Webwork Assignment 14 extended

Hi everyone — it looks like assignment 14 was set to close yesterday (instead of today).  This was an error.  Because of it, I have re-opened assignment 14, and you will be able to work on it through the night and until class begins tomorrow.  Assignments 15, 16 and 17 will close at midnight tonight as usual.


Mr. Reitz


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WebWork Update

This is an update regarding Assignment 16, problem 2c.  This problem asks some variation of the question “what percentage… fall within 1 (or 2, or 3) standard deviations of the mean?”  We learned the 68-95-99.7 rule, which is fine in general, BUT webwork is picky and wants more decimal points of accuracy than this rule provides.  So here are the correct answers, to two decimal places:

“within 1 standard deviation of the mean”:  ANSWER 68.27%

“within 2 standard deviations of the mean”: ANSWER 95.45%

“within 3 standard deviations of the mean”: ANSWER 99.73% 

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OpenLab Assignment #5: Advice for the future

Assignment (due Monday, July 2nd).  Imagine that you are invited to speak on the first day of MAT 1180, to give advice to entering students.  Write a paragraph responding to one of the following, describing what you would tell them.

  1. What do you wish that you had been told at the start of this class, to help you succeed?
  2. Choose one topic in the course that is especially challenging. Identify it, and give advice to students trying to master that topic.
  3. What is the most important prior knowledge (not taught in the class) that you need in order to succeed?  Why is it important?
  4. Would you recommend taking the class in the summertime?  Why or why not?

Extra Credit.  Respond to someone else’s comment.  Do you agree? disagree? Have anything to add?

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OpenLab Assignment #4: Take a break

You have no OpenLab assignment this weekend – use the time to catch up on other work and study for the exam.

Extra credit.  Tell me what music you like.  What’s in heavy rotation on your iPod?  I’m listening to Parov Stelar (“compulsively listenable electroswing”) and Aesop Rock (“inaccessible hiphop intelligentsia”).  A few ground rules:  No offensive lyrics, be considerate of others, feel free to include a link but only to a legal site such as YouTube or SoundCloud.

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OpenLab Assignment #3: Math in your future?

Most people go to college because they are trying to build a better future for themselves.  What job do you hope to get after college?  Imagine you have completed your college degree, and your education and experience have allowed you to obtain the job that you want.

With this job in mind, consider the following list of activities.  Which of them are you most likely to be asked to do as part of your new job?  Put them in order from most likely to least likely.  If you are uncertain, make your best guess based on your current knowledge and experience.

List of activities:

  1. Solve a problem using algebra, including: analyzing the problem, drawing a diagram, writing an equation, and solving the equation.
  2. Learn to use a computer system that is unfamiliar to you, and then complete a task on that system.
  3. Brainstorm a variety of responses to a problem and decide among several solutions, each of which has plusses and minuses.
  4. Use arithmetic (adding/subtracting/multiplying/dividing).
  5. Simplify a radical.
  6. Complete an assignment with a team of several people, including: finding a time and place to meet, dividing responsibilities, making sure everyone is completing their part, delivering the final product on time.

Assignment (due midnight, Wednesday, June 20):

Respond to the above activity by leaving a comment in response to this post.  Your comment should include all of the following:

  1. What is your major?  What job are you hoping to get after graduation?
  2. From the list of activities above, give your ranking in order from “most likely to be required on your new job” to “least likely” (you can just list the numbers in order, you do not have to type the description, like this:  “My ranking is:  5, 2, 3, 4, 1, 6”).
  3. Discuss the first item or two on your list.  Do you think that this class will help prepare you to complete that task?  If so, how?  If not, what could be done in this class to help prepare you for that task?
  4. Discuss the last item or two on your list.  Do you think it is important to learn (even if you are not likely to use it at your job)?  Why or why not?

Extra Credit.  Comment on  someone else’s post.   Do you agree or disagree? Why?

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Exam #2 Review is posted / Exam postponed to Monday 6/18

UPDATE:  The answer to #1b was incorrect.  The correct answer is x=-12/7.  An updated version has been posted on the Handouts page.

The second exam will take place on Monday, June 18th (not on Thursday, June 14, as indicated in the calendar).  The review sheet and answer key have been posted on the Handouts page.  If you have a question or find an error, please leave a comment here or send me an email.

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OpenLab Assignment #2: What does this have to do with anything?

One of the standard arguments for the importance of math (which you have no doubt heard) is that mathematics “is used to describe the world around us.”  However, our current model of mathematics education doesn’t often lend support to this argument.  When you’re sitting at home with your book, struggling with a set of abstract, repetitive exercises, it’s hard to see how this stuff is relevant to anything outside of math class itself.

