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The Magic of Math!

Why We Love Math…

Karen and Jay share thoughts on the magic of math as a discipline – as well as a tool that is so very vital in our daily lives.

There is a certain magic in math –  even a positive energy.  And it’s clear that some of that magic and positivity is based on the certainty and dependability that it provides.  It’s the idea that two plus two always equals four.  It’s also that feeling of accomplishment when you master your multiplication tables – knowing that what you’ve achieved can never be taken away from you.  Even more, when you realize that you have built a foundation for moving forward and accomplishing some very practical things that are only possible because you have mastered the basics of mathematics! 


Math plays a such a crucial role in our daily lives, shaping how we interact with one another, contributing to our mental development, and enhancing our understanding of the world around us. From basic arithmetic to complex calculations, math permeates so many aspects of our daily routines and societal interactions, making it an indispensable tool for navigating modern life.

Math provides a framework for understanding and solving practical problems encountered in everyday situations. Whether it's calculating grocery expenses, budgeting finances, or measuring ingredients for a recipe, mathematical concepts such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division are applied routinely. In New Hampshire, for instance, we utilize mathematical principles every day to manage household budgets and make informed financial decisions, ensuring economic stability and prosperity for ourselves and our fellow Granite Stater’s.

Moreover, math serves as a universal language that facilitates communication and collaboration across diverse cultures and disciplines. In New Hampshire's vibrant community of scientists, engineers, and researchers, mathematical language and tools are instrumental in advancing innovations and discoveries in various fields, from aerospace technology to renewable energy solutions to regenerative medicine.  It goes ‘hand in hand’ with our entrepreneurial spirit!

Furthermore, engaging with mathematics promotes cognitive development and critical thinking skills essential for success in academic and professional pursuits. In New Hampshire's education system, fostering a strong foundation in mathematics is a priority, as evidenced by initiatives aimed at improving math proficiency among students and equipping them with the skills needed to thrive in an increasingly competitive global economy.

In addition to its practical applications and cognitive benefits, mathematics stimulates curiosity and fosters a deeper appreciation for the beauty and order inherent in the universe. Whether exploring geometric shapes, unraveling mathematical patterns in nature, or delving into abstract mathematical concepts, individuals gain insights into the interconnectedness of the physical world and the underlying mathematical principles governing it.

In New Hampshire and beyond, embracing mathematics as an essential tool and resource is key to unlocking its full potential and reaping its countless benefits for individuals and society as a whole.  So, whether you’re a first grader just learning the basic concepts or someone older and using math in your daily life, please take a moment and reflect on the magic of math and spread the passion for this marvelous discipline that forms the basis for so much of human progress.  

What’s in a Number?  Math – All Day, Every Day!

It seems like math is everywhere you look.  For instance, Elizabeth Barrett Browning may not be a name that readily comes to mind, though you likely have heard the first line of one of her poems: “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” In Shakespeare’s romantic 116th sonnet, he quite eloquently pronounced, “within his bending sickle’s compass come”, alluding to the fact that our days are but numbered. Whether keeping track of time, calories, money, or many other things - even poetry, math is everywhere. As you can see from those first two examples, it doesn’t even have to be the well-known numbered poems of Japanese haiku form. Something that seems to be disappearing from modern society is the process of using math.

The numbers 2:15 have replaced the little hand on the 2 and the big hand on the 3. Electronic cash registers and credit cards have replaced counting back change and quantifying the percentage of your money that you have spent. That said, there are still numerous times throughout a given day that you might use calculations to quantify finances. Scheduling can require managing time effectively, and cooking still involves measuring spoons and cups still. When planning goals, math can often be the center point of the written plan. Measuring spaces for furniture, remodeling, and calculating materials needed all require good math skills. In the insurance and financial planning world, we use a great deal of math for statistics and probability, as well as forecasting.

Musicians rely on math in more numerous ways than the average listener might even imagine. Sports teams use math both in strategy and throughout the whole game, as do betting websites and other forms of gambling. What we don’t really think about though, is how ubiquitous math really is. From the moment we wake up, whether with an alarm or we simply look at the clock, there are numbers looking back at us and we’re off to the races. There are biological changes that start occurring once we wake up that are measurable. The heating unit in our coffee maker, water heater for the shower, the ingredients in our personal hygiene products that were precisely mixed at the factory, and the production of electricity for the lights and power to make all of these things come to life each day. Behind the scenes, there is so much that relies on the use of math. Sometimes simple, sometimes quite complex, to the point of algorithms, life doesn’t exist without a greater amount of math than most of us ever really think about.

At the far extreme from the rest of us was Paul Erdos. The book written about his life is "The Man Who Loved Only Numbers" by Paul Hoffman. Erdos dismissed all the usual things that are indispensable to the typical person’s life, in pursuit of mathematical truth. He shunned God, whom he referred to as SF, for Supreme Fascist. I read the book about 26 years ago when it first came out and found it both fascinating and disturbing that a person with the degree of utter genius when it came to math used it in pursuit of more math. Like Paul, the real estate novelist from Billy Joel’s "Piano Man", Erdos never had time for a wife, or anyone or anything else for that matter, if it wasn’t directly involved in a math problem. While most of us are really oblivious to how much math plays a role in every aspect of life and can use a little more conscious deliberation on the subject, Erdos didn’t care what he could gain from his knowledge of how math works. Perhaps there is a happy medium somewhere between that could be truly beneficial to a better way of life for all of us. Utilizing both the understanding and function of math to make positive changes, without being obsessed over the practice.

