What’s more fun than a math holiday? Celebrate Euler’s Day to bring some excitement and attention to often-over looked irrational numbers!
Observing STEM holidays can make learning fun for students and allow teachers to refresh stale material. Connecting abstract math concepts to a math holiday can help provide context for students and make the content less intimidating and more accessible. While World Maths Day and Pi Day receive a lot of attention, Euler’s Day provides unique opportunities to students and teachers.
On Euler’s Day, which is observed February 7, serious math enthusiasts celebrate the accomplishments of Leonhard Euler, an 18th-century academic who discovered e=2.71828183, which serves as the foundation of basic logarithms, reveals Walter Gautshi, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at Purdue University and author of “Leonhard Euler: His Life, the Man, and His Works.” Born in 1707 and living until 1783, Euler worked with some of the mathematical geniuses of history, including his studies under mathematician Johann Bernoulli at the University of Basel, and was held in high esteem by many.
While Euler’s Day celebrates the genius’ work on e=2.71828183, Gautshi reveals that other projects of Euler’s included mechanics, music theory, naval architecture, physics, philosophy, and astronomy, to name only a few of his pursuits. Observe Euler’s Day by bringing these activities to your classroom and teach students about this important, yet underrated, mathematician.
1. Commit to Euler’s Day
The most important aspect of observing Euler’s Day is to help students understand the concept of irrational numbers and e specifically. Mathnasium provides different methods of laying the foundation for e to allow students to move forward with this concept. Through using different approaches, such as an array of calculations and wordplay, the site provides tools that will allow teachers to reach many students, rather than using a singular explanation that will limit understanding to only a few.
2. Sing Along with the e Song
In 2010, Daniel Wedge invited mathematics fanatics, students, and teachers to sing along to his catchy tune that relays the concept of e through his “2.71828183: The Number e Song.” Less than two minutes long, the song helps students grasp the concept and provides a fun, easy method to remembering the function of e. This activity will also provide a starting point to begin the conversation that touches upon Euler’s fascination with STEM concepts in music.
3. Becoming Irrational in Real-life Situations
Today e is most often used when calculating compound interest. Teach students some old-school, real-world skills by covering how this concept can be applied to figuring out the amount due when making payments that accrue interest, or interest earned on certain investments. Though these real-world calculations are now made using electronics, seeing this formula at work will give an edge to students and make this concept clear.
Through teaching students about the mathematicians who developed different theories and concepts, educators can link math lessons to the innovators who are responsible for them. Add Euler’s Day to your math holidays calendar and watch students gain greater understanding of the M in STEM.
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