When it comes to secondary school’s most hated subject, there is no doubt what it is. For most teens, it’s mathematics. Chances are your teen, too, hates maths. Why? It can be that they don’t like their teacher. It can be that the teacher isn’t fun.
When that might be the case, they don’t see the point in learning the subject. The problem is made worse when no one tells them why math is important, (apart from studying for exams and getting good grades) and why must one learns the subject.
Dr Neil Degrasse Tyson once said, “Math is the language of the universe. So the more equations you know, the more you can converse with the cosmos.” Dr Neil furthermore pointed out how amazing it is that even though mathematics is something we, humans, invented in our head, yet it can be applied across the universe and everywhere in science.
Interesting? The following are 10 amazing videos from TED Talks you can watch with your teens and hopefully get them excited again about mathematics.
A performance of “Mathemagic” by Arthur Benjamin
In a lively show, mathemagician Arthur Benjamin races a team of calculators to figure out 3-digit squares, solves another massive mental equation and guesses a few birthdays. How does he do it? He’ll tell you.
Why I fell in love with monster prime numbers by Adam Spencer
They’re millions of digits long, and it takes an army of mathematicians and machines to hunt them down — what’s not to love about monster primes? Adam Spencer, comedian and lifelong math geek, shares his passion for these odd numbers, and for the mysterious magic of math.
Math is forever by Eduardo Sáenz de Cabezón
With humour and charm, mathematician Eduardo Sáenz de Cabezón answers a question that’s wracked the brains of bored students the world over: What is math for? He shows the beauty of math as the backbone of science — and shows that theorems, not diamonds, are forever. In Spanish, with English subtitles.
Symmetry, reality’s riddle by Marcus du Sautoy
The world turns on symmetry — from the spin of subatomic particles to the dizzying beauty of an arabesque. But there’s more to it than meets the eye. Here, Oxford mathematician Marcus du Sautoy offers a glimpse of the invisible numbers that marry all symmetrical objects.
The math and magic of origami by Robert Lang
Robert Lang is a pioneer of the newest kind of origami — using math and engineering principles to fold mind-blowingly intricate designs that are beautiful and, sometimes, very useful.
The surprising math of cities and corporations by Geoffrey West
Physicist Geoffrey West has found that simple, mathematical laws govern the properties of cities — that wealth, crime rate, walking speed and many other aspects of a city can be deduced from a single number: the city’s population. In this mind-bending talk from TEDGlobal he shows how it works and how similar laws hold for organisms and corporations.
The fractals at the heart of African designs by Ron Eglash
‘I am a mathematician, and I would like to stand on your roof.’ That is how Ron Eglash greeted many African families he met while researching the fractal patterns he’d noticed in villages across the continent.
Fractals and the art of roughness by Benoit Mandelbrot
At TED2010, mathematics legend Benoit Mandelbrot develops a theme he first discussed at TED in 1984 — the extreme complexity of roughness, and the way that fractal math can find order within patterns that seem unknowably complicated.
The mathematics of history by Jean-Baptiste Michel
What can mathematics say about history? According to TED Fellow Jean-Baptiste Michel, quite a lot. From changes to language to the deadliness of wars, he shows how digitized history is just starting to reveal deep underlying patterns.
Comics that ask “what if?” by Randall Munroe
Web cartoonist Randall Munroe answers simple what-if questions (“what if you hit a baseball moving at the speed of light?”) using math, physics, logic and deadpan humor. In this charming talk, a reader’s question about Google’s data warehouse leads Munroe down a circuitous path to a hilariously over-detailed answer — in which, shhh, you might actually learn something.