Why teach Algebra?
There are a number of reasons why algebra holds an important place in the curriculum. We list some of these below.
- It gives us a powerful way to communicate. Using letters and symbols provides a succinct and very precise way to write mathematical statements;
- It provides us with a method for solving equations for unknown quantities. We can let x be an unknown, construct an equation provided by a problem, and then solve the equation for the unknown. In many situations algebra, if not the only way to solve for an unknown, is certainly the most efficient;
- It provides a way to express formulae and processes that encapsulate an infinite number of variations and arrangements. By so doing we donï¿½t have to repeat similar work again and again. One manipulation with a given quantity will settle a situation for an infinite range of quantities once and for all.
The Algebra Strand of this site is built around the two threads of
- patterns; and
These two aspects of the Algebra curriculum are intimately related and we believe are best developed together.Consequently most of the units address both of these aspects.
Pattern covers pattern and relationships. A great deal of the Algebra from Levels 1 to 4 concerns patterns in one way or another, from making and describing patterns, to making rules and finding general rules to making a rule to predict the results of patterns. Implicit in this is the notion of relationships. These relationships are expressed in words and in graphs.
Equations consists of knowing and using the symbols +, <, and >. It moves on to look at the fundamentals of solving equations with unknowns.