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December 23 2013

The Best Way to Learn the First 1,000 Digits of Pi

Product Name: Pi Shower Curtain
Price: $29.95
Who would like this?: Mathematicians, Nerdy Family Members, Children

For every broad-chested, extroverted, weight-lifting enthusiast in the family, there is at least one mathlete. This holiday season, keep their apartment appropriately decorated with the Pi Shower Curtain by Simple Memory Art.

Aside from warding off preventable, shower-related house floods, this shower curtain will also help your loved one achieve the common new year's resolution of memorizing the first 1,000 digits of Pi.

Who would benefit the most from this shower curtain, though, is the young math whiz on your list. Encouraging the eternal quest for knowledge, the curtain will get your youngster asking questions early — and the added benefit of requiring them to shower in order to do so doesn't hurt. Read more...

More about Gifts, Product, Math, Lifestyle, and Home

May 21 2013

Sorry, Internet: Tumblr Founder David Karp Is Not A Billionaire

On Monday, Yahoo announced it was buying Tumblr, the blog network, for $1.1 billion. And then the tweets started, with people declaring that Tumblr founder David Karp was now a billionaire.

The conflation of Tumblr's purchase price with Karp's net worth assumed that Karp got nearly all of the Yahoo payday. And that's simply not how it works for venture-backed startups. Investors like Union Square Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz will share in the take, with Karp getting an estimated $275 million.

(See also: Tumblr's Perverse Lesson: To Get Rich, Don't Make Money)

That's a lot of money, but it won't get him on Forbes' list of the world's billionaires.

You try explaining this to people on Twitter, though.

Sadly, even some respectable publications like Australia's Sydney Morning Herald made the error:

Other people asserted that Karp was a "high-school dropout." That's actually a debatable point. He left high school to continue his education through home schooling, and never received a formal diploma.

Vespa lover, yes. Billionaire, no.

And Business Insider's Henry Blodget tried to resolve the issue with punctuation:

Related stories:

Photo by Web09

Tags: Math

January 12 2011

Wolfram Alpha Takes on Education With Algebra, Calculus & Music Theory Apps


Wolfram Alpha is on a mission to develop an “app for every course.” The company launched its first three subject-specific iPhone apps on Tuesday, and all three — Algebra, Calculus, and Music Theory — look to be promising educational tools.

The apps are based on Wolfram Alpha’s computational search engine, which can do things like solve integration problems, calculate flying times between cities or plot a person’s life on a timeline. In 2009, the company attempted to wrap the engine’s whole experience into one $50 iPhone app. Several months later, Wolfram dropped the app’s price by 96% and launched a mobile-optimized website. The new subject-focused $2 to $3 apps make a better package for the power of the engine.

Educational apps are usually flashcard, textbook or calculator substitutes: They make games that help with memorization, are references for information, or give you the answer. What’s exciting about Wolfram Alpha’s new apps is that they sometimes give you not just the answer, but a step-by-step explanation of how they arrived at it. Instead of just spitting out an answer and a line for a one-variable equation, for instance, the Algebra app shows each step of the equation.

Both math apps could stand in for an expensive graphing calculator, and they provide more detailed information. The music theory app not only shows you correct chords and intervals, but allows you to hear them as well.

True, Wolfram Alphas’s new apps make it even easier for students to cheat on homework. But they also give self-motivated learners an easy way to experiment with the relationships in equations by switching numbers and watching how results change — the purpose many homework assignments are meant to serve in the first place.

Apps for chemistry, physics, astronomy, multivariable calculus, accounting, and statistics are in the pipeline.



music theory

More About: algebra, apps, education, math

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October 14 2010

Newest Calculator Adds Smartphone-Like Apps and Graphics

Unless something drastic happens, Texas Instruments might be getting ready to eat Casio’s dust.

The latter consumer electronics company has just released a graphing calculator with a gorgeous color screen and a suite of apps, bringing mainstream math gadgets into the twenty-first century at long last. We certainly wish this tool had been available during our graphing-calculator days.

The fx-CG10/20 brings a colorful, high-resolution screen to the world of higher maths. It lets users graph in 7 colors, and it displays up to 65,000 colors for some apps. It can even let you create graphs over photographic images using an “add-in” app called Picture Plot.

The calculator has data connection capabilities for hooking it up to a PC, and it runs on a rechargable battery, which means no more running to the store for AAAs at the beginning of the semester.

