When I came home from school today I was not planning on doing this.  But every now and again I come across an idea which hooks me in, and I want to make sure I remember to make use of it in my teaching in the future.  Today it was the zenzizenzizenzic.

I’ve known about Robert Recorde for some time – in fact, he is the mystery mathematician that is the solution to one of the Bring on the Maths activities from at least 10 years ago.  Inventor of the equals sign and introducer of the ‘+’ symbol (to English speakers at least), today I discovered that he also tried to solve the problem of writing powers when there was no notation for them.

I was searching for an interesting fact connected to laws of indices.  You’ll need to open the document below to see the details, but essentially Recorde’s solution made use of prime factors and what you might call the ‘third’ law of indices.  The zenzizenzizenzic ‘doth represent the square of squares squaredly’ (according to wikipedia).  And there are plenty more peculiar words.  If you are wondering, yes, I would use the idea with any of the students I was teaching, although I wouldn’t be handing this out as a worksheet to all of them!  They all like peculiar words.  Who doesn’t know what a Tyrannosaurus Rex is?

As it happens, this links to the remaining part of my ongoing tale about curriculum review in my school – and I haven’t forgotten that I am going to post about that at some point soon.  I just need to stop getting carried away …