Month: June 2019

A Triangle in a Semicircle

(A new question of the week) Like many questions we get, this one can be solved in many ways. We like to guide a student to whatever solution will fit what they have learned; along the way, we may find various additional methods, and side trips into other topics of interest.

When Parameters Become Variables

(An archive question of the week) I’m looking for past questions that led to deep discussions. This week, we have a case where a student realized he was doing algebra by rote, not thinking about what variables really mean. This realization was triggered by a step that many students stumble over, where parameters change their …

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Integrals and Signed Areas

(A new question of the week) This week’s question, asked in January on the new site, will take us through some tricky areas of calculus, and also give a glimpse both of the value of quoting the entire problem you are working on when you ask for help, and of the interesting side discussions we …

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False Proofs: Geometry

We have been looking at some classic “false proofs” or “fallacies”, where a seemingly valid proof shows something clearly false to be true. The goal is to learn from these, how to distinguish a valid proof from an error. In a post from last year, What Role Should a Figure Play in a Proof?, I …

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False Proofs: Complex Numbers

Last time we looked at some false proofs, which are often used to help students understand what does and does not constitute a valid proof, and in particular, to remind them to be careful in algebraic proofs, looking for issues like division by zero and taking square roots. This time, we’ll look at two similar …

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