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Wednesday, September 17th, 2008:
There are three stories to report.
  1. Edson Smith discovers the largest prime number to date. This number has 12.9 million digits. [A prime number is a number divisible only by itself and the number one, like the numbers: 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, ...]. Read more: Carleton student helps pin down largest known prime number.
  2. A new study finds math is inherently intuitive and tied to 'number sense.' The finding will prompt researchers to determine if number sense can be improved upon for babies to have a positive affect later in life. Read more: It's approximately true: math ability is intuitive.
  3. If you want to see where candidates line up on science, read: Obama Versus McCain, On Science.

Friday, July 25th, 2008:
Males used to have a math advantage over females in the U.S. This exists no longer. In fact, societies deemed sexist have a differential between male and female math ability according to ABC News. This is good news for the U.S.

Read more: Girls Bridge Gender Divide in Math: Suceeding in Math, Girls Debunk Old Stereotype

Sunday, October 28th, 2007:
     The Illinois Math and Science Academy (IMSA) held its Great Minds Program on Saturday, October 20th. The title of the program was “Learning and the Brain: Where Are We and Where Do We Need to Be?”

The program was absolutely excellent! A summary by presenter exists below.

Stephanie Pace-Marshall, Former President of IMSA

  • Studies the optimization of learning under different environments
  • Certain environments disrespects learners and the learning process
  • Not a fan of NCLB
  • Our digital world will allow students to go elsewhere for learning
  • Some educational environments are septic (medical parallel): learning is in absence of the proper environment, emotion, culture, …
  • The brain dismisses information it deems meaningless and sanitized, extremely mandated conditions
  • Traditional modes of instruction does not hold students as the focus of learning, which hampers the learning process
  • Explained the collision between Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Model with standardized assessment
Paul Grobstein, Professor/Director of the Center for Science in Society at Bryn Mawr College
  • Teaching is applied research science
  • Teaching should reflect brain research
  • The brain produces output in the absence of input
  • According to cognitive brain research, we are built to explore
Kurt Fischer, Professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • He wants to see Education pull from Neuro Science and Cognitive Science
  • Knowledge is acquired through the construction of it
  • Engagement is low within traditional education because traditional education is based upon the transmission of knowledge
  • In the act of doing, kids construct it – consequently knowledge acquisition becomes more exciting
  • Experience shapes the brain – if experiences are not vibrant/dynamic, then students may be shaped accordingly
Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, Appointed to University of Southern California for cognitive science research
  • Studies the relationship between cognition and emotion and what its implications are
  • Tries to leverage emotion within education so that it is a tool for learning
  • Emotion is the rudder that steers our thoughts, behavior, learning, and decision-making
  • Mirror neurons discovered – fired neurons as a result of those around us who have similar intentions
  • Learning is not purely rational/linear
  • Learning has social implications – possibly use cooperative learning, parental involvement, clubs, sports, being connected to a larger network of people
Kalina Christoff, Assistant Professor of the Brain Research Centre at the University of British Columbia
  • There are two basic domains of thought: critical/analytical and automatic – prefrontal cortex versus the posterior cortices and limbic areas
  • When the mind is off-line (daydreaming), the brain can process information
  • When people are left to do nothing – the temporal cortex & occipital & parietal cortex work – areas typical to memories & problem-solving
  • Creative thought is a balance between logical thought and mind-wandering – both parts are awake and influencing thought
  • We use 100% of our brains and it has a hard time shutting off
Uri Wilensky, Associate Professor at Northwestern University, cognitive science appointment
  • There are critical values within a system’s parameters that cause dramatic results
  • Restructure content to include models that are based upon randomness – such systems lead to propositions, mind wandering, cognitive thinking, …
  • Students should be led to make predictions of future events after initial parameters have been altered
  • When predictions do not match expected results, conversations and learning occurs
  • Discussion, imagination, and intrigue drive the learning
Marvin Minsky, Professor of Electrical Engineering at MIT, research in artificial intelligence
  • Use ambiguity to drive instruction
  • Teach kids how to overcome obstacles
  • Create situations that are difficult to practice strategies that are useful
  • Examples: find a similar problem/solution, ask someone, do research online or in a library, reduce the problem into manageable subparts, …
     More information can be found on IMSA's Great Mind Program at:

Sunday, April 9th, 2006:
     Nathan Thornburgh writes a story called Dropout Nation: What's Wrong With America's High Schools? Time prints it.

Sunday, March 6th, 2005:
     Bill Gates wrote a scathing article about American high schools. He believes high schools are not simply in need of change. He believes that the current high school educational system damages students by not providing them with a rigorous educational program. Read the article for yourself by accessing The Los Angeles Times' March 1st, 2005 story called What's Wrong with American High Schools [PDF].

Thursday, March 23rd, 2000:
     As reported by the Associated Press, a million dollars is being offered to anyone who can prove Goldbach's Conjecture: all even numbers greater than two can be expressed as the sum of two prime numbers.
     For example, 8 can be expressed as 3 + 5 and 6 = 3 + 3. Even 100 = 47 + 53. It's simple to come up with examples for small even numbers but proving the theory for all possible even numbers is considerably harder.
     Faber and Faber Limited and Bloomsbury Publishing are the companies that will pay this amount to the person who can prove the conjecture. The deadline for this proof was set on March 15th, 2002.
     To claim the prize, the winner would have to have the solution accepted for publication by a reputable mathematics journal, and then have the proof confirmed by a judging panel appointed by Faber and Faber.
     The Prussian mathematician Christian Goldbach originally suggested the theory in 1742, so it has been around a while. We at MATHguide hope that the financial reward might spur creative thinkers on to finding a proof and an end to this unsolved problem. Even old Fermat's Theorem has recently received success too.
     Happy computing to everyone.