A Gentle Introduction to the Language of Mathematics (and more)

Want to give your students a gentle introduction to the language of mathematics, TeX, Math Markup Language, and more?
Have them watch this interactive online slide show, and fill out this worksheet in the process.
This makes a great activity for a ‘Substitute Teacher Folder’—it can easily keep students engaged for a (say) 50-minute class period.

Teachers:   Print this page; customize it to your needs; make copies; give to substitute teacher to distribute to students.

  1. You will pass in this (filled-in) sheet tomorrow. It will be worth ______ points.
  2. If you don't finish this worksheet in class, then it becomes homework.
  3. Feel free to talk (quietly, please) and help each other on this worksheet.
  4. Each person should fill out their own sheet, even if you're sharing the same computer.
  5. Go to the Tree of Math homepage:
  6. Look through this page.
    Locate and click on the main Table of Contents link.
  7. From the main Table of Contents, locate on click on ‘interactive slide show’.
    Go through this slide show, stopping to answer the questions on this worksheet.
  8. List two of the languages in which the ‘important message’ is given.
  9. What is the ‘important message’?
  10. Write in the definitions given in the slide show for each of the following words:


  11. What is the philosophy of the web-based, interactive, free, introductory mathematics course (and book),
    One Mathematical Cat, Please! A First Course in Algebra?
  12. Mathematical NOUNS are called:
    Mathematical SENTENCES must express:
  13. Using the diagram that summarizes essential comparisons between English and Mathematics, answer the following questions:
    Give an English sentence that is sometimes true/sometimes false:

    List five different types of mathematical expressions:

    Give an example of a mathematical sentence that is sometimes true/sometimes false:
  14. A common English noun that has three letters is:   ___   ___   ___   (Hint: it's not DOG.)
    Where does the name ‘One Mathematical Cat, Please!’ come from?
  15. Was the original ‘cat’ book a textbook for a course? (YES or NO) __________
  16. Did Brooks-Cole publishers like the original ‘cat’ book? (YES or NO) __________
  17. Why did Brooks-Cole publishers decide NOT to publish the ‘cat’ book?
  18. In what year did Dr. Fisher Burns begin teaching at Miss Hall's School (MHS)? ________
    Dr. Fisher Burns taught at MHS non-stop until she went to Lenox in 2008.
    How many years did she teach at MHS?
  19. If you're interested in learning to design your own web pages,
    is there anything on Dr. Fisher Burns's site that might help you? If so, what?
  20. Does Dr. Fisher Burns like big projects? (YES or NO) __________
  21. Can HTML display a HORIZONTAL fraction (NOT as a picture)? (YES or NO) __________
  22. List three problems with posting mathematics as images:

  23. List two challenges of representing mathematics properly:
  24. Has Dr. Fisher Burns been interested in mathematical typesetting for a long time?
  25. What is Dr. Fisher Burns's undergraduate degree in?
  26. What does  TeX  rhyme with?
  27. What is TeX?
  28. Some files have the extension  pdf . What does  pdf  stand for?
  29. About how many hours, on average, does it take Dr. Fisher Burns to code a typical web exercise?
  30. What does  MathML  stand for?
  31. In what year did the World Wide Web Consortium release a standardized MathML?
  32. In what year were the first usable browser implementations for MathML?
  33. In what year did Dr. Fisher Burns find out about MathML?
  34. What transformed Dr. Fisher Burns's professional life for the first time?
    What transformed Dr. Fisher Burns's professional life for the second time?
  35. When Dr. Fisher Burns says that ‘MathML is pretty verbose,’ what does she mean?
  36. What does XHTML stand for?
  37. Go to GOOGLE, and type in the three words ‘math cat fisher’ (any order).
    Where does Dr. Fisher Burns's site appear in the ranking?
  38. List two advantages of representing math on the web with MathML:

  39. Where does the word GeoGebra come from?
  40. Time left? Go back to Dr. Fisher Burns's homepage and start browsing through some of her online courses.
    Since this slideshow was created, they have been updated to MathJax (google it!), so they are now available to all major platforms and browsers.