Alpha's Adventures in Mathematics

Volume One: Introduction

Introduction

Hi! I'm Alpha...

and this is my human Pam!

We’re here to tell you the story of how I was rescued from the streets of Korea and came to find my forever home in Canada. We’re also here to tell you about all of the math we found along the way.

See, I love math. I mean, I really love math. But I used to have to hide this fact because the other dogs would make fun of me. Every day I'd go hang around outside the local school and listen to the math lessons through the window. 

Today we are going to learn about area and perimeter using these equations...

When the other dogs would see me they’d ask what I was doing. I’d lie and tell them I was waiting for the students to come out, you know, so I could bark at them. But the truth is that I was fascinated by everything the math teacher was saying and I so wanted to be part of the class. 

Then, when the students came out of class, I’d eagerly run around them, trying to listen to any math they might be talking about. Most of the time though they'd just crumpled up scraps of paper into a ball and throw them at me. But sometimes those scraps would have math on them and I'd take them back to the alley with me, carefully un-crumple them and read them to learn all the math that I could.

I so very badly wanted to learn more about the world around me and how math was in everything, I tried to learn it from everything I could, but it just never seemed to be enough.

For three years I lived on the streets, trying to survive, and wishing that one day I'd find a place with unlimited math for me to learn, and no one to make fun of me for it.

That happened the day I met Pam and she showed me the amazing world of math all around us. From the first moment we met she started teaching me all sorts of things about math in the world.

You see that tree over there? You can find the Fibonacci sequence in the way plants and trees grow!

From Pam

The Fibonacci sequence is a very famous list of numbers that goes like this:

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, ... (where the ...'s mean it goes to infinity)

You find the sequence by starting with 0 and 1. You then add these numbers together to get the next one, and then new number plus the one before it to get the next number, and so on.

Like this:

0 + 1 = 1
1 + 1 = 2
1 + 2 = 3
2 + 3 = 5
3 + 5 = 8
5 + 8 = 13

Can you figure out the next two numbers? How about the 15th number in the sequence?

Glossary

Sequence: a group of numbers that have a shared pattern

Infinite / infinity: goes on and on forever, never ending

Fibonacci: an Italian mathematician

Try At Home

Many things in nature follow the Fibonacci sequence in how they grow. The way the leaves are arranged is a good one. Leaves follow the Fibonnaci sequence so that the leaves at the top of a plant or tree don't block the light from leaves below.

Look around where you live for some trees or flowers or other plants and take some pictures of them, or try to draw them yourself and see if you can find the pattern for yourself.

If you get some good pics, send them to us at lookmath@vedavox.ca (ask your parents first) and we'll display them on our gallery!

Explore More

This website has some interesting information on where to find the Fibonacci sequence in nature and in plants.

Check it out for more details

And that art on the walls? They use math to create the shapes and to mix the paints to get just the right shade of blue.

From Pam

Artists use a combination of just a few colours to create a whole spectrum of shades and they use ratios to create them. On a computer, you can combine 27 parts Red to 135 parts Green to 212 parts Blue (written 27 : 135 : 212) to get a very specific shade of blue (the blue we use for Alpha’s box actually). By using just these three colours in different combinations we can make any colour we want.

Important note: when mixing actual colours (like paint) it’s actually Red, Blue and Yellow (as Blue and Yellow make Green) that are combined in different ratios. These are called Primary colours. Computers use Red, Blue and Green though.

Try At Home

Using a graphics program, or a Digital Colour Meter, on your computer try selecting different colours and see how the combinations of just Red, Green and Blue (called RGB) can give you different colours.

Or pick up some Red, Blue and Yellow paints and mix those colours in different ratios to see what you can create.

OOOOOHHHHHH... and those buildings, they use math to design them, and to mix the concrete and bricks that make them...

She does this for everything we see and, when she doesn't know, she finds experts to help explain it to both of us.

But I'm getting ahead of myself here.

Before I could meet Pam I had to travel across the world, riding in cars, and in planes and trains, and meeting all sorts of interesting people. And that’s what I’m here to share with you!

So let's get started!

A special note from Pam and Alpha

You may have already noticed that this book is a bit special.

You may have noticed there are boxes you can click on. These appear throughout the book. They give neat information and things you can try at home. These are:

  • From Pam: where Pam pops in with neat facts
  • Help Alpha: where you can help Alpha solve a math problem
  • Try at Home: these are things from the chapter that you can do at home
  • Explore More: these are links to pages where you can learn more about a topic
  • Glossary: these are definitions for some of the trickier words

You can also download a pdf of all the activities for the whole book here

If you like what we're doing please Give Alpha a Treat! 

Right now we are trying very hard not to charge for Alpha's Adventures in order to make sure everyone can have access, but we need your help!  

Learn more on our Give Alpha a Treat page...

Are you liking Alpha's Adventures so far? Are you interested in seeing where it's going? Do you have suggestions for us to make it better?

Let us know what you think...

  • What did you think of the story?
  • What did you think of the math content?
  • What did you think overall? What else would you like to tell us about the story? Do you have suggestions for future chapters?