Monday, December 06, 2010

One way to remember an orange.

Everyone is publishing number lists, have you noticed? Something like:

10 ways to motivate underachieving kids

20 ways to crack an egg

100 best IT solutions for teachers

1000 ways for an administrator to make a difference

Curious that nobody uses "stupid numbers" 23, 67, 123.

I'm always amazed at the limited ability of the human mind to visualise numbers. Try this:

1. Imagine a single orange (ok, that was easy).

2. Now imagine two oranges. Got it, well done.

3. Now imagine three oranges.  NO stop putting them into a triangle, I wanted them in a straight line. Ok that's better.

4. Four oranges...mmmh see you can't do it without putting it into a 2 X 2 grid. If you try the straight line, you focus on a couple of oranges and then switch back and forth between the others.

5. Makes you realise how difficult it is for a students to have a conceptual grasp of big numbers.

6. Next time you invoke the variation in humans due to random fertilisation at  246 remember the kids (and me) are having problems with 4 oranges.