August 2018 Maths at Sharp Newsletter

Dear Friend of Maths at Sharp,


It’s suddenly August and the weather is turning to sunshine again. We hope you have enjoyed your break and that the IEB teachers enjoy their break now.


I am very excited to share some personal news with you –

my husband and I are expecting a little girl for Christmas. What has amazed me is all the maths that is involved in a pregnancy. For one, you need to countdown to your due date, and calculate how many weeks you are, or how many you have left before you are due (I don’t know which is scarier 😉). When you have an ultrasound or scan (which we recently had the privilege of doing in 3D), the machine bounces sound waves around your insides. A very clever computer then uses mathematical algorithms to plot a picture of the little one inside. The algorithms have gotten so advanced you can now do it in 3D and HD! If you would like more information – here is a great article.


The 2018 AMESA

that took place at the University of the Free State at the end of June was not quite as chilly as we were all expecting. The workshops were stimulating with a lot of good discussion. The one that stands out is the first one held on Tuesday afternoon. In it, we were discussing the applications of the unlimited table mode on the Sharp EL-W535SAB. One of the applications was to use the table mode to teach a particular factorising method. If you recall from the previous newsletter, there was a method called airplane factorising which helped students to factorise trinomials with a value for “a” other than one. (Please take a look here for the method). We encountered a problem with the use of the “a” value in both brackets because it was mathematically incorrect.

For example, when we initially write down the brackets as

(3x       )(3x        )

Instead of writing the brackets as (3x    )(x        ) as we would usually do.

This additional 3 is “lost” in one of the last steps when we divide one of the brackets by 3 again.

In our discussion, this additional “3” or “a” in the second bracket was a problem because it wasn’t mathematically correct, as the entire trinomial was not multiplied by 3 or “a”. Only the c value was.

What are your thoughts? Do you think that if the method is easier it shouldn’t matter that it isn’t perfectly correct? Or do you think that the method should be mathematically correct? Or do you think that the method doesn’t matter at all, as long as the student is able to get the correct answer and they can justify their steps?

For all the Sharp AMESA workshops click here and for the competition results click here. Congratulations to Emmly Sibanyoni from the North West for winning the 34 litre Sharp grill microwave!

Thabo handing over the Sharp 34l grill microwave

A picture of Thabo (last year’s winner) handing over the prize to Emmly.


I came across a very interesting article

about using knitting to explain different mathematical concepts. The author of the article opens with the observation that students see maths as “computation” and “equation”, while mathematicians see mathematics as logical thinking and problem-solving. This changes a person’s perception of maths from boring and rule bound to something that is used for finding solutions to interesting problems. This article goes on to explain how they explored mathematics without writing out “equations”, but exploring it through using knitting, drawing pictures and creation. There are many great ways to share the passion of maths without bringing in the rules that students find so restrictive.


For a different take, here are 23 random maths facts that all students enjoy. I confess that I didn’t believe that 10! seconds is 6 weeks but it is in fact true!


We will be at several events over the next couple of weeks,

from the Maths conference in Sebokeng, to the Sasol Techno X the following week (13th of August – 17th of August) in Sasolburg. This is a great place to bring your students as most of the universities are there, as well as several other companies that demonstrate different career options. Some of the exhibitors include CSIR, Eskom, Jumpstart Foundation, Mintek, National Zoological Gardens, Plastics SA, Sci-Bono, SAPS, and many more. Come pop in and take a look at the new Sharp scientific calculators and get a taste of what you can do in the classroom.


I am also excited to share the progress we are making with the #FutureFund.

We have partnered with MAHLE, an engineering firm in Durban that makes filtration systems (amongst other things) for Volkswagen and BMW. On the 21st of September we will be part of an East Coast Radio breakfast show where we will be taking pledges for the #FutureFund. If you are in the Durban area keep your radio on and find out whether we reach our target of R1 million! Seartec has also agreed to match every donation with a second calculator! That means that for every R200 donated, there will be two students that benefit.

How to make a difference with Future Fund

Alternatively, you can purchase your EL-W506 calculators directly from Seartec for R200 each, and we will match each of these purchases with the same number of calculators, to be sent to your school, or another school of your choice.


Calculator tip:

On the new Sharp EL-W535SAB there are two new functions for lowest common multiple and highest common factor. To find the highest common factor of 25 and 30, press 25

2nd Function button

number 2 with GCD functon on top

then press  30 . You should get:


Sharp calculator screen with GCD example


To find the lowest common multiple type in 25

2nd Function button lowest common multiple on top of number 3

 30 and this will give you:

Sharp calculator screen with example of lowest common multiple


Last month’s riddle in the newsletter was:

How can you add eight 8’s to make 1000?

The answer is 888 + 88 + 8 + 8 + 8 = 1000. Hope you enjoyed playing around with all the 8’s.


This month’s riddle is:

If 1 + 9 + 8 = 1 then what is 2 + 8 + 9 = ?


Wishing you a fantastic women’s month and great third term,

Best maths wishes

Tal (mini-me), and the Seartec team


And because its women’s month, here are two 😉

maths genius doesn't understand women




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