While teaching AP Calculus, I occasionally offer activities that provide a break from the rigor of calculus, yet involve mathematical content. This short story invites students to identify common mathematical errors that are often made in math courses from algebra through calculus. Then the students are asked to correct these errors.
Around mid-February I pass out a copy of pages 1 through 5 of this activity to each student. I then direct them to read the story and complete the assignment that is given at the end of the story. Then, as an extension of this activity, I challenge them to create a cover picture (8 1/2 x 11 inches) that reflects the theme of this story. I have placed one such cover that was created by one of my students at the beginning of this activity (page 0) and a second picture at the end of this activity (page 9).
Finally, I initiate a discussion of this activity and let the students' reactions dictate its duration.