Saturday, March 23, 2013

TED Talks

I first discovered TED Talks when I was convalescing from my ski accident almost 2 years ago.  They're usually good for stimulating thought; on the other hand, sometimes they project that NPR-like elitist veneer.  That's not to say that I wouldn't enjoy attending one some time, just that not every word spoken in them is gospel.

I was watching some of the videos last night and these two interested me.  Under the new Common Core standards, the first video should generate many huzzahs and accolades.  The second just makes sense to me. (full disclosure: I teach stats)


mmazenko said...

Great posts, D. We need so much more of this type of discussion in schools. How do we get there?

Joshua Sasmor said...

I met Art Benjamin at the Pittsburgh MAA meeting a few years back, and he promoted the same idea then. I happen to agree with the idea of statistics before calculus.

Darren said...

I agree that for the average joe, probability and statistics is a much more useful and practical course than calculus is.

In my stats classes we recently finished two written projects--the first compared test averages from two different classes, the second determined if the proportion of left-handed students in our school was significantly different from that of the human race at large (it wasn't--but it might have been if we were a performing arts school!). Our next project, more of a worksheet than an essay, will compare the published color distribution of ordinary milk chocolate M&M's with a large sample of M&M's brought in by students--only I've added a little twist to it.

Elaine said...

... I love Dan Meyer... He is fantastically awesome.

Check our his website sometime... Blog.

Anna A said...

I wish that I had had a chance for a statistics course in either high school or college. It would have probably been more useful than the 3 semesters of Calculus that I needed as a chemistry major.

I've tried several times to teach it to myself, but unsuccessfully.

Anonymous said...

A fun (maybe) and even sort of practical (maybe) project would be trying to build a statistical model to find things out.

An example might be in order ... on a college campus, the (major sport) athletes tend to take similar classes together [some of this is that they have the same schedule constraints, some of this is that they tend to avoid certain majors]. Because these folks tend to be physically different from the rest of the population (taller and heavier for the football players, for example), you very well might be able to figure out which classes they take based on average height and weight (plus distribution) of the students in a given class.

[True story: I was at Columbia on a recruiting trip and sat in on a class. As this class was leaving, the next class came filing in. The kids were huge ... and I actually wondered, "What the heck? Is this next class a CS for athletes class?" Yep. It turned out that lots of kids in that class *were* on the football team!]

That sort of thing is kinda cool.

High school is different, but I'm wondering if you might be able to find *something* like this.

The cool/practical aspect to this is that this sort of thing is how some financial trading systems work. And lots of Google-ish pattern recognition systems, too.

-Mark Roulo

Anonymous said...

Random question: do you think you need to have a degree in math to know it as well as the average graduate with a degree in math?

Darren said...

I don't understand your question.