Here’s an idea of what the calculator’s home screen looks like:

And here’s what it looks like side-by-side with a popular model from competitor Texas Instruments, which is currently the gold standard for graphing calculators:

As impressive as the Casio calculator’s capabilities seem, we wonder whether this company will be able to upset the balance of the graphing calculator industry. As the incumbent, Texas Instruments holds a great deal of brand recognition and brand presige. Who knows; that company might be working on a full-color calculator of its own.

We’re getting a review unit of the fx-CG10/20; stay tuned for our hands-on demo.

What are your first impressions of this calculator? Do you think it might make intense math problems more interesting for students? Can you see professionals using this tool? We welcome your opinions in the comments.

More About: casio, fx-CG10/20, gadgets, graphing calculator, math

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September 02 2010

15 Essential Back to School Podcasts

Podcast Books

Alexander Hotz is a freelance multimedia journalist and public radio junkie based in New York City. Currently he teaches digital media at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Follow Alex on Twitter at @hotzington.

With another long hot American summer coming to a close, many students are scrambling to get back into “learning mode” before school starts. One of the simplest ways to ease that transition is with podcasts. Whether your passion is American History or Algebra, there’s probably an educational podcast out there for you.

While these programs probably won’t mirror your lesson plan, they will explore topics covered in class. Below is a sampling of some of the exceptional podcasts that both teach and entertain. Best of all – they’re free. Read on for your “2010 Downloading Curriculum.”


radiolab image

Radiolab investigates some of world’s most intriguing scientific questions in a unique conversational format. Recent episodes have examined the importance of words in human development and time. First time listeners will probably notice that the show also just sounds different.

Before becoming a radio producer, Jab Abumrad, one of Radiolab’s creators, was as an experimental musician. Abumrad’s passion for ProTools is apparent in the show’s textured soundscape, which is layered with a variety of sound effects and quick edits. Perhaps the show’s only downside is its frequency. There are only a handful of episodes every season because one Radiolab episode requires months to produce.

Outlet: WNYC, New York City’s Public Radio Station
Time: An Hour
Frequency: 5-6 every season

Additional Listening: The Naked Scientists Podcast


dan carlin image

In Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, Carlin, a veteran journalist turned podcaster, dissects the textbook version of events. In shows that often run over an hour, the host passionately retells some of history’s best stories.

Hardcore History has become one of the most downloaded podcasts on iTunes, and Carlin’s widespread appeal can also be attributed to his insight. One podcast asked, “Could widespread child abuse in earlier eras explain some of history’s brutality?” Another show was based off the question, “Does the toughness of peoples play any role in history?” Don’t let the name fool you; all material is appropriate for younger listeners.

Outlet: Dan Carlin
Time: 1 – 1 1/2 hours
Frequency: 5-6 every year

Additional Listening: Stuff You Missed in History Class


planet money image

Planet Money is NPR’s podcast on global economics and business. Initially created by veteran public radio reporters Alex Blumberg and Adam Davidson to explain the recent financial crisis, the show quickly became one of the most popular and praised podcasts available.

Planet Money’s success lies in how it tackles complex subjects with great storytelling. A financial instrument like a Collateralized Debt Obligation (CDO) may sound impossibly boring, but Planet Money routinely makes these types of things the heart of a thrilling narrative. The team continues to explore the financial collapse, but they’ve expanded their scope to include all aspects of the global economy.

Outlet: NPR
Time: 15-30 minutes
Frequency: Twice a week

Additional Listening: Freakanomics Radio

Disclosure: The author interned at NPR.


cliff notes image

For those of us who couldn’t make it through Wuthering Heights, Cliff Notes Cramcast would have been a lifesaver. This free podcast reviews some of the stuff you need to know for the big test and does it in three to four minutes. Of course, these podcasts can’t cover every detail. To do that, you would — you know — need to read the book.

Outlet: Cliff Notes
Time: 15-30 minutes
Frequency: Twice a week

Additional Listening: Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips

Foreign Language

radio lingua image

The Internet is full of podcasts that cater to students learning foreign languages. For those interested in the major European languages, Radio Lingua is a good bet. Another reliable hub is Open University, which in addition to the European languages also has a set of Mandarin podcasts. These outlets are mainly for beginners or students who need a quick review. Both are rated highly on iTunes by users.

Outlets: Radio Lingua and Open University
Time: 15-30 minutes
Frequency: Lesson plan

Additional Listening: Other reliable podcasts include Discover Spanish and Learn French.


math dude image

For those of us who struggle to calculate a 15% tip, The Math Dude’s podcast is a must-listen. Every week, affable nerd Jason Marshall explains basic concepts like how to calculate the area of an object or how to add faster. When Marshall isn’t podcasting, he researches “infrared light emitted by starburst galaxies and quasars” at Caltech, which just means his left-brain knows what’s up.

