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Old 2015-10-05, 03:31   #23
chalsall
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Originally Posted by VBCurtis View Post
Regional level private colleges and state-schools have little choice but to work around this lack of preparation.
What's 2 to the power of 8? It is surprising how many can't answer that question immediately.

But then, someone who I consider very intelligent and brilliantly creative asked me recently (while watching a movie) if I'd ever heard of hexadecimal ASCII....
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Old 2015-10-05, 05:36   #24
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That is unfair, it is kinda geek question, like in the closed math jokes with e^x (the jokes only mathematicians laugh, in fact, every profession has them).
Once we had a construction game that involved different colors and sizes of spheres that had some holes around (like bowling balls, but very small) and could be connected with little batons that fit those holes. We liked to play it with "feral kids" (TM) in our house, making castles, robots or excavators with them. A friend visiting us looked to such a contraption and said "this looks like citric acid, except these two atoms are switched". I didn't believe him and we checked on the web, he was right. I don't know exactly the chemical he named, I just "invented" one now, with the same complexity, it was something related to biology, and the guy is biologist. I imagine if he comments in this thread, he would say "it is surprising how many people can't name few elementary chemical structures..."

Last fiddled with by LaurV on 2015-10-05 at 05:36
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Old 2015-10-05, 12:19   #25
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Originally Posted by VBCurtis View Post
This is not true, at least in the USA. College algebra is a standard general-education course for graduation/college-credit, and precalculus (college alg plus trig, roughly) is a standard course for entering freshmen. I teach at a research university (University of California), and fewer than half our entering freshmen are ready for calculus upon entry. Our view is that high schools do such a poor job with precalc and calculus that the majority of students must re-take precalc at the university. My experience at both state-school and private universities is the same, below elite level. The Ivy league and other top-20 universities may do it the way RDS remembers,
My experience is from 40 years ago. The U.S. was pushing STEM as part of the 'cold war'. SAT's were required.

Quote:
but the vast majority of US universities offer precalc for college credit, and expect a substantial number of students to need to take it.

At colleges that admit students below the top 15% of their HS graduating class, precalc is not even an admission requirement. It amazes and disappoints me how many high school counselors advise mediocre students to take statistics instead of precalc to "help their GPA". Regional level private colleges and state-schools have little choice but to work around this lack of preparation.
No doubt these same students also need to take remedial 'bonehead' English as well...They read
at an 8'th grade level, can not write worth a damn, and have a hard time finding (say) Cleveland
on a map. They are ignorant about the U.S. Constitution, how our government is structured, and
how it is supposed to work... They do not speak/read/write a second language. Need I go on?

It amazes me that taxpayers are willing to support public universities that are willing to accept
students who are unprepared for college level work.

You write that schools have little choice in the matter.... This is (somewhat) a political viewpoint.
Schools could, IF THEY WANTED TO, require stronger admissions standards.

Too many people are going to college these days. And they wind up with degrees that are essentially
worthless.

I also suspect that the group of students under discussion are not STEM majors. OTOH, although I could be
very wrong, I suspect that everyone who comes to this forum is. English majors do not ask about
prime numbers.
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Old 2015-10-05, 12:38   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R.D. Silverman View Post
They read at an 8'th grade level, can not write worth a damn, and have a hard time finding (say) Cleveland
on a map. [snip] They do not speak/read/write a second language. [snip]
OTOH, although I could be
very wrong, I suspect that everyone who comes to this forum is. English majors do not ask about
prime numbers.

8-th grade was the average we had to be able to explain things at in pharmacy because that's the average for the public in general here. I suck at writing my handwriting's been compared to that of a doctor. I know it's in Ohio ( assuming you mean Clevland, Ohio) . I tried to learn a few ( though I failed french immersion in school). I tried pharmacy but I don't completely consider that stem anymore you only need grade 9 math ( the version of grade nine when I was there about 12 years ago) or lower to pass the math but you need grade 12 math to get into it. I read it more than anything, I don't have any major but I like poetry etc as well as numbers.
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Old 2015-10-05, 13:59   #27
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Originally Posted by LaurV View Post
My girl took SAT by the way, the day before yesterday. We are waiting for the results...
The feral teenager who lives with us took the ACT in 7th grade and scored a 28. Now he thinks he can slack off until he graduates.

