About Thaddeus Wert

High school math teacher and fan of all kinds of music, but most of all prog.

The Wonderful World of Conics

My Algebra Two students are in the thick of learning about conics – parabolas, ellipses, circles, and hyperbolas. I’ve just finished recording a series of screencasts about them, and I am posting them below for your enjoyment.

Why are they called conics? Well, we can construct them using cones, as illustrated by this demo, courtesy of  Irina Boyadzhiev via GeogebraTube (I wish I could embed it, but WordPress won’t allow it):


Here are my screencasts:

Conic Basics

The Parabola

The Ellipse

The Hyperbola

Light, Math, and Color – 2017 Projects

I just finished teaching another Light, Math, and Color minicourse. Twenty students researched a math topic and illustrated it with a stained glass window. Their projects this time around are really spectacular, especially considering these are first tries. (Note: If you hover over a picture, the math topic it illustrates will show up.)

The BBC Does Mathematics


I’ve discovered a nice podcast that is produced by the BBC: In Our Time. Melvyn Bragg hosts a different group of guests every week, depending on the topic being discussed, which can be anything related to the history of ideas. I’ve enjoyed hearing how the Book of Common Prayer came to be, the significance of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, and how radio was invented, among many interesting topics. Melvyn keeps things moving along, and the guests are always very knowledgeable and entertaining.

Of course, I most enjoy the math-related conversations, so for my fellow math teachers here is a list of the programs – at least the ones I’ve found so far – that are devoted to that subject (click on the title to go to that program’s download page):

Mathematics (May 6, 1999)

Maths and Storytelling (September 10, 1999)

Mathematics and Platonism (January 11, 2001)

Zero (May 13, 2004)

Renaissance Maths (June 2, 2005)

Mathematics and Music (May 25, 2006)

The Fibonacci Sequence (November 29, 2007)

Pythagoras (December 9, 2009)

Mathematics’ Unintended Consequences (February 10, 2010)

Imaginary Numbers (September 22, 2010)

Logic (October 20, 2010)

Random and Pseudorandom (January 12, 2011)

Fermat’s Last Theorem (October 24, 2012)

e (September 24, 2014)

P vs NP (November 4, 2015)

Euclid’s Elements (April 28, 2016)

Zeno’s Paradoxes (September 21, 2016)

You can subscribe to the In Our Time podcast via iTunes by clicking here.

Happy listening!

Update: Here’s a new one – Maths In The Early Islamic World.