Humor at #NCTMNOLA

April 16, 2014 at 10:38 pm Leave a comment

Last Wednesday evening, Steven Strogatz delivered the opening session at the 2014 NCTM Annual Meeting in New Orleans.

His talk shared a title with his bestselling book, The Joy of x. During the talk, he described five keys in bringing math to the masses, including what worked — and what didn’t — when he wrote a 15-part series for the New York Times Opinionator blog. He identified the five elements as follows:

  1. Humor
  2. Empathy
  3. Relevance
  4. A-ha!
  5. Listen to Your Wife (Husband, Partner, etc.)

I was ecstatic to see humor at the top of his list. As an example of humorous mathematics, he played the now infamous Verizon .002 phone call.

As it turns out, the week was full of humor. (Who’da thunk, at a math conference?) Bill Amend, author of the comic strip Foxtrot, delivered the closing session at the conference. Earlier the same day, yours truly gave my soon-to-be-famous Punz and Puzzles talk to a standing-room-only crowd.

Following the conference, Jennifer Silverman tweeted the following:

@jsilvermath Tweet

@jsilvermath Tweet

The joke I actually told was:

Why is 6 afraid of 7?
Because 7 8 9.

Why don’t jokes work in base 8?
Because 7 10 11.

But who cares? If her son is laughing, I’m smiling!

After my session, I was accosted by an overly gregarious gentleman who had written a collection of math jokes on a yellow sheet of paper in red ink. While a queue of people who wanted me to sign their copies of Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks formed behind him, he proceeded to tell me ALL of the jokes that he had written. He shared one joke that I found funny:

Pythagorean Serum

Pythagorean serum

Though funny may not be the right word. Perhaps interesting is a better choice, because Pythagorean serum was the name we used for the concoction that was served at my book release party.

And while at the conference, I was told a joke that I think works better visually than verbally…

Absolut Value

Last but not least, I was sent the following image of Newton’s Cradle by Zachary Kanin with the suggestion that maybe I use it the next time I present:

Newtons Cradle Playground

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Improving a Math Game Are Fractions Useless, or Are Americans Just Stupid?

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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.

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