for students to find these very large powers.

 

Another Poorly Written Word Problem: Index

I’m doing something that I should have done a long time ago: collecting a series of posts into one single post. The following links comprised my series poorly written word problem, taken directly from textbooks and other materials from textbook publishers.

Part 1: Addition and estimation.

Part 2: Estimation and rounding.

Part 3: Probability.

Part 4: Subtraction and estimation.

Part 5: Algebra and inequality.

Part 6: Domain and range of a function.

Part 7: Algebra and inequality.

Part 8: Algebra and inequality.

Part 9: Geometric series.

Part 10: Currently infeasible track and field problem.

Part 11: Another currently infeasible track and field problem.

 

Engaging students: Geometric sequences

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 comes from my former student Victor Acevedo. His topic, from Precalculus: geometric sequences.

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

2048 is a fun game on mobile phones and online that can help introduce the concept of geometric sequences to students. The game is based on the powers of 2 and trying to reach 2^11 (or 2048). Each time two matching tiles are combined it creates the next power of 2. At first glance, it may seem that you are just adding the two tiles, so it doesn’t look like a geometric sequence. The geometric sequence shows up when you look at the terms in the sequence being each new tile that is introduced. For example, the 8 tile comes from two 4 tiles, and each 4 tile comes from two 2 tiles, but the 8 tile is still the third new tile making it the third term in the sequence. There can be a discussion about how many tiles are needed to create the first several terms in the sequence up until 2048.

https://play2048.co/

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What interesting (i.e., uncontrived) word problems using this topic can your students do now?

A fun problem that involves geometric sequences is the doubling penny problem. You are asked to decide whether you would rather have lump sum of $1,000,000 given to you upfront or take an offer that involves doubling pennies for the next 30 days. The second offer would involve you taking a single penny on the first day, then doubling that amount each day until the 30th day. At first it seems like a reasonable choice to take the lump sum of $1,000,000, but you have to remember that we are dealing with and exponential or geometric growth in the second offer. On the 30th day you would receive 2^30 pennies which would be $107,374,182.40. That number doesn’t even include the sum of all the other days you were receiving pennies. This would be a great way to explore that difference between linear (or arithmetic) and exponential (or geometric) growth.

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How have different cultures throughout time used this topic in their society?

The paradox of Achilles and the tortoise is an example where geometric sequences are applied with philosophical thought. Achilles is racing a tortoise.  Achilles gives the tortoise a lead because he believes that he is much faster than the tortoise. The paradox arises from the fact that Achilles will have to try and close the gap between him and tortoise while the tortoise keeps moving forward. By having to always get to where the tortoise has been, Achilles can’t catch up. A simplified way of seeing this is by imagining the tortoise already being at the finish line and Achilles just having to close the gap in between him and the tortoise. He does so in a way that cuts the distance between him and the tortoise in half every minute. By doing so, Achilles will never actually catch up since there is always more distance to travel. In this case the common ratio for the geometric sequence would ½ and the end goal would be 0 but it could never be attained.