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Summer SAVY Session 5, Day 5, Mathematicians in History: Patterns, Order, and Relationships

Posted by on Friday, July 21, 2023 in blog, SAVY.

We really did not want this week to end! The challenges were daunting, but most expressed the work to be rewarding. In today’s lessons, we observed two mathematicians who appreciated, challenged, and supported each other’s work though they never met. Through letters between their separate countries who were at war with one another, and despite other obstacles, Gauss and Germain, were fascinating models to study. Their work in number theory had us dive into numerical palindromes, as well as work to determine the number of divisors for numbers using the prime factors and exponents. The later problem took the majority of our day including our final discussions about pattern, order, and relationships.

All the great mathematicians from this week and their work ranged from the precise calculations used in scientific experiments to the more “extreme fun and games” adventures. We certainly observed that there was a relationship or connection that could be described between the work of mathematicians and their individual circumstances, environments, or period in history. We wondered what circumstances and opportunities in our own worlds could lead us to become great problem solvers or novel thinkers about complex concepts. We know we must be willing to observe closely things going on around us and ask questions. Like many of the great mathematical minds before us, we must be willing to persevere in making sense of the mysteries of the universe. We acknowledged that like many of the mathematicians in history, our advanced thinking might be contrary to some current ideas and it might take centuries for others to come around to our disciplined understanding. Galileo said, “In questions of sciences, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.” It is the habit of a scholar to take intellectual risks as evidenced by their work products and ideas.

It was a joy to see the students engage so enthusiastically with numerous “hands-on” activities. Your child may still have mathematical challenges to consider in their green folders, and beyond. I am always excited to see children curious and reasoning about the real world around them. It is also important that they be able to communicate their thinking, questions, and discoveries in collaborative verbal exchanges and in writing. Thank you so much for making this week available to your child!