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Math Explorations A 1998
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June 15, 1998

The first day of the Math Exploration Club was a great start for this year's summer classes. Maria Droukjov began the class with an introduction to the Shodor staff. Shortly after this introduction the students were engrossed in a lesson on math abuse.

"Can anyone here recall a time when you [the explorers] noticed math abuse?" Maria asked the class. Math abuse, she explains, is when information appears legitimate at first but actually contains mathematical errors. Maria shows the students an example of math abuse using an article found in a national magazine. The article claimed to offer savings of over one hundred percent! Maria said this kind of mistake was an example of "math abuse," something which happens very often.

Later, Maria passed out containers of orange juice, a can of soda, an advertisement, and a tag from an article of clothing. She informed the students that each container maintained some mathematical error. The students wrote their observations on a worksheet and then presented their findings to the class.

Students discovered that each of the items had some visible error. The soda can stated two different figures for its U.S. RDA value of Vitamin C. Maria said that this might have been a mistake or lack of communication in designing the labels for the can. The clothing tag listed that it was one hundred percent cotton, but also five percent lycra; students were quick to catch this error. One of the students thought that the clothing company tried to improve the customers' views of the product by saying that the product was of a higher quality than it actually was.

After they finished their math abuse project, Maria introduced the students to logical errors. The students got different sheets of statements and conclusions and were asked to search for the logical error (if one is present). They discovered the error by using a list of error types. After concluding this segment of the workshop, the explorers shared their findings with the rest of the class.