How to Use Fun Facts
Fun Facts are designed for, and work best in, lowerdivision
college courses where the typical
student is not a math student.
The point of Fun Facts is to generate
interest, arouse curiosity, and cause
such students to look at mathematics differently!
I do one per class, usually at the beginning of the
hour.
Some are shorter, some are longer, but try not to spend
more than 5 minutes presenting one, since it can
eat up valuable class time. The purpose of the fact
to only to pique their interest in math;
you can go into more detail after class for those
interested.
However, do not be afraid to give them
a glimpse of some advanced mathematics.
For instance, they will enjoy hearing the word
"fundamental group"
even if they don't understand
what it means. If all students do is pick up the "buzzwords",
it still helps to popularize mathematics. For instance,
how many of us know what "string theory" really is, but
doesn't its mystique give physics a lot of glamor?
Sometimes I choose Fun Facts related to the theme of the
current or upcoming class. However, it is
also good to do several that are unrelated to the
course material, for variety. If a Fun Fact
works in well with the lesson, I'll do it in the
middle of the hour. If I want them to think about
a Fun Fact, I may begin one at the end, give them a
day to think about it, and then finish it up the
following lecture.
Sequences of Fun Facts that relate to each other
are fun to present over several days.
Also,
feel free to link the "Random Fun Fact" URL to your web page
as a fun way for your students to learn some Fun Facts
at their leisure.
The Fun Facts in this database are ones which we have collected,
but I'm sure you can think of many moreso feel free to
be creative. And if you have good ideas,
consider submitting them!
Francis Su
p.s. Please see the disclaimer.
