Continent Discontent

Here’s a question you probably think you know the answer to:

How many continents are there on the planet earth?

For generations of Americans, the answer is simple: seven. The list of continents includes Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Europe, Australia and Antarctica.

But, before you assume this blog post is done, consider this: Some geographers disagree with that number, and instead choose to count Europe and Asia as one mass of land labeled Eurasia.  And, in other parts of the world, children are taught there are only five continents: Eurasia, Australia, Africa, Antarctica and the Americas.

To confuse you even further, researchers recently made the argument that a large mass of land completely submerged under water – and part of New Zealand – qualifies as a continent and should be recognized as such.

All this continent discontent might make you want to throw your geography book out the window, but it certainly shines a spotlight on the question, “what counts as a continent?”

Exactly What IS a Continent?

Good question.

Although one accepted characterization of a continent maintains it is a large, continuous mass of land, bigger than an island and separated on all sides by water, that classification is somewhat arbitrary, which is why Greenland is considered an island, but Australia – only a couple more million km in size – is considered a continent.

In fact, by that definition, many purists believe there are only four continents – since Europe and Asia are part of one land mass, Asia and Africa are joined by an isthmus, as are the two Americas – which would just leave Australia and Antarctica.

The reason much of the world can’t agree is that there is no one definition of what makes up a continent. Some accepted factors beyond the physical attributes include distinctive flora and fauna, cultural uniqueness – and even local agreement on continental status, which I suppose means that if you believe it, it’s so!

Too Much on Your Plate

As a math-minded person, I find it difficult to define physical structures by cultural differences, so as a last resort –what about how continents relate to the tectonic plates beneath them? Surely, there must be an alignment there.

Tectonic plates are the earth’s rocky outer crust and they continue to drift, ever so slowly, across the surface of the globe. This accepted theory of continental drift explains Pangea – one super continent that began breaking up 175 million years ago into the modern configuration of continents we know today.

But, if we look at the location of the continents over these plates, we’ll realize that while Europe and Asia mostly share one plate, the Americas are separated and the country of India shares a plate with Australia. Greenland and the Philippines each have their own plates – although neither is defined as a continent today.

The only concept that becomes clear here is that depending where you are, who you are and WHEN you were – you may have a very different opinion on the total of continents.  And, here we thought numbers was a definitive subject!

Inspired Giving with NumbersAlive!

Take a page from Lyra Mag this holiday and help give kids the most creative celebration ever.

Lyra Magazine has identified NumbersAlive!’s fabulously fun STEM toys and games as “Giftsperation” for the year.

Among our many award-winning products, the feature highlights The Hello Numbers Discovery Pack for special attention. The multi-sensory pack includes “friendly plush numbers, plus the Hello Numbers book and music cd (for ages up to 9)… with, of course, an app creating multiple pathways to foundational numeracy.”

Check out the “Giftsperation” Guide for fun product images and other great gift ideas.

Exercise Muscle and Mind Together: Roll, Count, Move! Makes the 2016 Fitness Gift Guide

Macaroni Kid says, “Roll, Count, Move! is perfect for your preschooler and anyone learning to count.”

Get the whole family up from the couch this holiday with this 2016 Creative Child Preferred Choice Awardee. Roll a plush ball and practice counting by performing the action pictured on one of the linked pentagonal cards. Kids are creative, too, so encourage them to devise their own games to play with the ball and cards!

As Macaroni Kids reminds, you’re never too old to play. “While great for younger kids, [Roll, Count, Move!] is really something the whole family can enjoy.”

Order yours today!

Check out the Roll, Count, Move! review on the Macaroni Kid gift guide.

The 12 Notes of Christmas Makes the List of Top Holiday Entertaining Recommendations

The Bellingham Herald and The Scramento Bee agree: The 12 Notes of Christmas sets you on the way to a unique holiday party.

The 12 Notes of Christmas is a mashup of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and the song The Twelve Days of Christmas. Following the opening line of Twelfth Night, “If music be the food of love, play on,” 0 meets Shakespeare on the introductory Day (Christmas Day) to find out about the 400th anniversary and plans a celebration with the rest of the numbers. They travel the world for the next 12 days to create the ultimate holiday band to serenade Shakespeare on Jan 6 (Twelfth night) in the Globe Theater by playing the Twelve Days of Christmas with the instruments they collect. Each instrument has a numeric link (i.e. Day 1 is the didgeridoo in Australia and Day 5 is Temple Blocks from Asia that come in sets of 5). A map of the world tracks the journey from day to day.

Erin Davis writes:

During each of the connected videos, guests of all ages will learn about instruments, holiday celebrations and food from around the world. Each episode opens and closes with a curtain to remind all of Shakespeare as a master playwright.

Order your copy today!

Get the scoop on The 12 Notes of Christmas and other holiday entertaining tips:

The Rebecca Klemm Conjecture: from Numeracy to New Insights


From August 3rd to 6th, 2016, Rebecca Klemm is presenting a provocative proposition to the elite mathematicians of the Math Association of America. The Rebecca Klemm Conjecture proposes that any polygon can be decomposed into an infinite series of polygons with the same number of sides. The conjecture has important ramifications in fields as diverse as IT security and medical imaging.

Even more intriguing than the implications of Rebecca’s conjecture is the story of its basis in developing new learning tools for early STEM education. Rebecca is the founder of NumbersAlive!®, which works to develop foundational numeracy through blended learning that restores math to its origins as a language for describing the world. To develop Number Linx® and help learners link numbers to their physical manifestations as shapes, she began breaking the familiar regular polygons into irregular polygons with the same number of sides. Dividing the polygons again and again, Rebecca realized that the process was infinite!

Rebecca’s story, from her conjecture’s origin in early education tools to its revolutionary implications for science and technology, demonstrates the power of her unique approach to numeracy. For Rebecca, numeracy is not the ability to perform superficial manipulation, but understanding where numbers come from and how they relate to the world. Rebecca’s path to to her conjecture shows what wonderful discoveries await students who learn to use numbers creatively!

Make Math About Learning Not Memorizing

When teaching math, it’s easy to fall into the trap of teaching it the way you were taught, of over-explaining, and of making lessons more about memorization than actual learning. However, when students simply memorize a formula, they don’t comprehend how to get from question to solution in the same way they would if they deduced the relationship themselves – or even at all. “Over-scaffolding” a lesson, i.e. taking the critical thinking out of problem solving, does students a disservice. In an article for A Pass Education Blog, Liz Arcand suggests four ways to improve math lesson planning: de-scaffold, incorporate other content areas, increase the rigor of math questions and tasks, and learn more about PARCC and other standardized exams to understand what will be asked of your students – and how.

Number Linx is a set of cards that fit into our Puzzling Polygons board. They are an example of incorporating content area into math; there are multiple series of cards that fit into each of the ten spaces around the board, including the sign for each number in American Sign Language and different instruments with the correlating number of strings. These cards encourage children to think about how each number relates to a card and therefore to more fully understand the properties of each number and how it is relevant in their lives.

Building NumberOpolis is another activity that encourages children to make connections between numbers and their world. Each number has a personality and now needs its own home; by asking children to create these homes, we are encouraging them to think critically about what belongs in which number’s home. For example, maybe 0 should have round windows and live in a donut-shaped house while 1 lives in a really tall tower and 7’s home is covered in rainbows. The possibilities are endless, and this activity helps children realize how prevalent numbers are in their lives and increase their numerical literacy.

These are just two examples of ways to make math learning more interactive and to encourage more critical thinking in lessons. Let us hear your ideas!


Read the full article here:

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