Mayans, Stonehenge, Calculators, and our Future

Taking a moment to celebrate the continued existence of our lovely planet, let us reflect upon the amazing precision with which ancient civilizations such as the Maya, Persian, Sumerian, Babylonian, Greek, and Roman created calendars or structures that have withstood the passage of millennia.

Nearly perfectly aligned with the center of the rising Sun at the exact moment of the Winter Solstice, the trilithon passes the Sun’s brilliance into the lens of the photographer’s camera.  How the Neoliths arranged these stones remains a mystery.

Winter Solstice at Stonehenge

More amazing to many of my students, these inventions came to be without a single Texas Instruments (TI), Hewlett-Packard (HP), or Casio calculator!

Let us hope that some percentage of our population going forward are as skilled as the ancient navigators of time and space; otherwise, in spite of all of our great advances in technology, we may not be able to replicate what seems like the simplest of structures, yet requires the most intricate and complex of calculations known to humankind.

About Dave aka Mr. Math Teacher

Independent consultant and junior college adjunct instructor. Former secondary math teacher who taught math intervention, algebra 1, geometry, accelerated algebra 2, precalculus, honors precalculus, AP Calculus AB, and AP Statistics. Prior to teaching, I spent 25 years in high tech in engineering, marketing, sales and business development roles in the satellite communications, GPS, semiconductor, and wireless industries. I am awed by the potential in our nation's youth and I hope to instill in them the passion to improve our world at local, state, national, and global levels.
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3 Responses to Mayans, Stonehenge, Calculators, and our Future

  1. Stephanie says:

    Hi, Dave,

    That “amazement” that students experience when they find out famous structures were built with string and compasses is part of the inspiration for my new project.

    I came across your blog via David Wees, and as a fellow mathematics educator I thought you might be able to help in spreading the word about an educational TV show for preteens about math that we’re putting together. “The Number Hunter” is a cross between Bill Nye The Science Guy and The Crocodile Hunter — bringing math to children in an innovative, adventurous way. I’d really appreciate your help in getting the word out about the project.

    I studied math education at Jacksonville University and the University of Florida. It became clear to me during my studies why we’re failing at teaching kids math. We’re teaching it all wrong! Bill Nye taught kids that science is FUN. He showed them the EXPLOSIONS first and then the kids went to school to learn WHY things exploded. Kids learn about dinosaurs and amoeba and weird ocean life to make them go “wow”. But what about math? You probably remember the dreaded worksheets. Ugh.

    I’m sure you know math is much more exciting than people think. Fractal Geometry was used to create “Star Wars” backdrops, binary code was invented in Africa, The Great Pyramids and The Mona Lisa, wouldn’t exist without geometry.
    Our concept is to create an exciting, web-based TV show that’s both fun and educational.

    If you could consider posting about the project on your blog, I’d very much appreciate it. Also, if you’d be interested in link exchanging (either on The Number Hunter site, which is in development, or on which is a well-established site with 300,000 page views a month) please shoot me an email. We’re also always looking for input and ideas from other math educators!

    Thanks in advance for your help,



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