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.
December 2022
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12 of 12, May 2017

This month’s 12th coincided with the early career teachers’ day of the statewide maths association conference, and I had been asked to run a couple of sessions during the course of the day. I’d managed most of the preparation before today, but there were still a few odds and ends to finish off before I left home in the morning. The strips of paper are for folding fractions, using the piece of pipe as a reference “1”. I had the 5kg of rice out because another part of my plan was to show a quarter of a million (which is about how many grains of rice there are in a 5kg bag).


It was another of those days with two loads of professional learning paraphernalia to be lugged around.


The venue was the police academy (I’m not sure of the legalities associated with simulating a lottery in such a venue, but that’s what I did the following day!).


The 30 or so participants who well and truly filled this classroom haven’t arrived yet.


While some of the other sessions were running I spent a bit of time doing the final preparation for the keynote address that I was to give the next day for the main part of the conference. It was about big numbers and infinity, and, among other things, I planned to talk about how many different ways you can arrange people on chairs and how many different arrangements you can get when shuffling a deck of cards (yes, there are five of me in that photo, thanks Photoshop).


Having the Police Academy as the venue meant that there were some interesting distractions, including some practice rescues going on outside.


One of the presenters had the participants solve a nice maths problem in his session, getting them to put the numbers 1 to 6 on the corners and middle-edges of a triangle in such a way that all of the sides (corner, middle-edge, corner) sum to the same total.


At the end of the early career sessions, and before the full conference began in the late afternoon, I went for a walk outside where the calm mizzly weather created some peaceful effects over the bay.



In the evening I needed to take a photo of the lecture theatre, with its 232 seats partially filled.


I was anticipating about 84 conference attendees for my keynote the next day (the number 84 being a little arbitrarily chosen), and needed to work out how many different ways you could arrange 84 people on the 232 seats. The answer is rather massive (incomprehensibly more than the number of protons, electrons and neutrons in the entire observable universe (assuming that that is comprehensible … which it probably isn’t either!)).


And after the evening’s opening keynote there was a simple conference dinner, where I was able to catch up with colleagues and some past students who are now teachers (there are more people in attendance than shown in this photo, but it was a smaller conference than usual).


It was a bit of a surprise to me to be asked to give a keynote at this particular conference, because I had given one 6 years ago at their 50th anniversary (I blogged about the content starting here). This blog entry wasn’t prepared until after the whole conference finished, and I can report that my “infinity” keynote on the 13th went well (and didn’t run for as long as its title might have suggested!).

[The “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, sometimes, the same aspects of your life, but at different times!). I have been doing this since 2009.]

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