Professor rushes to school to solve maths problem
What’s zero to the power of zero? When an eighth-year pupil asked that question, Jonas Bergman Ärlebäck, senior lecturer at LiU’s Department of Mathematics, had to rush over to a local primary school to discuss mathematics.
But isn’t the answer zero?
“Well, it’s not quite that simple. The pupils had discovered an exotic detail, of an almost mathematical-philosophical character. The answer could just as easily be one, or anything in between. It depends on how you approach and define the problem,” says Jonas Bergman Ärlebäck.
Your special appearance as extra teacher at the Skäggetorp Primary School was popular, and the school’s thank-you post on Facebook had been seen by 23,000 users after just a few days. Your reaction?
“I had no idea! That’s brilliant!”
And how did it go? Could you give the pupils an answer?
“Sure, but the answer isn’t that straightforward, as I just said. We discussed the problems involved, and thought through it together. I truly enjoy encountering their curiosity, and being able to help them make progress in their thinking. Getting them to realize that maths is much more than the four basic operations.”
“They had lots of other questions, for instance what is it like to study maths at university, how difficult are the maths problems in the engineering programmes, what we mathematicians do research on… We had lots to talk about – in addition to algebra and powers.”
Extra teacher for one lesson. Maybe more university teachers should try that?
“Depending on which field you work in, there are more or less natural opportunities for that sort of meeting. I work in mathematics teaching methodology and I teach future maths teachers at LiU, so it’s really rewarding to be ‘out in the field’ and to meet pupils. So of course I think it’s positive. And it can also be a good opportunity for pupils to meet professionals and get inspired to continue their studies.”
Why do you think the school asked you to come and visit this class?
“It’s probably mostly because Skäggetorp Primary is progressive in its teaching methods. The teacher, Malin Ramström, has been a researching teacher in a collaboration on mathematics teaching between LiU, Norrköping Municipality and Linköping Municipality, that I also was involved in. So it was natural to get in touch with me.”
Could it also have to do with your past as a clarinet player in LiTHe Blås, a student band at LiU?
“Malin and I were actually both members of LiTHe Blås at the same time, back in the day. Extra-curricular activities often give you contacts for life, and these can come in handy when you least expect it.”
Photo: Skäggetorp Primary School’s Facebook page and private
Malin Thor Tureby was keynote speaker at an international conference on oral history.
Cats that meow with a dialect have caused a sensation in the world media. Robert Eklund, a linguist who works with cats at the Department of Culture and Communication, has lost count of the number of times the work has been reported in the media.
On 6 December, a Farewell Mingle was held for departing exchange students who have studied at Linköping University.
"We have a global and critical perspective that attracts today's students," says Stefan Jonsson, professor at REMESO, about the Faculty of Arts and Science’s first international master’s programme at REMESO in Norrköping - Ethnic and Migration Studies.
Achieving perfect health has become a religion in the western world, according to a newly published study. Barbro Wijma, professor emerita and physician with many years of experience meeting patients, views this development with dismay.
Skin colour matters, also in Sweden. But many people don’t accept that racism is a problem here – only in other countries. So claims doctoral student Victoria Kawesa, who writes about black feminism and whiteness in Sweden.
Johanna Sköld from Child Studies at Linköping University co-organised an international workshop where researchers compared various models of compensation for institutional neglect and abuse.
Anna Lindström and Monika Lopez of the Department of Culture and Communication applied earlier this year for funding for an initiative in an issue relating to refugees. The funding was granted, and the “Tomorrow’s Nobel laureates” project was born.
Suad Ali, expert on Sweden’s refugee quota, works tirelessly for refugees worldwide. For her dedication she has been chosen as one of Linköping University’s two Alumni of the Year.
Thomas Lunner’s research has given improved hearing to millions of people with impaired hearing. He has been chosen as one of this year’s Alumni of the Year.
What’s zero to the power of zero? Jonas Bergman Ärlebäck, senior lecturer at LiU’s Department of Mathematics, rushed over to a local primary school to discuss mathematics.
Martin Hultman, who works with environmental history and the history of ideas, is organising the world’s first conference on climate change denial.
Engineering students Sabina Nordén and Sofie Folkesson took a year off university to renovate a school in Guatemala – using PET bottles.
Last updated: Tue Dec 27 09:53:01 CET 2016