Monday, March 10, 2008

Busy Weekend

Managed to get into Kidderminster briefly, checked on the Slingfield Mill, they've posted the application (dated 4.3.08) for the greenhouses on a lamppost outside. The two (not three) trees are certainly shorn and denuded, but I wouldn't say vandalised.

The Tesco store there has added in some saucer-sized domes into each car-parking space, I'm guessing wireless monitoring of spaces and possibly alerts if a vehicle is over time.

[Update via Tav at the WFA from the Express and Star so an accurate guess on my part; I'll join my voice with Tav's on querying how it can determine the makeup of passengers though]

Wanted to get to Stourport, but ran out of time "I'll try tomorrow" I thought forgetting I had a birthday party in Tenbury to attend.

So Sunday I gave my aunt her birthday present by taking the Bratii out of her hair for a bit with a walk around town. A little worrying that Bratus Major was making statements such as "I don't know where that goes!"when asked. We hadn't exactly gone far from their home we'd just avoided their normal well-travelled routes, I just don't think it had occurred to him to see where these paths and roads went. Maybe it will now, but I'm not holding my breath.

We passed by their new Co-op and I got a plea from Bratus Minor

"Can we buy something?" he asked
"I don't know; have you got any money?" I replied
"Then I guess we can't"
"Have you got any money?" he tried
"Yes, some"
"So we could buy something then" he attempted
"Noo listen carefully - I have some money, therefore I could buy something"

That got a big laugh out of Major. Well it's important to get these things straight at an early an age as possible.

His father has been trying to teach Major algebra, which he hasn't quite started on at school yet. To that end he's picked up one of those books that lay out what is being taught and how it's being taught. Me being me I had a flick through it.

It starts off simply enough with how the place system works, shame it didn't mention that we use decimals therefore the 'places' advance by a power of 10; it might come as less of a shock when they're introduced to binary etc.

Prime numbers and what they are - a number that is only divisible by 1 and itself. Except remember 1 isn't a prime number, no explanation given just that statement. How to use prime numbers to determine the Highest common factor (HCF) and lowest common multiple (LCM) which I'll admit I'd forgotten.

Next how to multiple numbers. This was a little odd, you had the standard method

x 45

Then you had a grid method

5 50010015


which apparently is also being taught. Hmm now I can understand why it's useful in that it shows exactly why you get the numbers you do and negates the need to 'carry' numbers., it's just that it's a big amount of faff and requires more working-out space. The previous method requires a number of working out rows equal to the number of digits in the smallest number. The grid method requires the same plus a column for each digit in the other number, imagine trying to multiply two five-digit numbers via the grid method.

Then we had square numbers and cube numbers and the equivalent roots, we even had surds.

Proving Pythagoras, and the parts of circles and squares etc. Again we got bald statements such as 'the angle formed by a triangle connecting a diameter line to the circumference is always 90°' why? Because it is, just accept it and move on.

Ah well it all led to a spirited debate on what the point of algebra is in 'real life' my point was that it allowed a generalised term that could be built upon. So for example the floor area of a square or oblong room is "a.b" it doesn't matter what floor I'm measuring so long as I can remember "a.b" then I know I need to take two different measurements and that they need to be multiplied together. I can build on it by changing it to "a.b.c" and get a volume. We deal with Pythag when we look at televisions that are sold using a diagonal measurement. We use algebra all the time, we just rarely see it in its pure form.