The Adventures of Alexandria Jones

Alexandria JonesI hope it is obvious that Alexandria Jones and her family are fictional. Their stories will appear sporadically, as I find time to transcribe them from the back-issues of my old math newsletter. I am trying to keep the months lined up, since some of the content is seasonal.

In case you missed any of them, here are all the Alexandria Jones stories so far, plus a peek into the future. I hope you will have as much fun reading Alex’s adventures as I had writing them.


“Table of Contents” Quicklinks


Introducing Alexandria Jones

The story behind Alex’s story, how it all started with a few homeschooling friends who played around with math.

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May/June 1998 Issue:
Alexandria Jones and the Secret of the Pharaoh’s Treasure

In this issue, we play the Pharaoh’s Pyramid game (a 2-D version of Nim), learn a little about surveying, and meet four mathematicians from history: Diophantus, Pappus of Alexandria, Leonardo Fibonacci, and Srinavasa Ayengar Ramanujan.

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July/August 1998 Issue:
Alexandria Jones and the Mysterious Temporal Freeze

Time stops for Alex and friends, and we calculate how long it would take a cat to eat a lasagna the size of Illinois.

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September/October 1998 Issue:
Alexandria Jones and the Thief in the Night

We learn to translate Egyptian hieroglyphs, discover how the Egyptian scribes multiplied numbers, and play around with function machines. Then we try our hands at story problems and geometry challenges from the Rhind and Moscow mathematical papyri.

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November/December 1998 Issue:
Alexandria Jones and the Christmas Present Quandary

Alex designs tessellation wrapping paper, hunts for the perfect Christmas tree, and comes up with a lively present for her brother. We meet the rest of Alex’s family, along with historical figures Maria Agnesi and Leonhard Euler, and we take a brief glance at mathematics from China.

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January/February 1999 Issue:
Alexandria Jones and the Secret of the Egyptian Fractions

Dr. Jones teaches Alex and Leon to work with fractions, Egyptian-style, and Leon paints a wooden block puzzle. For history, we explore the mathematicians of Napoleon Bonaparte: Gaspard Monge, Fourier, and LaPlace.

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March/April 1999 Issue:
Alexandria Jones and the Puzzling Pythagorean Pebbles

The Jones family flies to Italy for spring break and visits the ruins of the Pythagorean school. Leon learns to make pebble numbers, and Alex challenges him to a strategy game. For history, we learn about the great crisis of ancient Greek mathematics.

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May/June 1999 Issue:
Alexandria Jones and the Mosaic Tile Mystery

Alex receives a letter from Dr. Theano, asking for help in solving an archaeological puzzle. Leon learns the Pythagorean Theorem, and we try our hands at geometric algebra. A politician makes mathematical history.

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July/August 1999 Issue:
Alexandria Jones and the Birthday Surprise

Alex has a birthday, and the Jones family explores some problems about probability. My math club students treat us to their story problem challenges, and for history, we meet the battling Bernoulli brothers.

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September/October 1999 Issue:
Alexandria Jones and the Mathematical Carnival

Maria Jones suffers from Can’t-Say-No Syndrome, and the Jones children plan a mathematics carnival for their homeschool group. We learn several math and logic games and meet a few mathematical puzzlers from history: Claude Bachet, Charles Dodgson, and Sam Loyd.

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November/December 1999 Issue:
Alexandria Jones and the 80-Yard Drive

The Jones family meet Uncle Will and cousin Sam for a tailgate picnic before the big football game, and someone else tries to crash the party. Alex plays with Platonic solids, and Alex and Leon trade story problems. For history, we meet René Descartes.

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January/February 2000 Issue:
Alexandria Jones and the Strange Attractor

Alex gets distracted from cleaning her room by a lesson about chaos theory and fractals. For history, we meet Benoit Mandelbrot and learn how to draw cartoony winter trees.

  • The Strange Attractor: Alex’s Problem with Chaos
  • Glossary of Fractal Terms
  • Koch’s Fractal Snowflake
  • Pythagorean Fractal Trees
  • Everybody Talks About the Weather…
  • Quotations: Fractals and Chaos
  • Hints and Solutions
  • Historical Tidbits: Benoit Mandelbrot and Fractals

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March/April 2000 Issue:
Alexandria Jones and the Mathematical Monsters

Alex continues to learn about fractals when Simon Skulk threatens to hold the world for ransom. Our math history tidbits feature Blaise Pascal, Georg Cantor, Giuseppe Peano, and Waclaw Sierpinski.

  • The Mathematical Monsters
  • More Mathematical Monsters
  • Blaise Pascal’s Triangle
  • More Triangular Patterns
  • The Jurassic Park Dragon
  • Hints and Solutions
  • Historical Tidbits: Pascal, Cantor, Peano, and Sierpinski

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May/June 2000 Issue:
Alexandria Jones and the Uncommon Logarithms

Leon discovers a slide rule, and Maria Jones teaches her children about logarithms. In math history, we meet Baron John Napier.

  • The Uncommon Logarithms
  • Make a Very Simple Slide Rule
  • Make a Logarithmic Slide Rule
  • Make a Chessboard Computer
  • Multiplication on Your Chessboard Computer
  • Hints and Solutions
  • Historical Tidbits: John Napier

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July/August 2000 Issue:
Alexandria Jones and the Summer of “Slavery”

Alex works as a digger’s assistant in her summer internship at an archaeological dig with Dr. Sofia Theano, learning a bit about Greek geometry along the way. Math history tidbits focus on Thales of Miletus.

  • The Summer of “Slavery”: Alex’s Archaeology Report
  • The Five Theorems of Thales
  • The Tools of Greek Geometry
  • Geometric Constructions
  • Hints and Solutions
  • Historical Tidbits: Thales of Miletus

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September/October/November 2000 Issue:
Alexandria Jones and the Case of the Pillow Problems

Alex celebrates her return home with a slumber party, and the girls make up puzzles to stump each other. Can you figure them out? For math history, we meet Lewis Carroll.

  • The Case of the Pillow Problems
  • Lewis Carroll’s Pillow Problems
  • The Scrambled Slumber Party
  • More Problems by Kids
  • Hints and Solutions
  • Lewis Carroll: Puzzler to the Queen

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December 2000/January 2001 Issue:
Alexandria Jones and the Magic Christmas Cards

Dr. Jones suggests a way to make the “best Christmas cards ever” (according to Alex), and the Jones children create geometric gifts to celebrate the holiday. Our math history tidbits feature Arthur Stone and Plato.

  • The Magic Christmas Cards
  • How to Make a Flexagon
  • A Polyhedra Construction Kit
  • Polyhedra Have “Many Faces”
  • The Mysterious Block Puzzle
  • Hints and Solutions
  • Historical Tidbits: Plato, and Flexagons

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February/March 2001 Issue:
Alexandria Jones Fights the Mid-Winter Doldrums

The Jones children take an experimental approach to learning about game theory. In our math history tidbits, we find out who George Polya called “the only student I was ever afraid of.”

  • Fighting the Mid-Winter Doldrums
  • The Most Basic of Games: China’s Classic Nim
  • Out to Lunch? Egyptian Workmen Played Games
  • How to Ruin a Game
  • The Prisoner’s Dilemma, or Did Game Theory Save the World?
  • Fences: A Strategy Challenge
  • Historical Tidbits: The Student Who Scared George Polya

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