66 votes

Is this homework problem on counting triangles within a 4x4 grid too vague?

This is a bit of a can of worms. Let's unpack a little. We were given no additional information other than that stated in the page. This is your daughter's homework, not yours. Be careful with ...
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  • 4,850
55 votes

Why do we introduce the notion that triangles are "congruent" instead of just saying that they are "the same" or "equal"?

Colloquially, there's a lot of conceptual overlap between all of these terms, but "sameness" is not a well-defined mathematical property. Congruent shapes need not be "the same" or ...
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43 votes

Why should kids learn how to use a compass and straightedge, and not rely on a drawing program?

The point of compass-and-straightedge constructions is for the students to get experience reasoning about axiomatic systems. The accuracy of the actual drawings is basically irrelevant (as long as it'...
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  • 4,765
42 votes
Accepted

Why we have to be so precise in Geometry?

Because the aim of geometry is to study properties related to shape, size and length. Therefore, in the context of geometry, we cannot deform our objects because deformation changes these properties. ...
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  • 992
38 votes

What can (and should) an educator do about ambiguous terms like "triangle", "square", etc?

I'm confused. Are you really going to try to make this sort of distinction when teaching geometric figures to students "around 9-13 years old"? Students that age (and engineers my age -- ...
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  • 525
37 votes

Real-world examples of more "obscure" geometric figures

Trapezoid Native Peruvian architecture makes heavy use of the trapezoid for stability in earthquakes. (The Spaniards thought they were primitive as they didn't use arches ... but most of the Spanish ...
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  • 471
36 votes

In what curricula are "rectangles" defined so as to exclude squares?

I cannot answer the OP's question about cross-cultural/international perspectives, but here is a historical perspective that may be helpful. The issue here (whether the category "rectangles"...
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  • 16.3k
35 votes
Accepted

Beautiful planar geometry theorems not encountered in high school

Given that I had a good time coercing Mathematica to give me the pictures below I might as well promote my comment to an answer. My favorite such a result is the so called Steiner's porism. It is a ...
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30 votes

Real-world examples of more "obscure" geometric figures

The National Library of Belarus, a rhombicuboctahedron:                    
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30 votes

Why do we introduce the notion that triangles are "congruent" instead of just saying that they are "the same" or "equal"?

The smart-aleck answer is that most congruent triangles, or congruent figures more generally, aren't actually "the same" or "equal". Usually when we say two things are "the ...
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28 votes
Accepted

Explaining why volume of cone is a third of cylinder

This is an experiment which can lead you to guess that the volume of a cone is approximately $\frac{1}{3}$ the volume of a cylinder with the same base and height. It is not a proof in any sense of ...
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25 votes

Is Euclid dead? or Should Euclidean geometry be taught to high school students?

I'd like to tackle the question from another point of view than JPBurkes answer: If you accept, that mathematical argumentation (whatever level) is an essential part of mathematics courses in K-12, ...
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  • 3,362
25 votes

Real-world examples of more "obscure" geometric figures

I like the Gateway Arch in St. Louis as an example of a catenary with a formula of the form $y= A \cosh(\frac{C X}{L}) -A$. More information on the wiki: Gateway Arch: Mathematical Elements.
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  • 2,584
25 votes

Real-world examples of more "obscure" geometric figures

Dice You get all Platonic solids, some trapecohedrons and bipyramids, and the tetrahexahedron and the rhombic triacontahedron:
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  • 2,366
24 votes

What can (and should) an educator do about ambiguous terms like "triangle", "square", etc?

One encounters exactly the same issue teaching multivariable calculus when one treats integrals over three-dimensional regions and integrals over the surfaces that are their boundaries. In particular ...
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  • 5,083
23 votes

Given a 3 4 5 triangle, how do you know that it is a right triangle?

The Chinese came up with the following a long time ago. Probably something better, but this is the gist of it. Let's start with a right triangle with height b=4 and base a=3. We know it has some ...
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  • 390
22 votes

Given a 3 4 5 triangle, how do you know that it is a right triangle?

Here is a simple construction. Adjust to taste. 1. Draw a line $l$ passing through a point O. 2. Construct circles of radius 3 and 4 with centre O. Call them $C_3$ and $C_4$. Let the intersection of ...
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  • 345
22 votes

Given a 3 4 5 triangle, how do you know that it is a right triangle?

The fact that there is a 3-4-5 triangle that is a right triangle is unique to the Euclidean plane. There is no such triangle in the spherical or hyperbolic planes. Since the Pythagorean theorem is ...
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  • 7,585
22 votes

Is there a name for paths that follow gridlines?

Generally, this math falls under the scope of what is commonly called Taxicab Geometry. I would use taxicab path as a noun to describe the specific paths illustrated in the original question; whereas ...
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22 votes
Accepted

Should figures be presented to scale?

As an answer so that I can paste in a picture: I think that the problem with the one on the left is that it is possibly "good enough" that someone might think that it is to scale and that ...
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  • 4,784
21 votes

Are kindergartners supposed to be steered from squares being rectangles?

Kindergartners are generally at an early stage of geometric development, in which shapes are recognized by how well they resemble prototypical images, rather than by whether or not they conform to a ...
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  • 16.3k
21 votes

What can (and should) an educator do about ambiguous terms like "triangle", "square", etc?

I think the distinction you are raising is not natural to students at this age. I teach undergraduates and graduate students, not elementary schoolers, but I find that it is not natural for ...
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21 votes
Accepted

How do I sketch a good gaussian curve freehanded, or by using only common sketching tools?

I would put dots where I want 1 standard deviation to be, because I know that's where the inflection points are. (I just graphed $y=e^{-x^{2}/2}$ on desmos, and I see that the inflection points are at ...
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  • 17.3k
20 votes

Why are triangles so prevalent in high school geometry?

TL;DR: It's not the triangles that are interesting; it's the mathematical concepts that can best be explained by using one of the most primitive geometrical shapes. The reason for intensive use ...
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20 votes

Real-world examples of more "obscure" geometric figures

There's a fair attempt at a Hypercube with the Grande Arche de la Défense in Paris.
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20 votes

Real-world examples of more "obscure" geometric figures

The hexagon at the north pole of Saturn:   It is known that "[regular shapes] form in an area of turbulent flow between ... two different rotating fluid bodies with dissimilar speeds." and ...
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19 votes

Real-world examples of more "obscure" geometric figures

A corkscrew (for a helix): A donut (for a torus): A football (for a spheroid) And then, there's also the atomium (for which I am not sure exists a geometric name) cooling towers (for a hyperboloid)...
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19 votes

Why do we care about multiple proofs of the same theorem?

I'd say different proofs usually employ different techniques, which in turn might be applicable to different sets of other theorems. So the more proofs I know for one theorem, the higher the chances ...
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  • 359

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