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PBS Teachers

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Mathline

Math and the President

Comparative Costs: The Early 19th Century and Today  | Pythagoras and President Garfield |  The Blue Room in the White House |  More Math Concepts

Presedential Seal Did you know that the President of the United States uses math everyday? Did you know that one of our Presidents published a mathematical proof? All this is true. This month's content activities focus on math and the presidency.

Activity 1 takes us back in time to the early 19th century. We look at the Louisiana Purchase, the sale of Thomas Jefferson's library and the Presidents' salaries. Students will read graphs and calculate the current value of the Louisiana Purchase and Jefferson's library. Students will also calculate the percentage change of these amounts between the 19th century and today.

Activity 2 takes us into the mind of President James Garfield. Students will learn about the Pythagorean Theorem and President Garfield's proof of the theorem.

Activity 3 takes us to the White House, more specifically to the Blue Room (an elliptical room). Students will learn about the ellipse, calculate a formula for the Blue Room and find the foci and eccentricity of the ellipse.