Friday, April 13, 2018

That Feeling You Get When You Solve a Hard Math Problem


Have you had a kindness? Pass it on.  ~Henry Burton


That Feeling You Get When You Solve a Hard Math Problem

The numbers click in place like a combination lock. You have
cracked the code, you
have mastered the challenge! The problem had
you cornered, but it was decimals that gave you a
way out. A mathematical kindness
was bestowed by the universe: a “Pass
Go Collect $100” card, and it
gives you the joy and energy to carry on.


©Mary Lee Hahn, 2018


A couple of my students had a great day in math this past week. (One was the future astronomer from Day Two's poem.) We were working on irregular volume and they got to the challenge problem -- making an irregular figure with a total target volume of 325 cubic units...with the additional self-imposed challenge of not using a 1 in their answer. So, for example, they didn't allow themselves this solution: 10x(3x10) + 5x(5x1). They were stumped at the end of math class, but later, at the end of the day, grabbed their papers out of the pile and kept working while we waited for the buses to be called. The student who gave me this quote asked, "Can we use decimals?" I answered, "Why not?!" and he promptly found a solution: 10x(3x10) + .25x(10x10).

So there's that amazing feeling you get when you solve a hard math problem, but there's also that amazing feeling you get when you have a birthday and the entire Poetry Friday community sends out best wishes! Add mine to the cascade:

Happy Birthday to the Grand Master of Children's Poetry, 
Lee Bennett Hopkins!!

Robyn has the Poetry Friday roundup and the birthday party this week at Life on the Deckle Edge.


14 comments:

  1. Such a great feeling to have transcended something hard! It's good to have those challenges (like writing all these golden shovels!).

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  2. That feeling often eluded me in math... but your students are soaring with your guidance, Mary Lee! Thanks for sharing your clever poetic response. (& Thanks for adding to the basket of birthday wishes for Lee!)

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  3. Happy Friday! Kindness and compassion go a long way

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  4. Love this poem and its backstory! I could feel the elation in the poem. Wonderful, wonderful!

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  5. I love how your students persevered and then how you created a golden shovel to commemorate the triumphant moment. Perfect!

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  6. The last line of your shovel poem, "it
    gives you the joy and energy to carry on," sums up your post that has so much joy in it-- from Henry Burton quote to your poem to the math success story to happy birthday wishes to LBH.

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  7. So much joy in that moment and so much joy in this poem! I love that the boys persevered and went back to the problem on their own later on. Sounds like they have learned some lessons that will take them far in life!

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  8. Nothing like the sweet victory of solving a challenging problem.

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  9. Terrific connection in those feelings, Mary Lee. I love that you give your students such challenges. I see that some revel in them! And love seeing that "pass go. . ." which is the best feeling!

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  10. Sadly, I've never had a good math day, but I love reading that your students have good, and even great, math days.

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  11. Fortunately the Universe hands out Pass Go cards for more than just math. ;)

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  12. What a great quote, a great poem, and a great success at meeting a challenge! Well done to all of you!

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  13. I want to have this feeling on behalf of my students, WITH my students, more and more! A small consideration: if you call it a mathematical kindness bestowed by the universe, a Pass Go from the Chance pile, do you diminish the hard work and persistence that led to the decimals? Just askin'.

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  14. This is wonderful Mary Lee,
    " A mathematical kindness
    was bestowed by the universe:"

    Love it, thanks!

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