October 31, 2011

How to Answer Kid's Questions on Mathematics

Kid's often ask you the most interesting mathematical questions. And it is your peak responsibility to answer these mathematical questions in an appropriate manner to ensure that they keep on learning and never lose their interest in the subject.

You have to understand that kids will never have the same IQ level as yours. So when you are answering to their questions make sure that your explanation is simple. Start from the basics.

Moreover, take their queries seriously and do not dilute their curiosity by undermining the importance of their childish questions. For them, those questions are the most serious and difficult.

Kids can sometime ask you a question that might amaze you. Here are a few questions, that might make your face blank if asked by an eight year old.

1. Why are x, y, z always considered as variable whereas a, b, c are always considered as constants?

Imagine that you are a maths teacher. And on the very first teaching day, one of your young students asks you a mathematical question which has no apparent explanation. To maintain your authority you have to reply to such a question or else the students will not take you seriously for the rest of the semester. The explanation may not be convincing but you have to add some sort of logic to it. Here is how you should reply the young mathematician.

You can simply tell your student that since x, y and z are the initials of the x-axis, y-axis and z-axis, and since the x-, y- and z-axis may have numerous variable values, so we consider x, y and z  as variables. Since a, b and c do not represent axis, so they are considered constants.

By giving such a reply you will add some sort of logic to an apparently illogical question.

2. What do you get when you divide 1 by zero?

As a teacher, if you want the young minds of your students to accept your answer to such a mathematical question, you will have to relate your explanation to something tangible. Here is how you should reply to this question.

Remember that the numerator will always be equal to the number of cakes.

i.e Numerator = Cakes

And remember that the denominator will always be equal to the number of friends.

i.e Denominator = Number of Friends

So if two friends have four cakes (4/2), how many cakes will each of them get?

4/2 = 2 (each of the friends will have one cake each).

Similarly if the two friends had no cakes (0/2), how many cakes would each of them have had?

0/2 = 0 (each of them would have had nothing).

Now if there are two cakes but no one to take them (2/0), how many cakes will each of them get?

In this case no one knows who will get the cakes? So we will never know who will take how many cakes?
So we will conclude that our answer is unachievable.