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Some interesting factoring problems

January 25, 2007

I just discovered the website nonemptyset.com, which runs a free monthly math contest for middle schoolers. It’s not as professional as something like Mathcounts, but it looks like at worst it might be a nice source of interesting problems. They have a few “lessons” available, and I enjoyed the factoring problems from Lesson I: Primes, Factorization, and Prime Factorization. If you are doing work on prime factorizations with your students, you might enjoy using some of those. You’d want to have first taught them how to find the number of factors any given number has, from its prime factorization.

Sadly, I do not “win at life” (as they said I would if I could find the smallest number with exactly 12 factors) since I only came up with the second-smallest such number on my first try. 😉

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 26, 2007 1:53 am

    Hi, I was just looking through blogs with educational spins to them, and I came across yours. I’m really enthralled by your efforts as a mom to ensure that your children do well! I’ve started a blog the other day, and I’m trying to network as extensively as I can because I believe that educational reform is best achieved through privatized, grassroots efforts. I also believe, however, that when people with the same passion congregate, great things can happen. I’d like it if we could eventually bounce ideas off each other and help strengthen the educational community as a whole, one step at a time. =). I’m part of WordPress too, so I think my name will link to the blog automatically, but just in case it doesn’t and you’re interested: http://www.eduk8me153.com. Hope to hear from you!

  2. January 26, 2007 10:46 am

    Ah, yes. The perpetual dilemma of how to go about accomplishing NCLB. I’ll have to make a separate blog entry dedicated to it later on. I would like to know your opinion about how we, or rather the educational institutions at large, could resolve the issue of not having to force schools to teach to standardized tests. I myself haven’t given this too much thought, but from a cursory glance, it seems like this is the route that the school systems have chosen to take in an effort to balance the various aspects of economic (not necessarily just monetary, because economics should be seen as the study of choice, not the study of choice involving money) efficiency. Or perhaps it’s because they’re too lazy to implement a more knowledgeable solution? I personally think that it’s great that you’re home-schooling your children to adhere to your ideals. (I am after all a big advocate of a grassroots approach to educational reformation, and where does the grassroots effort for such an undertaking begin? At home, of course!) But, I would perhaps venture to say that not every family has the means to do the same. This being the case, I’m very interested to know what you feel would be the appropriate remedy. I would also like to know how the educational system evolved from your generation to that of your children. And what caused such a shift that compelled school authorities to make such a shift as to require schools to teach to tests? I’m thinking that the primary cause is people’s desire for increased financial stability or even just plain financial greed, all of this attributable to advances in technology. Sorry for such a long comment! (Perhaps, when I have a larger readership, I’ll just use this comment and open it up for discussion, debate, or whatever else it is people like to call it!) =)

  3. January 26, 2007 11:01 am

    I’m not homeschooling, but my children attend a small private school. I volunteer there and help with the math program.

    As to what we should do instead of what NCLB now does, I don’t have all the answers. But one thing I will say is that schools should be evaluated on student progress rather than against some arbitrary absolute standard for 2 reasons. One: schools would not be penalized for starting out with disadvantaged students, and two: schools would be required to make sure all students learn, not just those who are “behind” according to the arbitrary standard. At the moment, any child who can meet the standard can safely be ignored. Excellence takes a back seat to mediocrity.

    by the way, we might want to take this discussion back over to your blog, where it fits better. You should be able to comment on my comment within your own blog, rather than linking to mine.

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