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Old 2015-10-06, 02:11   #28
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Regarding the initial question from FP, there exist deterministic (Primes in P) and probabilistic primality proving algorithms. Rather than toss some large numbers whose properties you are not aware of into some electronic black box, try thinking a little deeper about the question you asked. Give the Sieve of Eratosthenes a try with pencil and paper, look at the properties of primes like 41 and 163, take known random primes of no special structure scaled logarithmically in lengths of 1, 10, 100, 1000..10^n digits and note the time taken to prove them prime using whatever software/hardware combination you have. Once you understand the kind of question you are asking then pitch it as precisely and concisely as you can to experts of your choice. I would recommend sending an email to entities like the NSA or GCHQ but only after you have read as many of the research papers there relative to your ability pertaining to your question. Intelligently avail yourself of the best possible resources accessible to you and you will be rarely disappointed.
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Old 2015-10-06, 11:41   #29
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Originally Posted by jwaltos View Post
Regarding the initial question from FP, there exist deterministic (Primes in P) and probabilistic primality proving algorithms. <snip>
Based on prior responses, you are probably talking over the OP's head.
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Old 2015-10-19, 08:07   #30
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Originally Posted by Xyzzy View Post
The feral teenager who lives with us took the ACT in 7th grade and scored a 28. Now he thinks he can slack off until he graduates.

From a fellow gifted student (who almost ended up in Special Ed in early elementary school due to the teachers' not knowing what to make of me, especially when I would read their lesson plans for the week and inform the class of the following Friday's lesson plan on Monday - "disruptive behavior" indeed!):

1. That kind of performance deserves a *little* slacking off, I suppose. Let him savor that "Damn, I'm good!" feeling for at least a weekend or so. Be sure that he knows that you are proud.

2. If he is gifted enough, and hence probably enjoys learning enough, to put up such numbers, I don't think you have too much to worry about. A brain like that loves to think and craves knowledge. He might start out Googling "hot babes" but I bet he just as often ends up Googling "discovery of element 118".

3. If he seems to be headed towards a particular field of interest (e.g. mathematics, chemistry, physics, etc.), encourage him to get as much of a head start as possible. A great way to accomplish this is by taking community college classes (I have seen students as young as 12-13 years old doing this in my local area). As good as I was and as interested as I was in math as a youngster, I wish I would have taken basic college-level courses such as calculus, linear algebra, etc. during high school, leaving room for more upper division and even graduate level courses in my undergrad years. This brings me to...

4. The slacking off might be due to serious boredom with the high school curriculum. Have him take a practice GED examination. If he seems to do well, consider having him drop out of high school and take the GED early (in Maryland, the minimum age was 16; I took and passed the exam at 16 years, 4 months. I then went on to community college.). There is no stigma attached to an early GED, and almost all colleges will quite happily accept them (in fact, once I earned my A. A. degree in community college, that trumped the GED during the admissions process, anyway). Back in the day (1999), this kind of thing was uncharted territory for homeschooled students like me. My poor mother lost many nights of sleep, fearful that I would be passed by without an official high school sheepskin. Now students (both traditional and homeschooled) across the country are doing this by the thousands.

5. Encourage him to try many different subjects, even if they seem uninteresting or difficult. I ended up with a math major in college, and a double minor in physics and computer science. But what you might not guess is that I also just barely missed minors in English and political science! I even crossed over and won a best paper award in the history/political science department during my senior year (there was a lot of good-natured ribbing about *horror of horrors* a math major stealing that department's prize!). Upper-division Electricity and Magnetism (with David Griffiths' (in)famous textbook) showed me that while I was bright, there were (and are) many, many who are brighter. (Side note: if you ever want to learn Vector Calculus the hard way - but have it forever seared into your brain while understanding the *physical* meanings of div, grad, and curl - get a copy of Griffiths). Writing programs in Scheme and Brainf*ck also brought me back to Earth pretty quickly.

6. Should he have one of those silly 4.0 (or whatever number represents "perfect") GPAs, tell him to get a B as soon as possible. Like the baseball pitcher in the midst of a perfect game bid, who begins wearing his socks on his ears, shoving sunflower seeds up his nose, etc. in fear of losing "perfection", a perfect GPA does little more than wrack a good student's nerves and make them less likely to be daring in their studies. I should know: I got all A's (nary even an A-) my entire undergraduate career. And do you know, the longer it went on, the more fearful I became of messing up that silly number. I think I might have pursued chemistry a little more, had I not been daunted by the thought of not doing "the best" and besmirching my golden record. How silly! Get a B early and get it over with!

7. Last but not least, keep in mind that gifted or not, we are only young once. He should be sure to socialize, have fun, date, party (within reason, of course...), basically be sure to do plenty of normal 16-25 stuff while he has the chance. When I was in college, I think I worked a little harder and played a little less than I ought to have, yet the net result was essentially the same. They don't print GPAs on degrees, after all (I think, in fact, that they should, but that is another story for another time). It also didn't help that when I was 15, I met a girl who was essentially my mirror image academically, and over the next nine years, we were pretty much in an exclusive relationship (leading me to eschew more chances at dating than I should have), only to break up quite suddenly and unexpectedly when I had been thinking that we would quite probably have ended up married. My advice would be to study like he's 25, but date and socialize like he's his actual age. Great memories and life experiences are equally as important as courses passed.

