Small Number and the Old Canoe

Veselin Jungic
Mark Maclean
Rena Sinclair
Sun, Nov 22, 2009
Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
BIRS First Nations Math Education Workshop
In Small Num­ber and the Old Canoe math­e­mat­ics is present through­out the story with the hope that this expe­ri­ence will make at least some mem­bers of our young audi­ence, with the moderator’s help, rec­og­nize more math­e­mat­ics around them in their every­day lives. We use terms like smooth, shape, oval, and sur­face, the math­e­mat­i­cal phrase­ol­ogy like, It must be at least a hun­dred years old, the artist skill­fully presents reflec­tion (sym­me­try) of trees in water, and so on. The idea behind this approach is to give the mod­er­a­tor a few open­ings to intro­duce or empha­size var­i­ous math­e­mat­i­cal objects, con­cepts, and ter­mi­nol­ogy. The short film is a lit­tle math sus­pense story and our ques­tion is related only to one part of it. The aim of the ques­tion is to lead to an intro­duc­tion at an intu­itive level of the con­cept of a func­tion and the essence of the prin­ci­ple of inclusion-exclusion as a count­ing tech­nique. The authors would also like to give their audi­ence an oppor­tu­nity to appre­ci­ate that in order to under­stand a math ques­tion, one often needs to read (or in this case, watch) a prob­lem more than once. For additional details see

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