Math Wall of Shame Part 3! 93 new images to download.

When I created my ‘Math Wall of Shame’ several years ago I never would have imagined that I would become the go to person for math fails.  Thank you to everyone who tagged me in a math fail this year.  When you do I add them to a word doc to share with you August 1st of the next year.  I am amazed that after over 150 math fails I was still able to collect another 93 of them.  Here are a few of my favorite from the last year.  (note: scroll to the bottom to download all 93 of the new ones.  I also added links to sets #1 and #2).

  1. dont talk mathtweet for no mathThis one floated around twitter mid-June 2017 with over 30,000 retweets and tons of comments. You can’t help but wonder why this sign exists at a deli.    Love the follow-up story to this sign.  If you did not see the story check it out HERE. I will for sure put this one up on my classroom’s #math fail wall for the 2017-18 school year.
  2. mushroom pizzaTURD Pizza!  Minnesota’s own Christopher Danielson has been documenting #turd’s (turd=Truly Unfortunate Representation of Data) on his blog for years  Here is one he found in  March of this year.  turd pizzaI love that YouGov responded to the really bad graph with this tweet….????response
  3. energy failA coworker at a nearby school, Ken Beck, sent me one he found on a new appliance he bought.  He cut off the labels from the graph and asked students to notice and wonder using this part.  Love it.  Great middle school proportional reasoning problem.what do you notice energy
  4. I am loving all the ones this year that have a number or math term, but the picture does not match the number/term/label.  Keep sending these.

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  5. 360 mnOne of my favorite of this type comes from my home state again.  A great blogger from our state sent me this one from her hometown.  She did not want to put it on her personal wall of shame for fear of offending locals.  I have no such fear as I live in the cities miles and miles away.  If you own a business, do not claim to change people 360 degrees unless you are an evil person running a business collecting money for doing nothing.  This one is great anytime you need to remind students that there are 360 degrees in a circle.  Rather than tell them this, just put up this ad and ask them what is wrong with it and let them say it.    By the way, out of curiosity I googled ‘360 chiropractic’ and guess what – there are at least a dozen other businesses with the same name – all with different branding and logos.

    Seriously wrong.  I also decided to google ‘180 chiropractic’ and thankfully I found 1  mathematically aware business.  If you need help with your back, I highly suggest flying to Spokane, WA and using the good people with good math sense.  I believe these people know how to heal you.180 chiro

  6. chevy fail                                                                                        This is not an image, but a 4-minute video to check out from TedEd.  Thank you to Julie Reulbach for tagging me in this post.   From TedEd: How to spot a misleading graph – Lea Gaslowitz The Misleading Chevy Graph from this video is a great addition to this year’s set.  This video would be great for your classroom.
  7. Errors of scaling are a favorite of mine.  The scaling can tell completely different stories.  Here is a favorite from this year.  So wrong.  Perhaps a good social justice moment for your classroom to talk about why and to have students fix the graph.  slavery
  8. I have a math error right in my own school.  I walk past it every day.  One of the programs supporting students in their life skills sells & delivers coffee to staff each day.  This sign has been up by their door for the 2 years I’ve been at the school.  If most of us, especially teachers, are always looking ways to save money, why would I ever buy the bigger size 16 oz coffee? …and why would I ever get a 16oz coffee over the 12 oz if I had my own mug?  More coffee and being kind to the environment will cost you at my school.  I’ll take 2 12 oz. coffee’s in your cups please. peace coffee signpeace coffee
  9. If you are not from Minnesota than you probably don’t know what a big deal the MN State Fair is the 10 days before Labor Day each year.  It is huge.  We have one of the largest state fair’s in the country.  The best thing about the fair is of course Math On-a-Stick.  This alone is reason enough to visit us.  The 2nd best thing about the fair is eating.  There are hundreds of food vendors.  A few of them make millions in 10 days.  One that does well is the french fry booths.  These fries are amazing.  But their signs mock me each year.  A proportional reasoning problem straight from Minnesota with love.  Enjoy.
  10. This year I’ll end with one of my most resent ones.  One morning I was driving to my sister’s breakfast celebration.  On the way I passes a Burger King with this sign.  I gasped!  A math error in my neighborhood.  Because I love my sister I did not stop.  I actually worried that it would be gone 2 hours later when I returned to take this photo.  burger kingI also stopped and got out of my car.  I post to our states NCTM affiliate Facebook page, so I decided to go live on Facebook and report this to MN math teachers.  As I was doing this a manager came out to see what I was doing and I told him he had a math error with the pancakes.  He said ‘no, the pancakes really are 89 cents’.  I then explained why it was an error and he just looked at me blankly.  I was not ballsy enough to go in and do the classic math joke of ordering a pancake, handing them a penny and say ‘keep the change’.

    The Facebook post got a lot of action that morning.  Another math teacher from another part of the city posted the same sign at a Burger King 15 miles away.  A couple of hours later I drove past the Burger King 1 mile from my house (not the first one I pictured) and what do you know it had the same exact sign.  Seriously, Burger Kings all over MN had this sign.  It must have been a corporate directive.  If it was, how is it that no employees questioned this.  I made a video at the Northeast Minneapolis Burger King by my house that day.

    I posted this video to my own Facebook page.  Later that evening non-math teacher friends shyly asked, “What was wrong with the sign?  I could not figure it out” or “It took me a long time to figure out what was wrong.”.

    burger king cousinThis week, 2 weeks after my original post, family members posted a new pic at the 1st Burger King I saw this sign at wanting to buy pancakes for less than a penny.  The sign is still up 2 weeks later.  I got tagged in his post.  So, I decided to comment to educate others. I made this graphic.  helpWithin minutes of me posting this I got a response from Ms. Black, someone I did not know.  response bkUgh, I thought.  I don’t have the energy to respond.  Luckily I did not need to, Mr. Green responded trying to fix the misconception.  (I did not know him either) resulting in this back and forth….response bk 2response bk 3

    Obviously, my original visual to help explain what is wrong with the BK sign did not work, so I tried again posting this….dollar again…Our work as math teachers is never done.


To see them all 93 for 2017, download this word doc:  Math Fails 2017 Set 3

Download Math Wall of Shame Pics #1 HERE.

Download Math Wall of Shame Pics #2 HERE.

p.s.  There is at least one fail in this year’s set that I can’t remember what the fail is.  Also, I always include at least 1 pic that is not a math fail (usually it is something I’m annoyed with).  Can you find this years?

Will there be a Math Wall of Shame/#mathfail Pics #4?  Well that is up to you.  Send me what you find to saravdw@gmail.com or tag me on Twitter @saravdwerf or use hashtags #mathfail or #mathwallofshame.  I look forward to seeing what you find.  If you tag me, I will collect and post August 1st, 2018.  Until then, enjoy this years finds.

Sara VanDerWerf

I am Sara Van Der Werf, a 24-year mathematics teacher in Minneapolis Public Schools. I have taught math in grades 7-12 as well as spent several years leading mathematics at the district office. I currently teach Advanced Algebra at South High School and I'm also the current President of the Minnesota Council of Teachers of Mathematics (MCTM). I am passionate about encouraging and connecting with mathematics teachers. I'd love to connect via twitter.  Join the community.  Tweet me @saravdwerf.

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