Best of luck to you guys. If all else fails, point out to him that a 28 ACT in the seventh grade makes him something of a whiz kid. But a 28 ACT plus total slacking off for the next five years makes him a washed-up, has-been "child prodigy" that is now merely equal to (or quite possibly below) the standing of his competitors. His success now is not an end to the journey, but is rather a generous boost into its beginning.
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Old 2015-10-19, 08:32   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R.D. Silverman View Post
have a hard time finding (say) Cleveland
on a map.
How about drawing a rough outline of the state of Ohio and indicating Cleveland's approximate position?! How about drawing a rough outline of the United States and indicating Ohio's approximate position? How about explaining what features constitute the borders of Ohio?

I once drew a freehand, approximate map of Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, and North Carolina, indicating the locations of Wilmington, Baltimore, Washington, Richmond, and Raleigh, along with the I-95 and I-85 corridors, for some folks needing directions. They were absolutely thunderstruck. *I* was absolutely thunderstruck that they apparently don't teach basic geography, let alone foster a basic interest in or awareness of the subject, in schools anymore.

We have a contractor and his crew renovating one of our rental units. I remarked to him the other day about an issue with the siding on the West side of the house. He asked me which side was West. As he was standing outside and it was about 20 minutes before sunset, I told him that it was the side of the house facing the setting sun. His reply? "What does the sun have to do with it?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by R.D. Silverman View Post
Too many people are going to college these days. And they wind up with degrees that are essentially
worthless.
I trust that you have heard of Bernie Sanders' plan to make public colleges and universities tuition-free. Without any form of entrance exams or academic performance requirements, those public-institution degrees will make great kindling and toilet paper.

Quote:
Originally Posted by R.D. Silverman View Post
English majors do not ask about
prime numbers.
But yet, math majors must endure art history, English literature, underwater basketweaving, etc. etc. etc. or we are branded as unwashed Philistines. Total double standard. (For the record, I am very much thankful for the opportunities that I had to study the arts, and I cannot say at all that I totally disliked those courses. But I do believe that one could make the argument that calculus is just as beautiful, and definitely at least as important, as "to be or not to be".)
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Old 2015-10-19, 11:32   #32
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Originally Posted by NBtarheel_33 View Post
Thanks! That gives us a lot to think about!
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Old 2015-10-19, 12:57   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NBtarheel_33 View Post
How about drawing a rough outline of the state of Ohio and indicating Cleveland's approximate position?! How about drawing a rough outline of the United States and indicating Ohio's approximate position? How about explaining what features constitute the borders of Ohio?

I once drew a freehand, approximate map of Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, and North Carolina, indicating the locations of Wilmington, Baltimore, Washington, Richmond, and Raleigh, along with the I-95 and I-85 corridors, for some folks needing directions. They were absolutely thunderstruck. *I* was absolutely thunderstruck that they apparently don't teach basic geography, let alone foster a basic interest in or awareness of the subject, in schools anymore.

We have a contractor and his crew renovating one of our rental units. I remarked to him the other day about an issue with the siding on the West side of the house. He asked me which side was West. As he was standing outside and it was about 20 minutes before sunset, I told him that it was the side of the house facing the setting sun. His reply? "What does the sun have to do with it?"



I trust that you have heard of Bernie Sanders' plan to make public colleges and universities tuition-free. Without any form of entrance exams or academic performance requirements, those public-institution degrees will make great kindling and toilet paper.



But yet, math majors must endure art history, English literature, underwater basketweaving, etc. etc. etc. or we are branded as unwashed Philistines. Total double standard. (For the record, I am very much thankful for the opportunities that I had to study the arts, and I cannot say at all that I totally disliked those courses. But I do believe that one could make the argument that calculus is just as beautiful, and definitely at least as important, as "to be or not to be".)
During my undergrad years I took two courses in logic: Phil 140 and Phil 141, taught by Quine. (who was quite a
character). Because philosophy is considered a 'humanity', these courses helped science majors fulfill
distribution requirments for courses outside of one's major. Phil 140 was basic 1st order logic; Phil 141 was intro
to Goeddel's Thm and related material. The courses were not 'gut' courses for math majors. Although the
material was easy to understand, one still had to do the assignments.

The year that I took them both courses showed up with a [b]very[b] distinctly bi-modal grade curve. With a very
wide gap between the two modes.

Those at the upper end were the math/science majors, those at the low end were everyone else.

The philosophy majors were very unhappy about this and went to complain to the dean of students (Archie Epps)
that it was unfair that these were required courses for them and that they had to compete against math majors.

Archie basically laughed them out of his office, saying that it was not a competition, and the objective was to
learn the material. He also stated that math majors do not get special consideration when they take a Shakespeare
course and have to compete against English majors....

Applause for academic integrity!
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