Abstract / Synopsis

In teaching algebra, extra-mathematical word problems can bridge the gap between questions about abstract numbers and questions about everyday life. Thus, more than other aspects of elementary algebra, we would expect word problems to have changed in the recent past. This paper documents the findings of a collective research project that examined the content of such word problems over the past century. Alongside amusing and provocative examples, this paper shows how students can participate in exploratory research with primary sources from the history of mathematics.



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