math

Little children are big news this week, as the White House holds a summit on early childhood education on Wednesday. The president wants every 4-year-old to go to preschool, but the new Congress is unlikely to foot that bill.

Since last year, more than 30 states have expanded access to preschool. But there's still a lack of evidence about exactly what kinds of interventions are most effective in those crucial early years.

Trane Devore / Creative Commons

While the rest of us struggle to balance our post-Black Friday checkbooks, America’s top college mathematicians are preparing for one of the most advanced and prestigious math events in the world. Yes, it’s time again for the annual William Lowell Putnam Competition.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

In high school the math teacher who broke my spirit was also the head football coach. When he handed back your tests he called out the position you'd play on the team based on your number. So End was good. You didn't want him yelling halfback as he tossed your test paper towards you; that meant a score in the 40's or worse. I was dragging along miserably in his course so my mother hired a tutor through a local college. His name was Hare and he was newly arrived from India. His accent was so dense that I often could not understand what was being said to me so we communicated through numbers and I started to understand math. I think I wasn't all that bad at it. I got a great S.A.T. score in math but I was a struggling C student because the only man who ever communicated with me was the man who couldn't reach me with words.

Let's start with a little word problem. Sixty percent of the nation's 12.8 million community college students are required to take at least one course in subject X. Eighty percent of that 60 percent never move on past that requirement.

  1. Let Y = the total percentage of community college students prevented from graduating simply by failing that one subject, X. What is Y?

    The answer: Y = 48.

  2. And if you haven't guessed it by now, What is X?

Four mathematicians were today awarded the Fields Medal, including Iranian Maryam Mirzakhani, the first female mathematician to be given the honor that's often called math's equivalent of the Nobel Prize.

Mirzakhani, 37, is a professor at Stanford University and was honored in Seoul, South Korea, for her "striking and highly original contributions to geometry and dynamical systems."

Here's more from Stanford:

Searchers are feeling overwhelmed by the task of locating the wreckage of missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.

"We're not searching for a needle in a haystack — we're still trying to define where the haystack is," Australian Air Marshal Mark Binskin said Tuesday. The current search zone stretches across many thousands of square miles of the Indian Ocean off the coast of Australia.

Defence Images / Creative Commons

In 1962, the Nobel Prize was awarded to three scientists, James Watson, Francis Crick, and Maurice Wilkins, for their work in discovering the fundamental structure of DNA: the double helix. Today, Watson, Crick, and Wilkins maintain international prestige for their findings. 

panthema.net

Ever wonder what an algorithm sounds like when it's being sorted? Wonder no more. A demo program called "The Sound of Sorting" visualizes algorithms and provides interesting sound effects, too -- low notes for smaller values, and high notes for higher values.

Flickr Creative Commons, Rainbow Lyf

Spoiler! The answer's not infinity plus one. Heck, it's not even infinity times infinity. (Yes, I'm sad to say that ad with the guy in the suit sitting with the kids is lying to you.) 

Flickr Creative Commons, Rainbow Lyf

Infinity is weird. It's neither even nor odd. It's not a number. Really, it's just a concept we use to summarize that which we can't understand.

Sujata Srinivasan

A new study finds that the way teachers interact with young children while they play, can have a powerful impact on toddlers’ mathematical abilities. WNPR visits a pre-school on the campus of Eastern Connecticut State University.

This toddler is rolling a dice on a board game, trying to figure out how many spaces to get to a pig. Along the way, his teacher is constantly engaging him in “math talk.” The child was one of about 65 four and five-year-olds in a study on the importance of math education during play.

Professor Sudha Swaminathan.

A new report out from Brookings confirms what many in Connecticut might have suspected: science, technology, engineering and math skills are vital to more than just universities and pharma companies. In fact, the study estimates 20 percent of all jobs -- about 26 million around the nation -- are dependent on a high level of skill in one of the STEM disciplines. That's a huge increase over previous estimates.

Alex (Wikimedia Commons)

We talk a lot about cities and urban planning on Where We Live - the way cities work, fit together, breathe and function.

But when it gets right down to it, I’m viewing the city structure from my “liberal arts” background - not using math to “crunch the numbers” about what makes a city.

Flickr Creative Commons, blprnt_van

A poll conducted in 1997 showed Congresswoman Barbara Kennelly leading incumbent John Rowland by four points. 

Flickr Creative Commons, Jorge Franganillo

For years I have been ignorantly fascinated by Game Theory. By that I mean I know there's this whole interesting study of strategy and decision making that would inform my understanding of a lot of things -- politics, business, psychology -- if I only knew more about it.  

Harriet Jones

State estimates say there may be as many as a thousand unfilled jobs in advanced manufacturing currently available in Connecticut. As our series continues on education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, we look at how the state is preparing the workers who will take this industry forward. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

This is the precision manufacturing program at Asnuntuck Community College.

Connecticut’s Governor has staked a lot on reforming the state’s educational system. And a large part of the motivation is to provide a workforce literate in science, technology, engineering and math – the STEM skills. But the pace of technological change is getting quicker every year, and figuring out how to train workers for the high value industries of the 21st century is ever more challenging. This week on the business report we begin a series of reports on three industries vital to Connecticut’s future, and ask whether the state is living up to its reputation for a superior workforce.

stuartpilbrow (Flickr Creative Commons)

“Is algebra necessary?” It’s a question that crosses the minds of many students struggling in high school and college math classes.

Professor Andrew Hacker wonders the same thing. His opinion piece about the math we teach to students has started a big conversation about how schools prepare people for the real world.

He wonders whether this stumbling block forces kids out of school early...whether it really helps with the 21st century tools we need.

Fringe Physicists

May 8, 2012
Caption & photo used with permission - Jim Carter

Somewhere in the United States today, an envelope will arrive at a university math or science department, and in it will be some person's paradigm-shattering idea -- a novel theory that drastically violates or disrupts settled science.

The world is full of outsider physicists and rouge mathematicians. And, of course, one or two of them are basically correct about something. Einstein worked in a patent office. Michael Faraday did not have a university degree.

Harriet Jones

Connecticut’s students are falling behind in science, technology, engineering and math. All this week WNPR is examining this problem, and its implications for our 21st century workforce. Today, Harriet Jones reports on efforts by employers to address the lack of STEM skills. 

Chion Wolf

The U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that many of the nation’s fastest-growing and highest paid jobs require training in science, technology, engineering and math, also known as the STEM fields. But in Connecticut,  an estimated 1,000 manufacturing jobs remain unfilled because applicants lack the skills they need. 

Many middle and high school students seem to lose interest in studying STEM subjects. For our second report in a week-long series, we explore why.

16-year old Charlotte Harrison says she’s always liked math.  

Diane Orson

Qualified students in a New Haven engineering and science magnet school will be able to attend the University of New Haven for half price or free, under a program announced on Monday. The goal is to encourage students to pursue serious study in the “STEM” areas of science, technology, engineering and math.

Speaking at Monday’s announcement, UNH President Steven Kaplan said America is lagging behind other developed nations in math and science.  

Flickr Creative Commons, Horia Varlan

If you're tired of hearing about how far our public schools lag behind other nations in math and science, get ready for something completely different.

Flickr Creative Commons, Mykl Roventine

It's Pi Day, and we have to ask, can numbers be sexy?