Outlet: Quick and Dirty Tips
Time: About 7 minutes
Frequency: Weekly

Additional Listening: Mathgrad.

Current Events

the bugle image

Every Sunday, comedians Andy Zaltzman and John Oliver recap the week’s events in The Bugle, a satirical podcast that is easily one of the funniest listens on the Internet. Think an audio version of The Daily Show, where Oliver is also a regular. The Bugle’s focus tends to be on the biggest international news, but the duo’s separate locations – Zaltzman in London and Oliver in New York City – ensure a focus on the English-speaking world’s antics. Although the pair has a leftward slant, there are no sacred cows. The Bugle even takes aim at itself in its tagline: “An audio newspaper for a visual world.”

Outlet: The Times (UK)
Time: 30 minutes
Frequency: Weekly

Additional Listening: NPR News, BBC World Service

More Educational Resources from Mashable:

- 10 iPhone Apps to Get You Back to School
- Why Online Education Needs to Get Social
- 5 Innovative Tech Camps for Kids and Teens
- 5 Organizations Helping Women Get Ahead in Tech
- 5 Fun Ways to Help Your Kids Learn Math Online

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, mattjeacock

Reviews: Internet, iStockphoto, iTunes

More About: back to school, cliff notes cramcast, current events, dan carlin, economics, education, english, foreign language, history, itunes, math, planet money, podcast, podcasts, radio lingua, radiolab, Science, the bugle, the math dude

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August 24 2010

10 iPhone Apps to Get You Back to School

As August nights get cooler, we begin begrudgingly counting down the remaining summer days. Once Labor Day passes, it’s back to school time for millions.

The best part of going back to school is clearly the shopping. Even though a new notebook can go a long way in preparing you for the new year, the iPhone also has a ton of apps that will help to get you organized and in the right mind-space to focus and learn.

Last year we brought you 10 awesome applications and now we are updating and adding to that list, ensuring you have a smooth transition when returning to those hallowed halls.

From the college-bound to those who are still lucky enough to enjoy recess, here is a list of the best back to school apps.

1. Open Culture

Going back to school can be a shock to the system. You’ve probably spent the last few months relaxing, hanging out with friends, or transitioning from summer job mode. Hours of classes, papers and assignments can be rough, so to get yourself in a more intellectual space, you can check out Open Culture, which gives you free access to a huge selection of educational and intellectual audio and video collections.

Because acing school often has to do with time management, this app can really help you out in the multitasking department. Choose from a decent list of classics available as audio books while you do your laundry or hit the gym. The “Ideas and Culture” option has a lengthy list of podcasts and radio shows that will tune you into some striking commentary and analysis from some of today’s most interesting thinkers. There is also access to free university lectures plus foreign language lessons and scientific tutorials; as if you didn’t have enough to deal with.

2. Mental Case

Those first tests are but a few weeks away, and it’s up to you to make studying for them as easy as possible. For $4.99, Mental Case lets you create oh-so-handy flashcards on your iPhone. If you’re still leaning toward making them out of paper, then the added bonus of being able to record audio and insert images to the cards may sway your thoughts.

In addition to making your own custom flashcards, you also have access to FlashcardExchange where you can choose from over 21 million cards on a huge range of topics.

If you’d rather not spend all your time studying from your phone, you can download the flash cards to your computer.

3. Rate My Professor

A professor can often make or break a course. Some love teaching and really bring excitement and innovation to the lecture hall, while others have sleep-inducing voices and read straight out of the textbook. Rate My Professors is a useful app in deciding what courses you want to try to get into and which ones you should probably ditch before the add/drop period is over.

While versions of Rate My everything — from teachers, to doctors to dentists — have existed for years, this app is a great way to let other students know when your prof does something great or should just be avoided. You can tweet or post the messages to Facebook, but use caution if you plan to publicize a bad review.

4. myHomework and iStudiez Pro

myHomework and iStudiez Pro are two apps we have reviewed before, but we simply can’t leave them off this list. myHomework is a free app that will help you stay afloat amidst the sea of assignments you’ll have to tackle.

Color coding helps you keep track of assignments in different classes, and when they’re due. If you are a great organizer, you can use the app to intricately plan how much of each assignment you want to accomplish and by what date to really keep you on track. The app has been updated since we last reviewed it, and you can now view your homework in a day or calendar view, as well as send homework reminders to friends.

iStudiez Pro is a paid app ($2.99) that will help you keep track of your student life. Here you can track your class schedule, so you aren’t missing lectures and ending up at the wrong end of campus, and you can also color-code each of your classes with their corresponding assignments, and be notified of their due dates on the apps calendar.

