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Summer SAVY, Session 4 Day 1, Mathematicians in History (3rd – 4th)

Posted by on Sunday, July 7, 2024 in blog, SAVY.

Hello SAVY Families,  

The mathematician in your family had an engaging, informative, and, for many, challenging first day of SAVY Summer 2024: Mathematicians in History. This course requires deep mathematical thinking skills beyond computational fluency, and the mathematicians learned that quickly. I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with each of them this week.  

We started the day by positioning ourselves as mathematicians through an exploration of solids. We learned that there are only 5 platonic regular solids and discussed how we could write, draw, or communicate that. Using this activity as an example, we discussed the habits of a scholar which outline the expectations for all mathematicians this week: active engagement, communication, respect, and perseverance. Next, we defined and generalized relationships and learned that all of our mathematical work can be connected to four generalizations of relationships: relationships are everywhere; relationships can change; relationships have rules, and relationships are powerful. While abstract at first, the mathematicians were quickly able to relate their mathematical thinking to one of these four relationships.  

The first historical mathematician that we studied was Pythagoras. I explained to the SAVY mathematicians that we would follow a similar procedure with each of the mathematicians we study: read the biography, make connections to our generalizations of relationships, make connections to other mathematicians, locate the time frame on the class timeline, and deep dive into the mathematical contributions. Our study of Pythagoras introduced us to square, triangular, and oblong numbers in both two and three dimensions. We also discovered and made models to represent the Pythagorean theorem, which is Pythagoras’ most well-known discovery.  

The next mathematician we studied was Archimedes. Although lesser known, Archimedes also made many contributions to mathematics. The SAVY mathematicians followed Archimedes’ example to discover the center of gravity of a triangle, estimate how many corn kernels would fill up our math classroom, and predict the float line for a block of wood. Each of these activities required the SAVY mathematicians to think logically, make connections, and recognize patterns, order, and relationships. Toward end the day, we had a closing circle, where the SAVY mathematicians shared their knowledge and made connections between our two historical mathematicians and the generalizations of relationships.  

Questions to ask your SAVY Mathematician tonight:  

  • What is a relationship? How can you generalize relationships? 
  • Who was Pythagoras? How did he contribute to modern mathematics? 
  • Who was Archimedes? How did he contribute to modern mathematics? 
  • How do these historical mathematicians connect to the generalizations of relationships? 

I look forward to working with the SAVY mathematicians this week as we continue our study of mathematicians in history, patterns, order, and relationships. 


Miss Anna Gruchot