WitCH 89: Proof Negative

VCAA’s new version of Specialist Mathematics contains “Proof” as a topic (which says everything one needs to know about VCE mathematics). A few commenters have alerted us to the fact that VCAA have now provided two videos: on induction (transcript and slides); and on proof by contradiction (transcript and slides). There are issues.

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A Scaffold for Nothing

It’s been fun VCE times down here in Victoria, but reportedly there have also been issues up north. While our students have been lamenting their inability to calculate the area of a 20 x 20 square (Murdoch, paywalled), New South Wales’ HSC students have been struggling with projectiles subject to air resistance. Same same. Continue reading “A Scaffold for Nothing”

WitCH 88: Unwarranted Confidence

One more from the 2022 Specialist Mathematics Exam 2. Belatedly, we’ve decided this one deserves its own post. It’s probably more of a PoSWW. But, for those weirdos who like to think about this stuff, there are probably also aspects to discuss.

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WitCH 87: Cannery Row

(The title is very clever, but you have to think about it.)*

This one is the last part of the last question of 2022 Specialist Mathematics Exam 2 (not online). It sparked a lot of discussion on the exam post, but seems worth its own WitCH. The question is clearly a mess, but what was intended, and how to think about the mess is not so clear, at least to us. (We showed the question to a professor of statistics, whose first reaction was “Ow!” We’ve applied the smelling salts, and we should be in possession of the professor’s second reaction soon.)

For clarification, we are (kinda sorta) told in the question stem that the masses of the empty cans are normally distributed, but we are told nothing else relevant, other than what’s given below.

Go for it (again).

*) Proving that the title is not really that clever.

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PoSWW 31: Really?

Honestly, we cannot believe it. We’ve checked it ten times and we still cannot believe. It’s from the 2022 Specialist Mathematics Exam 2 (not online), and nothing beyond the discussion on the exam post needs to be added. But, after last year’s screw up, and anyway, it has to be posted.

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The Indelicate Art of the Mathematics Documentary

Mathsy people try very hard to like mathematics documentaries. They will frequently claim that they like them. But they don’t, really, not often, not much. For non-maths people it is much simpler: they don’t like maths documentaries and, if not so intimidated as to hold their tongues, they are generally happy to say so.

The sad reality is that most mathematics documentaries are bad. They are bad art, and they make for bad education.* This was brought to mind by a new Netflix documentary, A Trip to Infinity, and by a recent invitation. The invitation I’ll get to later. The documentary is bad.

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Remembering Mike Deakin

It’s not my thing to repeat posts, and I don’t do InstaTicker, or whatever is the current social medium sinkhole. But it is seemingly a good time to humbly remind readers of this post, on the mathematician Michael Deakin. I had promised then to write about Mike in the “future”, but the future came quicker than I anticipated. I still plan to write more on Mike soon (for some value of “soon”). Continue reading “Remembering Mike Deakin”