Thursday, May 03, 2018

The Matchless Enthusiasm of Martin Gardner

The competitive struggle for survival with the old Soviet Union made American math and science education a top priority during the post war decades of the 20th century.

Many Baby Boomers (like me) remember with fondness the many fascinating articles published monthly in Scientific American magazine. One of the most interesting features of the magazine was Martin Garder’s column on recreational mathematics, which ran for 25 years.

Among the many necessary qualities of truly great teachers, enthusiasm might be listed first. An instructor’s genuine, overflowing enthusiasm is that which excites students' souls and convinces them that the required academic work and sacrifice will be amply rewarded. The etymology of the word “enthusiasm” (en-theos: literally, "in God") points straight at the Divine, and no one could excite the soul with the beauty of mathematics like Gardner could.

A 1998 article by the master preserves for modern readers the flavor of Gardner’s contagious enthusiasm and gold-medal exposition that so characterized his column, presenting to Gardner fans and neophytes alike the pure noetic joy that accompanies deep dives into the realm of creative mathematics.

Reflecting the timelessness of the subject, the article reads as if it were penned yesterday, fresh and new. It’s not long, and is well worth a bit of your time:

A Quarter-Century of Recreational Mathematics.

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Copyright © 2006-present: Christopher R. Borland. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Calculator Policies: SAT and ACT

SAT and ACT policies regulate the types and models of calculators allowed for use in solving math problems on standardized tests administered by each organization.

For a while, the SAT had a more or less unrestricted calculator policy whereas the ACT had a tightly controlled one, allowing only those user-installed programs comprising 25 or fewer lines of code. Aside from being unduly onerous, the old ACT policy was obviously unenforceable, and has recently been changed to essentially match the unrestricted SAT rule.

In a nutshell, here's what you need to know:

All features, apps, and user-installed programs are permitted for use, without restriction, on any model of the Ti-84 graphing calculator family (including the powerful Ti-84 Plus CE model) on the SAT, the SAT Math Subject Test (Levels 1, 2), and the ACT.

Below are links to current policies:

SAT Calculator Policy (updated: 2018)

ACT Calculator Policy (updated: 7/1/2017)

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Copyright © 2006-present: Christopher R. Borland. All rights reserved.