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ERIC Number: EJ868908
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Dec
Pages: 10
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 1
ISSN: ISSN-1072-0839
Stories about Never-Ending Sums
Friedlander, Alex
Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, v15 n5 p274-283 Dec 2009
Infinity and infinitely small numbers pique the curiosity of middle school students. From a very young age, many students are intrigued, interested, and even fascinated by extremely large or extremely small numbers or quantities. This article describes an activity that takes this curiosity about infinity into the domain of adding the numbers of an infinite sequence. Some of the activities that the author presents to groups of mathematically advanced students relate in an informal manner to unlearned concepts or procedures. The author stresses that although these activities can be mathematically challenging to students, they provide them with an intuitive, concrete acquaintance that is needed at the initial stages of understanding a mathematical concept. The author presents five stories in the activity that are based on the three never-ending sums (or series): (1) "The Sum of Halves;" (2) "The Sum of Quarters;" and (3) "The Sum of Thirds." The author also describes some issues that were discussed with fifth graders during the ninety-minute lesson on never-ending sums. (Contains 3 figures.)
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. 1906 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191-1502. Tel: 800-235-7566; Tel: 703-620-3702; Fax: 703-476-2970; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Grade 5; Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A