5. Free Translator

French class may be frustrating, but it’s not hopeless. Free translator is a great way to help you learn another language, as you can discover words that are more relevant to your life.

This app supports a ton of languages, so you even if your school doesn’t offer Polish or Korean lessons, you can learn a few things on your own. It also won’t hurt to have it handy when your French teacher calls on you in class.

6. Chegg

So this probably isn’t news to anyone entering or already in college; textbooks are expensive. Even courseware, which is often a compilation of photocopied texts, can run you hundreds of dollars. Since you probably just dropped a ton of cash on tuition, why not try and save some money where you can without sacrificing your education?

Chegg is a free app that does just that. It’s a textbook rental company with millions of titles to choose from, which is a real bonus considering you don’t have to brave the school book store and stand in line for hours.

You can search for your book by title, author or ISBN, or simply scan its barcode. The app is hellbent on saving you money, as you can compare Chegg’s rental price to the retail and in-store prices, so you know you are getting the best deal.

Since it’s a book rental app, you’ll have to part with the books eventually, which means you have to remember to return them. With all your work, that might be the last thing on your mind, but thankfully the app will send you gentle reminders so late fees don’t ruin the value of the service.

7. Blackboard Mobile Learn for iPhone

Blackboard is a platform that many schools use as way to communicate with students, as well as posting their grades and assignments to private student accounts. Many teachers and professors will direct their students to head to Blackboard to view next week’s lecture notes or find the link to a required reading. Having access to the platform on your phone can make keeping up with your assignments so much easier.

8. Quick Graph

For many of us, math is just not our thing. Those who get it and love it will probably adore Quick Graph, a graphic calculator with 2D and 3D capabilities. It’s also capable of displaying explicit and implicit equations as well as inequalities in both 2D and 3D, in all standard coordinate systems: Cartesian, polar, spherical and cylindrical. You can also share your results via e-mail or you can save them to your photo library.

9. Formulus Free – Formulas for Calculus

Even if you are a math-wiz, it’s hard to keep track of all those formulas. Formulus Free is an app that can help when your memory fails you. There is no more searching through pages of notes to find the right formula for your equation. The free app has all your algebra, geometry and differential equation needs in one easy-to-find place.

10. Free Books

So Free Books isn’t actually free, but you get a lot for its $1.99 price tag. Once you’ve paid for the app, you have easy access to 23,469 classics at the swipe of a finger.

While you won’t find modern titles, the classics — the ones you are likely studying in class — are all there. You can search for titles by name, or browse through them by genre or collection. Think of the money you’ll save not having to buy each book for your Lit class.

For those worried that they couldn’t read an entire book on their iPhone screen, fear not, as you can actually e-mail yourself a copy of the entire book so you can read it on your computer or download it to an e-reader.

More Educational Resources from Mashable:

- Why Online Education Needs to Get Social
- 5 Innovative Tech Camps for Kids and Teens
- 5 Organizations Helping Women Get Ahead in Tech
- 5 Fun Ways to Help Your Kids Learn Math Online
- Social Media Parenting: Raising the Digital Generation

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, lisapics

Reviews: Facebook, iPhone, iStockphoto

More About: apple, apps, blackboard mobile learn for iphone, books, chegg, college, english, free books, free translator, iphone, istudiez pro, math, mental case, myhomework, open culture, quick graph, rate my professor, reading, school, students

For more Mobile coverage:

June 29 2010

5 Fun Ways to Help Your Kids Learn Math Online

Math Girl Image

Rebecca Zook is an online female math tutor who has been helping students get math into their brains for seven years. She blogs about learning at Triangle Suitcase.

We’ve sorted the contenders from the pretenders and found five genuinely fun ways to help your kids learn math this summer. These unique technologies go way beyond the world of flashcards, and use surprising tools including rap music, adaptive technology, psychological research and wailing guitar solos.

They’re fun. They’re easy to use. And they aren’t lame.

1. Multiplication Hip-Hop for Kids

Hip Hop Multiplication

Have you ever wished your kids could learn their times tables by rapping? Well, the wait is over. A remix compilation like no other, Multiplication Hip-Hop for Kids sets the multiplication tables to popular hip-hop songs. Each track starts with an inspiring intro (e.g., five seconds in the style of Mystikal: “Too fly to slip and slide, because we don’t cry, we multiply”) before launching into a times tables rap.

