An odd day

I feel kind of sorry for math teachers. I mean, what can you do to make math exciting to most kids? You have some students who hate math because they don’t understand it, and other students like me who think it’s boring because it’s easy. And then there are a few who really do think math is a lot of fun, but I think the number of number-lovers is pretty small.

Foreign language teachers get to serve new foods and teach new games. (The high school German club did a German night at my son’s elementary school, and he has now decided he wants to learn German instead of French.) English teachers can teach books that are exciting to read, or have the class put on a play. Social studies classes can reenact historical events or have debates over issues. Science teachers can demonstrate amazing experiments, or set up a science fair.

But what can math teachers do that raises the profile of their subject? On March 14, my older son told me how ridiculous he thought it was that they had a school assembly to recognize Pi Day. In math class (and maybe some others), there were “pie” activities – including pie to eat, which of course he did enjoy. I pointed out that math teachers don’t get a lot of chances to put their subject on center stage, and take advantage of the opportunity when it comes. He did not change his opinion (and he’s a straight A+ math student).

A math teacher in California is doing his best to promote math with Odd Day. Today’s date, 05/07/09, is one of six dates each century that is made up of three consecutive odd numbers. He suggests some ways to celebrate Odd Day:

It’s a great day to do your odds ‘n ends, give a friend a high-five, root for the odds-on-favorite, read the Wizard of Odds, watch the Odd Couple, say aaaahd in the doctor’s office, look for sea odders, find that missing odd sock, and beat the odds.

I made a brief attempt to write an Odd Ode, but it is more odd than ode:

This poem has five
Syllables in line one, then
Seven in the next, nine in the last.

As my younger son is always looking for games to play, I told him about Odd Day. With typical enthusiasm, he suggested we dance in the street, as that would be odd. I agreed it would – but we didn’t. We did give each other nine high fives, hopped seven times on one foot, and tried to spin around nine times (but stopped after five because we were both getting dizzy).

We counted to seven in three languages (English, Spanish, and German), and thought of odd foods to eat. We made up a story about visiting a planet with odd-looking creatures (three heads with five eyes on each head, five arms with three fingers on each hand, and three legs with one toe on each foot). Now we’re going to play Go Fish with only odd cards – but I’m not sure whether we can collect pairs or if we have to collect three of each number…

By the way, had you noticed that “perennial” and “student” each have an odd number of letters? So do these words…
Happy Odd Day!

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One Response to An odd day

  1. Margaret Packard says:

    I’m not sure if I am a number lover, but I did enjoy geometry. I still remember the day we all made great stellated icosahedrons out of soda straws. Pauline, I like the creativity and discipline shown in your Odd Ode. I think you should send it to the originator of Odd Day so he can see that people are catching on to the idea. I hadn’t noticed the number of letters in your blog name, but I do find myself counting the letters in a Power Point display while listening to the speaker or singing a repetitive song in church.

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