Making Curriculum Pop


Math Educators!

Pop Culture and Math? OF COURSE, come on down because the price is right!

Members: 220
Latest Activity: Dec 30, 2019

Hey Math educators! You may think it is hard to integrate Math and Popular culture, but do check our Math pop resources wiki page and the great Math and Science T-Shirt shop at for you to get your Math On!

MC POPPERS that are math artists, writers, webhosters or bloggers...
(Under Construction)
Kelly Clark blogs here and at
Maria Droujkova's brilliant community is not to be missed.
Hooda Math - Mathematics Teaching and Educational Game Creation
dy/dan - MC Popper Dan Meyer's Math Teaching Blog
Tony Phillips Math in the Media from the American Mathematical Society

Comment Wall


You need to be a member of Math Educators! to add comments!

Comment by Nicola Vitale on March 11, 2010 at 4:43am
I thought i put the link in the last comment,...
Comment by Nicola Vitale on March 11, 2010 at 4:42am
Ever see Flatland ?

is great to talk about concepts of dimension and things like length, area and volume.
Comment by Ryan Goble on March 10, 2010 at 9:38pm
I'm not sure if I understand your question exactly - but you can have students to a lot of math from this music video. Any short film from the Media that Matters Film Festivals that have a social issue at its root can be something where you have students come up with numbers to support the arguments of the short film.

Or you can check this The Math in the Movies Page

You can check the Donald In Math Magic Land DVD (streamed online also) - there is also a MS/JH study guide that goes with it.

Also check out the Math and Pop Culture wiki page from a pre-MC POP effort that is loaded with ideas.

I guess it depends if you're looking for a movie that lends itself to calculations of if you're looking for a movie about math content.

Another idea - students can learn about fractals and make fractals. Although this is not really a common MS topic it is easy pattern recognition stuff. This Nova doc ties in Hollywood and Star Wars so parts of it could be pretty high interest.

Maybe helps?
Comment by Shawn LaTorre on March 10, 2010 at 8:35pm
I need a middle school movie to create math problems for....When we go into state test mode, the grade levels not testing are having fun with math and science (quietly) at the same time...Any creative ideas out there?
Comment by Deborah Leslie on January 29, 2010 at 8:42pm
I also agree that the "higher-level" math concepts should be introduced at a much younger age. When I was a sophomore at the University of Illinois, I took the Math 347: Fundamentals of Mathematics course that was the defining class for people who would go on to become a math major and people who would be forced to change their major upon failing the class. It was a very difficult course that included homework filled with intense proofs, set theory, elementary number theory, and many other fundamental concepts of math, and only people intent on studying math would take this class.

The professor, however, thought she was teaching a classroom full of remedial students, and therefore flew through the material without expecting any of the students to understand what was going on. She was from Eastern Europe, and there, Fundamentals of Mathematics with its intense proofs and set theory and number theory is taught freshman year of high school! She thought we were stupid since we were taking the same class in college!
Comment by Melissa Aviles on January 29, 2010 at 7:14pm
I definitely agree that kids need to learn their math facts, one way or another, I'm just not sure how much stress should be placed on their importance as kids advance through the grades. Maybe traditionally "higher-level" math concepts could be introduced simultaneously, as a way for kids to conceptualize simple arithmetic.

As Joshua stated, timing students' math fact recall is not a great use of classtime. In fact, it can put unnecessary stress on kids.

Responding to Karl's comment on internalizing basic arithmetic facts, I have noticed in some lower grade classes that, algebra is actually taught before basic division. In other words, teaching the child "anything divided by four" as a concept and then "twelve divided by four", the opposite of what you were saying. Actually, the kids (I worked with anyway) really seemed to grasp the specific math facts quickly and solidly when taught the ideas in that order.......just wanted to throw that out there!
Comment by Joshua Zucker on January 29, 2010 at 12:43pm
Karl, I don't think anyone is arguing against teaching math facts; people are arguing against teaching them first. That is, rather than teach the facts and algorithms and then teach estimation, begin with estimation and bring in the facts and algorithms along the way as methods to get more accurate estimates when you need them (though of course if you really want accuracy you should use a calculator!)

Speed and accuracy with pencil-and-paper arithmetic seems pretty useless to me, compared with other things we could be doing. Mental arithmetic, estimation, and explaining why various algorithms should give the correct answers seem like much more useful ways to spend our time.
Comment by Karl Boyno on January 29, 2010 at 12:18pm
I'll be a contrarian and stand up in defense of math facts . . . I think that arithmetic is a 19th century skill the same way farming is. Even if your "average" person is not farming anymore, it is still happening somewhere. Someone is programming that calculator and that person is able to do arithmetic.
I see three major issues with not having students memorize math facts: too much cognitive load, difficulties in abstracting to algebra, and challenges in moving beyond rational numbers.
I feel that if you never fully internalize basic arithmetic facts, when you are performing calculations in an algebraic problem you will be required to "do" the calculation as opposed to just "knowing" what to do. Cognitive load is limited, especially when teaching students new ideas, so math facts are one way to limit their cognitive burden.
Considering algebra is the generalization of arithmetic (in one sense), it is difficult for people to learn what "anything divided by four" is if they don't really understand what "twelve divided by four" means.
The other concern I have with tools is moving into irrational numbers. The calculator always gives "an answer" that is finite. That makes it much more difficult conceptually to get over the irrational hurdle.
I think technology is valuable, but there is something valuable (to me at least) in these math facts . . .
Comment by Joshua Zucker on January 29, 2010 at 12:01pm
You just need two slide rules: one with linear scales for adding and subtracting, and one with log scales for multiplying and dividing.

Or perhaps a virtual slide rule where dragging one scale translates the final scale sideways (like the linear scale slide rule) and dragging the other one stretches the final scale (instead of logs, show multiplication as a stretching operation, or squishing if less than 1).
Comment by Robert Zenhausern on January 29, 2010 at 11:27am
I think the slide rule can be used as a manipulative for some students to help with multiplication and division. I say some students because the analogue nature of a slide rule would not be best for some students who are not graphically oriented. It is limited in terms of the number of decimal places available, but that is not critical if it to be used to teach the concepts of multiplication and division.

The major problem I have in the early grades is that it is not useful for adding and subtracting.

Members (219)



© 2021   Created by Ryan Goble.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service