We use numbers to quantify our universe, and to try to understand it better. To some, numbers are an abstract concept that allows us to measure and model the world around us. To others, numbers are concrete entities with specified identities that exist in the world. Without numbers it would be almost impossible for us to describe our environment with any amount of specificity.
I have had a fascination with numbers that dates back to my childhood. Even in elementary school, I enjoyed math and manipulating numbers. Later in life, I earned a degree in Applied Mathematics and a Masters in Aeronautics. Unfortunately, it was not so easy to pursue an interest in math in primary education.
I had several teachers in primary school who actively discouraged an interest in math as they said it was too boyish. These teachers also made statements that girls were not good at math. Luckily, I’m a rather introspective person and knew they were wrong. In high school, I had a wonderful math teacher who completely supported me. Thanks Mrs. Meyers.
In college I found almost the opposite situation. I loved chemistry in high school and did very well in it. I started college in Chemical Engineering. The chemistry classes were great, but I had to take engineering classes. The engineering department’s ratings and accreditation had suffered in the years before I attended.
My first engineering teacher did not like me. I was the only woman in the class and had no problem with the material. The first engineering class was an engineering drawing class. At that time there were no CAD programs to draw with, it was all done by hand. No matter how hard I tried, I could not seem to get above a C.
One day me and the student next to me were looking at my returned assignment. My drawing was identical to his, as in exactly the same marks on the page. I had a C, where he had an A. The assignment was to make a series of measured marks and projections on the page. I had completed the assignment just like my fellow student. The instructor ignored us so we went to the Dean.
Afterwards the instructor changed my grade, but I changed out of chemical engineering and into applied mathematics. The math department was approximately fifty percent women and I had no more problems like this. Apparently I was the only woman in the engineering department and the Dean really needed female students. The next year, the engineering department lost their accreditation for several years and the move to the math department was a fortunate one for me.
My daughter has no such problems so far in elementary school. She loves math and building things. She participates in the math competitions and is a member of the student council and the robotics team. I hope that she has an easier time succeeding in math and gets encouragement from all of her teachers.
This blog will continue my love for mathematics. I spend most of my days programming computers, so I deal less with abstract ideas than I have in the past. My husband and I help our daughter to enjoy her math assignments and she is now one grade ahead. I am so proud of her accomplishments.
We all love secret codes and code breaking. This blog will feature lots of old fashioned and simple codes that anyone can break without a lot of specialized computer programming. Along with codes and ciphers, we love what they bring – privacy.