## Wednesday, October 22, 2014

### Odds and Evens and Maths

One of the most difficult things for young children to explain is the idea of odds and evens. What makes an even number even and what makes an odd number odd? Their difficulty is compounded by the usually inept definition most of us adults give which is an even number is divisible by two while an odd number isn't. This does little to help young children who have yet to encounter the maths word "divisible" and it does much to add to their confusion in later life when they encounter division and realize that you can divide an odd number by two.

Several years ago, a wonderful kindergartner teacher whose face I can recall but whose name escapes me told me of this method she uses to help children conceptualize odd and even numbers. She said the odd numbers are like old school buses, the ones with a hood out front, and even numbers are like the newer ones  that are straight down with no hood. She then demonstrated it using small colored blocks.

There's a lot more to odd and even numbers than meets the eye. Dr. Maths has an interesting history of them and for the real math nuts here's a way more complicated explanation at Wolfram Maths World. And here's a wonderful article in Wired, a British journal about how we are hard wired to prefer even numbers; ain't that the truth!

Meanwhile I continue my mission to turn math into the much more grammatically correct and sensible maths.