Unlike any other math learning tool, Multiplication Hip-Hop for Kids includes not just one, but two rap versions for most of the times tables, so your kids can learn their 11s either in the style of Lil’ Wayne, or set to 2 Pac’s “How Do You Want It.”

And though many times tables learning tools stop at the 10s, Multiplication Hip-Hop for Kids goes all the way up to the 12s, which means your kid will be more prepared for multiplying dozens than you ever dreamed possible.

With syncopated rhythms and high production values, you and your kids will feel proud to blast these tracks this summer while cruising around in your spinners.

Price: You can download the complete MP3 collection for $24.95, which includes the study guide and 13 bonus multiplication video games. Or, download the MP3 albums individually from Amazon for $8.99 each.

2. Rockin’ the Standards

Rockin the Standards Image

If your kid is more of a rocker than a rapper, try Rockin’ the Standards, the educational rock sing-a-longs created by veteran elementary school teacher Tim Bedley.

This ruthlessly kid-tested, surprisingly listenable MP3 album includes skip counting songs for the 3s, 4s, 6s, 7s, 8s, and 9s, as well as succinct, memorable songs about math concepts like angles, perimeter, place value, and area.

Most of the tracks are set to familiar tunes, so your kid can skip count their 9s to a hard-hitting version of the “Hokey Pokey” or their 6s to a highly-electrified version of “Row Row Your Boat,” interspersed with air guitar-worthy solos.

Ages: 2nd through 6th grade.

Price: You can download the entire album for $2.99 from digstation. It’s also available from Amazon for $8.99 or iTunes for $9.99. Download the lyrics for free here.

3. DreamBox Learning

DreamBox Learning

In this online program, kids choose from among 500+ math games while exploring a virtual adventure park full of pixies, pets, dinosaurs, and yes, pirates.

Even though it looks like it’s “just a game,” DreamBox learning works as a stand-alone math curriculum, unlike most math computer programs. Many of the games use colorful visuals to illustrate the concepts behind them, or let kids use on-screen manipulatives to build the problems.

DreamBox’s adaptive technology also sets it apart. Based on your kid’s answers, DreamBox adjusts the difficulty, number, and type of problems, as well as feedback, pacing, and hints to individualize the learning experience.

Ages: K-3 (4th and 5th grades in development).

Price: $12.95 monthly for one kid, $19.95 monthly per family.

4. KidCalc 7-in-1 Math Fun

KidCalc Image

Do you wish you could give your kids a talking calculator that animates whatever mathematical operations they enter into it? Or flash cards that, when you flip them over, use animation to illustrate the math problems on the other side? Were you hoping to spend only 99 cents? Look no further than KidCalc 7-in-1 Math Fun.

This iPhone and iPad app for kids ages 2 through 10 uses animated lessons, flash cards, and puzzle games to teach number recognition, number tracing, counting, and sorting, as well as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Your kid can choose between six themes including sports, springtime, outer space and birthday (with candles and cupcakes).

Unique one-touch age-based settings let you configure the appropriate skill level. Not to mention, it’s currently the only math app that lays out long division problems the way they’re taught in school. No wonder it’s been on the top 100 list of iPhone apps for eight consecutive months!

5. Brainology

Brainology Image

While there are many computer games in the world, Brainology is the only one that’s been developed by leading motivation psychologists Carol Dweck and Lisa Sorich Blackwell. This interactive online program boosts kids’ math scores by dealing with their underlying mindsets about intelligence.

In the program, two cartoon characters, Chris and Dahlia, receive brain challenges from a floating, talking brain orb. Then, with the help of cartoon neuroscientist Dr. Cerebrus and his brain laboratory, they discover how the brain works.

At key points, the animation sequences pause and your kid gets a chance to conduct interactive “experiments,” reflect on what they’re learning in their e-journals, and play games that reinforce what they’re learning about the brain. At the end of the four-level program, kids attain the status of “Brain Master.”

It’s not specifically about math, but Brainology teaches kids basic neuroscience to help them learn what may be the ultimate lesson: We’re not limited by what we already know, because we can grow our intelligence!

Ages: Middle and high school.

Price: $99 per student for home use. Sibling and bulk discounts available.

Know of any other educational websites, apps, or downloads that are great for learning math? Share them in the comments below!

More Education Resources From Mashable

- 6 Free Websites for Learning and Teaching Science
- Social Media Parenting: Raising the Digital Generation
- 4 Tips for Integrating Social Media Into the Classroom
- Why Schools are Turning to Google Apps
- 5 Ways Classrooms Can Use Video Conferencing

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Hiob

More About: apps, Children, education, games, iphone, Kids, List, Lists, math, parenting, school, tech

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