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Square Root Day? How about an activity…?

March 4, 2009 am31 7:24 am

So Kate(t) and PoT told me about square root day. March 3, 2009. Because 3/3/09 looks like… well, I don’t quite get it. Three squared is 9. But then wouldn’t that be Square Day? (Apparently Ξ mentioned it, too. And probably a gazillion more bloggers). Hmm. Actually, an alum IM’ed me on facebook last night to ask if I was doing anything special for Square Root Day. I was grumpy, and said not unless school got canceled. (I’ll apologize…)

But this morning, all my lessons felt off, because of my lame attempts to replan a week into 4 days. So I am creating in the classroom, and with my algebra class I offer something:

3/3/09. Notice that the month times the day equals the year. How many times has this happened in your life?

Now look, this is not an amazing activity. But it was captivating. This class can get edgy, but all of them, all, engaged fully. I push them for the last time it happened (January 9, just a few weeks ago. Then there was brief debate over whether May 20, 2000 should count (my puzzle, so I made the ruling: 2000 was off limits).

And then they worked. I know that kids like factoring, but I was amazed. Heads down. Near silence, except occasional (very clearly mathematical) bickering.

Why did they like this so much? (I think I will ask them, but I am curious for your answers as well)

7 Comments leave one →
  1. March 4, 2009 pm31 4:56 pm 4:56 pm

    I can see the appeal of this — the answer isn’t obvious, but there’s a strategy for figuring it out and it’s not too abstract.

    (I think my students would like it too.)

  2. March 4, 2009 pm31 7:59 pm 7:59 pm

    also its uselessness.
    for all the emphasis
    placed on applications,
    it’s more *fun* if it’s
    “just a game”…

    • March 5, 2009 am31 4:39 am 4:39 am

      Problem solving when you are not stuck, or when you have the belief that you have the ability to unstick yourself is engaging. It sucks when you just don’t know what to do, and you are fairly certain you never will. I think the point of this problem is that although it’s tough to estimate the answer immediately, everyone understands the information and has at least a bare bones, brute force way to solve it. It’d be awesome to have a way to guarantee that kind of interest all the time.

  3. March 6, 2009 am31 5:34 am 5:34 am

    For the record, I actually went around calling it a “perfect square day”. Congrats on a good activity!


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