Archive for May 11, 2010

Math Talk

I have to admit, I’ve never been a huge fan of the books of Theoni Pappas. They don’t excite me in the same way that a collection of Martin Gardner’s problems or Ian Stewart’s math essays do. But I greatly respect the huge impact she’s had in making mathematics palatable to so many people. She’s written over 40 books, many for kids, and they’ve been very well received.

 A brief biography of Theoni Pappas appears on the NCTM website, because the Theoni Pappas fund sponsors an award through NCTM’s Mathematics Education Trust. Teachers in grades 9‑12 can apply for awards up to $4,000 to develop materials under the Connecting Mathematics to Other Subject Areas grant. 

So, what made me think about Theoni Pappas? It turns out that some folks on Amazon who bought my book, Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks, also bought her book, Math Talk. And though I’m not a fan of most of her books, I do love this one. It’s a collection of “mathematical poems for two voices,” and it contains quite a few gems. One reviewer at Amazon said, “This is a delightful, engaging introduction to the world of mathematics, giving children and adults alike a glimpse of the wonderful adventures that lie beyond simple (and boring) drills.”

A review in the NCTM journal Mathematics Teacher said, “Math Talk, in its novel approach, would make an interesting addition to the mathematics library for any age group.”

Below is a poem from the book. I’m surely violating copyright laws by posting this, but you can see this same poem by choosing the “Look Inside” link at Amazon, so whatever.

Math Poem, Theoni Pappas

I applaud her attempt to mix math and language, and I’m honored that my book gets to share a page with hers.

I hope you enjoy her poems as much as I do.

May 11, 2010 at 11:31 am Leave a comment

Holy Cow!

Tonight, my twin three-year-old sons were taking a bath, and they were playing with these floating letters. One of my sons held up the letters M and U and said, “Moo!” I explained that what he had actually spelled was mu, which is pronounced myoo. He could have cared less, but it reminded me of this joke…

What does a Greek cow say? Mu.

You may have seen that one coming, so the next one is a little less predictable. (Thanks to Paul Rustenberg, who sent this to me after reading Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks.)

A farmer was showing his fields to a mathematician and his wife. The mathematician made continual attempts to impress with his intellect, referencing arcane formulas and then doing computations mentally. Frustrated by this, the farmer decided to teach him a lesson. He took them to a field packed with hundreds of cows and said to the mathematician, “If you can guess the exact number of cows in this field, you can have all of them! But if you get it wrong, I get to sleep with your wife!”

The mathematician thought for a moment, his eyes quickly scanning the entire field. Finally he said, “228.”

The farmer was stunned. “How on Earth did you do that?” he asked. “There’s no way you could have counted all those cows so quickly!”

“You’re right,” the mathematician replied. “‘I counted their legs and then divided by 4.”

And finally, speaking of cerebral capacity, here’s a non-math joke that you may need to think about for a second…

Two pigs are leaving a restaurant, talking about the wonderful meal they had and the wonderful service they received from their waiter, a very polite cow. The wife says, “And it was so reasonable, too!”

“Oh, my gosh,” says the husband. “I forgot to tip the waiter!”

If you don’t get that last one, drop me a line at

May 11, 2010 at 2:02 am 2 comments

About MJ4MF

The Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks blog is an online extension to the book Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks. The blog contains jokes submitted by readers, new jokes discovered by the author, details about speaking appearances and workshops, and other random bits of information that might be interesting to the strange folks who like math jokes.

MJ4MF (offline version)

Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks is available from Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, NCTM, Robert D. Reed Publishers, and other purveyors of exceptional literature.

Past Posts

May 2010

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