BLC150: The Algebra Workshop

Spring 2020

Magic Square: Detail from Dčrer's Melancolia I, Engraving- 1514

The left column is 16, 5, 9, 4.  The 5 and the 9 are weird and have clearly been corrected.


-Professor: Daniel Newsome

-Office: Learning Commons, Stone Row basement [map]


-Office Hours:  Mondays and Fridays from 3:00-4:00

                                           ...or by appointment.

-Parent Webpage:

-Class schedule: Friday, 1:00-3:00 pm, Heg 102


Calculator: Any basic scientific calculator.  IOS/Android calculators will work.


I'm revising all of the worksheets and homework as I go, so always...

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Last Up-Dated: 2/22/20 11:50 AM


All Homework and "Additional Materials" are listed on this table when they are due, not when I assign them.

Class #-

Due Date


Additional Materials



Fractions and 1, Magic Squares, Excel Starter



Here is the homework due for Friday, 2/7: HW-2


Due 2/7: 

Refer to this PDF for the Magick Square assignments: Magick Squares Directions

   1) Make a 4 x 4 Magick Square using the odd or even numbers.

   2) Make a 4 x 4 Magick Square using some other series of numbers.  Your choice.

   3) Make a 5 x 5 Magick Square.  Don't simply duplicate the one I did in the PDF.  Start somewhere else and use a different "knight" move.


   4) Do these two worksheets: HW2 and HW2b

Optional Primary Source Reading:

Magick Squares-PrimarySources



Optional: RadioLab-For the Love of Numbers


HW-3- Don't worry about p. 2.




HW-4- Percentages and Compound Interest




HW-5- Linear Equations









Spring Break and Cancelled Class









Math Study Room: RKC 101, Sunday-Wednesday, 7:00-10:00 pm.  This is a peer-tutor study room and is a casual place to get mathematical help.  This won't be active until about 2 weeks into the semester.


Useful Graphing Calculator:  GeoGebra.  [Geogebra Classic 5 can be downloaded and used offline.  Scroll down to download to a computer.]  You can also use Geogebra 6 online or as an app on a phone. 

Another popular graphing app is desmos.  There is no offline version that I am aware of.


Derivation of Newton's Law of Cooling using the calculus.


Properties of Exponents


How I Feel about Logarithms - Short video/animation


Trig Identities Derived


John Oliver on Compound Interest and Fees



Podcasts and other resources that might be of interest:




IOT-Muslim Spain




IOT-Early Islamic Maths


IOT-Prime Numbers




RadioLab-For the Love of Numbers


IOT-Indian Maths




U.S. Students Lacking in Object Permanence Skills


Insane Clown Posse - Miracles

Course Description and Policies


BLC150 reviews the basic algebra used in math, science, and social science courses. It is designed to tune up a student's algebraic skills in preparation for introductory math, science, economics, or statistics courses. Topics include conversions, linear equations, graphs, quadratic equations, fractions, rational expressions, and exponents.


This course does not fulfill the MC (math and computing) distributional requirement.  Taking this course qualifies a student to take courses that require "passing part 1 of the Math Placement Diagnostic."


Please use my office hours or email me to arrange a meeting.  I'm here to help. []


Also use the Math Study Room, which has qualified math tutors available for walk-in service.  Feel free to do your math homework in the Math Study Room so that you can have instant access to math help.


Your grade will be determined by the following:


1/3 Attendance, Punctuality, Attention, Preparedness, and Participation: Treat this like a job. Email me if you will miss class.

1/3 Weekly Homework: Completeness, Correctness, and Timeliness.  All homework must be handed in on time and on paper.  Please don't submit homework in email attachments or similar unless otherwise directed to do so.

1/3 Quizzes and Exams:  There will be at least 2 exams and quizes whenever the spirit moves me. Practice exams will be provided.


This is a Pass/Fail course.  Passing requires 70% or better.  Your midterm Criteria Sheet will indicate a letter grade so that will know where you stand, but your final grade will be pass/fail.


ADA Statement

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact Amy Shein ( to determine if you may be eligible.

Homework Guidelines

To liberally paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, Homework, like fish, begins to smell after 3 days.  If you are late with a homework assignment, it very quickly begins to rot.  I don't want to read it if it is more than one class session late. If it is one class session late, it will be graded as if it were a rotten fish.  I might not even read it.  You might get some credit, but since it stinks, I might just throw it out.  There is a paperwork bin right outside my office mounted to the wall where you can leave papers and where I can leave graded assignments and other handouts.

I will not accept electronically submitted homework unless it is asked for.  Everything needs to be on paper unless otherwise requested.