Assignment (Due Wednesday, June 13th, midnight).  Choose ONE of the videos below.  View it carefully at least twice, then write a response as follows:

  1. At the top of your response, state your name and the name of the video you chose.
  2. Write a paragraph in which you complete each of the following sentences, explaining in your own words.
    1. “The main idea is…”
    2. “One thing that I liked is…”
    3. “One thing that I didn’t like is…”
  3. What does this video have to do with this class (if anything)?  Why in the world would it appear here?  Explain.




  1. Vi Hart, blogger and self-proclaimed mathemusician, on “Doodling in Math Class: Spirals, Fibonacci, and Being a Plant.”  (alternate link)
  2. Hans Rosling, pioneer of data visualization, speaking on “200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes.” (alternate link)

Extra credit.  Comment on someone else’s post – do you agree? Disagree? Why?  Anything to add?

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Exam #1 Review is posted / Exam postponed until Thursday

Heads up: if you’re looking for the “Welcome” post that used to be here, just scroll down — it’s near the bottom of the page.

The review sheet for Exam #1 has been posted on the Handouts page. NOTE: the first exam will be held on Thursday, June 7th instead of Wednesday, June 6th (it will cover the same material, but you will now have an extra day to study).

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Getting Started with WeBWorK

Your first assignment will be due on Monday, April 4th at 11pm.  It will be a short assignment testing a little bit of what we covered on the first day of class.  Here’s what you have to do:

Assignment.  You must complete the following three steps.

Step 1.  Log in to WeBWorK here: .  I have created Usernames and Passwords for all students registered for my class. If you can’t log in, please send me an email (jreitz@citytech.cuny.edu) and explain what happened — I will do my best to fix it promptly.

Username.  Your Username for WeBWorK consists of your first initial plus your last name, all lowercase (for example, John Smith would have username ‘jsmith’).  WeBWorK does not like dashes, apostrophes, or spaces, so if you have a last name with any of these I have removed it (for example, Bill O’Reilly would have username ‘boreilly’).

Password.  Your temporary password consists of the last 4 digits of your social security number.

Step 2.  Change your password and update your email address.  To do this, select “Password/Email” from the main menu on the left.  Use whatever email address you like (I suggest using one that you check often).

Step 3.  Complete the first assignment, titled ‘Assignment1-WelcomeAndGettingStarted’, by clicking on it in the main screen.

If you have any trouble — either with logging in, or with completing the assignment, post a comment here or send me an email (jreitz@citytech.cuny.edu) and I will get back to you.

WeBWorK Tips:

  1. Click on a problem to see the details (the list of problems appears in the menu on the left).  Enter an answer and hit “Submit Answers”.  Don’t worry, if you get it wrong you can try it again.
  2. If the answer is a number:  you can enter it either as a decimal, like 72.26 (round your answer), or as an exact answer, like 23*pi.
  3. You can work on the problems in any order you wish.  You can do some problems now, and come back and do the rest another day (your work will be saved, as long as you submit your answers).
  4. If you want to print out a copy of the assignment, click on the assignment name in the main menu on the left, and then click the link in the main screen area that reads “Download a hardcopy of this homework set.”
  5. You can use a calculator at any time to help in solving problems.
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OpenLab Assignment #1: Mathography

This assignment is due Wednesday evening, April 6th (midnight).

Assignment.  Choose ONE of the following two topics.  Write a reply to this post, responding to the topic (1-2 paragraphs).  Begin by telling us which topic you chose.  Be sure to include your name in the post (so I can give you credit).


  1. Was math ever your favorite subject? If so, when was it? What about math made it your favorite? If math has never been your favorite subject, what about it do you not like?
  2. Sometimes people can recognize a time when their opinion of math dramatically changed either for the better or the worse. If such a time happened for you or for a friend of yours, tell about it. If you did not experience such a thing, tell about your steady feelings about mathematics.

Extra Credit.  For extra credit, write a response to one of your classmates’ comments.  Do you feel the same?  Did you learn anything?  Do you have any advice?

Why are we doing this, anyway?  Having progressed this far in your school career, you are familiar with many of the tools for learning math:  studying, practicing by doing problems, asking questions when you need help, and so on.  I’d like to talk about two activities that may NOT seem related to learning math — but research shows that engaging in these activities can dramatically increase the amount that you learn, and change the way you learn it.  The first is writing — something not typically associated with mathematics.  When you express your ideas in words, it forces you to think them through very carefully, detail by detail.  A great way to check and see if you really understand something is to try to explain it to someone else, either out loud or in writing.  Example: if you know how to add fractions, try teaching it someone who doesn’t know how.  The second is called metacognition, or “thinking about thinking.”  This happens when you think about what was going on in your head while you were working on a problem or trying to learn a new idea.  What train of thought did you follow?  Where did you get stuck, and what did you do next?  What were you feeling at the time? and so on.  Combining writing and metacognition can be a tremendously powerful tool in identifying the ways we learn best and the ways we make mistakes, and learning to improve.  However, like any skill, it takes practice.  That’s why we’re getting started by writing a little about our past experiences with mathematics.

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