What Does it Mean to Do Math?

Gurps1.jpgThe GURPS Basic Set which contains rules for the paper and pencil roleplaying game designed by Steve Jackson describes an ability that you can bestow on a character you are creating.

Lightning Calculator – You have the ability to do math in your head, instantly. If you have this talent, then you (the player) may use a calculator at any time, to figure anything you want – even if your character is fleeing for his life at the time!

This description seems to imply that doing math and calculating are the same thing. Do you agree or disagree? Make your case.


Videogame, Gameboy, 1991

In 1991, we didn’t have a Game Boy Player (2003) to install on our Gamecube (2001) with a WaveBird Wireless Controller (2002). These upgrades make the gameplay of some Game Boy titles, including R-Type, obscenely better.

R-Type is a port of a horizontal shooter coin-op. It’s a stripped down version that plays very well, making good use of a limited color palette. Your ship and enemies (that aren’t bosses) use red and environments use green/blue. The colors and shading pop on the white background. It’s a stark contrast built for the low light of an original Game Boy screen and I love the lack of busyness on screen. It’s challenging from the beginning but there’s a variety of cool power-ups to help you along the way. Plus, you can hold down the fire button to increase the power of your shot. Replaying levels is not so bad when you have multiple ways of dispatching your foes. Enemies are imaginatively drawn aliens or tech and the structure is a common one with stages ending with an outsized boss.

Fantastic shooter with a high replay value requiring critical thinking just as much as quick reflexes.

How Tall is a Giant?

imgresINTRODUCTION TO SCALING – Prerequisite for 5.NF.B.5a/b – This lesson addresses only one dimension when considering scale thus it may be used as a precursor to thinking about multiplication as scaling using a pair of factors.

CONTEXT – The height of a giant can vary greatly. The evidence of this comes from Giants, a tabletop RPG supplement written by Bruce Humphrey and published in 1987 by Mayfair Games Inc. According to this “reference for the society of giants,” there are many races of giants and though scholars have scoffed at their physical impossibility, their existence cannot be denied. Instead of delving into the biology of giants (see Giants pages 5 and 6 if you must), our focus today is on their height.

Fire Giants, 12 feet tall, impetuous and powerful warriors

Titans, 24 feet tall, first giants and progenitors of the other giants

Sea Giants, 18 feet tall, noble and personable giants from the depths

Frost Giants, 15 feet tall, resilient hermits from the icy realms

Hill Giants, 10 feet tall, aggressive and stubborn hunters


Q1:  How many feet taller is each race of giants when compared to a 6 foot tall human?

Q2:  How many times taller is each race of giants when compared to a 6 foot tall human?

Q3:  How many times shorter is each race of giants when compared to a 60 foot tall sauroposeidon?

Q4:  How many times taller is each race of giants when compared to a 6 inch tall tufted titmouse?

Activity:  Draw a picture of yourself and a representative of each giant race, all to scale in regards to height.


Activity:  Make a new race of giants. What will they be called? What characteristics will they have? How tall will they be? How will the height of the new race compare to the heights of other giants and animals?