Math Homework I Wish I Still Got

Call me a nerd (hey, I do write for Mental_floss), but I kind of miss my math homework. Back in the days before algebra and trig, math homework meant math problems embedded in intricate stories, arithmetic trickery and the occasional logic puzzle. In short, they were the kinds of puzzles that people secretly love to do in their free time. But once high school hit, math problems got a lot more tedious and complex and less fun. Now that I'm in college, I've completely ditched math and if it weren't for my obsession with sudoku and kakuro, I doubt I'd use my left brain at all.

So, for the sake of geeky nostalgia, here's the kind of homework I wish I could still get from math classes. Be sure to chime in with the problems you couldn't wait to get home to do.

Hanging Balance Problems

Different shapes hang in balance in elaborate, mobile-like structures. With just a few clues, it was up to you to figure how much each shape weighed in order to keep everything in balance. Looking back, those balance problems were just a sneaky way to get 5th graders thinking about algebra, but making equations with triangles and cubes is way more appealing than thinking in terms of x's and y's. These were by far my favorite form of math homework- I would even ask for extra problems and often my parents would even make their own copies to make math homework a family affair.


I like crosswords. I like math (to a point). So the crossfigure seemed to be the best of both worlds. The crossfigure is just a crossword puzzle, only with numbers. The clues often played off each other (like "29-across minus four"), so solving them involved some knowhow. I didn't get them as homework so often, mostly just as a fun break from the daily grind.


Bobo's Word Problems

Sadly, I can't give you many details on this- Bobo was a character in a series of word problems I was given for a class. Something about having a recurring character (especially one that I imagined to be a clown) just made word problems a little easier to swallow. In fact, I liked the Bobo problems so much, my sixth grade math fair project was just a series of Bobo's adventures that I solved.

Anything related to sports

Even though calculus had it's fair share of word problems, they just weren't real enough situations. When will I be trying to figure out the volume of a tank of oil that is simultaneously being filled and drained at different rates? Even the old-school arithmetic problems were a little hard to grasp- who shares apples anyways? But sports made word problems easier to handle. Figuring out different ways to make an NFL team score 20 points or figuring out a pitcher's ERA made math fun. Thankfully, fellow blogger Sandy was able to bring back that feeling with this Brain Game last month.

Take a Rare Glimpse Inside the World's Largest Seed Reserve

Since 2008, the remote Arctic island of Spitsbergen has been home to the world’s largest seed storage facility, known as the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

The 11,000-square-foot facility contains nearly 865,000 seed samples—many of which are crops—and functions as both a reserve in the event of a catastrophe and as a backup for other seed banks around the world. Countries can send samples for preservation and access the reserves as needed (the effort is funded by Norway in conjunction with the organization Crop Trust). The vault was opened for the first time last year in light of the destruction caused by the Syrian War.

Access to the fault is notoriously limited, but AJ+ has a glimpse inside on its YouTube page. It’s a rare look at a place that isn’t known for its looks, but holds some of the planet’s most beautiful and valuable offerings.

[h/t The Kid Should See This]

This Infographic Explains the Difference Between Perfume and Eau de Toilette

Ever wondered why you can't smell the perfume you dabbed on earlier this morning? Maybe it's because you aren't actually wearing perfume. Instead, you likely applied eau de toilette, cologne, or another type of fragrance.

These sprays contain different concentrations of fragrance oil dissolved in solutions of alcohol and water. Scents with a heavier amount of oil are stronger, they're more expensive, and they also last for longer periods of time. Even the most discerning shopper might not know whether to opt for parfum or eu de parfum when perusing bottles of Chanel No. 5 at the fragrance counter—or even realize there's a difference. 

If you'd prefer to smell like a few roses instead of a field of them, it's handy to know the difference between perfume, eau de parfum, eau de toilette, cologne, and eau fraiche when you're out shopping for a new scent. Lifehacker recently ran this handy infographic by Real Men Real Style, which breaks down the strength of each fragrance along with how long it lasts. Use it as a guide to purchase the perfect product for you.

[h/t Lifehacker]


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