Saturday, October 27, 2007

Natalie Portman gets a little "mathy"

Move over Danica McKellar... make way for Natalie Portman. This child-star, turned blockbuster diva, has a lot to say about learning. Although she hasn't authored a math thereom, she has been quoted as saying, "I'd rather be smart than be a movie star." In fact, she was so serious about her education, it's rumored that she chose to study for her high school finals intead of attending the premiere of Star Wars: Episode I. Portman's goal was to graduate from college even if it ruined her acting career-- which it clearly didn't. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in psychology from Harvard in 2003.

Star War's Queen Amidala is the guest editor of the October 29 edition of Scholastic Math magazine, a publication targeted at the grade 6-9 crowd. Portman's new movie, "
Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium," debuts in November. In the film she plays the manager of a magical toy store. So what does that have to do with math, you say? There's an article in the magazine about a real toy store that explores the concept of profit. Another activity will discuss the change from daylight savings time to standard time. Yet another entry focuses on FINCA, one of Portman's pet projects, which is an organization that provides loans to people in extreme poverty so they can start businesses. Readers will make a bar graph illustrating the world's poorest countries and find out how they can help.

The accomplished actor uses her voice as guest editor to say, "Math was one of my favorite subjects in school. It always gets a bad rap and I'm not sure why. I always found math to be such an exciting avenue to think about the world in new and different ways. Sure, you need to use math daily for knowing how much tip to leave at a restaurant or how much flour you need to make double the amount of cookies in a recipe, but it is the less obviously practical parts of math that are most fun for me -- like considering the principles of infinity. It made me excited about life to consider the limitlessness of the mind and what we can do with it."

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