[Edu-sig] OO and story problems

mokurai at earthtreasury.org mokurai at earthtreasury.org
Sun Aug 28 07:38:24 CEST 2011

On Fri, August 26, 2011 2:42 pm, Charles Cossé wrote:
> Greetings, Kirby,
> just thought I'd throw-out-there that physics/astronomy can offer a
> context
> that is neither meaningless, nor open to political propaganda.

It turns out that many Young-Earth Creationists deny the existence of all
of geology (including all methods of dating rocks using radioactive
isotopes) and most of astronomy. We cannot, in their view, see light from
objects more than 10,000 light-years away, which is most of this galaxy
and all of any others, and nothing that we can see can be older than that.
But they generally won't fight you on those issues the way they will on
all of us being descended from (presumably Black) Africans, and they won't
insist on the stars being part of the solid firmament over the Earth where
the rains came through in Noah's Flood. ^_^

> Of course
> anything can be twisted, but at least it's relatively free from the
> specters
> that your opponents point out.

What?!? You don't know about NASA faking the moon landings?

> Just a .02 cent thought ....

I have one word for any of you who want meaningful story problems: sports

The leading world sports, including baseball, soccer, cricket, rugby,
tennis, and golf, have well over a century each of recorded statistics of
amateur and professional leagues. One can do all kinds of probability and
statistics, of course; the combinatorics of tournaments; the paradoxical
aspects of rating systems; and a wide range of physics problems. There is
no need for synthetic interest when you have the real thing. Students who
don't care for sports can do chess (human or AI) or whatever else of
comparable depth interests them. Or politics, thus leading to the
thorniest question of civics: What should we do when government does not
act in a satisfactory manner? in parallel with the question What should we
do when the rules or laws of a game or of a tournament are clearly
unsatisfactory? (Officiating in World Cup Soccer has come under particular
criticism in recent years, as has the practice of deliberately making a
red card (expulsion) foul in the last minute of a game to prevent a goal
by the other side.)

I recommend the book Money Ball for showing how questions of genuine
interest in sports have had real financial consequences in US baseball.
For example, fans love batting averages, but on-base percentage is a much
better predictor of winning games.

> Cheers,
> Charles Cosse
> On Fri, Aug 26, 2011 at 10:40 AM, kirby urner <kirby.urner at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> I've been haunting the math-teach list, as usual,
>> suggesting we take a page from AP computer
>> science and build our math around an interlinked,
>> themed, consistent set of story problems -- rather
>> than making these "meaningless" (deliberately).
>> The opponents in this debate bring up the specter
>> of political manipulation, propaganda, tainted "pure
>> math" with someone's good ideas about applications.
>> My approach to math teaching, as readers here
>> know (some of 'em), is to bake OO into the matrix
>> pretty early, meaning the idea of "math objects"
>> (vectors, polyhedrons, rational numbers) connects
>> to our Pythonic notion of types.
>> Here's some background reading for any wanting
>> to sample the more detailed nuances of this thread
>> (on-going, and for over a decade for sure).
>> http://mathforum.org/kb/thread.jspa?threadID=2289577&tstart=0
>> (most posters long time veterans of this list, with
>> carved out positions)
>> I also take it a step further in that the story problems
>> under consideration often have a strong "off your
>> duff" component, in that your mathematical reasoning
>> translates into physical expenditure of energy.
>> Yes, sounds a lot like summer camp (the "self
>> quantification movement" also syncs up).
>> http://fastwonderblog.com/2011/07/30/crunching-the-numbers-open-source-community-metrics-at-oscon/
>> http://hashtags.foxepractice.com/healthcare-hashtag-analytics.php?hashtag=QuantifiedSelf
>> http://www.4dsolutions.net/presentations/urnermindstorm.pdf
>> Kirby
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> AsymptopiaSoftware|Software at theLimit
>           http://www.asymptopia.org
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Edward Mokurai
&#1580;) Cherlin
Silent Thunder is my name, and Children are my nation.
The Cosmos is my dwelling place, the Truth my destination.

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