Thursday, October 28, 2010

On a scale of 1 to 10, these are funny.

So, there's this magic dust called "Math Teacher Magic Scale Factor" ... it makes things really big. Sometimes too big.


  1. Oh, if you think that it's bad in Math, you should see science. Nothing like having students inform me that their car was traveling at several times the speed of sound (this came from freely mixing grams, kilograms, newtons, centimeters, and meters). The kicker was when I pointed out that they had 18,000% error, they were upset that I made them correct their work.

  2. I grant you those are more egregious errors (maybe!) but I think it also illustrates the problem with the metric system - the students are too unfamiliar with the units to make judgments about the results.

    I get far more unrealistic answers when I work in metric than I do when I work in "customary" units. I'm used to having to explain and drill the sizes of meters, centimeters, etc. "Put your hands 24 cm apart!" They've got 'half-liter' down cold but not milliliters.

    When I have to reteach the cm to m conversion, it makes me wonder what the elementary school is doing. My freshmen didn't know that water freezes at 0°C for instance.