Unlocking Primes

  • Student Explorations in Mathematics

  • Unlocking Primes

    Prime numbers are the building blocks of numbers. This exploration of prime numbers begins with a classic tool for locating prime numbers: the sieve of Eratosthenes. We then introduce a different type of table for the process of identifying primes. The exploration looks at other patterns with prime numbers and concludes with a connection between primes and music. Exploring these prime numbers allows us to understand the combination that makes up all numbers and can open the door to many of the mysteries in math. This issue guides students through an exploration of different methods for locating prime numbers, finding patterns with prime numbers, and connecting primes and music. 


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    Student Explorations in Mathematics (SEM), formerly known as Student Math Notes (SMN), is an official publication of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) and is intended as a resource for grades 5-10 students, teachers, and teacher educators. Each issue develops a single mathematical theme or concept in such a way that fifth-grade students can understand the first one or two pages and high school students will be challenged by the last page. The content and style of the notes are intended to interest students in the power and beauty of mathematics.