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Science Poem of the Day: 16 August

National Office

Today’s poem is from Law & Impulse: maths & chemistry poems, published by The Poets Union for National Science Week 2010.

Margaret Owen Ruckert

chocolate caramel squares

when maths teachers find the answer
to becoming interesting, they will follow
their instincts instead of Pythagoras
nose across to the Technically Food Department
and elect a committee on ‘Working Together’

there they’ll begin a discussion on the value
of x as one side of a ‘Caramel Square’
to be delivered to maths rooms for checking
the consistency of cut right angles or
measuring an area subtended by chocolate

a pilot student project has already applauded
this theoretically-driven approach to hands-on
mathematics which gives sweet meaning
to solid geometry and a chance
for three-dimensional maths

to be tasted by girls, viscous rumours
of their lack of ability to think above the square
are now well rebuffed thanks to this study
when students successfully assembled
biscuit houses and removed the remains

this sugar mathematics has its hard-ball enemies
who denounce this latest, inclusive approach
to the five senses as a sell-out to materialism
but much like the computer has been hungrily
accepted as an alternative to daily bookwork

originators of the caramel-square theory
are certain as a carbohydrate kick
that educators who introduce the biscuit
into the lessons only maths can cook up
will find success, sweeter than 900kJ per serve