News Brief #2368 Category: Curriculum Materials
TITLE: "Math in the Middle"

The middle school years are generally the time when kids begin falling behind in math, often because their parents are unable, or unwilling, to help them anymore, says Johnny Lott, president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. In response to this problem, the council has developed 80 math "challenges" they hope will "suck in" kids and families. The challenges are available at

The New York Times recently ran 10 of the problems. Two of them follow:

* Are you superstitious? Do you avoid the number 13? Figure this: Is there a Friday the 13th every year? (Hint: If Jan. 1 were on a Monday, on what day of the week would Jan. 13 fall? What about Feb. 1 and Feb. 13? Other months?)

* The water control valve on the cover of a fire hydrant has five sides of equal length and five angles of equal measure. Many common household wrenches will not turn these valves. Why not? (Hint: Think about an ordinary household wrench. Most wrenches have two parallel sides; that is, the sides are the same distance apart everywhere.)

SOURCE: New York Times, 18 January 2004

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