Q*Bert Teaches the Binomial Theorem

Here is my entry for Kate Nowak’s Binomial Theorem video contest, clocking in at 17:35.

1. My primary goal was to make something the target audience would be willing to watch. (“Non-honors-math-taking, charming, fallible, fractions-are-dicey, probably-college-bound-but-mostly-not-future-engineers-scientists-mathematicians American high school juniors.”)

2. My secondary goal was to have a complete explanation, without resorting to hand-waving at a pattern.

3. I included two puzzle spots, intending the teacher (or the intrepid viewer) to pause the video.

4. I put the “what’s the nth term” business as a final puzzle, given it’s a somewhat random question to dedicate a whole lesson to anyway (curse you, dark Albany overlords!)

5. The music is from Musopen, a good source for public domain recordings.

14 Responses

  1. We’re not worthy…we’re not worthy…we’re scum.
    Awesome job, man. I am humbled.

  2. This is really great. Really great. It might be a few years because of what I’m currently teaching, but the next time I find myself doing this with a class I’m stealing the idea (and will let you know how it goes). I have a few questions:
    1. How’d you make the video of the qbert part (feel free to just point me in the right direction)?
    2. When you did this in class, was the shirt/pants example helpful for some kids (for me…I found combining the orange shirt/purple pants and the purple shirt/orange plants potentially confusing).
    3. Not really a question, but I’m also wondering if expanding (L+R)^4 instead of (X+Y)^4 would help or hurt. On the one hand, kids are pretty attached to x’s and y’s. On the other, it might be easier to see the connection to Qbert (and in this case it does make sense to combine LRRR and RLRR etc because you end up in the same square).

    • 1: This plus some screen recording software.

      2: Yes, my students do fine. It might make more sense in the context of the whole sequence (fundamental rule of counting -> permutations and combinations -> binomial theorem) where that kind of problem has been referred to before, just without the x and y attached. (It also would help to make the graphic of the shirts and pants completely the right colors, but for technical reasons I had to be content with just the overlapping.)

      3. There’s a risk that students will get too attached to that and get confused when it switches to x and y, but the (L+R)^n idea seems good for a starting example.

      Also of note: some students on my Algebra II final wrote out LLL LLR LRR RRR as the headers for their columns.

  3. Wowzers! I am officially impressed. Could you go ahead and make some videos for all of Algebra II? That’d be great, thanks (that last part was said in the voice of the Boss from Office Space).

    Definitely a video deserving of a win! Congrats!

  4. Again, on the nerd throne, you reign supreme. I always found probability incomprehensible. Maybe some videos on these problems? Hugs! Aileen

  5. Thanks so much for posting this and for posting some of the details how you made it. I’m looking forward to trying to make some similar videos.

  6. […] of riddles, observations and sharing!  Watch the football-based equations, Q*Bert binomial theorem videos, and the math notation examples for inspiration.  The blog connects well to other sites, through […]

  7. […] me a topic to make a math video Posted on June 5, 2011 by Jason Dyer My Q*Bert Teaches the Binomial Theorem video last year for Kate Nowak’s contest was quite […]

  8. […] a teaching video is much harder than it appears. My Q*Bert video was built out of 30 second chunks and many, many retakes. Even then I had to do some sound editing […]

  9. […] to the video format which can strengthen presentation of even mundane notation. For instance, in my Q*Bert Teaches the Binomial Theorem video I made crude use of a split-screen parallel action to reinforce working an abstract level of […]

  10. […] Kate Nowak issued a challenge to create a better lesson on the binomial theorem. Jason Dyer‘s was the winning entry. […]

  11. […] I thought it was pretty good. The students I tested it on thought it was pretty good. Kate thought Jason Dyer‘s entry was better. I have to respect the […]

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