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Feb 17

Saving Aha Moments from my Necktop Computer

Good ideas can pop into my head at inconvenient times. My fridge usually ends up covered in diagrams, doodles, and phrases that make sense only to me. Every six months I wipe my fridge clean when the rental property manager comes around. I learned to use a whiteboard marker and, not a permanent pen. Yet whiteboard markers are no good inside showers!

I also have a waterproof pencil and notepad in the shower. Gerolamo Cardano was confused about the geometry behind the ideas that a negative multiplied by a negative was positive. He later argued it was negative! So I drew his diagrams on my bathroom mirror. I had a deadline. The steam from my shower was slowly dissolving my diagram! After a week or so, I had an AHA moment! I had worked out how Cardano had become confused! Because I knew what was going on inside the head of John Wallis I then came up with a cool approach to elementary math that makes really tricky ideas accessible to children. (BTW I cheated on the deadline. I also took a photo of my diagram so I could redraw it if I needed.)

Many if not most mornings I wake from dreams about math. I keep a dictaphone under my pillow as the buttons can be felt without opening my eyes. Eye opening erases eye-opening ideas, which is annoying. I also have cool ideas most days while driving. Being stuck in traffic is OK as it gives me more times to listen to math programs or podcasts. When I'm not listening to math in my car I'm more likely than not to be daydreaming about math. Quite often I'll pull over and talk into my phone for 5 to 10 minutes to capture my ideas. Recently I have started to use a free app on my Android mobile phone which converts my mini-monologues into text. Walking my hyperactive beagle, known to others as 'Podo the Puppy', is also a great time to have Aha moments.

I also have a small bookcase with math education research journals I want to explore. It's in the smallest room in the house. You guessed it. I'm single. Too much information? Maybe. Yet I ABSOLUTELY LOVE thinking about mathematics and how it might be made simpler to understand. For most of my life, I felt stupid because of mathematics. For the rest of my life, my days will be filled with joy because what I once hated became what I now love. Knowing how to add math joy and subtract math sadness, my goal is to pass this knowledge on. Stay tuned... and

Make your life count!