Dramatis persona*

helenhead Helen Chick

I've always wanted a bumper sticker that said "I'm a female, LDS/Mormon, Scout leading, geocaching, piano-playing, bicycling, mathematics educator with a PhD in maths ... and I VOTE"!

I think this makes me a minority group of cardinality 1!

* Since there's only one of me and "personae" is plural (I think), I've gone with dramatis persona.
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12 of 12, September 2016

And, with some predictability, the 12th comes around again. This month’s 12 of 12 found me in Launceston for a day of teaching and other stuff. I’d come up yesterday, but for a number of reasons didn’t write my daily journal entry before going to bed, making that the first order of business for the day when I woke this morning.

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It was one of those crystal clear crisp blue Launceston mornings, and, thankfully, not quite as cold as it can get. I went out onto the boardwalk after breakfast and got a shot of the houses in Trevallyn, overlooking the confluence of the North and South Esk rivers.

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There is a cat silhouette at the end of one of the jetties, but, if its purpose is to deter bird life, the abundant presence of bird poop and feathers suggests it needs to seek alternative employment.bimg_7975

My parking spot on the university’s Launceston campus is near a hideout for homeless shopping trolleys that appear to have been abandoned to their fates.

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From a nearby vantage point I was able to get a view of the Tamar River, with gently rippled reflections in the still morning.  bimg_7981

Unfortunately, I couldn’t stand around enjoying the scenery for long. My plans for the day required equipment; and these boxes needed two trips through two awkward doors, along deserted corridors (I was there relatively early) and then up a storey in the ancient creaking lift (which allowed me to bypass two more awkward doors and a flight of stairs). bimg_7976

The nearby forecourt still bore evidence of last Monday’s class: we’d used the bricks to make a big coordinate plane, marked out in chalk, and explored linear functions by plotting people onto the grid. The grid I drew had almost faded with the rain in the intervening week, but some of the equations still remained (and, if I recall, I wrote them upside down, which explains the imperfect legibility).

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I had a little last-minute preparation to do before class, and so made myself comfortable in my Launceston office (well, I tucked myself away in a corner of the staff room). bimg_7993

The focus of today’s class was on measurement, and one of the activities required the students to design a cube that would contain the amount of rice in the cup at right below. They then had to design a cube that would hold twice as much. What is interesting or surprising is how not-as-much-bigger-as-you-might-expect the double volume cube is, compared to the original (the common mistake that students make is to double all the sides, but this results in a cube that is 8 times the volume of the original, not twice).

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We also spent a bit of time examining a lesson about Pythagoras’ theorem, and discussed its strengths and weaknesses, and what are some of the really important things that students need to know about and for Pythagoras’ theorem (the lesson we watched was dynamic and engaging, but there were some deep mathematical problems with it).

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After the class ended for the day I had a meeting with one of my PhD students. I conned her and her other supervisor to pose for a 12 of 12 photo (they already knew of this weird habit of mine, but I think this is the first time either of them have had a significant appearance!). bimg_7997

One of my other Launceston colleagues is about to leave and return to Queensland, so most of the maths education gang got together in the evening for a farewell dinner. Jill will be missed (she is the one holding the orangutang … for reasons too complicated to explain here!).

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(The oddly named “12 of 12” project involves taking 12 photos on the 12th of the month. This provides the opportunity to get snapshots of different aspects of your life … or some other photographic focus. I have been doing this since 2009.)

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