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April 16, 2014

Math does not understand life...

Some of the stories children made for two unknowns (linear algebra) were not making sense to them. I decided help them by making things worse and pointing out:
1) Solutions of the two variable was not just the points corresponding to integers on the line, but all points of the line i.e not just of whole mangoes/chocolates, but a continuous line of ml of a liquid e.g. for
then you could talk about 10 ml of oil being divided between two test tubes with 5.2 ml and 4.8 ml. Then of course, someone brought up that even a mango can be cut. 
The discussion led to whether counting mangoes in numbers was even a good story as it assumes that all mangoes are exactly the same and perhaps we should be referring to mangoes in a more measurable way like weight.
2) In the story where Var and her sister share 10 chocolates we were only thinking about both numbers being positive, but the straight line extends to solutions in which one number is actually negative. We talked about how we could possibly extend the story for this to make sense - It was Sha's b'day and he gave 10 sweets to everyone in the class. Var being a considerate sister gave all her 10 sweets to her sister (who is in the other class) and even went out of her way and borrowed 2 sweets from Ezu. Now her sister had 12 sweets and Ezu would come tomorrow and ask Var for sweets.

We talked about Math being abstract and not understanding life and that we needs to understand the context of real life to meaningfully interpret results obtained by using Math.

I came across this interesting quote from Einstein after the class: 
"As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality."

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