My 7th grader (I shudder, just typing those words!) had to learn the base 5, base 2, and base 16 systems. I personally had never heard of such things although I was suspicious that the base 2 system was just another name for the binary system used in computer programing and the like. We conquered the base 5 without too much trouble, but when it came time to tackle base 2, he begged me to skip it. He kept saying, "You don't even know what it is! I'm NEVER gonna use this!" To which I replied, "Well, I think it's the binary system, and it is used by computer programmers. So you never know if you will need it or not." I also mentioned that I thought McGee and Abby on NCIS (my favorite TV program) had to use this system to do all their
I then explained to him the joys of being able to figure out something new and difficult, and tried to convince him how satisfying it would be to be able to figure it out and teach ourselves something new...he didn't buy it.
I did manage to figure it out, and explain it to him, and we had a lot of fun working out all the problems once we knew what we were doing....
....right up until they threw the base 16 system at us...UGH! It turns out that the base 16 system was developed because the binary (base 2) system was too tedious for many of the computer programmers out there (gee, ya think?), so they developed the base 16 system to make their lives easier. What is wrong with our standard base 10 system, I've not figured out yet!
The funny part was, that while watching NCIS this week, McGee did in fact have to use the binary system, and I think he even made mention of the use of letters to represent some of the numbers (which, by the way, is the base 16 system!). It was fun to be able to look at my kid and say, "See? We could totally do that! Although we both know that we totally couldn't!
So, one math obstacle down! Now the science this kid is