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Mar 28, 2015
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John Venn

John Venn was a mathematician remembered best for his contributions to the study of mathematical logic and probability. Venn was born in England in 1834, and studied at Cambridge University until 1857. He was ordained as a priest in 1859, and served as a curate for a year before returning to Cambridge to lecture on Moral Science.

While at Cambridge, Venn spent his time both teaching and studying probability theory and logic. There he developed a method of using diagrams to illustrate set theory, called Venn Diagrams. Typical Venn diagrams use overlapping circles to represent groups of items or ideas that share common properties. Each circle represents one property, and shared properties are represented by the overlapping areas of the circles. For example, suppose you use three overlapping circles (A, B, and C) to represent four-legged animals, domesticated animals, and predatory animals, respectively. From this diagram, you could start to see how the overlapping categories create different sets. A cat, for example, would fall in the set represented by the overlap of A, B, and C. A horse, however, would fall in the set shown by the overlap between A and B only, not C. Although they have many applications, Venn diagrams also aid in the study of Boolean logic, another type of logic named after the 19th-century mathematician, George Boole.

In 1866, Venn wrote Logic of Chance, a work that was considered highly original and influential on the development of the theory of statistics. He also wrote Symbolic Logic, in 1881, and Principles of Empirical Logic in 1889. In 1883, he was elected a member of the Royal Society for his work in math and logic.

Later in his life, however, Venn turned to interests outside of mathematics. He began compiling a history of Cambridge University, of which he completed three volumes. He also had a talent for building machines, and invented one that automatically bowled cricket balls. Venn lived until 1923.

Highlights

Children's Choice Book Awards
We love books! Encourage students to vote for their favorite children's book, author, and illustrator of the year at Funbrain and Poptropica. Teens can make their picks too. Read the complete list of nominated books, as well as related activities, and get voting!

April Calendar of Events
April is full events that you can incorporate into your standard curriculum. Our Educators' Calendar outlines activities for each event, including: April Fool's Day (begins 4/1), Passover (begins sundown 4/3), Easter (4/5), Name Yourself Day (4/9), Encourage a Young Writer Day (4/10), Library Week (4/12-18), Volunteer Week (4/12-18), Holocaust Remembrance Day (begins sundown 4/15), Poison Prevention Week (4/15-21), Earth Day (4/22), Tell a Story Day (4/27), International Jazz Day (4/30). Plus, celebrate Deaf History Month (3/15-4/15), Mathematics Education Month, National Poetry Month, and Youth Sports Safety Month!

Teaching with Comics: Galactic Hot Dogs
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Poptropica Teaching Guides
Poptropica is one of the Internet's most popular sites for kids—and now it's available as an app for the iPad! It's not just a place to play games; each of the islands featured on the site provides a learning opportunity. Check out our teaching guides to four of Poptropica's islands: 24 Carrot Island, Time Tangled Island, Mystery Train Island, and Mythology Island.


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