Educational Materials: May 2017, Mathematics

<< Back to master list

May 2017: Mathematics - Math Symbols

So much more than just a school subject:
Though it can sometimes be difficult to see its real word applications, Math is so much more than just a school subject. It's an important tool we use every day to keep our world running! From calculating how much you owe for food at a grocery store, to projecting the path of a rocket to the moon, math is in everything.

Angles in everything:
When you draw two straight, intersecting lines on paper, the result it what we call an angle. An angle is measured in degrees by looking at the distance between the two
intersecting lines. When the lines form a perfect cross, they are at a 90 degree angle, also known as a right angle. An angle greater than 90 degree is called an “obtuse” angle, while an angle smaller than 90 degree is called an “acute” angle. You might expect to only see angles in math problems, but they're used all the time in the real world! Look closely at your surroundings, can you see any angles?

The example to the right shows both an acute angle (45 degrees) and an obtuse angle (135 degrees).

What's so interesting about integrals?
For those who have studied calculus in school, this symbol should be a familiar one. The two primary operations of calculus are differentiation and integration. As you might have guessed, an “integral” has to do with integration. When you create a line on a graph, you can measure the area beneath this line. By doing this you are finding the integral of the equation that creates that line. Measuring this allows us to describe important concepts such as the area and volume of the subject being graphed.

Delicious dessert or mathematical symbol?
Why not both? In mathematics, pi relates how wide a circle is to the distance around that circle. It’s a ratio representing the circle’s diameter (the width of the circle) to its circumference (the distance around the circle). This ratio will always be pi, or 3.14159.

Pi is also an “irrational number,” which means the numbers after its decimal place will go on forever and will never create a repeating pattern. We say pi equals 3.14, but that’s just an approximation. It actually equals 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716...on and on endlessly.

Pi day, on March 14th (03/14) every year, has become a celebration of this number, as well as a holiday to simply enjoy some good old fashioned non-mathematical pie.






Greater Than, Less Than, and Equal To
In math it is often important to compare two numbers. Greater Than, Less Than, and Equal To are helpful tools that allow us to do just that. They are represented using the following symbols:

When comparing two different numbers or mathematical equations, one of these symbols can be placed in between them. The larger “mouth” of the sign points towards the larger number to show that is has a higher value. The equal sign is used if they have the same value. Examples:

20 is greater than 1 would look like: 20 > 1
10 is less than 20 would look like: 10 < 20
20 is equal to 20 would look like: 20 = 20

To infinity and beyond!
This looping symbol is used to represent infinity. Infinity is the idea of going on forever. This is especially important in math because sometimes numbers are created that have no end. This is where the infinity symbol comes in handy. Think back to the pi section above. Since pi is an irrational number, it runs on infinitely without ever creating a repeating sequence. You could use the infinity symbol to represent this.

May's STEM Star:

It’s only appropriate that our star this month is a mathematics extraordinaire. Boasting a B.S. in Mathematics, an M.A. in Education, and one killer fashion sense, this month’s STEM Star is ready to tell us all about and the beauty she sees in the mathematical world. She’s smart, she’s stylin’, and she’s on a mission to show the world just how amazing math really is. A warm welcome, please, for this month’s STEM Star: Ivana Lee!Another month guessed it! It’s time for the next installment in our STEM Star interview series!

Currently the Senior Mathematics Assessment Specialist at The College Board, Ivana was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to speak with us about her passions, her job, and her thoughts on everything mathematical.

1. What do you do in the area of mathematics?
For the past two years, I have worked as a Mathematics Editor for a national non-profit education organization. I reviewed, wrote, and edited the content for a comprehensive mathematics curriculum for grades 6-12. The program includes textbooks, eBooks, digital assessments, and other instructional resources that teachers and students use in the classroom. Recently, I have moved to a different division within my organization as a Senior Mathematics Assessment Specialist. In my current role, I help develop the mathematics sections of a nationwide assessment that helps prepare high school students for a successful transition to higher education.

 Read the full interview

 Behind the scenes: Printing the Obtuse Angle Necklace

Educational Activity
Feel free to print off the activity sheet below to test what you learned from the Sci Chic Mathematics themed box!

<< Back to master list