## Making Your Own Sense

Reflections on maths, learning, and the Maths Learning Centre.

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## The Zumbo (hypothesis) Test

Here in Australia, we are at the tail end of a reality cooking competition called "Zumbo's Just Desserts". In the show, a group of hopefuls compete in challenges where they produce desserts, hosted by patissier Adriano Zumbo. There are two types of challenges. In the "Sweet Sensations" challenge, they have to create a dessert from scratch that matches a criterion such as "gravity-defying", "showcasing one colour" or "based on an Arnott's biscuit". The two lowest-scoring desserts from the Sweet Sensations challenge have to complete the second challenge, called the "Zumbo Test". In this test, Zumbo reveals a dessert he has designed and the two contestants try to recreate it. Whoever does the worst job is eliminated.

## Problem strings and using the chain rule with functions defined as integrals

In Maths 1A here at the University of Adelaide, they learn that says that, given a function of x defined as the integral of an original function from a constant to x, when you differentiate it you get the original function back again. In short, differentiation undoes integration. And then they get questions on their assignments and they don't know what to do. They always say something like "I would know what to do if that was an x, but it's not just an x, so I don't know what to do".

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## SQWIGLES: a guide for action and reflection in one-on-one teaching

It's university holidays again (aka "non-lecture time"), which means I'm back on the blog trying to process everything that's happened this term. Mostly this has been me spending time with students in the Drop-In Centre, since I made a commitment to do more of what I love, which is spending time with students in the Drop-In Centre. When trying to decide what to write about first, I realised that a lot of what I wanted to say wouldn't make much sense without talking about SQWIGLES first. So that's what this post is about.

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## (Holding it together)

Last week, I helped quite a few students from International Financial Institutions and Markets with their annuity calculations, which involve quite detailed stuff. One of the more important problems was about how the calculator interprets what they type into it, which is really in essence about the order of operations.

## Quadrilateral family tree

I have always loved the naming of quadrilaterals, right from when I first heard about it in high school. I'm not entirely sure why, but some of it has to do with the nested nature of the definitions – I like that a square is a kind of rectangle and a rectangle is a kind of parallelogram.

## One reason I'll still use pi

Every so often, someone brings up the thing with tau (τ) versus pi (π) as the fundamental circle constant. In general I find the discussion wearisome because it usually focuses on telling people they are stupid or wrong for choosing to use one constant or the other. There are more productive uses of your time, I think.

## All dogs have tails

In maths, or at least university maths, there are a lot of statements that go like this: "If ...., then ..." or "Every ..., has ...." or "Every ..., is ...". For example, "Every rectangle has opposite sides parallel", "If two numbers are even, then their sum is even", "Every subspace contains the zero vector", "If a matrix has all distinct eigenvalues, then it is diagonalisable". Many students when faced with statements like these automatically and unconsciously assume that it works both ways, especially when the subject matter is new to them. This post is about a way of helping students see the problem.

## Where the complex points are

When you first learn complex numbers, you find out that they give you ways to solve equations that were previously unsolvable. The classic example is the equation equation x^2 + 1 = 0, which if you're only using real numbers has no solutions, but with complex numbers has the solutions x=i and x=-i.

## Brackets

I had a meeting with an international student in the MLC on Friday who has having a whole lot of language issues in her maths class.

## TMC16 reflections from someone who wasn't there

This post is about my response to TMC16. For the uninitiated, TMC is short for Twitter Math Camp. This is a conference designed by teachers for teachers with teacher speakers, organised through the collective efforts of the Math Twitter Blog-o-Sphere (MTBoS) – a group of people who blog and tweet about their experiences teaching math(s). That description is not the best description of the MTBoS, but I'll get to that later.

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