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Random Homework

Britney Spears recently revealed she’s going to be taking math classes so she can keep up when her older son learns pre-Algebra … and it’s not just celebs like Spears who need some extra help when it comes to understanding their kids’ school work. Of course, most of us non-famous folk don’t go so far as to return to school just for that reason. (Way to go the extra mile, Brit!) Instead, we turn to everyone’s favorite resource: Google.

I asked parents to tell me what strange, perplexing homework question or issue forced them to seek guidance on the Internet and here’s how they responded. Last names have been withheld to protect the intellectual reputations of said parents, but not the writers because everyone knows we have no shame.

“Mating habitats of giant squids. For a class on public speaking. (He’s a) junior in high school but I didn’t want him looking up Mating+habits without me there.” — Alexandra Rosas, Good Day Regular People

“For my second grader  Facts about Uranus — due to my laughing she used Siri.” — Allisan

“How to help a constipated bearded dragon poop. The bearded [dragon] was a class pet. It was also the beginning of my son falling in love with them. We have one of our own now.” — Miranda Gargasz, MirandaGargasz.com

“Multiplying using lattice method — look it up — good times — thank God 3rd grade is almost over!!!!!!”— Tracey

“Ancient Greek recipes. And then we had to MAKE one! It was weird but fun. (And surprisingly tasty! We made feta stuffed dates with honey and almonds.)” — Traci McNett-O’Neill, A Day in the Life of a Drama Queen’s Momma

“Last year in first grade my son didn’t know which shape was a rhombus for his homework. I asked him to go get a sharper pencil and while he was getting it I quickly Googled ‘rhombus’ on my iPhone. When he came back we reviewed the characteristics of that shape like I knew it all along. Who the heck remembers what a rhombus is 26 years out of school?” — Lisa

“Included in today’s spelling words that we had to look up were: telemeter & peradventure  two totally useless words today.” — Jill Caryl Weiner, author of When We Became Three

“We looked up some gruesome stuff about venom (for a fourth-grade assignment). She was into it.”Brian Braiker, slarkpope

“We had to Google ‘songs inspired by LORD OF THE FLIES‘ when my son was in sixth grade for a book project. Turns out there is an Iron Maiden song.” — Allison Slater Tate

“We had to look up causes of death in world leaders with my 6th grader. I suppose that isn’t too strange, but navigating the search results was quite the minefield, which, coincidentally, was one of the causes.” — Whit Honea of The Honea Express

“I had to look up the word ‘xylem’, which it turns out is part of the tree’s nutrient delivery system … I was really hoping [Googling my kid’s homework answers] would not happen in kindergarten!!!” — Anna

What random bits of information have you had to Google while helping your child with his or her homework? Let us know below!

Article Posted 3 years Ago

Overview:  What Are Random Numbers?

In a set of random numbers, the numbers do not follow any pattern.  Each number has an equal probability of occurring, and each number event is independent of any others .  Most of the time, numbers that are close to random are generated by computer programs or calculator programs designed to do just that.

What Are Some Examples of Random Events?

Many events are close to random. For example, individual molecules within a gas tend to move randomly, so that it cannot be predicted where an individual molecule will be.  Similarly,  the theory of radioactivity predicts that a percentage of atoms in a substance will decay into isotopes given an amount of time, but it does not predict precisely which particular atom will decay.

How Are Random Numbers Found?

Numbers that are close to random can be found by consulting random number tables, as the result of computer programs to generate random numbers, and by using a calculator to generate random numbers.  In addition, games that depend on giving all the players a fair chance are often determined by using dice or a spinner divided into equal parts.  That way each number has an equal probability of being chosen.

How Is Randomness Used In Statistics?

In scientific experiments, statistics are used as a tool to judge the results of an experimental treatment.  Subjects have an equal chance to be assigned to a treatment condition through random assignment.  Often a random number generator is used in order to assign subjects to treatment groups.  Not only does each subject have an equal chance of being assigned to any of the treatment groups, but the choice of any one subject is independent of all the others.  This minimizes errors that could occur if the assignment is not random, but confounded.

What Are Monte Carlo Methods?

Monte Carlo methods are mathematical simulations that use random numbers to generate solutions.  They are called Monte Carlo methods because the earliest studies used equipment to generate random numbers similar to the methods in gambling casinos, such as decks of cards and roulette wheels.  Some simulations include the common practice of airlines overbooking seats on flights, because there are probabilities generated for how many passengers will arrive to take seats.  The computer simulation can be run for the number of seats on the airplane as the number of trials, using random numbers to suggest a possible outcome.

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