A Robot in Every NH Classroom - STEM, XRP and FIRST 

With less than half-million dollars in state money, Dean Kamen's DEKA Research and Development and Worcester Polytechnic Institute are working with Spark Academy in two New Hampshire community colleges on a project to put a robot in every NH classroom. Recently Governor Sununu visited Spark Academy of Advanced Technologies to observe and talk with students involved with the project. He said afterwards “I personally never envisioned that we would actually be having the students make the products, assemble them together to give to other schools to learn how to use the robots. It is true vertical integration with something being learned at every different level. That's super awesome. That is super cool.”  David Rogers, DEKA’s Chief Development Officer said that instead of outsourcing the tooling and molds to make the robots, they decided to use 3D printing because it would save a lot of money (basically the cost of the actual state-wide program) but more importantly, everything would be made in Manchester.  Dean Kamen said “They’re learning part of what engineering is about in manufacturing, and as we know, this country's been suffering lately, that kids don't see the excitement and the opportunity and the benefit of manufacturing. When you make it, you understand it.”   


STEM education, along with innovative tools like the Experiential Robotics Platform (XRP) and programs like FIRST Robotics, offers students a multifaceted approach to learning that extends beyond traditional classroom boundaries. In the realm of mathematics, these resources provide students with tangible applications of theoretical concepts, fostering a deeper understanding of mathematical principles. Through hands-on robotics projects, students engage in real-world problem-solving scenarios that require mathematical reasoning and critical thinking. Whether calculating gear ratios, determining trajectory paths, or analyzing sensor data, students develop mathematical fluency in a context that is both relevant and engaging.

Moreover, the interdisciplinary nature of STEM education allows students to explore connections between mathematics and other subjects, such as science, engineering, and technology. For instance, in designing and building robots with the XRP, students apply mathematical concepts while also delving into principles of physics, mechanics, and computer science. This holistic approach encourages students to see mathematics not as an isolated subject, but as an integral component of broader scientific inquiry and technological innovation.


Participating in programs like FIRST Robotics further enhances students' mathematical proficiency by fostering collaboration and teamwork. As students work together to design, build, and program robots to compete in challenging tasks, they develop communication skills and learn to leverage each other's strengths to achieve common goals. This collaborative environment cultivates a supportive community where students can share ideas, troubleshoot problems, and collectively solve complex mathematical challenges.


Ultimately, the integration of STEM education, XRP technology, and FIRST Robotics empowers students to become proficient problem solvers equipped with essential mathematical skills. By engaging in hands-on, interdisciplinary learning experiences, students not only deepen their understanding of mathematics but also develop critical thinking abilities, teamwork skills, and a passion for lifelong learning. As they apply mathematical concepts in real-world contexts and collaborate with peers to tackle complex challenges, students are better prepared to succeed academically and thrive in an increasingly STEM-driven world.

Positive Profile of the Week - Charlie Arlinghaus

This week we are delighted to highlight a wonderful friend and leader in the Granite State - Charlie Arlinghaus – a keen and insightful thinker – who truly understands and has applied the magic of math in his numerous professional and political roles.  In fact, when I was running for Governor a number of years ago, it was Charlie that I called on election night to get his take on how things were going and how the numbers were coming in.


In fact, Charlie is well known as a prominent figure in New Hampshire’s political and policy landscape and has already left an indelible mark through his multifaceted career spanning public service, journalism, and think tank leadership. Born and raised in the Granite State, Arlinghaus earned his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of New Hampshire before embarking on a diverse professional journey.


Charlie served as the Executive Director of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, a free market think tank focused on advancing principles of limited government and individual liberty. During his tenure, he became known for his articulate advocacy of fiscal responsibility and economic liberty, contributing insightful analysis to public policy debates in New Hampshire and across our nation.


Beyond his role at the Bartlett Center, Arlinghaus emerged as a respected commentator and columnist, offering his perspective on state and national issues through his writings in various publications, including the New Hampshire Union Leader. His articles often provide a thoughtful examination of economic policy, government spending, and regulatory matters, shaping public discourse and influencing decision-makers.


In addition to his work in the policy sphere, Charlie ventured into electoral politics, running for the New Hampshire State Senate in 2006. Although unsuccessful in his bid for public office, his campaign allowed him to engage directly with voters and further refine his understanding of the issues affecting his community.


Throughout his career, Charlie has demonstrated a keen ability to bridge the gap between policy theory and practical implementation, advocating for solutions that prioritize individual freedom, free-market principles, and responsible governance. His dedication to advancing these principles has earned him respect across ideological lines, establishing him as a thought leader in New Hampshire’s political landscape.


Beyond his professional accomplishments, Charlie is also known for his commitment to community service, volunteering his time and expertise to various charitable organizations and community initiatives.


HIs career embodies a steadfast commitment to advancing principles of limited government, individual liberty, and economic freedom. Through his work in think tanks, journalism, and community engagement, he has already left a lasting legacy of principled advocacy and thoughtful analysis in New Hampshire’s political and policy arenas.  Thank you, Charlie, for all that you do!


Quotes of the Week:  The Magic of Math

"Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas." - Albert Einstein


"Mathematics is the language with which God has written the universe." - Galileo Galilei


"The advancement and perfection of mathematics are intimately connected with the prosperity of the State." - Napoleon Bonaparte


"Mathematics is not only real, but it is the only reality." - Martin Gardner


"Mathematics is the most beautiful and powerful creation of the human spirit." - Stefan Banach


"Without mathematics, there's nothing you can do. Everything around you is mathematics. Everything around you is numbers." - Shakuntala Devi


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