A binomial expansion throwdown. You in?

Oh k8, my k8, has thrown down the gauntlet. Or in more modern day kid-speak, she asked you to “BRING IT ON!” (That’s Kate Nowak, for y’all.)

A while ago, she scoured every nook and corner online for videos teaching the binomial expansion, or for some ideas which make the teaching of it… well… not excruciatingly boring. Actual videos that didn’t make her want to stab her eyes out, they didn’t quite exist.

So she’s asking you to: make one. Anything that’s better than what’s out there.

You have weeks to do it (deadline: May 27th). She’s offering some sort of t-shirt prize. I’ll sweeten the pot. If we get 7 or more video submissions, I’ll buy the winner a copy of that Lemov book that the New York Times article featured a few months ago (as long as you don’t live somewhere with crazy shipping costs). And if you own that (or don’t want it), I’ll buy you some insanely cool math book. Yes, this is my own money. No, I don’t know why I’m doing this, since I’m pretty poor.

So when Kate says “BRING IT ON!” I hope you enter so you can say “IT’S ALREADY BEEN BROUGHTEN!”

Also, if you have a math or math teacher blog and want to spread this around, that would be super duper awesome.



  1. This post makes me want to participate. We’ll ignore that I don’t teach binomial expansion for just a second.

    Next outsource you’ll have to dumb it down a bit for those of us who landed a teaching load without any senior classes this year!

  2. Now that I am consulting, I don’t have a classroom to make a video in, and I’m sure not going to film myself alone in my basement in front of cardboard cutouts, but here’s what you do.

    1. You come into class and show a video of a mathemagician. This guy is kind of boring, and it’s too long, but the kids might be impressed for a while. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4vqr3_ROIk
    Preferably, you grab the Simpson’s episode “Grade School Confidential” where the mathemagician comes to a birthday party.

    2. You tell the kids that you have some skills as a mathemagician too, and you throw on the stupidest looking hat you can get your hands on.

    3. You write (a + b)^2 on the board, and get the kids to expand it.

    4. You write (a + b)^3 on the board, and get the kids to expand it.

    5. You break out the mathemagician routine, and put (a + b)^4 on the board and challenge them to a race. They get pencil and paper, and you will do it in your head. You pretend to struggle just a bit, and then write it straight down.

    6. Repeat for (a + b)^5 and (a + b)^6.

    7. At that point, I usually make some joke about how they’ve spend a whole semester with me and they know that I’m not that smart, so there must be a trick. They’ll look for patterns, and beg you to teach them the trick.

    8. Teach them the binomial theorem now that they’re begging for it.

    1. I may have found a classroom to try my idea in next week. If my schedule permits, I’ll go in as a guest mathemagician and get the classroom teacher to record it. I want that shirt and book.

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