Day 6 : Four Fours and Mind Blown

These snapshots are inspired by Jo Boaler's first day of the Week of Inspirational Math. She presents math as accessible, discovery-oriented, and exciting - even to those who are ready to view math negatively.

The Four Fours activity asks students to discover how one can combine four fours (surprise) and any mathematical symbols (+, -, /, x, exponents, parentheses, factorials, etc) to reach the whole integers listed on the chart. Nearly everybody loved it, and each student could gain a small victory when he or she reached a number.

This student used five fours, didn't follow PEMDAS, and discovered her mistake afterward... but was so excited I couldn't help but share it. She was discovering patterns and her own ability to manipulate numbers to reach a desired end. Pretty big deal.

Here's the correct way if you REALLY want to know.

(4-4) + 4 x (4 / 4)
0 + 4 x 1
0 + 4

(3-3) + 3 x (3 / 3)
0 + 3 x 1
0 + 3

- JMF (the teacher)

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