Although the NCTM Standards do not have student expectations for learning mathematics history, exposure to this history can help students see real-world connections in mathematics.
Mathematics and science owe a great deal to Archimedes, including a way to approximate pi. Here is historical information along with an applet to approximate pi using the perimeter lengths of polygons inscribed within and circumscribed around a circle.
The Beginnings of Probability
Teachers can share some of this mathematics history as they work with students to compute probabilities for simple compound events, an NCTM expectation for students in grades 6-8.
The Golden Ratio
This rich site connects linear measurement, ratio and proportion, art, and mathematics history.
Measuring the Circumference of the Earth
This Internet project is hands-on, real-world, and historical. Students join with classes around the world to repeat the experiment of Eratosthenes — measuring the shadow of a meter stick and making calculations to approximate the circumference of Earth.
The Pythagorean theorem is at the intersection of algebra and geometry. At this site, learn about the life of Pythagoras and the development of the Pythagorean theorem. And use an applet to explore the meaning of the most famous equation in algebra.
Manipula Math with Java: Pythagorean Theorem
Here is another applet offering a more sophisticated approach to affirm in a visual way the validity of the Pythagorean theorem.
Tortoise and Hare Race
Uing an applet, students can vary parameters for the race. There is information about Zeno’s paradox along with exploration questions for students that can lead to a discussion about infinity.
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